Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kinship Adoption

In many ways I think that kinship adoption is much more challenging than typical adoption - for everyone concerned. One of the big things is that we weren't looking to be parents, at least not of this child. I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world, but the lack of intention really has completely shaped the way we've grown into being parents, a family. I joke that we had a three week gestation period, but, really that's pretty much what happened.

I am frequently told that I "saved" my child; and it is suggested that K and I are some kind of heroes. I am most definitely not a "hero" or a "savior," and, while I am so glad that I have VeeGee and she me, I would much rather have had her have a happy and safe home-life with her birthmother. I refuse to buy in to any "meant to be" stuff because that means that VeeGee's suffering was "meant to be." In my heart, somehow, there was a place that VeeGee definitely moved - way before she became my daughter or was taken from her mother - and I can't explain that except to say that, maybe, the mom in me was already clued in to what was happening to her and was preparing me to be ready. I did know, somehow, that she would end up with us. But that did not make me happy because it was a result of suffering.

As to her birthmother: I have known this young woman since she was six years old, loved her as a sister. She is, and always has been, a very sweet person. She's had a VERY fucked up life. She was WAY too young to be a mother to any child, and VeeGee's severe and multiple disabilities made it even more difficult. Her and K's mother, who died last October, had very very involved multiple sclerosis and was completely bedridden and needed as much involved care as VeeGee did. Her father, who hasn't worked since she was born, has the worst raging temper of anyone I've seen. They lived in the grossest squalor I've ever personally witnessed.

Birthmom's biggest "crime" was that she refused to accept help when it was offered to her, she let her pride get in the way. It was very costly, almost to the point of VeeGee's death. I call it abuse because that is what DCS called it, because that is how I "read" allowing your child to suffer the way that VeeGee suffered, though I understand that many would call this neglect - I guess, for me, for now, "abuse" is a semantic coping tool. I also call it abuse because I know, from witnessing it firsthand, that Bmom's father was very rough with VeeGee (and his wife) when attending to her needs, and that she allowed that to happen and continue. Still, in my calmest moments, I know that Bmom really does love her and just was, herself, disabled.

I got an e-mail this morning from Bmom thanking me for allowing the visit last week. She apologized for the short notice and promised to be more consistent with her contact. She also sent me, per our request, a picture of VeeGee's bdad. Zoiks! He could be K's brother, which explains why VeeGee looks more like K (her half-uncle) than Bmom.

In the end I know beyond everything else that I need to work on being as peaceful and generous as I can within the bounds of keeping VeeGee safe. Anger does not a good mother make. I'm hopeful that we can grow into a peaceful relationship. I am not going to co-parent with Bmom, but I do want VeeGee to have as many people around her that love her as she can.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Surprise Visit - Part 3

It was a crazy day because of the fact that we waited for K's aunt to arrive from Chicago - the flight that was supposed to get in at 11:45 didn't get in until 5 (bless her heart!) because of ice and whatnot. We were pretty much in limbo waiting for updates and so K was actually home most of the day with VeeGee too, so we got lots of family time (oh, and one of our dogs ran away and we had to go looking for her in the ice/rain for an hour - we eventually found her, the brat. VeeGee is still walking around hollering, "Sula, w'ah you?" ).

So, we finally got out to grandparents house after dark at about 6:15, which is something I explicitly did NOT want (an evening visit). VeeGee had fallen asleep in the car (of course) and had a giant poopy diaper. I had to go directly in and change the sleeping baby, which was actually great for me to kind of catch my breath and re-rehearse with VeeGee the names of the people she was about to see. I asked her if she wanted to walk out there and she said "no" - odd because she LOVES it there, it's like her own little queendom, the way grandparents' houses often are - so I carried her, with her head buried in my neck .

Her reaction was strange. I said, "Oh wow, look we have friends here to see us! Look, there's Grandaddy and Uncle T. and Bmommy (we are using her first name), do you want to say, 'Hi'?" She clung to me pretty hard and when I walked closer to anyone, even her grandparents that she knows and loves, she turned away. It was odd because she had been chatting it up with the aunt that we'd picked up from the airport.

Anyway, so that went on for a while. She finally got out of my lap and huddled behind me on the couch. Eventually she started kind of doing the peek-a-boo thing and then, when she realized there were PRESENTS!!!! under the tree for her (!!!) she climbed down and went to it. That was lots of fun and I was impressed with the presents that they brought for her - they'd really actually thought about it, which was just really really wonderful. I thanked them a bunch.

It was also nice because we could all sit there watching her without the need for much conversation. As K said it later, "She was ON! Like a rockstar!!" I mean she was giggly, happy, and all-around hilarious to watch. We had to stop her or she'd have opened all the gifts that weren't for her (though I doubt anyone would have cared). She also sang with the music that they had playing (through the Christmas tree - tinny Christmas carols that made me want to cringe after just a few minutes ).

By the end of the evening she had given out plenty of hugs to everyone, said lots of thankyous and iloveyous and Birthmom even got a snuggle and a picture.

When we got back in the car she actually said, "Whew!" and then a little later, "No more people mommy, daddy." We assured her that that was all for the evening. And then we did our nightly Christmas light tour. All in all it was a pretty remarkably wonderful evening.

For me, it was deeply, deeply special that she clung to me and was very clear in her attachment to me. We've really worked so hard for this and it was just a blessing. In a way, too, I think that it made bmom feel good - at least she seemed to be pleased and amused - to see VeeGee confident in her place with us. During the entire evening there were no name slip-ups (a huge relief) and both bmom and grandaddy referred to K and I as daddy and mommy.

We know that there's a very good chance that we won't hear from them again for a long time (though bmom, who had thought she was coming for New Years instead of Christmas, said that she had ordered presents for VeeGee that weren't scheduled to arrive until after Christmas and that she'd send them along when they came in). Still, for the evening that it was whether it was a one-time thing or not, it was good.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Surprise Visit! Part 2

Okay, so we're going to the grandparents today at 11:45 for The Visit. I've been preparing VeeGee all morning by showing her pictures of her birthmom (which she really hates to see for some reason) and her grandaddy. I've also spent a bunch of skin-on-skin time with her laughing and tickling and doing deep pressure therapy. Finally, I've been helping her pronounce birthmom's name (we've chosen to use her first name just like we've done with her other aunts and uncles) and telling her about who all is going to be at the visit.

We also decided to pick up K's aunt who's flying in and take her when we go so that there will be more than just the VeeGee-bmom-grandaddy "event" going on and so VeeGee will feel less pressure to be the focus of everything.

Y'all, I'm so nervous, and sad, and worried. But I'm trying to leave that gunk here instead of bringing it out there. I want VeeGee to read total safety and relaxation coming off of me so that she can also feel those things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


We just got a call a little while ago that VeeGee's bmom is going to arrive from across the state this evening and is staying until, well, we don't even know, could be New Years. This is the first we've heard of it (they weren't even the ones who called to let us know) and we already have a houseful of children that we're watching for my sister (OVERLOAD CITY!!!!!!!!).

We also found out that they ("they" are bmom and her father) have been lying and telling K's grandparents that we don't return their calls and never call them. Holy SH*T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We have received exactly three phone calls from bmom since bringing VeeGee home. That would be three phone calls in almost two years. And we've sent e-mails, birthday videos from VeeGee, and have called many many times (they don't answer their phones because they dodge bill collectors constantly and/or have them disconnected).

K. I are so angry we could spit.

(P.S. It's really and truly not that we want to keep these people away from VeeGee- it just needs to be on OUR terms which are based on care and concern for VeeGee (things which clearly they do not have).

One of the things that is so amazing and painful about this is that K's grandparents (also birthmom's grandparents, my de facto mother and father -in-laws) consistently seem to choose sides on this, and the side that they choose is bmom's: the one who WILLFULLY abused and neglected VeeGee (the child they absolutely adore), almost to the point of her death. Basically, they are calling us liars when we tell them about the lack of contact.

We always invite K's grandparents for Christmas Eve (they have never ever come because it's mostly the evening that we spend with my dad and his dad, who is their ex-son-in-law - they HATE both my dad and K's dad) and I think they expect to be invited also. For me, that night is the most important and meaningful part of the entire season and is pretty sacrosanct. I'm just not ready to bring them into the mix.

Generally we don't even see his grandparents on Christmas - sometimes the day after, but usually we wait til New Year's Day because that is K's grandfather's birthday.

The way they are, I'm pretty sure that they just expect us to drop everything and go to the grandparents tomorrow and the next day. I'm so up to my eyeballs with VeeGee and my sister's three kids (one of which is a one-year-old), I just need to stay in one place. Not to mention the fact that I'm hosting dinner on Christmas Eve and have to get the house ready (in the midst of all these kids!) for the company that I was already expecting. I've already bought food, too, so that would be another thing . . . . . UGH.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Okay, so we'll call them "InchStones"

VeeGee licked pudding off of her fingers (three weeks in a row!!!!!!!) at feeding therapy without coercion OR gagging!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yesterday in speech therapy they were playing with play-doh and her therapist cut out a "cookie" which VeeGee, with a bit of doubt in her eyes, picked up and licked (I guess she's starting to get the hang of the routine!). However, she was none pleased with the taste and said, "Play doh tastes yucky!" (Also an inchstone!!!!!!!) Yes, VeeGee, play-doh is yucky tasting. But YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!