adoption

micromanaging the homework like whoa

I will come right out and admit that I have not had to do this in the past. My oldest two kids handled their shit. Period. Once they started the sixth grade, I didn’t have to check on their homework or remind them to do it. They took responsibility for it and they knew that their grades were important for college so they did their best. My third kid was a little less enthused in middle school, but still kept her grades in the A-Cs and now that she is starting high school, she is all A/B and really working hard. Flash forward to my youngest kid and man, I am not enjoying the micromanaging that The GingerBeard Man and I are having to do in order to keep her on track.
I check the grades online daily. I email teachers about missing assignments and bad grades to ask for stuff she can work on at home to improve her knowledge of the subject matter. I am printing up and even creating worksheets for her to practice at home. I have subscribed to all of the classes Remind App notifications that are available. It’s ridiculous. Are other parents doing this? Is this normal? Like I am having to memorize where all the damn states are in order for her to? And the capitals? I don’t want to memorize the capitals again. Stahp.
And forget bribing this kid. Forget. It. Here’s the thing about my youngest daughter: she doesn’t care about losing privileges… she doesn’t care SO MUCH that it makes me think it might be related to the years of being in foster care and not having anything. Which then makes me feel terrible. But you can tell this girl that she will lose her electronics, her free time, her time with friends, sleepovers, fun trips places… she doesn’t care. She will hand it all over and dig her heels in. The look in her eyes is like two birds in your face. It’s super frustrating.
She is also Queen of The Excuses. My teacher didn’t show me that. I actually don’t have to do that homework. It’s not due until next week. Nevermind that I am showing her the email from her teacher that says something to the effect of ‘we covered this in class today, here is the homework for it, it’s due tomorrow.’ Her newest excuse is that she shouldn’t even be in middle school because she didn’t pass one of her standardized tests last year. Forget that the one she didn’t pass was math, which she has a 96 in right now and we are talking about science.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I feel her pain. Homework is absolute balls. But is also has to be done and I am not going to sit by while she flunks the sixth grade because she just doesn’t feel like doing anything. I just wish so much that she cared. Like I can get past the needing endless help if she actually cared about learning. Or cared about making good grades. She doesn’t care at all. She is just trying to check the box next to completed so she can move on with her day. Making good grades is just not important to her. It’s so effing frustrating.
I seriously sometimes have a little fantasy daydream that she is standing tall and poised on a stage as a young adult, wearing her cap and gown thanking her father and I for pushing her to do well in school. And I sit back in my seat and dab my eyes and think “it was all worth it.”

“Why didn’t they want me?”

I forget, more often than not, how much of a big deal being adopted is.
A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that I am not adopted, nor have I ever known anyone who was. And while I try to be aware of how that feels for my daughter, I realize I am not hyper aware of it. In fact, I look at our life and I think, this is a good life. Compared to my childhood, you’ve got it made, kid.
There is something they have been saying on Manic Ramblings that has really stuck with me the last few weeks, they call comparing your life situation to someone else’s The Pain Olympics. I have no idea if they coined this phrase or if it’s been around forever and I’ve just never heard of it before, but I frequently think about it when it comes to comparing life situations.
My daughter only knows her own life. She doesn’t know my childhood, she doesn’t know any of the struggles I have endured, she doesn’t know the lives of the kids in foster care wishing they were adopted. She only knows her own life. And her life, recently, has been difficult for her emotionally.
I’m going to interrupt myself briefly to just say HOLY HELL, the last few months have been such a whirlwind. There have been major changes and major events that I haven’t had even the tiniest bit of time to write about here. Frankly, with the exception of everything I was preparing myself to emotionally go through, I was expecting for my life to slow down, get a little easier, and run more smoothly with the halving of my kiddos… That has not been the case. It was like these small areas were cleaned out and a bunch of drama jumped in to fill them up.
A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter and I had a big fight. I am a Taurus. I am a redhead. I am the oldest child. I was a single mother for more than ten years. So to say that I am a stubborn control freak is an understatement. I live and die by it. I do not like not getting my way, I do not like being told no, I do not like losing. I am The Mom, that’s it. End of story. So when my youngest daughter decided that she was going to 100% defy me, well I was just not even having that. And since I am physically not capable of forcing her to do anything, we spent about two hours fighting. And while I am all of the things mentioned above, my daughter is a fiery Latina with a strong sense of wanting to be in charge of making her own choices, something that was denied to her for most of her life. So, needless to say, this argument didn’t go well.
It began with me telling her she was going to spend the day at day camp and we needed to get ready to go now, she refused. Maybe it was the refusal or the defiance afterwards, but it made me dig my heels in. It wasn’t long afterwards that the tears began as she resolutely held on to her absolute refusal to comply. There was a period of ugliness here where she went down the road of threatening to call CPS on me (something I don’t think your everyday parent hears as much as parents of a child who has spent time in foster care do), she’d lie to them she said, tell them I was abusing her so she didn’t have to live with me any more. Why did I even adopt her, she asked. She wishes I had never adopted her, she hates me, she continued. Any seasoned parent has spent time being told they are hated but it doesn’t lessen the blow any. Why didn’t I adopt some other kid so she could stay with her real family.
This is where we got down into the nuts and bolts of it. This is where she really showed me her pain in all it furious glory. Why didn’t her real family want her? What was wrong with her? Why did all of her sisters get adopted together (two sets of two sisters, adopted by two different families) while none of them took her? Why couldn’t we adopt one of her siblings so she wouldn’t be alone. If her mom is off of drugs now, why can’t she go live with her? Surely, they would all be able to understand her better than we could, because they are her blood.
Now I can usually hold it together pretty well, but this just plain broke my heart. And all I could do was hug her and cry. And while I could answer all of those questions, it won’t fix any of her pain. There is no right answer for that. And so we cried and I hugged her and told her I loved her. And completely and totally exhausted from the entire ordeal, I let her stay home and I left for work. Once I had pulled myself together enough to, I called The GingerBeard Man and relayed the details of what had went down. And can I just tell you right now how much I love this man? This man who joined my family and embraced all four of these daughters that he didn’t know, this man who chose to be their father even though he had never for one day been a father… What does he say to me in response having heard all of this?
We can do better.”
It wasn’t the coddling response I admittedly had thought I would get, one where he would tell me I was the best mother who had ever mothered. It was the honest response of someone who loves that little girl. Who saw past the drama, hurt feelings, and charged emotions of the previous few hours and put any defensive notions to rest immediately, deciding instead to focus on the true issue here. The fact that our little girl is hurt and she needs us to help her with that hurt. And we can do better.

Five years ago…

Five years ago today, I picked up my youngest daughter from her foster parents. I put the few small boxes of items that belonged to her in my car and strapped her into her booster seat. I put the Pink Panther dvd she had brought with her on the dvd player and drove away with my new daughter. The new daughter I had only met the weekend before and who I knew virtually nothing about.
I’m told that the adoption process is usually drug out more than a week of get to know you time, but her situation was different and it was necessary for her to be placed quickly. Personally, I think it was better for all of us. There was no gradual peeling off of the bandage. It was ripped off and we moved forward.
The day that I picked her up was a Friday. And on the way home I stopped at our local grocery store to pick up that week’s worth of groceries. I wanted to see what kinds of foods she liked and I thought taking her shopping with me would be a great way to do that. Little did I know, she would eat just about anything.
She was so tiny, a scrawny skinny little five year old. I wrapped her in my big knitted sweater and put her in the seat in front of the cart. She asked me if she could scratch out the items on the list as we shopped. She was proud that she could read. I gave her the list and she wrote “food” on it and proceeded to mark off the items as we got them. She called me “Mommy” that day in the store and every day since. She bought cotton candy for her new sisters. And at the end of shopping, when I took the list back from her, she had written “hug me” on it. So I did.
Back then, I was so shocked by the whole process that it didn’t really occur to me how brave this little girl was. How someone who had only spent five tumultuous years on this planet could hold her head up and take the hand of someone she had only just met and accept that person as her mother. Looking back, I am absolutely humbled by her strength and bravery. And so very proud that she is my daughter.

I am always available to answer question about adopting from fostercare. You can email me at ginger@talesfromthechicks.com

Some real talk about adoption.

My youngest daughter is adopted.  She was born in 2005 and moved in with me in 2011, a month before he sixth birthday.  As a single mother of three biological daughters who live with me full time and always have, I didn’t think there was much that could really be harder than what I was already doing day to day.  I’d seen first hand a child living in a situation that he shouldn’t have been in and I knew I wanted to do my part to help take care of the kids that no one seems to want.  I didn’t just want to, I felt it deep within me that I had to.

CPS puts you through about six weeks of classes and during that time, they try and cover all of the different types of kids and all of the different types situations those kids have been in.  Like a crash course through child psychology, an over view of a variety of abuses and your coordinating responsibilities. I was very lucky that my class was super clear with us (maybe they all are) and I didn’t feel like anyone was sugarcoating anything.  So when it came down to what level of care I had to offer one of these kids, I knew my choice was going to be straight adoption.

Two years later, my three daughters and I drove a few hours away and spent two nights getting to know my youngest daughter and a week later I picked her up with a few boxes of her things and she came home to be with us forever.  And this is the part that should end “happily ever after” but won’t because the thing that you cannot be prepared for is taking a child that hasn’t spent any time with you or your family, no matter how great that family is, and have them fit right in.  Even all issues that this kids will come with aside and oh there will be issues, this little person doesn’t know you and you don’t know them.

You weren’t there the first time they walked or lost a tooth or were scared, you don’t know where that scar came from or the different ways they laugh or their nervous habits.  They’ve never been through your home’s bedtime routine, they don’t know where to hide during hide and seek, they don’t know where the dishes go or what your foods taste like.  That period of time when your baby turns into a little person is day after day after day of your routines and the way you smile and how your tone of voice changes when your child is being a turd.  That lack of knowledge about each other is a huge chasm and it isn’t one you can cross all at once.

My daughter has been with me for almost five years and it has only been pretty recently that I’ve started to feel like I know her better than anyone else in this world does.  I know what face she is making when she is being silly or serious, I know what kind of foods she likes, I know that the scars on her arm are from when she fell off the monkey bars in the first grade, I know how absolutely stubborn she can be, and I know how to give her praise in a way that is meaningful to her.  That’s a pretty serious handicap considering she will be eleven in a few months.

You have to work very hard to create a relationship with a child who doesn’t know you and has no reason to trust you any more than they trusted the last person who said that they loved them.  I wish it were easier, not for me, but for her.  I wish I could have picked her up that June afternoon and hugged her and told her she was mine and she would have believed me.  I wish I would have known what her favorite breakfast was or why she was scared of the dark.  And I wish she could have known that she didn’t have push me away because I would never leave her.  I think she knows that now and I think that’s why I can see so much more of her.