Perseverance

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You may have noticed I’ve been posting on Sunday & Wednesday lately. This week I’m a day late. I’ve been busy getting ready for a mom 2 mom sale this weekend. I have a little coffee & tea business (www.believebistro.com) but that’s a whole other story.

Today I’m back to talking about Raine – who used to go by Sloane in this space. Since the pretense with Athena’s name has ended (Saying Her Name), I thought I might reveal my other daughter’s true name as well.

About a month after the adoption, we started seeing the girls’ birth grandparents. I knew them from visits when Raine & Athena were still foster children. If you want all the details on our situation you can review Open Adoption Part 1 & Part 2.

In the greater scheme of things, I know our connection is immensely valuable. In practicality it’s been challenging. Raine is generally very wild during the visit. And afterwards we endure several days of tantrums lasting hours on end. She screams about how much she hates me and wishes she could be with her birth mother again. The encounters bring to the surface intense emotions generally bubbling under the surface.

At times I’ve considered putting the visits on pause – offering Raine more time to come to terms with her situation. But she is immensely eager to see them. So instead my mom and I have collaborated on things to pray. And I’ve added my own parents to our get togethers. The two couples get along famously. My goal was to show Raine that she has one family who love her. So the past few times we’ve been one big happy family – all of us except Raine that is. She remained agitated during and distraught afterwards.

In an unrelated moment of frustration, I asked Raine, “What can I do to help you?”

“You need to pray a lot more,” she quickly answered.

For the most part she’s resistant to me praying with her. But after that statement we began praying before she went to bed. And I started having her list three things she’s happy about at the end of each day.

This past Saturday we celebrated Raine’s birthday with her birth grandparents (a little late, but their schedules are quite busy). My parents weren’t able to make it but I trust my mom was praying for us.

During the visit Raine was relatively calm. Even her grandmother noticed a big difference. Afterwards I was ready for the onslaught of anger. Instead we sat together looking at the gifts she’d gotten. When bedtime came around we made the list of what she was grateful for. “That you love me every day,” Raine exclaimed. The distance that normally crept between us after visits with birth family wasn’t there.

There haven’t been any outbursts or meltdowns. Raine’s continued to be content and emotionally stable.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Hebrews 10:35-36

Raising my girls can be challenging. There are times my confidence fails me. But in this area I’m glad to have persevered so that Raine, Athena, and I can receive the benefits of their grandparents love for us.

 

Open Adoption (Part 1)

Openness is a growing trend in foster care adoptions. It can be scary. A typical private adoption consists of a young mom realizing her own limitations and choosing another family to parent her child. This is agreed to be a selfless act of love. Openness sounds like a great idea in these fairy tale situations.

Events leading to a child being in foster care are dark and sorrowful – nothing like the turn of events described above. Parents rarely choose adoption for their children in foster care. Generally it’s something forced by the court when all efforts at reunification have been exhausted. Birth parents do have to sign legal documents, but it’s not really a voluntary surrendering of their child or children. These kids were forcibly taken – almost without fail for good reason.

Understandably adoptive parents would be leery of openness in these type of situations. However, it is a growing expectation in the case of foster care adoptions. Sometimes it’s not the birth parents but other members of the birth family you’re expected to keep in contact with.

My daughters’ story is somewhat unique. Their birth parents are mostly far away in the US. Since the girls came to me as foster children, I got to know their birth grandmother and her new husband. They live about 1hr away and would visit the kids when they were in foster care. After some supervision, the social worker decided the grandparents could take the children out in the community instead of always meeting at the Children’s Aid Office. That led to them picking the kids up from my home.

Their grandmother and step-grandfather are an amazing Christian couple. They were overjoyed when I adopted their granddaughters. The adoption came with the agreement that I would maintain contact with the grandparents as I saw fit. That meant anything from a yearly update and pictures mailed to the agency or their home to ongoing visits. There was not a regimented visit schedule put in place like when the girls were in foster care – though in some adoption cases there may be. Defining openness was left up to me.

It took awhile for Sloane* to come to terms with our new definition of family. For months she argued that my parents couldn’t be her grandparents because she already had grandparents and “kids only get one like only one mom and one dad – except for me I have two moms. The mom I grew in, and the mom who adopted me.” My explanation that most kids have two sets of grandparents didn’t convince Sloane. Finally I went with her logic, “Because you’re adopted and now have two moms, you also get two grandmas and two grandpas.” She agreed to that.

Adopting as a single person, I’m acutely aware of what my kids miss out on. Being unmarried, there are things I miss out on too. Having an open adoption has given my daughters two sets of grandparents instead of just one. It’s given me in-laws of sorts – in the best way. At our first meeting after the adoption took place, Sloane asked her grandmother to pour her some more juice. “We’ll have to ask your mom about that,” Sandra* answered. It was a small thing, but meant the world. She recognizes my position as the girls’ mother. This is not an easy transition considering she’s known them since birth as belonging to her own daughter.

We get together when we can – to celebrate holidays, birthdays, and just catch up. Sandra calls from time to time. Our relationship goes beyond the children. We’ve become a sort of family.

Usually when I mention this connection, people’s first question is, “Why didn’t the grandmother get custody?” Kinship care – where biological family or close friends/community members care for children instead of having them in foster care and/or adopted – is considered to be preferable. In this case, for reasons you needn’t know, the grandmother didn’t feel she could manage raising her granddaughters. We all rejoice that I get that privilege.

*name changed

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