Dear Daughter, I Choose You

Dear Daughter,

I’ve never lied to you but I haven’t figured out how to explain this to you, so I’m glad you haven’t asked questions yet. I’ve been cranky lately and I want you to know that I’m trying really hard to put it behind me and get back to normal.

I had to make a really hard decision to end a friendship, and I’m feeling really sad and hurt about it. I want you to know first and foremost that it’s not your fault. I was warned when I started the adoption process that people would drop out of my life, and so I expected it. I was warned that even close family and friends will question my future child’s behaviour and the parenting decisions that I make. I didn’t expect it would be one of my best friends, but I knew it would be someone.

I’m really struggling with losing my friend, but I don’t regret my choice. You are the most important person in my world, and everyone that surrounds us should be supportive. There just isn’t room in our lives for anyone who isn’t. I want you to know that I chose to adopt you and I will continue to choose you as my number one priority for the rest of my life. I will never regret those choices.

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Dear Daughter, I Don’t Enjoy This

Dear Daughter,

They told me that children with trauma and attachment issues would do everything they could to push a parent away and to test boundaries… but this sh!t you put me through; Kid, there ain’t enough vodka in the world. I don’t know why you take it to such extremes. I have always been good at following through on the consequences that I lay out for you, but it’s like you have to keep upping the ante. You keep pushing past my consequences like they don’t mean a thing to you, and I have to make the consequences harsher and harsher to match your escalating behaviour. And when you’ve been warned a thousand times of what will happen if you continue, you do it one more time just to see if I’ll follow through… and so I must, and now you sob uncontrollably because I’m such a mean mom.

The parenting techniques I used to preach to clients, have no effect on you.  Natural or logical consequences are out the window. So much for discipline vs. punishment. So much for getting down to your level. That does not work with you. You don’t need a friend, you need a parent. A strong one.

I want you to know that I don’t enjoy this. I do not want you to think that I am mean. I want to be warm and loving and let you bend the rules and have exceptions sometimes, but I can not. When I do, you are out of control. You do not feel safe, though you have begged for the flexibility. I must be firm with you, and when your behaviour is not appropriate then I must be more firm, and when it escalates then so must I.

This does not come naturally for me. I am spontaneous. I am care-free. I don’t enjoy following a routine or having every part of my life mapped out for me. But I do it for you, so that you feel safe within that structure.

So when you are older and you have memories of those times when “mom was mean”, know that I was doing it for you. Know that I didn’t enjoy it but that it was the only way to keep you from spiralling into an anxious mess. Most importantly, know that I was doing it because I love you.

Love,

Mom

Battle for Control

Lately my daughter hasn’t wanted to go to school. I haven’t been able to figure out exactly why, but her teacher says that all kids are like this in the spring as the days get longer and they want to be playing and not stuck in the classroom. She thinks my daughter is experiencing the same thing as the other children, just to a more extreme degree. She’s probably right. My girl takes everything to the extreme. But, I have to keep my power. I have to always be the one in control, so that she feels safe and taken care of. And so I resort to whatever methods I can to win the battle.

Three times I had to make good on my threats to put her on the deck with her clothes and lock the door until she went to school. Twice she eventually did. The third time the sun was out so she decided to play in the yard instead. Since then I’ve had to up the ante. If she won’t go to school, I threatened to carry her to the driveway and stand there in my pyjamas in front of the passing cars and school busses until she crosses the street. This morning I did just that. This morning she went to school.

I don’t like it one bit. Tossing her things onto the deck and locking the door doesn’t make me happy. Neither does having to embarrass her in front of her schoolmates. But consequences don’t work; I’ve tried them all. Letting her get away with it certainly does not work. There is a reason traumatized kids need high structure; it’s because it’s what makes them feel safe. And so I keep things structured, I make her go to school every day because being flexible doesn’t work for us. I get her out that door by whatever means necessary, and I really have no idea if I’m doing this right or not, but I’m doing the best that I know how to do.

The Young Boy I Met

In May I met a 14yr old boy at an adoption party. He was awesome, but I was holding out for a sibling group. I decided to look into him again recently and just today discovered that he’s been placed with a family. It is always bittersweet to hear about placements of kids you’re interested in – but I’m so glad he has a home now.

I’ve inquired about lots of kids over the past several months. Most of them from the public website. None have panned out yet. The trouble is that the kids on the website are the “hard to place” ones, who’ve been resorted to marketing tactics to find them homes. We don’t get to see files for the majority of the kids in care. We as adoptive parents have to leave our lives in the hands of a social worker – a stranger – and hope that they’re doing everything they can to match us with a child and expand our families.

It’s hard not to feel like you’re just another file sitting on someone’s desk. Usually, you are. I contact my social worker once every couple of weeks to ask questions and make sure we’re making strides in the direction of our end goal. What is that saying… the squeakiest wheel gets the grease.

In the meantime, I sit and I wait and I hope for a child to bring noise and laughter and life into my home and into my heart.

It’s Almost Go-Time!

I’m really quite excited to start my life as a mom. It’s taken a long time to get to this point (my best friend calls it “the most overdue pregnancy ever”). I first applied to adopt in April of last year (2013), but I had spent my whole life thinking about it first. It took six months to receive the first phone call saying that they had finally reviewed my application. After that things thankfully seemed to go faster (though they really didn’t). I’ve been through two very long weekends of training, filled out massive amounts of paperwork (repeatedly), I’m now onto my third social worker (intake worker, home study writer, and now the permanent adoption worker), and last month I was finally approved to adopt!

In between all of the appointments and paperwork, I’ve painted both of the kids rooms, the laundry room and the basement. I’ve torn down and re-built a fence and a deck, I’ve attended several meet-ups with other adoptive or prospective parents, and I’m managing the blog for a new non-profit organization started by one of my new friends. Things have been really busy preparing for my new family; I guess you could say I’m nesting (and drinking more coffee).

My social worker said that my file has been getting a lot of attention due to my wide age-range, so I don’t think it will be very long before I’ve found a “match” and will get to bring them home. I’m spending the interim period saving up for my parental leave and trying to finish off a few projects around the house. I also have a couple of weekends planned at the lake for good measure.

Wish me luck, and keep your eyes open for big news coming soon!