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Family BLAH

Apparently I am back, but lazy.

I have never been someone who thinks that family relationships are the most important ones in my life. A few things have contributed to this: we didn’t have a lot of family nearby, growing up, so we never developed super close bonds with cousins/aunts/grand parents. My parents also never expected us to love them blindly. Sure I love them because they’re my parents, but I want to spend time with them because I respect who they are and they respect who I am. They contribute in positive, loving ways to the relationship I have with them. And they care enough to take an interest in my life. Also, they love Mr. Ponce … possibly more than they love me!

For the past 27 years I’ve lived at least six hours away from my dad. For the past 15 year’s I’ve lived at least three hours away from my sister. And for the past four year’s at least three hours away from my mom. I’ve had a lot of time to develop friendships. A lot of Mr. Ponce and my’s (is that grammatically correct?) friends are defacto family-members. Our commitment to them is equal to our commitment to even our closest family-members. So … we get busy. We get very busy. Summer is even busier than the rest of our year. With our northern climate, this means that we get about 10 weekends of summer weather … once you factor in rain … we’re lucky to get more than 10 days of work-less summer weather. We like to take advantage of those days.

My husband also grew up without a lot of family nearby (his parents immigrated here from Scotland before any of the kids were born). But with four kids, and three-times weekly (!!!) church commitments, his parents had a lot on their plate. Their social natures also did not make for much of a desire to build relationships beyond their immediate family circle. As a result they believe that family comes first, no matter what. To them, not calling once during our recent hell, does not make them any less of a priority in our lives than returning the favour to all the friends who rallied to cook for us, babysit for us, lend us vehicles so that we could make multiple appointments with lawyers and grief psychologists, pick our son up from daycare when those appointments ran late etc. etc. While we’re not actually bitter about their lack of support, we’re also becoming less and less willing to turn our lives upside down and reschedule plans to make it to family get togethers. We love seeing everyone, but if we have other plans, we don’t cancel them to make it to yet another birthday dinner (there are many).

Where am I going with this … I’m not sure. I am just angst-ee. And thought that maybe letting some of this go by typing it out might stop the hamster-wheel like obsession over the insanity of it from turning constantly in my head …

Where things get tricky is that my husband went away from school and chose to live away from the town he grew up in. The rest of the siblings never ventured very far from home. Their main social circles are still their immediate family. And there is a big difference to them as to what relationships matter. They demand that their traditions be followed and turn into bullies when we don’t comply. Mr. Ponce’s brother recently cancelled a get together with us (where we were hosting a second b-day party for their daughter b/c we couldn’t make it to her actual party) b/c he “had a bad taste” in his mouth. Apparently we “don’t seem to care” about his kids. And as they are the world to him (yes, they should be they are HIS kids) we logically do not care about him either.

This is a the culminating stupidness of about three years of Mr. Ponce’s sibblings trying to bully us into their way or the highway. I am mad. I am mad b/c this is crazy. All of Mr. Ponce’s sibblings have kids. The oldest is 13. For 13 years, we have been to every single family member’s birthday. We have missed two parties. Both in the past year. Unfortunately, for the same family member. Last year we had a wedding to go to. This year, the party was over father’s day weekend, and we had plans to attend a music festival. Their parety dates were not reschedulable (where’s my dictionary?) so we made plans to see the birthday girl at another date. We felt this was reasonable and didn’t think it would cause a family rift. But yes it has. And all sibblings and parents are involved. We have received nasty emails at worst and cautions to “try harder” at best.

I’m trying to figure out why all this is bothering me so much. As I mentioned this is CRAZY. It’s illogical. I’m a logical person, so the fact that this is so ridiculous upsets me to the very core and essence of who I am. I am also furious that Mr. Ponce’s brother and sister-in-law would let their nutty emotions interfere with our relationships with their children. Their “punishment” of us, effectively punishes their children by denying them an opportunity to spend time with us. But I think the bigger problem is that I see this with a global/future perspective as an adoptive mom.

I think a lot about what “family” will mean to Ponce. To us it’s obvious that he needs to see that “blood” is not the only thing that makes family. That people who love and support you can also be family. And they can matter as much to you, or more than blood-relatives. We don’t want to be telling him one thing, but living another. Our definition of family has to be well open and ever-changing.

We are also pretty busy trying to forge bonds with Ponce’s bio family. We have in effect added another family to our rotation of commitments. AND this relationship being in its initial stages, we are busy tending to it and growing it. Deepening roots so that the relationship can one day stand on its own.

The room in our lives for nonsense and demands and narrow-thinking people is getting narrower. Despite me hating how Mr. Ponce’s family is acting these days, I also don’t want to grow so distant from them that Ponce doesn’t get to grow up close to his cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. What if he NEEDS those bonds and that stability more than I ever did? What if that kind of consistency in his life is what helps him feel grounded, accepted, and helps move him through whatever adoption-related angst he may feel as he grows into himself. What if having close relationships with all these family members help him feel better about biological parents who may or may not disapoint him (or adoptive parents who may or may not disapoint him!).

At this point so much of our energy is focused on trying to build strong bonds with Ponce’s first family that I am extra-aggravated by the nonsense coming out of Mr. Ponce’s family. Seriously … do they think we need this right now? I’d be more forgiving if this was coming from Ponce’s first family … but don’t tell Mr. Ponce’s family or we’d be relegated to the dog-house for eternity.

I feel petty and small for posting this. This is trivial in the grand scheme of life and family squabbles. I know I should be able to let go of this. It keeps me awake. It interrupts my work. I want to find a way to move past it … but I am also mad that this type of scenario keeps unfolding with Mr. Ponce’s family over and over again. I don’t think they will change, so I need to change how much their actions bother me. I would love to just write them off. But for Ponce’s sake, I can’t. For Mr. Ponce’s sake, I can’t. But how do I keep “being the bigger person” over and over and over again? It would be a lot easier to walk away. Mr. Ponce is pushing for a move that would put days of travel distance between us and his family … pre-Ponce I would have jumped at the plan … but post Ponce … stability and long term relationships seem more important …. we have so many good friends, and like them or not, Mr. Ponce’s family is … well, family.

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I may be back …

Soon after my last post, I read a post by a first mom blogger (who I continue to respect VERY much) that took the wind out of my sails.

After hearing a call in radio show about adoption that essentially exclcluded first mom’s she wrote a very heartfelt post that included (to summarize) a paragraph about how no matter what if a first parent wants their child back, adoptive parents’ with any ethics should simply ‘give the child back’ (totally paraphrasing here, but that was the gist).

I’d be full of myself to say/think that she had ever come across my blog (it’s new and I don’t do much to promote myself) but I took her words to heart (and personally) and just couldn’t get into blogging again.

And then our world went from slightly tilt-ee to totally upside down and we became “those adoptive” parents who were fighting to keep a child that was “wanted back.” Though I use the term “back” very loosely here because our son’s birth father never “had” Ponce in the first place (though that right was unjustly denied him for what we have come to see as right reasons poorly executed).

At the end of April we were extended an opportunity to meet Ponce’s birth father and start building the foundations of openness with him. About 30 minutes into that meeting Ponce’s birth father announced that he had been talking with a lawyer, his paster, his family, friends etc. and had decided that “I want my boy.” Our world crumbled. We were weeks from finalizing and Ponce’s birth father, while admittedly upset at the situation when he found out about it nearly one year ago had maintained his desire to keep Ponce with us. We were completely blindsided and devastated.

And going back to the very talented blogger’s post that had so affected me two months before that meeting made me feel very alone and uneasy about blogging more about our situation.

Most of the dust has settled (and aside from being much poorer than we were pre-end-of-April-meeting). Ponce will in all likelyhood be staying with us and the adoption will hopefully be finalized this summer (typed with fingers completely crossed — that is a very hard thing to do). In picking up the pieces of my heart and trying to frame Ponce’s birth father’s actions within the paramaters of a “desperate act” and part of his grieving process, I am searching for the ability to forgive. Partially for myself, partially because I think Ponce’s birthfather deserves it and circumstances have shaped him ways that most of us could never understand, but mostly for Ponce. And in that search … I have come to the conclusion that I don’t need to feel like I should apologize for wanting to keep Ponce. For loving him too much to “give him back.” I’m his parent for crap-sakes. Shouldn’t I want to protect and love him and fight for him? Isn’t that what parents do? Does the fact that I’m an adoptive parent mean that I should love or want Ponce any less than his birth parent?

In February I posted about guilt. I said that I had been carrying a lot of it for a situation that I did nothing to cause. I resolved not to carry other people’s guilt, and yet reading that bloggers post threw me back to where I was before mid-Feb. I will not apologize for loving my son and wanting the best for him. I have no doubt whatsoever that the best for him includes myself and my husband as primary parents, open relationships with his birth parents and families and all the love and support we can offer him through ourselves and our friends and families. I continue to respect and read the blogger that set me back a couple of months ago, but I understand that her perspective is necessarily different than my own and that her story is VERY different from our sons’ first parents’ stories.

So I am back. And the details that surround that end of April meeting are exactly the reason I started writing this blog to begin with. So I get to be back. And I get to not be apologetic about not “giving my son back.”

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What I learned in February

(Thanks to See Theo Run for inspiring this one.)

1. Watching other people love and delight in Ponce is almost as good as losing myself in Ponce. (Sub-revelation: People I was once lukewarm to, suddenly shine brighter than the north star because they care so much about Ponce).

2. Even though Ponce has got me sick every  month since October, my resolve to resist his sloppy kisses is no match for my desire to let him goober all over my face. (Sub-revelation: No matter how sick I get, my symptoms magically fall away if the prettiest snow of the winter falls and I decide I want Ponce to experience it.)

Ponce's Winter Wonderland

3. It is actually possible to love someone more with every passing day. (Sub-revelation: Letting my brain go to the place where Ponce does not get to stay with us can actually stop my heart and force every last molecule of oxygen right out of my lungs)

4. Willing my Quebecois roots into my adopted son via frequent FAILED attempts at maple syrup ingestion is not a reflection of my parenting skills.(Sub-revelation: Ponce has very poor taste. Pffft.)

5. Ponce loves me. He really does. (Sub-revelation: I can be moved to tears just by picturing him crawling maniacally across the couch to plant a wet, germy one, on my face.)

I hope I’m doing it right. See Theo Run links to the following at the end of her post, so I will too:

This is part of Amber Strocel’s monthly review linkup.

 

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Why Ponce?

Ponce: Ponce de Léon and his quest for the fountain of youth (Ponce is our fountain of youth) … that’s about as deep as it gets.

Really, though, … one of us once said “ponce” instead of “pants” and it has been an endless source of amusement for some baffling reason.

Also, English not being my first language, I often butcher expressions. One such butchery involved  “hold on to your hats” which I managed to reformulate as “hold on to your pants” … In my first language there is an expression with similar meaning that involves keeping your pants on … so there.

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Why?

According to my mom, “why” was my first word. It’s a word that has shaped me as a person. As a child I drove countless adults crazy with this word. It’s not like there has ever been concrete, satisfying answers to most of my “whys” but I always had to ask. And I still do. So why am I writing this blog?

Although I’ve made a career out of the written word, I have never been a journal keeper. This fact has never bothered me. Until now. Ponce is closing in on his eleventh month, and shit has time flown. It’s terrifying. I have kept a blog of love letters for Ponce. Those love letters chronicle all that is beautiful about Ponce, about how we came to be his lucky parents. It is where Ponce will one day read about all the beautiful, amazing things that he does. The beautiful, amazing people in his life. It’s the place where he will read only good things about me (his mom), his dad, his extended family, his birth family … It’s where almost everything he’ll ever need to know will be kept.

But life is more complicated than that. And I don’t know yet how I will share all (or any) of the uglier truth’s of Ponce’s adoption with him. Of his birth family history. Of my grief for all he lost before he was even born. I need to work through all that stuff now, before he’s old enough to start asking the questions I most want to make sure I have answers for.

Another very simple truth is that the “other blog” was shared with so many people that I find it very hard to write anything but the happy “adoption is all  rainbows and butterflies” stuff. It’s not that this new blog will become my “dark adoption blog” but I do need a space where I don’t have to worry that people who know us will be upset by anything we write or will have information about Ponce or his birth family that they shouldn’t.

So there you have it. I guess that is the very “unconcrete” answer to “why” I’m writing this blog.

As expected, I am not satisfied with my answer. Or with this post for that matter.

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