Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Forgot to Give This Post a Name!

Monday - I returned from work to discover CoCo had a bad case of baboon ass (diaper rash).  Why haven’t I potty trained that baby already?  She is not ready, wants nothing to do with the potty.  I think we are getting closer to some forward progress though, because she has decided she wants nothing to do with wearing dirty diaper either.  I am now living on high alert.  If I am not careful, I find a bottomless messy baby who refuses to tell me where she hid the evidence.

Tuesday – either it was uneventful or it was so traumatic I blocked it out, you choose. 

Wednesday - I had my BlogTalk Radio debut with Ms. E from For a Child’s Heart.  I think it went well enough for my first attempt to talk publically about my foster care experiences.  My Husband Jim listened from his hotel room in Columbus; he said I was a little soft.  I think he is more use to my tough confident self, not my nervous oh, shit my mom is going to listening to this self.  My n-mom did listen the next day, and she called to say that she thought I did a good job, that she thinks what I am trying to do is important, whether or not it makes her uncomfortable.  I appreciate that. 

Thursday - Ammé knocked over a lamp and broke the CFL bulb that was in it, creating a hazmat situation in out TV room, and an anxiety attack for mommy. (See below for the EPA’s cleaning instructions for a broken light bulb.)  or here the EPA

Friday - I was already asleep by the time Jim got home from Columbus.  He came home because he couldn’t bear the thought of not taking the kids trick or treating. What can I say we all have our priorities…  I t is good to see him; I am not cut out to be a single working mom.   

Saturday – Jim took the kids out to breakfast, and shopping for costumes.

Sunday – Jim took the kids to the cider mill.  CoCo discovered her new passion for throwing fresh hot doughnuts in the creek…feeding the “ducks” and “horse”.  Mad managed to lose the zebra ears she had bought less than 24 hours ago, and decided that she would rather go trick-or-treating with her friends then her dad and sisters, no go says daddy… CoCo got all mad at me because I accidently called her a cow, “not COW MOM, Inef-a-nent!  AMMMM-MMMEEE COW!”  Well, sorry baby, mommy gets confused.  They were only gone about 40 minutes when a neighbor scared the mess out of Ammé and she ran all the way home with another neighbor and Mad chasing her, and Jim carrying CoCo bring up the rear.  

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sit Your Ass Down Already!

"For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time. The witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future." Elie Wiesel, Night, Preface to the New Translation (New York: Hill and Wang, c2006), page xv.
The words of Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor stand as a testament to why we must never forget this dark period of human history.

Recently I was told by someone I love and respect:

You should just forget that ever happened to you.  You were a child, you didn’t know and don’t remember what was going on behind the scenes.  You had no control over what happened to you, so you just need to forget all about it.  Every time you write or speak about what happened to you are embarrassing your parents.   

Oh, Crap!  I’m sorry Mom, Dad (and wife), I forgot my life is ALL ABOUT YOU…again.  It is the one clear message you have giving me all my life and yet, somehow I fail to grasp it and make it my own.  Maybe I should write it down a couple hundred times to help me remember it.  anyway...

There seems to be a lot of that sentiment floating around regarding us waifs.

Don’t talk about your experiences because it is upsetting to us.  Do not discuss problems with adoption or foster care because you may hurt some ones feelings, your APs, birth parents, foster parents, or abandoners may feel picked on.  

You were fed, clothed, and survived you childhood what more is there anyone needs to know?  What could possibly be left to discuss?  And why do you insist on trying to make us think about how our actions affect others?

I can not speak for anyone else out here, but I know I do it for the kids.  I do it for MY kids and I do it for my foster kin.

I am the third generation of my immediate family who spent time being raised by people other than our parents for various reasons.  Think about that for a seconded and tell me that I should forget all about MY history.  Think about that and tell me I should shut up.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it” ~ George Santayana

I am not attempting to directly compare our struggles with the atrocities of slavery or the Holocaust.  We do not study slavery in this country to persecute white people in general.  We do not build Holocaust memorials and museums to embarrass the German people as a whole.  We do it collectively because there lessons to be learned about what happens when we as humans lose sight of the rights and humanity of others, and children are little humans with real feelings and rights of their own.  

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart. ~ Anne Frank
There will always be children like us, who will inevitably end up in the care of relatives and strangers.  There will always be "good people" who mean well and want to help children in need.  I speak out about my past in hopes of helping those "good people" preserve the future of the children in their care.  

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Competition for Mom For The Year

I am feeling better about my chances thanks to this post: From Stark Raving Mad Momma Who Buys Their Kids Those Bratz Costumes
and this clip from The Talk.

Sometimes I really wonder what people are thinking.  A quick search of the Vancouver area popped up several actual gymnastics facilities that these moms could drop their kids off at rather than letting them get in a good work-out at their pole dancing class. Then go explore their inner slut out of the eyeshot of their kids.  

Maybe I have it all wrong, but I would see my kid swinging from a pole as a parental failure.  

Nothing says “Make me a grandma by 35” like signing your 10 year-old for pole dancing class!  

Oh well, I guess this way mommy can spend baby’s collage fund on hairdos, manicures and body waxing.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My BlogTalk Radio Debut

Click "Behind The Masks of Foster Youth" to listen

Join  Ms. E and ME on BlogTalk Radio listen to the archive anytime.

What's In a Name?

In an earlier post I touched on the subject of changing the names of adoptees, I was pointing out that this was tactic used by slave owners to strip the pride, identity and culture from their slaves.  Linda (not my mother, Linda) talks more about her perspective here.

My intolerance for name shenanigans goes back to when I was about 5 years-old and the family a cross the street changed their name form a very long polish name to a VERY nondescript name which was only four letters long..  (Not to be confused with being changed to a four letter word)

Our families were very close, so close in fact that shortly after their respective divorces my dad and the lady a cross the street were engaged for a couple of years, but didn’t end up married. Anyway…Moving on…I just did not understand why they would all change their family name. 

But why would they change their name? I would ask.
Because it is hard to spell.
So, is my name (I was 5)
It is hard to pronounce correctly.
So is Koffron
They want to have a name that sounds more American.
I thought they were proud to be polish. 
They are but they don’t want to stand out.
Oh, so they don’t want people to know they are polish. 
Tell my about your REAL name mommy…
When I was born my name was Jacqueline Jean Lessard.  When your Grandma and Grandpa Andrews adopted me at 12 the judge asked what I wanted to change my name to, I didn’t know, I did not have much time to think so I picked the most common sounding name I could think of.  I told the judge I liked Linda Lee.  So that is how I became Linda Lee Andrews.

I like your old name better, why didn’t you keep it?
I don’t think I had much a choice, besides I liked my new name, I thought it was cute and I wanted to fit in.  And you guys named me SUNDAY?  What were you thinking?
I think you should have kept your old one.  Why don’t you change it back?
It is too late now, I have been Linda now longer than I was Jacquie.

Years later my mother found and went to see her natural father when I was 15 or 16.  I did not live with her then.   He told her he was called Jack Minor for 14 years, until his parents died.  It was then he found out that his birth name was Jerold Lessard, and that his “sister” was actually his mother.  To those out side of the adoption loop, stories like that seem fantastic, but they are more common then one might think.

The Koffron part of my family have not been free of name shenanigans and drama either as I had mentioned in an earlier post.  My youngest (s)brother was two or three when my dad and his wife got married.  When my little (s)brother started school his mom let him use Koffron (my dad's last name) as his last name.  The way I understand it his real father got wind of this took offense and the issue of his name made it to court and the court ordered that my (s)brother and my parents use my (s)brother’s legal name.  His “parents” told him for years that he would just legally change his name to Koffron when he turned 18; and he did. I am not sure he really chose to change his name on his own or were years of being told he would the subtle coercion and manipulation of an innocent child. My guess he will never truly know either.

Was my (s)brother’s real dad a dead beat who was out of the picture? Nope.  Dr. J was very much around.  Not only did his name change remove his connection to his real father, it disconnected him from his two older brothers who he no longer shares a last name with.  Did my father legally adopt him?   Oh no, no, no, that was not the case at all, that would have had caused “ramifications”.  

Nobody wants “ramifications” for their actions.  Hell, I dare say “ramifications” could cause discomfort.    

Some people change names
To hide their ethnicity
To appear more ethnic
To strip identity
To appear to be related to people you are not.  (without the “Ramifications”)
To irritate and punish ex-husbands
To seem more interesting or exotic
To stand out
To fit in
In my opinion the roots of each of these is contempt (for reality), illusion and deceit. 

And some I respect do so to take back what was rightfully theirs in the first place.

But then again maybe I should just change my name to “Candy Cain Surprise” and call it a day.  I bet that would make some people very happy. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hope You Guess My Name

The whole changing adoptees names thing made me call my mom today to ask her if she is ok with me using her name(s) in my blog.  Yeah, she says, I am your mother, and my names(s) are a matter of public record.  

She says she is not following my blog.  She has read a couple of posts that my sister and cousins have posted on FB (my mother and are not “friends”), but she is not “following” it.  That is probably for the best.  She said she had to go through the same process years ago before she knew what a blog was; and even though she is not exactly happy about it, she realizes that it is my right talk / write about my experiences.  

Besides, if I write a book, she will get to go on all the talk-shows and tell her side of the story.  (And won’t that be fun.)

That’s my mom. 

I got to love her, even if we can only take each other in small doses.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don’t Look Now Mom But Your Issues Are Hanging Out

    Not my arm
  • For a change of pace one of my favorite work kids (rather than me) hurt her arm.  (I do not think it is broken, but I was standing right next to her so I feel like crap about it.)

    Not my daughter
  • I came home form work to discover that CoCo (2 1/2) had rubbed Bert’s Bee’s ointment all over her hair.  After 3 washes with Dawn dish washing liquid she still looks like one of those birds rescued from the Golf Oil Disaster!  But gee, her hair smells terrific.

    Not my Amélie
  • Ammé informed me that “the reason you don’t let me spend the night at other people’s houses is because you love me too much, you miss me too much and you worry about me too much.  Really, mom…I’ll be fine, I’m 5 now, so you don’t have to worry about me anymore.”  Don’t look now mom but your issues are hanging out.

    Not Mad's Flip Flops
  • I dropped Mad off for a Bat Mitzvah.  About an hour later I had a panic attack because I have no idea what she is wearing on her feet.  That is right I am having an anxiety attack over my 12 year-olds footwear.  I checked her hair - nice, her outfit – cute, no purse I hope she doesn’t lose the card/$ I can’t spare.  But I am blank on the foot situation.  What kind of mother sends her child out and has no idea what she is wearing on her feet?  What if something happened and I did not have the description of her footwear?  I know it is silly…but…My issues are hanging out

  • If I pick Mad up and she is wearing flip-flops, to a Bat Mitzvah in 50 degree Michigan weather, I will need a xanax!  …Hell, I may need one now.
Not my award  
  • I am allowing my 5 year-old to walk my 2 ½ year-old on a leash…don’t judge me, I just need a free 10 minutes to mop.

  • It suffices to say I will not be up for mom or coach of the year anytime soon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Say Your Name

Is it just me or does changing adoptee’s names remind anyone else of this scene in Roots?

This week my friend Pam just signed up for FaceBook for the first time. (She gave me permission to blog about this story.) Yeah, I know, what took her so long?  She and I were next-door neighbors.  We discovered that each of us was in some form of foster care growing up we got together with three other people and had a support group for a while, until we all fell away.  We were former foster kids after all. 

Anyway she had always known she had a younger sister (Sydney) who was given up for adoption.  Her sister’s adoptive mother sent Pam a letter and a picture of her little sister after Pam’s mother was murdered.  Apparently the adoptive mother had tried to keep in touch with her daughter’s older sister, but Pam’s step mother told her to leave Pam alone, that Pam wanted nothing to do with her.  

A few minutes after getting on FaceBook Pam searched for her sister…and fond her.  Nervous she waited until the next day to send her a friend request, which her sister immediately accepted.  A few minutes latter Pam and her sister Sydney are talking on the phone.   Sydney tells Pam that she has two more sisters that were adopted out between them.  WTF?  Pam is blown away! 

Pam’s mother named all three babies the same name at birth. What is that about we wonder?  Two of them ended up with changed names after adoption. One sister had her name changed at  four years-old Her sisters were told that their mother was killed in a car accident, not murdered.  Pam has grown up having contact with her extended family her whole life.  Nobody noticed her mother pregnant two more times?  More secrets and lies form the world of adoption and foster care.

The good news is four sisters have found each other.  Their children have three more aunts.  Three adoptees and one foster kid are piecing together the truth in a web of lies.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sometimes You Open Your Mouth and the Truth Falls Out

Who else was in foster care?   She asked. 

I could see him tense up.  No he didn’t just say that, out loud, where anyone else but me could hear it. Oh yeah, dad, you did. And now I am wondering how you are going to get out of this one. Some times the truth slips out when you least expect it.

We were at my fathers house for (shiva) a gathering of my father’s friends and extended family the day after my grandfather’s funeral, he was talking to me about the relationship I had with my grandfather. We were close grandpa Koffron and I, we were kindred spirits and we shared a different bond, the bond of foster care.  (We shared the bond of being inconvenient children with crappy mothers and useless, absent fathers to be exact).  My dad was talking to me, when she overheard.

Well he wasn’t exactly in foster care; my dad was passed around from relative to relative.  Dad said trying to undo the too

Yes, I know. But you said… too…who else was in foster care- too?

I am sure what little color I have in my face was gone by now.  I honestly felt bad for my dad at that point.  I had realized long ago, that to his wife and him, appearance and image were more important than fact.   He had stepped in it; he said it and she heard it.  I was not going to help him out of this jam however, I had lived it.  I wanted to say “me”, I was dying to say “me”, but I love my dad and I knew saying “me” would have caused problems for ME.  I said nothing. 

He back peddled.  He miss spoke, he didn’t mean to say too

Mrs. P looked confused, she looked skeptical, looked like she wasn't buying it, but she allowed him to change the subject.  

She is a sweet lady. 

I stood there, next to my dad, my life experience denied. 

She may not have known that too was ME, but I was standing next to my dad and she knew I existed and that is more than most. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Flying The Bird

I always say “I toss small children around for a living.”  I think that is an excellent description of what I do.  Although sometimes they are not so small, as a matter of fact some of the kids I coach are much bigger than I am. 
Everyday is interesting and the work is fast paced, dare I say most days it is fun to go to work, how many people can say that?  Coaching has it’d draw backs though, mostly the pain.  I am old.
My neck, my shoulder, my back, my knees, I have golfers elbow in one elbow, tennis elbow in the other, and  I don't do either.  Once I get home and sit down, I will do anything to avoid getting back up and looking like Fred Sanford “I’m coming for ya ‘Lizbeth” Yes, I am old.
Teaching Fundamental Gymnastics Skills

Inevitably when you do what we do, you get kicked by some poor kid, in the jaw, in the gut, in the nose; you name it I have been kick there.  And inevitably they are horrified, they start crying.  Being grown up you have to suck in your breath, fight back the tears and comfort your assailant.  We all do it.  God knows you don’t want to traumatize the poor kid.  I know coaches who have done this with gashed lips that required stitches, broken noises and broken fingers, it is what we do. After all, we are there for the kids. 
Yesterday I was spotting a tiny kid who really has her back-hand-spring she needs just a little more confidence; I just had my hand lightly on her back for reassurance.  Wouldn’t you know it on the 3rd time she flopped when she should have flipped, right on my middle finger?  It hurt a bit so I ignored it, that’s just what we do.
My middle finger was sore all night, but not bad.  I woke up a couple of times during the night and it hurt worse each time.  By the time I woke up it was pretty swollen and I couldn’t bend it.  I asked my dear husband if he thought I should go get it x-rayed, he thought I should just toughen up; he has played sports all his life yada, yada, yada.  I waited a couple of hours while it continued to swell.  Then I headed to urgent care.
I drove there secretly hoping somebody would cut me off, my right middle finger stuck in the appropriate gesture and all. 

Now, I was feeling a little foolish, walking in, flying the bird and signing in for what I was sure was a jammed finger. 
BirdAs he was checking the images the X-ray tech pops his head out and says “Now where does it hurt again, I just want to make sure we are looking at the right thing.” 

I flip him the bird and point, right there.  “I don’t think it is broken, I just don’t want to mess it up worse if it is and I ignore it.” I say. 

He laughs.
The doctor comes in and says “Your finger is not broken but your wrist is, do you remember hurting it?” 
“Yeah, about 2 months ago it has hurt ever since, but...not as bad as my finger, so I ignored it."

Because I am tough, I am old and that is just what we do.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Industrialized Education

RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms
I got this from Christine at welcome to my brainThis is an excellent illustration of many of the reasons I am apprehensive about public education especially where my free-spirit Amélie is concerned.   I was given a very hard time by some about my decision not to sent Amélie to kindergarten this year.  I wish I would have had this to refer to during that time, but I am glad I have seen it now.  Thank you Christine! 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mother’s Little Helper - Antipsychotics

Child’s Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young 
On one level I find this article stunning, on another level not at all shocking.  Some parents natural, foster or adopted have no idea what they are getting into as far how exhausting it is to raise children.  Children are not cute little dolls who shower their parents with unconditional love and make them feel whole, in my experience they are quite the opposite.  Kids are loud they run around and make messes and a lot of noise (which really sucks when mommy is hung over), and they take, and take.  They take time, they take patience, they take attention and they take money.  When their illusions about what kids will do for them are shattered they become disillusioned and they figure there must be something wrong with that child, because obviously they are wonderful parents.  Being “good parents” they set off on a quest to “get the child the help it needs”.

 Drugs ought to do the trick.

"Dr. Gleason says Kyle’s current status proves he probably never had bipolar disorder, autism or psychosis. His doctors now say Kyle’s tantrums arose from family turmoil and language delays, not any of the diagnoses used to justify antipsychotics. "
I commend this mother for sharing their story, I am sure she did so in hopes of enlightening others as to how easy it was to fall in to the vicious cycle of looking for the quick and easy answers and ending up with a shell of a child.  To discover that in the end better therapy and better parenting were what was truly needed to help her son must have been a bitter pill for mom to swallow (pun intended).  Not only did this Mom swallow it she has come out and allowed her story be told as a cautionary tale, which is truly heroic.  

"Texas Medicaid data obtained by The New York Times showed a record $96 million was spent last year on antipsychotic drugs for teenagers and children — including three unidentified infants who were given the drugs before their first birthdays.
In addition, foster care children seem to be medicated more often, prompting a Senate panel in June to ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate such practices. "

For more on the subject of off label use of psychotropic drugs read Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics By DUFF WILSON Published: December 11, 2009

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where Are All Of The Foster Kids?

I am the new kid on the block so I may be missing something.  I see adopters, adoptees, first moms, foster parents, but where are all of the foster kids?  Who is speaking for us?  Yes, I have found some Foster Care Alumni,  but clearly not as many I would have expected or hoped to.

Is it the shame that keeps us quiet? Our parents knew us, looked us in the eyes and decided we were not worth the effort.   Is it the shame of knowing who your parents are and that they just couldn’t get it together enough to see us through?  Is it the continuous rejection and reminders that we are not nearly as important to them as they are to us? 

In the case of my “father" it is the constant reminders that I just am not a part of his “chosen family”. For me it is also the hope.  If I try real hard, if I don’t take things personally, if I play nicely and keep my mouth shut, if I don’t shatter illusions or poke holes in their façade, maybe, just maybe they will keep me around – this time.  But there are always more hoops to jump through, more lines drawn and any appearance of acceptance is illusion.

While reading Elaine’s blog about her “maternal source” I realized that while our experiences are different, her adoption and me from foster care, the hurt and rejection is very similar. 

A few years ago, my youngest step-brother got married.  (My father has said he “adopted” him in a “religious ceremony”, not legally.  My step-brother legally changed his name from his family name to our family name Koffron, at the age of 18.   I can only imagine how his REAL father feels about that.)   My husband and I attended the ceremony.  Afterward I was told I wasn’t needed while the “family” pictures being taken, so I went to nurse my daughter Amélie before the reception.

We returned to the reception and were sat at what we affectionately refer to as the “reject table”.  After dinner was served, the bride and groom, the parents (including his REAL father) were making their rounds, and speaking to guests.  A lovely couple came up to our table and introduced themselves as dear friends of the Koffrons,  Dr. and Mrs. So and So.  (We knew who Dr. and Mrs. So-and-So were because my parents had mentioned him and his wife frequently over the years.  “We went to dinner with…We saw this play with"…you know…)  

And how do you know the Koffrons?  he asks. 
I am Bob’s daughter, Sunday. I say. 
I never knew he had any kids of his own, says the dear friend of the Koffrons. 

This couple had known my dad’s second wife since college, my father for the 30 or so years that they had been married, and the fact that Bob had any kids NEVER came up!  Three lives not worth even mentioning…once in almost 30 years.

And I am the one who feels ashamed?

Friday, October 8, 2010

In Defense Of My Mother

I don’t and won’t spend a lot of time defending either of my parents.  For the most part I have witnessed very little regret or remorse from either party, they each feel equally justified and that the other one is to blame for our family going so terribly off track, my sister's running away and my time in the foster care system as a ward of the state.  There were also us kids to blame, if we weren’t so god-damned needy everything would have been just fine.  Well, we were kids, and being kids makes one very childish.  I admit, if I would have just understood that their wants were more important then my needs their lives would have been much better.  

My mother was “raised” for some time by an alcoholic father who abused and neglected her.  She thinks she remembers her mother who just disappeared one day.  She and her sister were taken away from their father and placed in foster care.  She/they were in something like 9 foster homes in one year.  To my recollection I have never heard her tell any happy foster home stories.

My grandparents had two kids of their own, a nine year old girl named Joyce, and my uncle who was around 14 when Joyce drowned in the local swimming hole.  Now, I am never sure how this happens or why people think it is a good idea to replace a lost puppy or child with a new one, but apparently people do.  After Joyce’s death my grandparents decided to adopt a new daughter, my aunt, so the story goes.  Instead they were told that if they wanted my aunt they had to take my mom as well.  My mother was 12 years old when my grandparents reluctantly adopted her.  

How my uncle must have felt about losing a sister and then having two replacement sisters forced on him, I do not know.  It seems to me that would be a lot to deal with in the face of such grief.  I am sure he was never consulted. I never once remember anyone ever mentioning Joyce’s name in my grandparents’ house.  Not one picture of the lost Joyce was ever visible.  I assume my uncle was just expected to move on with his two new replacement sisters like everything was as it should be.  

I loved my grandparents, they were what I knew.  My grandpa was great fun.  My grandma was always distant and not much of a kid person as I remember her.  My mother’s stories of growing up in their house pretty much go along those lines.  My grandma really only wanted one of them and my mother felt the burden of that on a daily basis.  My mother was lucky and should be grateful that they had brought her along, albeit reluctantly. 

My parents were from the small town of Tecumseh, the Koffrons lived a block behind my mom’s parents.  My dad was the star football player and quite the catch for my mom.  Being pretty, my mom wasn’t a bad catch for my dad either.  I assume they were in love, at least at some point.  They married young and had my older sister, quickly. 

What I do remember about my mom while my parents were together was that she tried.  She tried so hard to be a great mother, a great wife, a great friend and neighbor, as if she were up for some great____ award. She tried desperately at that time to be everything she had no idea how to be.  

I called my mother a couple of weeks ago to check some details about my childhood with her. (I rarely talk to my mother; too much has passed between us.  While on some level I understand her limitations, her primal wounds and her issues, I still wish she would have, at some point, been able to get a hold of herself and do better by her kids. Lest we forget she gave me a primal wound of my own.)  During the conversation I brought up how hard she tried when she was married to my dad, and I asked what happened, why she just quit – gave up?  Her answer floored me…she had tried that hard, she did all that stuff for us and it was never appreciated.  

Oh-My-God!  We were 6, 8, and 12, when she gave up and left…because we were ungrateful!  Because her husband and children were unappreciative of all of her sacrifices, she stopped trying.  But MOM, that IS being a mother!  I don’t know one single mother who feels like they are truly appreciated by their children.  Not one wife who thinks their husbands understand the kind of sacrifices she makes.  Maybe, some of us don’t feel unappreciated, but maybe less than fully understood.    

For a couple of weeks now…"and no one appreciated it"…has been bouncing around in my brain like a pinball.  How fricking immature can you be?  You have got to be kidding me!  Seriously?  Even after all this time that makes sense?  You have never been compelled to re-evaluate that?  Nobody in your support group has called you to task on that idiotic premise

Then it hit me today.  Thanks in large part to Linda at REAL DAUGHTER/ADOPTED DAUGHTER.  Adoptees/ foster children are supposed to be grateful and appreciative to be taken in.  They are lucky to be fed, clothed and have a roof over their heads, any more than that is over and above what any waif should expect.   I have seen and resented that attitude myself, but some how I hadn’t related that to my mother or how that affected her expectations as a mother, until today.  That is what my mother grew up with.  That is the sentiment she knows.  That was what was expected of her, that is what she expected of us.  My mother came through the system a long time ago; (at least 25 years before I did) she didn’t have any help adjusting, no therapy or any validation of her loss.  She was expected to replace a dead child.  My mother was set up for failure.        

Sunday, October 3, 2010

They Can't Miss What They Never Had

Amélie had her 5th birthday this weekend.  I have a hang up about celebrating birthdays and holidays.

My thoughts on birthdays go something like this “so, I was born, so were the other billions of people in the world and they are just as important as I am, and I just don’t have time to bake every one a cake.  That just wouldn’t be fair.”  I realize not every one feels that way.  Don’t get me wrong the births of my kids were the best things that have ever happened to me.  We do celebrate; mostly my husband drags me along no matter how much I protest.  I really go out of my way to attempt to keep it low key.

While I do think there is some merit to my birthday thoughts, I believe my aversion goes deeper than that.  My parents, well OK, my mom went all out for holidays and birthdays when she and my dad were married.  

Christmas Eve in my childhood home was a family and neighborhood event.  The house was decorated, friends came with gifts, drinks flowed and then we went to midnight mass with our dad.  (I assume my mom stayed home and cleaned up, I don’t think she ever stepped in the church aside from our baptisms.)

After my parents divorced things changed dramatically.  Mom had no money or time for birthdays.  My dad’s wife would always tell us what gifts she HAD bought us but returned to the store because we did not deserve it, for one reason or another.  My father got every other weekend and holidays after we went to live with my mother.  Our first Christmas after his marriage and conversion to Judaism he insisted on his visitation.  No mass, no tree, no turkey, not a gift, just plans to go to the movies.  (I have nothing against Judaism, it was just a very rude awaking, clearly our lives would be different from here on out.)

A couple of years latter when I was in the foster care system, I was the ONLY kid at AHC (out of 24) left in the building.  In all fairness I can’t remember if I was in trouble or if both my parents were away on trips.  (I think all of the above).  Anyway Christmas Eve I hung a sock up, hoping that the Christmas spirit would move someone.  No such luck…I woke up to find that the poor staff who had to stay and work for one damn kid had stuffed the sock with toilet paper, and I was done.  I was done with Santa Claus, done with Christmas, done with religion, done with family, done with birthdays, done with childhood, done with hope. Done, Done, Done!

I know a lot of people who went threw the system go all out trying to give their kids everything they never had as kids.  Please, don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways I do that, with my time and attention, my decision making.   They are always my first consideration.  But, they can’t miss what they never had. 

Now, my attitude about all of this makes my husband crazy.  First of all it is not about me.  (He is right).  Birthdays and Christmas are fun (so he says).  We are not getting divorced (we're to lazy to hold grudges).  Nobody in our house is going to change religion (we don't have one).  So, what's the problem?  Why am I so nutty about this?  I can’t escape the feeling that we are setting them up for future disappointments.

I know that nobody expects for their life to change in the blink of an eye, but I know it can, and it does.  I never want my girls to know what it feels like to lose everything they hold dear.

One Brave Post

I wanted to share this guest post by Anastasia from sweetbutterbliss  that she did for depressionsandconfessions called Redemption Doesn’t Come Easy .  As a product of divorce and then the foster care system I found her honesty about her depression and how that affected her as a mother incredible.  Her children are lucky to have a mother who can face the truth, learn lessons and take action.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

One Victory

I am very excited about the passage of this groundbreaking piece of legislation.  It is my hope that other states will quickly follow California’s example.  Goodness knows a couple of extra years of support could have saved me and others like me a lot of pain and agony. 
"California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Thursday extending foster-care support to young adults between the ages of 18 and 21, a move cited as a bellwether by child-welfare advocates." ~ By VAUHINI VARA The Wall Street Journal
Congratulations, California's Foster Youth, do us proud.

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