I am working on a good long post, one that needs to be split into several posts, about adoption stuff that has been kicking around for awhile. I really hope that the other adoptive mammas that read here will comment and add their knowledge and experience. I hope those of you that know NOTHING about adoption will feel free to ask questions. They might be the very questions that someone else is wondering and doesn't dare ask. Obviously race issues will be part of it, so those of you that have experience with that should chime in too. I am here to learn and to teach. The ultimate goal is to raise all three of my kids to be healthy, responsible, happy, confident adults. I can't do it alone. I also think that the more knowledge that is out there the better for all of us. I am also open to answering questions. If you have something you have been dying to know, now is the time. No holds barred. Sort of.
So, the story. The situation with M ended badly. I will get more into that soon, but suffice it to say that it was about as bad as it could be. I was very sad that it ended the way it did. I was sad that was the end of the story that we would have to tell Cubby. We tried to have contact in April but trust was immediately violated again and the door was shut on our side again. Permanently, as far as we were concerned unless some things changed on her end. We felt that we had done everything we could, over and above what even the most patient and forgiving people would do. We felt that to continue the relationship would be hurtful not just to Jacob but to the entire family. We also believe in forgiveness. We believe that people can change (deep down inside I don't know if they really do, but I know that they CAN. It has happened before, right?). We left a tiny crack in the door open for M. We told her that we felt that she hadn't passive in the hurt that she caused. She had been very organized, calculating and aggressive in targeting us (and others) and causing us hurt. We needed to know that she would be careful with us next time and that we could trust her to be careful with our boy. We gave her a list of things that we felt would go a long way towards helping us understand that she was serious about rebuilding a long term, healthy relationship with her son and our family. We needed her to do some things on a regular basis that showed us that she had the follow through. She needed to send us some pictures, update us about her new address (or update our lawyer, the choice is hers) on a regular basis. She needed to acknowledge her part in the breakdown of the relationship before. She needed to apologize about some things (not about choosing to parent, but other things). We sent the letter and then sat back to wait. I had already come to a certain amount of peace with what had happened. I made a website for Cubby that I updated monthly and I know she was checking it (thank goodness for stat counters). I knew that she and her other boys had access to pictures and info about him but that was as far as it was going to go. She understood that when she did the things that we outlined, we would be happy to send her real pictures and have e mails again and at some point work up to visits again. To my shock and surprise (I am ashamed to admit that), she did it. She sent letters, she sent pictures (to our attorney, she isn't allowed to have our new contact info right now) and wrote a wonderful letter to our boy telling him all about his new sister and how his brothers are doing. She was respectful to us in it and it was exactly the kind of letter that I wanted my son to have from his first mamma. It was loving and sweet, but it was also real.
Derek was the one that surprised me. He is the one that decided to try and visit them while we were in
He got to the address that she gave us in her letter and it was the wrong one. The people that lived there did know the family, and they knew them from church! That was a good sign. M has a hard time maintaining relationships so the fact that these people knew of her was a good sign. Derek found the right address and knocked on the door. It was clear that they didn't know he was coming. He heard little voices behind the door "Cubby is here!! He is here!!" The door flew open and there they all were. This is the best part. They didn't know we were coming but the house was clean, the kids were just out of the bath and they were in their jammies, ready for bed at bedtime (in the past when we knew them, bedtime was whenever they fell over and the living conditions left much to be desired). The house was calm and peaceful. The TV wasn't on full volume. They are able to rent a 5 bedroom house in a smallish town where housing his more affordable. This is their third place in the 9 months they have lived in Utah, but I am hoping this one might stick. R was there (he is her husband, but not the father of any of the kids but the last one) and he was friendly. M was in tears. They were so happy to see him. Derek took pictures like crazy. You can see from the earlier pictures that Cubby wasn't too sure about all of them. M won him over by showing him her phone. Buttons and gadgets are the way to that boy's heart for sure. Soon he was wrestling and cuddling with all of them.
They were really excited to see him and called some of their friends that live in their town saying "Cubby is here". I understand that these are people from church who have helped them get settled and find jobs. They came over and had a good visit with Derek. The last time that we saw the family, the younger boys were really wild and hard to control (wow, that sounds familiar) but this time they seemed to be just fine. Calm, controlled and sweet. Now that Jacob is the same age that they were at the time, I have a feeling that their behavior was more of an age thing than a parenting thing. The new baby is adorable and M was just so happy. She had a good talk w/ Derek and said some thing that were really nice to hear. Mostly, she and boys just loved on Cubby and played with the toys we brought the boys. He stayed about an hour (it was pretty late) and left with promise of another visit this year.
Here are a few things I want to point out. Some have criticized me for putting the pictures up on the blog. It was pointed out that this is Cubby's story to tell and the pictures of his family are not for public consumption. It is ok if you feel that way and I appreciate the concern. My answer to that is that I put the first part of this story out on the blog (I am not sure I would have done that again) and I wanted to show the follow up. As for the pictures, I put my kid's pictures up all the time and don't have issues with that. I am also not "outing" anyone. In M's home, there are lots of pictures of us and the kids on the wall. In fact, she has met people in her home who have recognized us or Cubby from the pictures and made the connection. She knows many of our friends from
I feel like we have not been a very good advertisement for open adoption. Out of loyalty to us, some of our friends and family are still on the fence about whether this is a good idea or not. Please know that I am horrified that some people will only know about adoption from our story and what we have to tell them hasn't always been good. Please know that every person is different and that most people do not have the experience that we had. You haven't heard the whole story and believe me when I say that I have never heard anyone that has dealt with anything close to what eventually played out in our story. Please know that everything we did that resulted in the hurt and loss and grief we felt was our choice and we did it for our son and that is all. Please know that I would do it all again (but to be totally honest, I would have walked away sooner). Please also know that the reason I choose to share "the rest of the story" is so that the way that it was left isn't the end of the story. That was not the ending I wanted for my son and it isn't the ending I want to leave the rest of you with. I chose to share the first part (for right or for wrong) so I wanted to be fair and show the follow up. I want to show that open adoption takes commitment and managed expectations and contestant re-evaluation.
I believe that his family has a lot to offer him in terms of how to grow up as a black man today. I can't give him that. I believe that they have a lot to offer him because they are the people that look like him, they share physical and personality traits. He fits with them in a way that he will never fit with us. I believe that they have a lot to offer him because they love him and he is part of them. I believe that it is important for M's other kids to have a relationship with their brother, even if I chose never to be in contact with M again. That doesn't take anything away from our family. I have heard the comment from more than one of you that it bothers you to hear me call M his mom, because I am his mom and it seems like it takes away my role in his life. I don't feel that way at all. M IS his mom, so am I. I am his every day mom and she is his special mom. Nothing will change that. It is up to him to decide what role we each play in his life. I am not threatened by her at all. I am angry with her, I am wary of her and I think she has a long way to go before I will sit back and feel safe with all of this, but I am not threatened by her being his mom. We should all be so lucky to have two moms that love us. I just have to make sure that her involvement in his life is something that will help him be a better man. Having no first mom in his life is better (in my opinion) than having one that does things that does hurtful to him or us, even if she doesn't mean to.
I don't pretend to think that this is happily every after. I will be bold enough to think that this could be the start of a really good thing. I will be on my guard and I will continue to expect M to do her part. The letters need to continue (even if she just wants to send them to the attorney and not us) and there needs to be common courtesy between all of us. Next time, she will need to reply to us and be pro-active about arranging visits. We will not just "drop in" on her again. I also have changed what I expect from her. My expectations are very, very low so that this time I won't be disappointed. It was a good thing in the long run. In many ways it re-humanized her again. She isn't the heartless monster that I thought of her as in my mind for the last few months. She is just a woman who made mistakes, who loves her son and who (for now) is doing the best that she can make things better. That is all we can ask.Next subject--Mamma's. Birthmothers, adoptive mothers, all mothers.....