The Most Important Day for an Adoptive Parent

Nate cake

Mr. Ornery’s whale picture turned into his birthday cake

It has been a week of celebration. The anniversary of Mr. Ornery’s adoption was on Tuesday and his birthday was on Thursday with a party on Saturday. Super Tall Guy was adopted seven years ago on Friday. And The Little Guy’s “Adoption Day” was on February 12th. These are all big milestones in the lives of these boys. Not ones that they really understand yet, but ones that they currently look forward to solely by virtue of the fact that there are “gifts” involved! And that, as we all know, is really the key way to celebrate a momentous occasion!

But to me, the real “celebration” day was yesterday, two days after Mr. Ornery’s birthday. It was on that day seven years ago that my sister received a call from the foster agency that Super Tall Guy had a younger brother who needed a home and would we be available to get to the hospital in 15 minutes to pick him up?

You see, that’s how life functioned in the world of foster parenting. The phone was always nearby in case there was a call. And if we didn’t answer or weren’t available for a child, the next family was called. Some people have eight months or more to prepare for a child. We responded to a phone call, went out and bought diapers and formula, and spent the next few months without sleep at night. Life was chaotic, but exciting and good.

Yesterday, I quietly honored the day I met Mr. Ornery. That’s his birthday to me. That’s the day I looked into his small eyes and stroked his soft skin and said “hello.” That’s the day I lifted him into my arms and breathed in the secret baby smell. That’s the day I introduced him to his older brother and said, “Look who just arrived.” That’s the day my heart jumped and the journey began. The wait. The stress. The worry that he wouldn’t stay with us, that a biological family member might claim him. The long nights and the never-knowing. The ache to claim him as my son and the reluctance to grab onto that hope.

Yet for this child, the family court judge was realistic. She had seen this too many times. She offered birth mom her chance and when she didn’t respond at all, the judge moved the process along so fast that the Adoption Day happened two days before his first birthday!

And on that day, I welcomed my second son a second time.

You see, there are Birthdays and Adoption Days and in foster parenting there are “Change of Goal” days and “Termination of Parental Rights” days, but really in the life of an adoptive parent, the important ones are the “I just met you” Days. That’s where the story begins.

I am so glad to have met you, Mr. Ornery.

Thank you for becoming my little boy.

 

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You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

He didn’t need to bend over. The cheeks were showing as he passed into the dining room. “Little Guy, where are your underwear?”  Shy smile. “Go get some on.”

Five minutes later: “Little Guy, go get your underwear on.”

Five minutes later, he comes down with socks in his hand. “I asked you to get underwear on.”

Walking into daycare, the pants yield enough view as he climbs the stairs. “Little Guy!!! I told you 10 times to get underwear on!  Ahhhh!  Hope there’s some in your cubby.”

Hmm….just a shirt….bummer.

“Oh, I put them in the car, Mom.” Of course, why not just carry them to the car?

Back upstairs and get them from the car. Enter the bathroom to have him change: “Little Guy! Where are your socks?!?!”

Pretty sure I need to institute some kind of 5-point inspection before we leave the house in the morning!  Drill Sargent style. Teeth. Underwear. Socks. Shoes on the right feet. Backpacks. Sure the boys are going to love it.

Little Guy really is my easy-going (other than the whining), never have to entertain him, and usually can’t find him kind of guy. But this week has been a doozy for him.

Toilet in the boys bathroom is not even two weeks old and it overflowed the other day. Man, I said to myself – what in the world is wrong with this thing! Boys, what is wrong with the toilet?

“Um, I think there’s a car in there,” Little Guy responds helpfully.

“You think?!?”

I don’t even want to call the maintenance men tomorrow morning. Thought I’d give them the weekend off and just have the boys run downstairs for toileting (because you know full well that my master bathroom toilet seat shall not be “adorned” by them!). But really, what am I going to say? Hi, guys, mind taking up that new toilet you just put in and dig out the Matchbox car?

And to top it off, this morning I bolted out of bed when my savvy nose indicated some kind of burning occurring. Rushing into the kitchen, I find Little Guy with red oven mitts on his bakedhands and the microwave door open – charred bits of a tortilla shell scattered on the tray. “There sure was lots of smoke coming out the top of that thing,” Little Guy says all wide-eyed, knowing pretty well that the Mama creature does not look at all pleased with his attempt to fend for himself for breakfast. What’s wrong with the cream cheese on bagel you usually get for yourself? Or the yogurt you leave half-eaten at the dining room table? What in the world made you want to “cook” this morning for your first time ever?!? So much for trying to laze in bed for a minute on a Sunday morning!

A friend texted the other night, “Is your puppy as bad as she is cute? Because I feel like that adorable face would get her out of a lot of trouble. Kind of like The Little Guy.”

“Nailed it,” I replied.

My good little boy is vying with the elder siblings for “who can cost the most” award and it’s a good thing he has a sweet elfish smile and an adorable face!

Boys.

You can’t make this stuff up!

 

Learning a Little in Giving Valentine’s Day Cards

Super Tall Guy was not going to move from the green lacy Victorian sofa. He had a stack of Pokemon cards in his hands and was intent on “studying” them for as long as this process was going to take. Mr. Ornery and The Little Guy hung on my legs impeding forward movement. It was an unusual sight for them to be sure; about fifty elderly men and women sat around tables in groupings of three to six. “One of them has a helmet,” whispered The Little Guy. “Yes,” I replied, “he does, but we aren’t going to point. It’s lunch time for everyone.”

A lot of cajoling and a few bodily shoves eventually moved the fifty- and thirty-pound little boys towards the open doorway. They stood frozen with red Valentine hearts clasped heartbetween stiff fingers. The delight of making the cards, the joy of writing their names, the discussion of visiting “older people” had all faded when faced with the unknown. A woman looked up and smiled. “How about handing her a card?” I questioned.

You could have heard a hearing aid buzz in that silence. I fought to overcome my own discomfort and prod my boys toward handing over some cards. Little by little they realized that their simple acts were being met by smiles and delighted “Oh, look, it’s a little Valentine’s Day card” responses. One was even rewarded with a small white chocolate Kit Kat bar from a sweater pocket. Mr. Ornery surprisingly and graciously replied “oh, I don’t need one” when the woman confessed she didn’t have another for him.

It was readily apparent that we had not brought enough cards for everyone, though. We had never visited this home before. I had no idea we’d be walking into a room of senior citizens spooning chicken noodle soup. I felt terrible that we didn’t have enough and uncomfortable about leaving some people out. I turned to my friend and offered to run home for some more cards, but lunch would likely end before then. Next time, I thought.

As we drove home, we reflected on what a lovely time that had been. It was brief and little interaction, but the boys learned something that day. They learned that sometimes older people live away from their families. They learned that sometimes older people have to sit in a wheelchair or use a walker to help them move. They learned that sometimes they fall asleep while eating lunch. They learned that when you give a little, you make others smile and have a moment of joy.

They learned that they can bring joy to someone else with small acts of kindness.

Well, Super Tall Guy still has a bit of learning in that arena. He spent the way home asking if we could go to Target and buy him a new toy. But I have high hopes for him. I know that he approaches new situations warily and with great caution. I was that way myself. He’ll come around. It will take awhile, but he’ll come around to the idea of service (I have great hope!).

 

Why #MommyFail is no longer for me!

It’s been a spectacular week for Mommy Fail. Case in point, it’s Saturday and I’m finally getting around to writing this week.

I would want to blame the week on Mr. Ornery for waking me up at 3:00 am last Sunday morning screaming that his throat hurt. Forgetting that I have the “medicine bag” in the closet in my room, I went down to the kitchen to grab some ibuprofen for the feverish boy. MommyFail #1 – entering a kitchen at 3:00am is guaranteed to wake up a 4-month-old puppy who can’t understand – for the next 1.5 hours – why it is NOT “play time” yet?  I hate puppy whine when I’m trying to fall asleep.

Then I pull the poor kid out of his pajamas and drag him in the car to the doctor’s office since there’s morning walk-in hours and realize I’m way beyond empty. We pull into the gas station and I realize the wallet is NOT in my purse – MommyFail #2. Back home to get the credit card, back to the gas station, off to the doctor’s office….all the while, I’m wondering why I didn’t just let the poor guy lie on the couch while I called in the antibiotic myself!!

Hours later I feel bad that he’s still miserable despite the ibuprofen and his fever hasn’t budged much and I’m wondering where the Tylenol is that The Little Guy and tylenol-wpI just bought a few days before. Look all over the house. Can’t visualize taking it out of the grocery bag and putting it anywhere. Tylenol in the “medicine bag” expired 17 months ago (MommyFail #3) and hours later, I offer Mr. Ornery some ice cream…. Huh, there it is.

Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself. How could I forget so much? Why haven’t I taken care of x, y or z yet? How is it that it’s been over 2 years and I never thought to change The Little Guy’s name on his social security card (you know, until the IRS is breathing down my neck!!)?? Why can’t I keep this all together?

Well, instead of MommyFail…it’s most likely a bad case of MommyBrain. There’s just too much to juggle. There’s work (which itself is a juggle and a particularly busy week was upon me). There’s after school activities of my 3 boys and my sister’s 3 that my mom and I oven laundrytouch base about every afternoon to figure out the taxi strategy. There’s homework, laundry, house-cleaning. There’s grocery shopping and car inspection overdue. There’s a puppy (I mean, really, why???). There’s relationships and friends. There’s stress and exhaustion. There’s sleep deprivation. There’s just a lot.

It’s not Mommy “Fail”…it’s Mommy hanging on doing the best she can at the moment. So I smile and laugh and thaw out the Tylenol. I sit on the couch and let sick boy cuddle and try not to look at the pieces of fuzz on the carpet. I try to remember to cut myself some slack and remember all the other mommies (and dads) who are out there doing the same thing and juggling the same chaos. It’s a lot of work and it’s constant.

So…no more MommyFail for me. From now on, it’s MommyRocks!  (Sometimes. Not all the time. But a good part of the time 🙂 ).