Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How adoption has helped me see clearly in marriage (so far)

No I'm not stuck to the computer every night like I used to be, however, I did want to write at least a few entries during this month in honor of Adoption Awareness Month.

This may not ring true in everyone's life but this is an amazing coincidence in mine.  Adoption has helped me in the dating/engagement/getting married period.  Why?  Because in both situations, I'm not the "only".

As we all know, adoption consists of loss due not having the family you were born also is a wonderful reminder that one's heart can hold the love of multiple people.  I'm not Tigger's first mother.  Or second or third.....(at least 2 foster homes before my home) I'm the one that is raising her and that has adopted her.  There can be no comparisons made.  I love my daughter deeply.  I have no reason to believe that Tigger's first/birth mother didn't love her deeply.  What I do know is that her life was full of problems and she was not able to parent....despite whatever feelings she had.   This is foster care, the courts don't terminate parental rights lightly, I get this....however, I don't feel threatened by the "other woman", nor do I feel the need to one-up her in my life.  I have chosen different paths in life and am able to provide a stable home, she has not reached that level yet, but that doesn't mean we should ever compare or say who is the better and the more "real" mother.  I don't need to win a competition.  I love Tigger and can handle the fact that she has 2 moms....her mother and her mami.

I married a wonderful man.  He is truly wonderful indeed and I wouldn't have it any other way.  He is a widower.  I am not the first wife.  Because I watched my grandpa and his wife all my life, I know that this dynamic can be hard.  My step-grandmother has always tried to "win" the competition and try to live a life based on being a 'better wife' at the beginning.  My dad's family at times has been brutal to her....but I can see what comparing and trying to one-up another woman can wears on you.  The woman my husband was married to was a wonderful woman.  In fact she and I probably could have been friends as she was an Occupational Therapist and I"m a Speech Therapist....our fields work together.  First of all, you don't compare yourself to a deceased person, we always remember the best of the deceased and one will always fall short.  But most important of all, I see how S truly loves me.  He has expressed the fact that he is grateful that God has given him a second chance at happiness.  Yes, I am the second chance, but I know that I'm not loved less.  He loves me truly as much as I know he truly loved his late wife.  No comparisons, no one-upping.  Life sucked in the fact that he lost a good wife and that cannot be undone.  I don't beat myself up because of his loss, neither do I take away from his past.  I am content and I know he can love me for who I am without diminishing the love he had for his late wife.

That's how I know.....adoption has helped me really grasp the concept.  I don't need to one-up another woman, I can love Tigger like hell and know that when she expresses any type of love/want/need to know more questions or feelings that it doesn't diminish our relationship.  There is room to love 2 different people without diminishing the other.

Thank you Tigger.  Thank you S.  I'm proud and happy to be one of "the other women".  I can't imagine life without either of you and despite complicated pasts, I love you both for who you are and where you came from.

Adoption Awareness month also means, be aware of aware of conflict of man or woman enough to be proud of being "the other".  Love multiplies and can handle a lot.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November and all the memories: #1

First of all, before I start, I kinda updated some information on this blog.  Primarily reflecting the part that I'm now a married lady and no longer a single parent.  For those of you who wonder, I had a fabulous wedding, and the honeymoon was divine.  Because I always had a personal thing against being a single parent with boyfriends spending the nights or living in before the serious commitment came in (for the mental health sake of the child) while S had all his stuff moved in by the 2nd week of September, this month has been about adjusting to him being around 24/7.  It's been a trip.....wonderful and different.  Tigger did have some regression in the obedience/testing boundaries stage, however, that was always expected, but slowly we are getting into a rhythm.

But enough about that, as you all may know (or not know) November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  And since this was mainly established for children in foster care, I felt a few blog entries are in order especially in these dire economic times.

2 years ago, I had the pleasure of finalizing the adoption of my Tigger.  I was her foster mom for 11 months and 5 days before the legalities were over, however, November 2010 marked the end of the foster care world and 'normal' life.

During the ceremony before the families were individually called for their turn in the courtroom, the director of our county's foster care program said that this year there were 500 adoptions happening on National Adoption Day (Nov. 20th).  While many people clapped, and yes for foster children this was good news for them, but I just thought "how sad".  Think about it, 500 children born into family situations filled with physical, emotional, sexual abuse, neglect, sometimes extreme substance abuse which led to harm etc. etc. etc.  That is just sad.

What I found encouraging that day was that many families were adopting not only toddlers, but I saw families finalizing with an older child or an older sibling set and I was thinking, that's good that these siblings are together or yay, an older child has a home now.  I hope stability is in their future.

I do support National Adoption Awareness Month in the way it was meant to be....for children in foster care.  They need homes.....people that are able and willing to put forth the work that parenting brings should have resources to be able to give children a second chance.  I believe this mentality is different than other types of adoption....these children have had a chance and for some reason or another that didn't work out, but they deserve a chance.  Not because the people adopting are angels or hero's or whatnot, but because children are our future and should have a chance at stability.

Now on the flip side, we should also support resources for individuals and families so they have a chance at changing their lives so their children aren't impacted by abuse or substance abuse.  My husband S and his job has given me a window into this side.  S is a medical social worker and at this time is a supervisor and coordinator for all the anger management groups, domestic violence groups, substance abuse, and troubled teens.  He works with an agency that is connected with another county's department of probation and parole.  So many of his clients have had children removed because of physical abuse or substance abuse issues in the home.  My husband does his best to make a difference.  He is a perfect man for this job.  While he is the biggest teddy bear in the world and has the biggest heart in the world, he is a rough around the edges guy.  He doesn't take crap and he dishes it back in a way that some of his clients need.  Thing is, he cares about his clients and he knows that their support system is nilch so their choices have not been the best.  By providing counseling and group services in order to better their lives (men and women), maybe some of these clients can be reunited with their children in a healthier manner and bonds do not have to be broken.  S isn't naive, he knows he can't reach everyone because at the end of the day it's each person's decision whether or not to take his anger management advice and techniques or turn around from drugs and alcohol, however, he believes that if even one or two clients get their act together and get some sort of education, their families back or working better with other relationships, he's done his job.

Why is this important, because it's a resource, and if we don't support these resources, then lives can't be changed either.  Thinking about children and their best interests means we need to be aware of what resources are out there and support them for either biological parents or adoptive parents if the former cannot be.

500 adoptions from foster care is 500 children needing's also 500-1000 biological parents that may need services like those my husband provides....not all of them will change, but that's not our concern....our concern is that children have chances in this world, either with their families if possible because then familial bonds are not broken, or with appropriate adoptive parents, so they can have a second chance and be our future, in whatever manner that expectations, just decent and kind human beings.