Feel Good Stories

Every Monday morning, I watch Sunday’s Agape service as recorded and shared on their website. The messages from the Rev Michael Bernard Beckwith are empowering and positive. Today’s message left me wanting to share something more positive about adoption than I usually do. Don’t misunderstand. I’m am still more than less against most adoptions. A woman who regularly reads this blog, sometimes shares my essays on her blog. Our perspectives are not identical but I noticed that she had one today with the title – Why adoption can be a blessing. So I went there and found among several offerings this video and watched it.

As this video makes clear, sometimes adoption is the best answer and sometimes the coincidences (which spiritually I believe in strongly as signs) make an adoption simply feel “right” and in harmony. So in keeping with my desire today, I share this video with you, to spread a little joy about a topic that I normally do not feel all warm and fuzzy regarding.

“She Said – She Said” Stress

An adoptee reunion is tough enough without family making things harder. Today’s story –

My daughter will be 18 on March 11th. My aunt adopted her. She had the money and a judge sided with her for custody.

My aunt told her bad things about me. That I was a drug addict for 10 years (became sober in 2014).

The aunt has not allowed me any space in my daughter’s life. But at age 18, she is mature enough to make her own decision about contact with me.

I know my daughter has had some mental health issues. I don’t want to make things worse for her but I do want to reconnect now that I can.

How do I do this well ?

So, there comes this advice from a woman who just finished a clinical rotation at a women’s recovery center and worked on this topic a lot! It was recommended to many of them to have these types of conversations with a family therapist as a 3rd party if possible, or have the child/adolescent have at least a session or so with one following the information. This can help alleviate some of that “she said – she said” type of stress from the conversation. A professional has the empathetic perspective to guide regarding the right things to say.

I understand having a professional can be financially difficult and complicated by COVID. Many therapists are doing TeleHealth appointments now. Please know that there are a lot more affordable options than there previously have been!

If that’s not something that’s possible – just remember that this is confusing for her, and to be gentle with the approach. She will likely be able to tell if anything doesn’t feel genuine because she’ll likely be on high alert in her nervous system expecting a difficult conversation. Be careful not just drag your emotional feelings about your aunt’s behavior into your conversations (I know that will be difficult but it is important). Come from a place of love, positivity, and most importantly, showing her respect will go a long way.

Congratulations on your sobriety, that’s a HUGE accomplishment and I truly hope you’re proud of yourself. Best of luck! Your daughter is lucky to have you!

Someone else had similar advice – I suggest you find a therapist with experience working with adopted teens. Your story has many layers and you may find working with a therapist will help guide you through the coming years. It’s hard to walk the path of reunion alone or alongside others who are struggling. A therapist is trained to guide your journey.

From another adoptee’s own experience – I was back in contact at 17 (almost 18) with my mama. Very much like it has been for your daughter, I was told horrible things about her growing up, some were true, some were not. She was a drug addict as well. When we first met, she wanted to clear her name. She really laid it on thick – how this and that wasn’t true, and this excuse and that excuse. The entire time, this made me very uncomfortable and nervous. I remember just feeling like she was talking to me – not with me. What I wanted was for her apologize, to tell me she loved me, to ask about me, to show interest in me… the main thing I wanted was just to be near her, and feel important to her. My advice, from my adoptee point of view is – just apologize, go by her lead, answer questions honestly but don’t put too much on her at one time. Don’t play the victim card (even if you truly are). Everything doesn’t have to happen in one day. It takes time for separated person to regain trust in one another and build a new relationship. Go slow. Adoptees want the truth but it is also true that we cannot always handle all the weight of the truth at one time… Good luck Mama, you already are taking a great first step in reaching out for guidance, before going forward.

Another woman amplified this message – your actions will show who you are over time to her as she grows a relationship with you. Give her baby steps and gentle love – without a ton of defending yourself, or defaming auntie. You can only prove yourself with time and character!! Invest in her and listen to her. You got this, momma.

Bear Hunt

It may seem a bit off topic but really not.  Whether an adoptee or a foster child, all children seem to bond with inanimate stuffed animals that seem very much alive to the child that loves them.  My daughter once had an enormous bear she named Mellisica.  My older son had a red fox that we once lost on the way home from a long journey.  We tried to replace it with an identical one but he was never deceived.  The youngest one had a white tiger he named Lazha.

In this time of physical distancing as children are no longer crowded into the schools a new effort to bring smiles and something more sweetly novel than the virus has begun.  Many people are putting teddy bears in their windows and families who go out to walk together (keeping their distance from other people) or get in their cars to drive around kept distant by the encompassing form of their metallic vehicle are playing a game with one another – a new way of connecting with the rest of the human race.

In 1989, Michael Rosen wrote a children’s book with the title “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”.  Our modern day version is a scavenger hunt or kind of I Spy activity for every who who is stuck at home, adults included.  In some neighborhoods, kids are in full safari outfits, binoculars included, to get into the role.  Some families have turned it into a safari instead of a bear hunt because you see other species of stuffed animals. Or some are putting bear prints on their sidewalks with chalk.

It is really heartwarming.  One can get quite emotional looking at all the pictures coming in from every corner of social media.  People are seeking to hang onto anything positive, even if it’s a stuffed animal in a window.

From a mental health standpoint, this is more than just a children’s game.  It is a way of communicating with other people while staying safe in isolation.  It is a silent visual message that families and individuals are sending to each other from their windows that says, “We’re all in this together. I’m experiencing what you’re experiencing.”

So, if your circumstances allow it (we no longer have any stuffed animals in our home having long ago given them away to the regional women and children’s shelter for protection from domestic abuse), do put something cute in your window and share a feeling of connection even though it isn’t currently possible to have direct physical contact with other people.