Saturday, April 27, 2013

Adoption Stories...First Contact


A while back (wow, it was June of last year!) I a post titled "Cold Case" I talked about our Daughter, Selena, beginning to ask some rather pointed questions about her biological mother and how difficult it was going to be to find anything now that state adoptions felt the case was forever closed.  that launched us into becoming amateur detectives in order to track down our children's biological family. We have always been really open with the kids about where they came from and how they came to be with us, but now that they were actually wanting to know more about their family, it had caught us off guard and wondering how the heck we were going to find anything when all we had was a hand written family tree in Daniels adoption binder that only had the first names of his older siblings and their ages at the time of Daniels removal....not a lot to go on. Well, thanks to the help of a good friend and some major facebook and google sleuthing, we found a list of names of likely candidates. And so I had sent them all facebook messages, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

And then nothing....

We has absolutely no response at all and quietly, inside my heart I was heartbroken for the kids. We wondered if we got the wrong people, or perhaps their older siblings had been so scarred by their experience with their family that they simply wanted nothing to do with them anymore...even if they were long lost siblings. People rarely react the way we think they are going to and everyone has their own reasons for saying no to a contact that most of us would jump at the chance to realize. But we let it go, resigned to try it again later, and got on with our lives. All of us forgot about it and got caught up in the daily grind of homework, karate, fencing, foster child visits, and Youtube. And then,out of the blue...something amazing happened...
Ten months after first sending those messages I am sitting my my van outside the CPS building waiting for our foster children while they visit their mother. This is a rare down time when I can just sit and play on my phone, answer a few emails, and generally enjoy a rare moment of quiet. Now messages tend to pour in all day to us which means my phone is always chiming away at me at all hours of the day. It was just as I was sending off one reply when I saw a familiar name come in but I couldn't place why it was familiar...until I read the first line of the message..... GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY! ...IT's ONE OF THE KIDS OLDER SISTERS!!!!....I practically had a heart attack on the spot!

It seems that people don't check their facebook as obsessively as Jay and I do and my message to her had sat for nearly ten months until she saw it...or worked up the courage to answer it. At any rate Older Sister(as she will be knows from here on out) is actually the youngest of the four siblings above Daniel and Selena. She was with them when they were babies and toddlers...and as often happens, ended up being more mother to them than sister. She told us that she was heartbroken that they had been removed and adopted away and had never stopped looking for them...and so she was very very happy to see the message I sent on facebook.

I was floored and got on the phone to Jay to see if he wanted to handle the first phone call with her as I knew he would be more cautious than I would be. And then I just had to wait to find out more until my current task was over and I could get home and find out what came of that first phone call.

It turned out that Jay thought she was very sweet and let the kids talk to her for a few minutes...something that turned out to be a tearful and emotional experience both for older sister as well as for Daniel. They shared some memories of when they were little and ended the call with a promise to meet for dinner and a million-bajillion questions answered sometime soon.



So now here we stand....the finally with a response we had resigned ourselves to never recieve...excited, happy, and not a little uncertain what meeting them in person might bring. Selena seemed to just absorb the news as something cool that happened in her day. Daniel however, seemed happy to talk to his sister, but memories of his past always seem to leave him unsettled. Those were times he wanted to get away from andI can see in his eyes a mixture of emotions that he seems to have a hard time putting into words. Just like the last time when he saw a picture of his mom for the first time since he was removed from her custody, he cried because he was starting to forget her face. He was happy to remember what she looked like but not happy to remember the time he spent with her. Meeting his brothers and sisters in person is going to take that dynamic and magnify it I think. Helping Daniel assemble the disjointed pieces of his life is going to be a complicated task that will require patience and making sure we are only going at a pace that is comfortable for him.

And for Dads? That's a thornier question. We resolved a long time ago to do what was best for the kids and we would never...EVER...keep them from knowing their family if that is what they want and it is safe. However, that doesn't mean that it doesn't come without some insecurity on my part at least. I know my kids are my son and daughter and I am know they love us the same...but meeting their biological family has always been a "someday" thing and now here it is up close and personal. This is happening and I don't know what's going to shake out from it. It's going to create feelings for us all to deal with and I have to put mine in second place to theirs. Daniel and Selena are going to meeting people that are going to expand their definition of who their family is and I can't lie...that's scary for me. but we are going to walk that road with them anyway.

As I told Daniel last night, this doesn't change who we are, just like all the people we have met through YouTube have made our family circle wider over the years...this is the same. It will not change our family, it will only make it bigger and we will go together.

There will be lots of getting to know each other and keeping a close eye out to make sure that meeting their brothers and sisters is going to be emotionally safe for them. From those parents we have spoken to, you ALWAYS have to move with slowness and caution in these circumstances. After all, there were reasons why the kids were removed in the first place and you have to balance that against their need to know where they come from. Whether the kids chose to embrace or reject that will then be up to them. It is all an uncertain process that you hold each others hands and tread cautiously through together. With luck, puzzle pieces that represent their pasts and their presents will fit together and a bigger picture of their lives with be revealed. If not...we step back and collect a few more pieces...fill in the corners and the edges, and try to make it all fit together again at a later  date.

But we took the first step onto thin air with those first messages long ago. We sent a digital bottle out onto and electronic see and incredibly, someone found it and wrote back. What happens next is anybodies guess. That is both exciting and scary all at once. This is adoption...this is being a parent....and sometimes here there be dragons.

Until next time dear readers....

(P.S...the picture at the top of this post is there just because I love it)



10 comments:

  1. You can tell you truly wrote this from the heart. My maternal grandmother was adopted and no one in the family knew until after she died. It was really kind of scary and sad at the same time.

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  2. Only when you're adopted can you be certain you are wanted by those raising you. If you're with your biological parents, you could just as well have been wanted too, but there also IS the possibility that you could have been an unwanted oops baby.

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  3. Alice meets with her sister a fair bit, she lives not far away and is a similar age.

    It was strange to get used to, even though they are both very little. They don't have the same kind of relationship that siblings that live together have. For me it kind of feels like meeting with a cousin and their in-law parent for a play date.

    We are supposed to get letters from birth parents and grandparents, but they never write. Me and Jake have met them and they said they would keep in touch but they haven't. Like Daniel and Selina, Alice and her siblings were removed because of neglect. The sad thing is that her birth parents now seem to want to move on. She never lived with them and they didn't used to show up to see in in foster care. The constant rejection of her from them hurts me on her behalf.

    When me and Jake met with them it felt really strange, but much less daunting than you imagine. The birth father was happy his child had a good home and was getting on.

    I think when Alice grows up and wants to meet them she will be disappointing in them. Aside from the fact they are addicts, she is already picking up personality from us and the differences between her and them will probably be greater than a teenager imagines.

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  4. I think this whole incident affects Daniel more because he was older when you adopted him. Selena was a baby when you got her. It was interesting watching the video and noticing the differences between their reactions. The whole thing just sort of "rolled off" Selena's back. It was so cute when you were talking about Daniel talking to his sister she said.."well..you can talk to me..I am right here!"
    The whole argument from the right against same sex marriage always includes the phrase "children need a mother and a father." This was even used at the Supreme Court level. This makes my blood boil!!!! These people are NOT thinking of all of the kids in foster care that would love to be adopted into a loving family of any sort.
    Jim
    PS.. PLEASE thank Selena for educating me about snails. :)

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  5. As I was working in my garden this weekend, I came across a few snails and immediately recalled Selena's letter about her fave creatures, and I saw them in a different light. I gave them a few leaves and settled their rock back where they had found it...
    Thanks, Selena

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  6. @orangegoblin Hello old friend...long time no see! Its good to hear from you again! I understand how you feel about the birth parents but just one word of advice from our own experience...Get Pictures!

    At the time when we adopted Daniel and Selena we were just so glad to have them and happy to finally be done with social worker visits that we didn't press the issue of getting pictures of family members for that day in the future when the kids would ask.

    Get pictures...get full names of any family you think you may have to track down in the future...any addresses you can...and any kind of family medical history. Its an investment in her future that will pay off big time.

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  7. @Jim Stone Will do! Selena can pontificate for hours on the subject of snails! I know the boyfriend that I will actually approve of one day will be the one who hangs around to hear the whole snail dissertation. :)

    @Jerry Callender Aw...that will make Selena's day, and I know it made mine too ;)

    Bryan

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  8. Yeah we have their pictures and names. Social services make you a book over here with as much info and pictures as possible. I think it is a good idea as it takes all the mystery out of it.

    There is even a picture of me and Jake with them. Tense to ask them to pose for I can tell you!

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  9. Bryan, you have so many of us standing with your family as you make all your moves. It has to be scary but it will turn out so well. I really felt for Daniel in your video. I hope Selena saw my story about the snails. Even famous authors like them! Thank you for the blog post.

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