Wednesday, July 2, 2008

That Being Said...

Well, I've calmed down a bit. But was worth writing. I suppose I should clarify how I feel about my daughter's birth-mother. I don't use the term birth-mother a lot. I simply cannot. And it has even more to do with the abuse she inflicted on her birth children that I have never met (and likely may never meet). They are now 9 and 6. They were beaten, neglected, and sexually abused by she and her husband in addiction to being born cocaine-addicted. They were adopted a year before Cookie was born (adopted by the loving couple who were their foster parents - praise God!) I pray for them a lot. My daughters do not know about them, and we will not tell them until they are at the very least teenagers, or maybe adults. It will be hard for them to digest.

And what shall we tell them about their birth parents? For now, we tell them nothing. Cookie knows she is "adopted", though she knows little about what adoption means in terms of who gave birth to whom and that she didn't grow in my tummy. She knows she was brought to us by a social worker, that we went to court, and that she became a forever member of our family. The fact that another human body served as an incubator is of little relevance to us or to her and her well-being. Certainly once we begin talks about the birds and bees, we'll weave in that another woman carried her and gave birth to her.

But the rest of the story is hard to tell. I can't say "she loved you", or "she cared about you". I don't lie, and I won't lie. Lying would simply teach my children that it's OK in some instances. I believe that it is NEVER OK to lie. Period. The truth is she may never have had much of chance in life, on the streets and meeting up with a criminal and drug addict in his 30s when she was just 12. No education, biological family but no support system. I suppose I could say she is "sick or ill", but that doesn't begin to explain it. I could say she is a drug addict. That's true, and we will tell them that at a fairly young age. Drug talks are a must even with your biological kids with no risk factors.

But I won't walk around bashing her, either. That's the difference between my blog and, I can be tough, but I'm more likely to be a doormat. I can talk tough here, but in real life I save my rants for private time with good friends who "get" me. I don't rant in front of my kids - not even when they are home and in another room. I just don't do it.

We don't talk about their birth parents at all. They aren't in a lifebook. I don't have family pictures. I have a mug-shot of Cookie's alleged birth father (birth mom's husband who is incarcerated as well). Ah, nah, no mug shots in a lifebook. Unh-uh. No way. That picture is in her presentation summary and will remain under lock and key.

See, there's no sweet little birth family story here. No birth mom who simply messed around in high school and gave up her child for adoption. No bitter-sweet overseas adoption story of poverty-stricken or deceased birth parents and a rescued child. No open adoption bliss. In fact, our adoption is ultra-closed for our personal safety. We never even met their birth mom because the cabinet feared for our safety. This was a potentially dangerous situation. We were even told where not to take the baby when we shopped because that was the neighborhood where a relative lived.

I can't make it good. Their adoption albums don't have any "birth family" pages. There's nothing I can put there. I have names and history and information, and that we will share when and if they are ready to hear it and capable of processing it. We may even choose to do it with some assistance of professionals and extended family.

But I won't make it some horror story they have to shoulder, either. We tell them they are miracles. EVERY NIGHT when we pray, the FIRST thing we say is "Thank you Jesus for Cookie. We are SO glad you sent her to be our little girl. And thank you Jesus for Bit-Bit. We are so glad you sent her to be our little girl, and that you are allowing us to adopt her just like we adopted Cookie."

So, I might talk smack on my blog, but the talk at home and with the girls is always positive. The negative will always be there, so there's no need to emphasize it. They'll know we aren't their biological parents. Um, it's rather obvious. :)

I still haven't completely worked through my anger toward their birth parents. I'm not sure it will ever go away completely. I pray it becomes more of compassionate/sadness for them. But I can't forget what they did.

We're closing our home as foster parents. We're also strongly considering seeking to leave Kentucky. It's been OK, but God's been talking to us a lot lately, and showing me many signs that our time here may be ending before too awful long. I'd like to be within driving distance of family. But I do know that leaving Kentucky means that when our daughters birthmom gets out of jail in two years, and gets pregnant yet again (because she's only 25 now and that's her pattern), that that child will go to another family. Strangely, we're OK with that. We didn't adopt her first two kids, and we can't adopt every child she might have before she's done. Maybe there's another couple desperately praying for a child as we were 3 years ago. It would be fine (I think).

The term birth-parent becomes a little problematic when "parent" connotes a certain level of care. I actually find myself at a loss for an appropriate term for the woman who gave birth to my daughters.

If anyone out there has birth-parent story issues because of the horrific nature of the situation, I'd love to hear from you. I'd love to know how you told your children about them, and when you told them, and how you dealt with questions. We're trying to get it right. Unfortunately, we're probably going to screw up a whole bunch.


Julie said...

I totally understand. I wish I could completely relate- but my situation is a little different. R does LOVE G. I have come not to question that. She just doesn't really "get" the parenting thing. Which is fine as she is a part time parent to my G. I pray she "gets" it with the new baby. I am sad for you in some ways that your girls dont' get to have a sweet adoption story but really- how many adopted children really do? Not many I am afraid. Most are similar to your's. God will direct you in what to tell- when to tell and even then you can only pray how they will recieve the news. Sad but we live in a very fallen world. Hugs to you! :)

and why don't ya'll come this way?? :)

SD said...

You have it right, you'll know in your heart when it is best to talk about things, and you'll know best when the girls are ready to hear things. Telling the truth is key. We learned that in a class we had to take. If you try and soften the blow and tell tales of Love by the birth parents and sadness they could not keep or take care of them....when in fact that was NOT the case---We were told that can really cause serious problems later as they will hold on to false hopes and wishes of finding them and trying to "make things right"--we have been told stories (heartbraking) of older teens and young adults who held on to hopes of finding long lost birth parents who they believe really loved them and did want them----found them, met them, and were slowly dragged down into hell by them. So we were sternly cautioned IF IT IS NOT TRUE, OR YOU DON"T KNOW THE TRUTH DON'T SAY IT OR MAKE IT UP. Be honest--there is probably no true way to make it easier if it is truly a situation where they did not care about the children-if they were abusive, neglectful---just be honest when they are old enough to understand. That is what we plan to do as we were advised by counselors, and therapists. But if it was a situation where they did love and care for them but could not handle parenting---then it would be good to tell them they were loved. It is a rough thing about how to handle it.

Ms. J said...

Wow. I really never thought about how you talk to a child in this situation . . . I am so glad yo wrote about this, though -- it is something for me to think about if/when we decide to explore domestic adoption for child #2. Thank you.

Dream Mommy said...

Of all my kids' bio moms, I pray for Princess' mom the most. Yes, she killed my daughter through her drug use, but we both lost a child, she just has to live with the guilt for the rest of her life.

Bubbles' parents were probably the only ones I just couldn't find any good in. I did feel sorry for the mom, but she has the option to leave the abusive man.

Smiley's mom I let visit when I want to. She's not terrible, but I don't always feel like babysitting and explaining simple things to her. I'm considering stopping visits, because he doesn't know her, and may never have the mental capacity to understand what adoption is anyway.

Maybe you could find something nice to say about her. She didn't have an abortion and allowed them to be born. That's what I said for Princess' mom. At least she gave birth to her.

Good luck. I know you won't screw it up.

Overwhelmed! said...

Oh, what a tough situation you're in with that. I think your idea of not sugar-coating the truth but trying to tell the truth in an age-appropriate way is good.

We plan on telling Snuggle Bug the truth about his birth parents. His parents DID make a loving choice in placing him for adoption, but the reasons they had to were in large part due to ongoing substance abuse habits that they couldn't kick. When Snuggle Bug asks WHY, I'm going to tell that truth. His birth mother is aware of this because I told her that's what's going to happen. I'm not out to demoralize her but he deserves the truth. And when he realizes that we have contact with his birth mother but not his birth father, we're going to have to explain that his birth father made it very clear to us that once Snuggle Bug was born he was out of the picture, period. He terminated his parental rights before his son was born. He's made it clear to all of us that he's not interested in any further contact.

These are not easy truths that we'll one day have to explain to our children, but I still think the truth is the only way to go.

Hang in there. You're doing the right thing.

Marthavmuffin said...

I hope we all continue to have this kind of 'dialogue' about this issue, so when our kids are older we discuss how we handle this. Jamie is 2.5 and her birth parents never had her, (they lost her at birth) and didn't make any attempts to get custody of her. They both used - mainly marijuana I think, but the main thing was they didn't have any sort of ambition. Neither one of them worked more than a couple days, or even lived somewhere more than a couple weeks the whole 19 months of their case plan. So they lost her through imcompentence. How do you explain that!? (on the other hand during the 3 visits they had with her they acted as if they loved her and were so proud of her.) So I guess just to say she was loved, but her parents weren't able to care for her would be simple and truthful.