Am I ready for back to school?

2014 back to school

It’s hard to believe as I sit here alone in my house that it is day TWO of the school year for both of my girls!  I am still wrapping my head around the fact that my little is in first grade and attends school for the whole day with pick up at the same time as her sister, 2:20 PM.

The new school year brings all kind of excitement and at the same time for me some sadness.  Yes the summer break is over.  The summer where we weaved in and out of any kind of routine from family vacation to summer camps to just hanging around or heading to the pool. Now my days are mine, and that brings some sadness.  We had a great summer together and also I will miss the 1/2 days I’ve had in past school years to spend with our youngest. The time that was just the two of us before picking up big sister later in the day at school.  It’s hard to have no one home with me, can you believe I just said that out loud? It’s been 8 years that I’ve had one or both girls with me all or most of the time.

I also wonder what school projects will be headed our way for both girls. Will there be any that will have us talk about how our family was built through open adoption?  How will we handle these projects?  Our girls are old enough now for they themselves to share and to whom they choose how our family was built.  Last year in second grade we had an ancestry project and we included birth family, will there be another project that we can do this as well for both of our girls?

This is now the time I need to reevaluate and think what am I going to do 5 days a week while both girls are in school.  My ideal would be to find a part-time job with hours from 9-1:00 PM three days a week.  That is what I hope to do, have some adult time earn some money and be there for both of our girls for drop off and pick up.  As we just started the school year, I have not yet given this much thought but will be looking into what opportunities I may find to fill my days and still allow me time for volunteering at school.  What do I want to be when I grow up?

The school year returns routine to our home and family.  Back to set bedtime and the morning wake up routine.  It also means the start-up of sports, both girls play recreational soccer, the continuation of their ballet classes and Girl Scouts restarts with the school year.

We are back to walking to school in the morning.  Something we have done in the past living only a 1/2 mile from school, but something that stopped the last year for the ending 4 months of school after my fall and tearing ligaments in my foot.

So now I am excited for our girls and what new learning opportunities there are before them in the 3rd grade and 1st grade.

After their first day filled with excitement I know they are ready to be back in school.  I still wonder though am I ready for back to school?


uncharted waters … sort of …

the definition:

Doing something that has never been done before.

In some ways living with a family created through open adoption is like making our way through uncharted waters.  Open Adoption is approximately 30 years old, having started sometime in the 1980s. Before then families having adopted lived in secrecy sometimes not even sharing to the children that they were adopted. Today there are so many ways to view and live what open adoption is that everyone’s journey is different.  In our immediate family there is no other family built through open adoption or adoption at all. Ours has its own pathway and we move forward with both of our daughters’ families that we have incorporated into ours. At the same time, we take along our families in our beliefs of how we want our daughters raised and how we want them known by all and loved by all.

We have met and know as friends other families also created with open adoptions. Their children are older than ours so we do have their experience to help us through our own family experiences; but yet we have our own experiences to help guide us onward …

At the time each of our girls turned 4, their respective birth fathers realized the importance of their knowing each other.  Something we had hoped for and had always left the door open to the possibility of.  In both cases, we had met and/or talked to each of these men during the adoption placement and then in each case both stepped out of the picture, although not completely.  Both men accepted the information for our family blog where I post regular family events and pictures.  This was a place they could anonymously watch their girls grow.

And so at the age of 4 our girls got to meet and begin their relationships with their birth fathers and siblings through this part of their family.  Needless to say our family continues to grow with these families!  Over this summer,  we have been able to meet up with both of our girls’ birth fathers and their families.  Both were amazing times spent together with fun, laughter, love and great memories!

Our girls are now 7 and 5 years old respectively.  Both of our girls have ongoing in-person and loving relationships with both their birth mothers and birth fathers and parts of their extended families. As we have learned and continue to learn, these relationships have ebb and flow, but we relish in the fact that we are a family together! Our open adoption families are young so to speak and so our pathways is still in its early stages.  What we do know so far is do not count anyone out from these relationships.

What the Baby Veronica Case brings up for me ….

Everyone’s story and journey to parenthood is different, ours changed from trying to get pregnant to not needing to be pregnant to become parents and then deciding on the family-building option of domestic open adoption.
From the outside looking in our adoption journey was seamless and painless, but that is not always the case.  We made tough decisions along the way and when our second daughter was born there was more than those on the outside looking in were aware of.
Our journey to parenthood was guided by the late great Ellen Roseman of Cooperative Adoption Consulting.  Her guidance and wisdom were with us throughout our journey as well as the education she provided on openness in adoption and not leaving anyone out in the family especially expectant/birth fathers.
It was this aspect of the process that reminds me part of our journey to our daughter J and the decisions we were faced with after her birth.  We met J’s birthmother 10 days before she was born which truly was not enough time (in our mind) for her to make a permanent placement decision.  We had begun talking about her parenting after the baby was born and she turned this discussion into our sharing parenting as she works through her thoughts and feelings for what decisions were ahead for her.  The plan became about her taking the baby home from the hospital and then passing her onto us with S’s time becoming less and ours more if she decided that adoption was going to be her plan.  Then on top of that when my husband contacted the baby’s expectant father he went from first thinking our adopting his baby was a great idea, and hours later he didn’t.  We realized at that moment we might have to walk away from S & J.  Heartbreaking to say the least but we knew we had no place to fight him if he really wanted to parent his daughter and this was something he and S were going to have to discuss.  Their relationship was long diminished before this and that is why he was not initially part of her decision to consider adoption for their baby.
During this time, S wasn’t still completely sure what she wanted as far as parenting or entrusting her daughter with us.  We had to step out of the conversations at that point as it was not for us to be involved it was between them.  Ellen was there with us along the way and guided us through. 
It was hard, very hard but we knew we weren’t part of this discussion and we couldn’t be, it wasn’t our baby to fight for even though our hearts felt otherwise.  We had our two year old daughter to be parenting at this time so we had to still be there for her while all this was going on and she was to stay our focus.
We waited and waited to hear what the final outcome might be.  We heard from Ellen and S that the baby’s birth father had in fact consenting on the adoption placement. 
To this day we don’t know what brought him/them to this decision.  This last December we reconnected with him and his son (J’s brother) in beginning to establish a relationship as a family together.   At first he wanted nothing to do with J and us as a family.  We always left the door open knowing someday J would want to know him.  Then just like that last October he commented on a photo on facebook (we had become friends even though we didn’t communicate).  From that initial re-communication we planned on getting to know each other in person.  Our first in-person meeting was in December 2012.   Today we are planning another get together in honor of J’s birthday.
So yes from the outside looking in no one would suspect what had happened on our second journey to parenthood … I can still remember it like it was yesterday and reading and following the story of Baby Veronica it brings back these feelings and memories.   I don’t fault the prospective adoptive parents in how they may be feeling, but I really feel when the father of this little girl started fighting for her when she was an infant they should have bowed out.  Now there is an almost 4 year old girl whose life is turning upside down yet again.  This case and others like it bring to light the non-ethical professionals in adoption as it appears from the outside looking in in my opinion that they are not being correctly guided … very sad for all involved.

Balancing act …

I sit here thinking nothing in life is perfect and the expectation that it should be is not good.  But here I sit thinking how to keep the balance of how often our girls see their birth families so that they feel equal.

You see at 7 and 5 years old it counts!  And at the same time geography plays an important role in the amount of visits with one family. 

We live in California and our elder daughter was born in Minnesota.  Both her birth mother and her extended family still live in Minnesota and so does her birth father and his family.  We travel to Minnesota every other summer and her birth mother visits in California at least 2-3 times throughout the year.  Between visits we rely on Skype to brush away the miles and keep the connection/relationships ongoing.

Our younger daughter was born an hour south of where we live and her birth mother and her family live in the area and her birth father and family live just a few hours away.  So as you can see its easier to get together because proximity makes it so.

I feel sad when I have to explain why we don’t see C more and why we see S more.  I don’t want our girls to feel different because of geography.  We have explained that when C was choosing a family she wanted a family in California and that was her choice and the opposite was true for S.  S wanted a family that lived locally for her own reasons.

I know I can’t make this situation perfect but I also want it to feel fair to our girls so it continues to be a balancing act.