Adoptive mother: Broken hearts

This past weekend I crushed my 7 year old’s heart…and my husband’s…and mine too while I was at it. It was quite the productive weekend.

This heart bashing event was the grand finale of my son’s begging for a dog which went on for months and intensified as the weeks passed by. I felt massive guilt with this dog begging because I knew a pet would be good for my son as he’s an only child – it would be a sibling for him. However, I really did not want a dog. I know dogs are cute and sweet and you get attached to them and I hear you learn to ignore the mess and inconvenience but frankly I didn’t want to deal with the walks, the poop, the mess in the house, the scrapes on doors and furniture and basically all of the added responsibility and expense that dog ownership brings. I was finally gaining some freedom back in my life from years of raising a young child and I want the ability to be able to just go somewhere when I want to go and not have to come back to let the dog out or arrange for a dog sitter. And unfortunately cats and any other dander producing, furry friends which might be less impacting are not an option for us due to my allergies.

So weeks and weeks of my son’s begging finally caused me to cave and I said I’d be open to a dog under the stipulation that the dog was a smaller, non-shedding dog. And we began our dog hunt.

The whole dog search experience brought back memories of our adoption search for our son. I know this sounds crazy but it’s really not that dissimilar a process although on a much less expensive and shorter time scale. Like adopting a child, adopting a pet is an overwhelming process for a new pet owner as there is so much to learn and decide. First you need to research breeds of dogs you want which isn’t much different from deciding the race of your child. There is also much to learn about the differences between shelters and other rescue organizations you choose to work with much like differences I found in organizations in adopting a child. You feel good about certain organizations and not so good about others. How the organization operates is super important as well and how they handle placements that don’t work out. Also, after looking around and waiting for awhile your criteria for what you will accept in your animal (or adopted child) begins to change. So after several weeks of looking around for a non-shedding, small dog which are hard to find I realized that perhaps it was more important and cost effective to have a shedding dog with a mellow personality from an organization that we felt good about.

So after picking the organization we liked, which primarily accepted well tempered rescue dogs, we chose to visit their most recent batch of dogs. That’s when we met Luke. Luke was a mixed breed shedding dog and couldn’t have been sweeter. We got to visit with him at a neighborhood home in a peaceful environment and take him for a walk. We all got good feelings about him and liked him very much so we decided to give it a go.

Once we got Luke home it became very clear that having a dog was going to completely change our lives. Our son was no longer the center or our world – now this dog was. We learned right away that Luke must have been cared for at his shelter by a female as he followed me around (the only female in the house) like a shadow. At first it was very cute and endearing but then the reality of what I had just agreed to take on became very overwhelming to me. I began to retreat and I froze up. I felt paralyzed in my own home and this sweet, loving creature somehow made my living space feel very small. I began to wonder if I would get used to things over time but inside my gut was screaming that I didn’t want to get used to this. All the while my son and husband were bonding more and more with this loving new found furry family member.

After one very restless night and after going to church solo the next morning and reflecting on my predicament, I decided I needed to be honest with myself and my family and fess up about my feelings. Telling my son and husband that I didn’t want this dog was quite possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. In just a few short minutes my son’s innocent little heart and dream of having a dog was squelched. I saw visible disappointment from my animal loving husband. I truly felt like the worst person in the world.

After lots of crying from my son, myself and misty eyes from Scott after dropping the dog off at a foster home, we are all recovering from this today. We truly hope that Luke lands in a good loving home where ALL the family members are on board – he deserves nothing but the best.

Birthmother: Ten years and counting

By Birthmother – My first child turned ten years old in May.  It’s December now, the very LAST day of December.  I’ve been putting this journal entry off for THAT long, not because I’ve had anything better to do, but because I’ve been afraid of addressing my feelings and maybe even more afraid of sharing them.

There’s so little I can do now where my children are concerned.  At the beginning, when I was pregnant, my role was so clear:  Keep the baby healthy.  Find loving parents with all the awesome parenting qualities that my husband and I did not have.  Sign the paperwork.

And now… legally, I have no role and no responsibilities.  My work is done.

The easiest thing to do is disappear from the picture.  I don’t think anyone would blame me, and perhaps it would be easier for everyone involved.  My life goes on and so does theirs.

But, first of all, that’s not what we signed up for.  Open adoption implies a continuing relationship.  The details vary from family to family, but the principle remains that there is value in keeping the channels of communication open.

…and somehow I suspect that the disappearing act is only ACTUALLY easiest for ME.  Because I HAVE been offered channels of communication.  I HAVE been offered pictures and phone calls.  I have not been ignored or neglected.  And when those channels open… and I am offered glimpses of my children… I’m the one who doesn’t always respond.  I’m the one who rarely reaches out.  Why?

I chicken out, that’s why.  I love seeing that my children are ok, watching them grow, but actually TALKING to them?  Talking is terrifying!  What do I say?  What if I’m so happy to see/hear them that I can barely talk?  What if I say something stupid, or say something that upsets them?  What if the emotions are so strong that it becomes hard to say goodbye?

I send my children letters at Christmas and on birthdays.  It’s old-fashioned, I know, but in addition to being something concrete to put in their hands, letters are also very safe for me, the same way emails and blogs are safe.  I can type out each paragraph as slowly as I need to, editing as I go.

At this point in my typing, I’d really like to do a little editing to make myself sound like a better person, but somehow it seems more important to share, honestly, that open adoption can be terrifying at the same time it is rewarding.  Seeing my children grow means seeing what I lost.

I’m not GOING to disappear, as tempting as it might be.  When the children call, I will do my best to answer.  When they ask questions, I will do my best to find something to say.  Because they deserve whatever attention they ask for.  Because they are beautiful and I would be a fool to pass up any chance to get to know them.

Adoptive mother: My son, the donkey

I heard an interesting talk a few Sundays ago from the reverend at my church (cslsj.org) about a monkey trying to get a donkey to climb a tree. The monkey kept getting frustrated again and again in his seemingly endless pursuit. The reverend’s point in short was that often we, monkeys, try to get others, donkeys, to do or think what we want them to do or think when really what we need is more monkeys. That’s so true. How many times in our lives have we wanted donkeys to be monkeys and visa versa? I’m totally a monkey and I’m trying to push my son, the donkey, up a tree. I want him to be more like me when he’s not.

My son is GREAT just as he is. He’s an adorable, healthy, innocent boy with lots of personality, energy and intelligence. I’m truly blessed. Yet as his parent there is sometimes a contradiction going on because I think that he would be great IF he actually tried at things he did, or IF he actually listened to me. (AKA: came up in the tree with me which mostly he does not do because he’s doing his own darn stubborn thing on the ground!)

As an adoptive parent of a child who is quite different from me, it’s easy for me to get wrapped up in the fact that my son does not have my genes and therefore is not like me in many ways. But really, as my husband pointed out, does this matter when raising a child? Isn’t the point of raising a child, any child not just an adopted one, to raise him or her to be the best person that he or she can be even when sometimes he or she seems nothing like you and pushes you to the limit daily. I have friends with biological children that might attest that their children too can be donkey’s in their lives and I’m certain my parents would tell me at many points while raising me and even today that I was or am a donkey in their lives.

I believe it’s the ego that desires the children we raise to resemble ourselves. To be Mini-Me’s, which is why I think many adoptive parents need to mourn the loss of having their own biological children. I know first hand what that grieving period was like, yet I didn’t expect that after 6 years of raising my adopted son my ego would still being desiring that my son take after me at least a little bit.

I wonder if my path would be an easier one if I lived with someone who was more similar to me vs. living with someone who’s sometimes more of my polar opposite which can be utterly exhausting. Being female and raising a boy can feel overwhelming for any mom; we all know the saying, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” Well having an adopted child of the opposite sex sometimes adds complexity to this saying because it can feel like your child is not only from a different planet but is also from another galaxy!

Finding a way to deal with and to embrace my child’s uniqueness has been a process for me, one in which I’m clearly still working on but I know it’s worth the effort or I risk being continually disappointed throughout my life. I believe all parents need to grapple with this at some point, both adoptive and biological. We all must let go of wanting our children to be carbon copies of ourselves and push our egos aside because there is nothing wrong with a child that is vastly different than us. On the positive side it can be very eye opening and enlightening seeing the world from such a different perspective from your own. Being able to let go of our own desires and expectations and embrace what we have allows us to stop fighting endless battles with our children and gives them allowance to be the unique beings that they are.

Whether our child is the donkey, the monkey, or a creature from a different galaxy altogether he or she can the live his or her life to their fullest potential without interference from us because we’ll no longer be getting in their way pushing him or her to be different; instead we’ll simply be watching our child shine.

Adoptive mother: 20 questions

We had time to kill in the car this past weekend during a recent road trip so my son suggested we play the 20 questions game. In this game a person thinks of someone and doesn’t tell the other person who they are thinking of and the other person(s) tries to guess who that person is thinking of by asking questions that are answered with either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I love and hate this game simultaneously (love because I like games but hate because if I don’t guess the person in a reasonable amount of time I find the game to be very annoying.) Keep in mind playing with my 6-years-old adds complexity to the game because I need to factor in that some of the answers he is providing me may not be accurate. Reluctantly I agreed to play. My son informs me he is thinking of someone.

“Is it a girl?” I ask, since we’ve just come from one of his girl friend’s birthday party. “No,” he replies.

“Is it a man?” I ask. “Yes,” he replies.

“Does he live in San Luis Obispo?” I ask, thinking it may be his girl friend’s father. “No.” he replies.

“Does he live in California?” I ask, thinking that will at least narrow down how I might know this man. “Yes,” my son replies. (Now a red flag should have come up for me when asking this question since I know that often my son confuses California with the greater USA; however, I mistakenly assume my son’s answer is accurate and I go on.)

“Does he live in our neighborhood?” I ask. “No,” he says.

“Does he have kids?” I ask. “No,” he says. What man without kids would my son be thinking of? Any California relatives on Scott’s side of the family that would be on our son’s mind would have kids. I need to take a new angle to figure this out.

“Does he work with Daddy?” I ask, taking a different tact and trying to figure out the connection of how I possibly know this man. “No,” he says.

“Is he friends with Daddy?” I ask. “He’s friends with ALL THREE of us,” he says (breaking the ‘yes/no’ answer rule.) This throws me for a loop. Now I am really confused.

A man, living in California, that doesn’t live in our neighborhood, doesn’t have kids, or work with Daddy, and is friends with all three of us… who is this man? I rack my brain for possible people repeating everything my son has confirmed about this man out loud a few times. Annoyed, I ask help from Scott who’s been listening the whole time from the driver’s seat. “Do you know of anyone that meets that description Scott, someone without kids?”

“Well he did HAVE a baby,” pipes up our son from the back seat, in which I respond, “Wait, you told me he didn’t have kids!” I’m feeling really annoyed now thinking how could he possibly get the answer to that question incorrect? I wonder if there are other questions he might have answered incorrectly as well. I’m processing this new contradictory statement in my head: he doesn’t have kids but he did have a baby. Did this man’s baby die? Before I could ask anything more, I hear Scott ask, “Is it John?” in which our son shouts triumphantly, “Yes!”

I’m dumbfounded. What? “Really?” I say. John, our son’s birthfather? Other than pictures we show our son we haven’t seen or talked with John in two years! I go over his description again: A man, that doesn’t live in our neighborhood, doesn’t have kids, or work with Daddy, and is friends with all three of us. He doesn’t have kids but had a baby. Of course! It all makes perfect sense now. Brilliant – minus of course the glaring geographical error of saying that he lives in California when he actually lives in New York!

It stuck me later how interesting the incident was because out of nowhere our son surprised us again by thinking of his birth parent at a time when we weren’t expecting it. He also showed us how unconfused and secure he is about his birth story which was evident through the answers he gave to simple questions about his birthfather which essentially described him perfectly: a man who doesn’t have kids, who had a baby, who is friends with all three of us.

Adoptive mother: Goodbye Erie, PA

This month my parents will be moving from my childhood hometown, Erie, PA and will relocate to Cincinnati to be closer to my brother’s family. Naturally this brings up a lot of sadness for me for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, I will be losing my connection to my hometown and state. Once my parents leave town there will be no other compelling reason for me to go back at that point. Although I have family in a nearby town in New York state only an hour and a half away, my parents not being in Erie eliminates the need to visit Pennsylvania – there are simply too many other places to see in this world. If and when I return there someday (perhaps for nostalgia purposes) I know it just won’t be the same without Mom and Dad there.

Secondly, it will be harder to maintain regular face-to-face visits with my son’s birthparents and my extended family in New York state. Once Mom and Dad leave Pennsylvania, visiting my extended relatives in New York also will lessen as will visiting with my son’s birthparents who live near their same town. As much as I love my cousins and aunts and uncles in New York and my son’s birthparents, visiting them will not take precedent over visiting my own parents, brother and sister who live in other states and Scott and I are both really saddened by this. We know we have been so fortunate to have been able to form such strong connections with both my extended family and our son’s birthparents for as long as we have. It will be interesting to see how we manage keeping in touch with our New York family going forward. I’m hopeful that technology such as Facetime or Skype will be able to make this transition a little less painful.

Finally, I’m saddened by the underlying reason as to why my parents chose to give up their home. My parents are well aware that the next phase of their lives (they are in their 70’s) is going to involve them needing a lot more help from family which wasn’t going to happen in Pennsylvania since their three children are spread out all around the country. I am saddened that this move required them to give up their home and leave town in order to do this but I’m also so proud of them for being proactive in their lives and making this change while they are still healthy and able to create new lives for themselves in their new location. They have the foresight to plan ahead when so many others wait for tragedy to happen to dictate a move. This doesn’t make the reality of the situation any easier for me though which is basically this: my parents, like all of us, are getting older and one day in the not too distant future they aren’t going to be here. My heart aches when I think about that.

Top things I will miss about Erie, PA:

  • Going to Presque Isle (the beaches, bike paths and the hiking trails. I spent so much time there growing up.)
  • Seeing big snow (Nothing beats a snow day at Mom and Dad’s house!)
  • Canoeing in the lagoons near the boat rental on Presque Isle (I learned to canoe properly doing the J-stroke while working at the boat rental in my high school years. It is so peaceful in the lagoons. I love it there.)
  • Being able to windsurf and sail on Lake Erie and watching the sunsets over the lake
  • Flying in and out of the Erie airport on a propeller plane (I loved flying in and out of Erie because it was so convenient and personable. My sister and I were once paged by name to hurry up and get on the plane before it took off! Only in a small town – in a big city they just leave you. Will I ever fly in a propeller plane again?)
  • Eating Macintosh apples from a local cider mill (Dad, remember flying into California with a luggage full of apples from Erie and you somehow managed to bypass California’s agricultural inspection station?!)
  • Witnessing the leaves changing in the fall time – so beautiful! (Especially the sea of yellow leaves in the back of my parent’s house.)
  • Cruising the public dock and seeing the Flagship Niagara docked near by
  • Going to the Erie zoo (I have many fond memories of going there as a child and hearing the lion roar from our house, which wasn’t far away.)
  • Being able to drive to different states easily which isn’t possible from where we live in California (especially visiting the cities: Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo.)
  • And lastly, of course, running into the remaining friends and acquaintances I know there!

Goodbye Erie 🙁

Adoptive mother: Yes I Can?

My shin and foot are not very happy right now. I was attempting to break a board with a round kick in taekwondo yesterday (a board breaking kick I had done once successfully earlier in the week) but I wasn’t positioned correctly this time when I hit the board, as a result I banged my shin and foot resulting in some nice bruises. Needless to say, my confidence which was already somewhat uncertain taking on a new sport is now completely shaken.

Is it a coincidence that the life lesson for the months of March and April at Victory school happens to be ‘Belief?’ I don’t think so. I think life has a way of presenting things to you at times when you need them. And clearly I do need to believe in myself right now.

On thinking about my shaken confidence I realize that this feeling, the one opposite of belief, the one that says “Oh you can try and try and try but that’s not going to happen for you,” is one that I’m familiar with in my life. Many people are faced with their our own version(s) of this scenario in their lives. My biggest struggles over the last decade have been in dealing with infertility, and in more recent years, parenting a child who can be challenging at times. In dealing with these experiences, I know firsthand that sometimes you can try and try and believe that things will work out and despite your best efforts to make changes and succeed sometimes things don’t work out the way you expect. So I’m really struggling with the ‘Yes I can’ thing right now.

“Stinkin’ thinkin’!” I learned that phrase in taekwondo yesterday. Stinkin’ thinkin’ is when you have those thoughts that start making you believe you can’t do things. So what are you supposed to do when those thoughts come up? Respond with, “YES I CAN!” according to the Victory school instructor.

But what if you can’t? Let’s look again at those things that have shaken my confidence. Did I actually fail in either of the things I’ve been struggling with in regards to dealing with infertility and in trying to tame a challenging child?

I supposed I failed in having a baby the traditional way but did I fail in the final outcome, of having a child? No! Thanks to adoption and my son’s birthparents I have a beautiful, healthy and very strong willed/strong personality kid who has so many amazing and endearing qualities about him alongside his more challenging ones and I love him so much. But am I failing as a mother when my son is still sometimes quite defiant despite all efforts we’ve put into helping him manage his emotions? My logical side says “no,” since dealing with behavior issues is challenging and takes time and my son is still so young, but my emotional side at times feels like a failure.

I suppose this is where faith and/or belief MUST come into play. Can I choose to believe I can help my son deal with his emotions overtime? Can I choose to believe that I can break that board again in taekwondo without hurting my foot? I’d like to think yes on both accounts and that I’m a strong enough person to believe that things will work out in the end so long as I keep believing and trying, but I’d be lying if I said this isn’t a huge struggle for me.

Adoptive mother: Book review

As an adoptive parent I’m always keeping an eye out for children’s books that are out there which resonate with our own son’s adoption story. Because adoption stories can vary from each other tremendously there aren’t a lot out there that resonate with each family’s story. Until the other day I had only one children’s book on adoption on my bookshelf, which is a decent one, but again, because it gets specific in the details in the story of what happened on the night of that one particular adopted child’s birth, it doesn’t capture our story the way I would like. Keep in mind also that the type of adoption that took place (example: international vs. domestic vs. foster care) vary tremendously from each other. So finding a good children’s book for an adopted child is really no easy task.

With that said I’d like to give a shout out to a new children’s book sent to me by Blue Slip Media (to be released on April 25) called Wonderful You by Lauren McLaughlin. This story resonated with me because the focus of the book centers around the concept of an open adoption where a birthmother searches for and selects the parents for her unborn child.

The moment I opened up the cover of the book I was intrigued by the bright and vibrant colors. As an artist I appreciate good artwork and the illustrations by Meilo So are truly beautifully done. Each page is its own masterpiece.

The story begins with the introduction of the birthmother, ‘a lady in blue,’ who is looking all over the world for the parents for her unborn girl. A couple of pages in she spots the parents-to-be in which they exclaim, “Can it be? Is she looking for us? Is it finally time?” (At this point in the story I had tears welling up in my eyes remembering this defining moment for us and the intense longing that many adoptive parents feel in desperately wanting to love a child and start their own family but having to wait to be picked.) A page or two later the book touches on how carefully the birthmother was about being sure the home she was picking for her child was a good fit. “‘Will you love her,’ she asked, ‘every morning and night?’” (OK now I was a crying blubbering mess! What a beautiful way to exemplify the love a birthmother feels for her child.)

The story goes on for several pages with the girl growing into a toddler then a young child and the adoptive family is shown having lots of fun together doing various activities and living life together as a true family. Near the back of the book ‘a woman in blue’ shows up again on a faraway perch up in the sky watching over her child and her parents as they get ready for bed. The book ends with the adoptive family of three playing lovingly together.

I have read this book a half a dozen times now and I love it despite the fact that I can’t seem to get through it without shedding at least one tear. I’ve shared it just once so far with my son who seemed to enjoy it. His only comment throughout the book said in his sweet little voice was, “Don’t cry Mommy,” which he is used to saying whenever I tell him about the days surrounding his birth.

If your family was formed through an open adoption or if you are thinking of giving a gift to another adoptive family who went through an open adoption this book really is an absolute must. It may even be appropriate for families of international adoptions as well although birthmothers would likely be more mystical characters to the children vs. reality since the process is done so differently. Either way, this book is a nice addition for both children and adults in the adoption community.

Note: Although Blue Slip Media contacted me to consider reviewing this new book for them it was not at all an obligation and reviewing the book was purely voluntary on my part with no money exchanged. I am happy passing along adoption resources that help other adoptive families or bring them joy.

Adoptive mother: The ‘Adoption’ card

My husband and I have always been aware that sooner or later along our journey of raising an adopted child, statements and questions would arise from our son or from others that would sometimes be painful, hurtful or throw us for a loop. Like ‘Wild’ cards in the game of UNO, these statements usually tend to occur at moments when we least expect them. The first one I remember being on the receiving end of was an offhand comment from my sweet niece who asked an innocent question about “who my son’s ‘real Mom’ was.” Being a relatively new Mom at the time, I remember her comment really stung, but at the same time I knew to keep things in perspective and that there was no hurt intended from the comment but it was simply a 8-year-old trying to understand adoption and wanting to know more about her cousin’s birthmother.

Tonight, another one of these zingers got thrown at both my husband and I unexpectedly by our 5-year-old son just after we told him that he wasn’t going to get a snack after dinner. (In the game of delaying going to bed, the ‘Wanting a Snack’ card has been his most recent one that he has been playing nightly.) We are used to the typical counters coming from our son like: “You’re terrible parents,” and “I hate you both,” and even (Scott’s favorite) “You’re the cry makers!” But tonight his response to our denial was a new one, spewed out in a moment of rage… “You’re not the adoptive parents I was supposed to have!”

Now this is never a statement adoptive parents want to hear and in the past something like this would have surely cut deep and brought on an avalanche of tears. However, tonight I must have had my protective coat of armour on or perhaps I’m just secure enough in motherhood now to know that he really didn’t mean what he said because to my surprise, my reaction after hearing this statement for the first time didn’t involve pain or tears, but rather it was one of amusement and admiration. I actually smiled to myself when he said it and thought, “Wow! The angles our son is now taking to try to gain the upper hand in our game is actually quite astonishing. He actually played the ‘Adoption’ card for the first time!”

We know it’s normal for other kids to say all kind of mean things to their parents when they don’t get what they want and our kid is no exception. Except for the fact that he really, REALLY wants control, so much so that we needed to get help from a therapist to help us outsmart him since traditional methods of gaining the upper hand were not working for us. So, thanks to our training on dealing with our son’s outbursts, neither my husband nor I had a reaction to his comment other than the standard, calmly delivered response of, “Well I’m sorry you feel that way buddy but you’re still not getting a snack after dinner,” that my husband expertly delivered. Our son may have played a powerful card but we have the advantage of experience under our belts so we have learned to handle some blows.

In talking with my husband later, we wondered whether our son really knew the powerful card he was playing or if he just threw it out there to see what would happen. We both believe he was just trying to use anything he could to rile us up as many kids do, and that being the newest card in his hand he was likely just testing it out on us. But the thing that neither one of us could deny, and it amazed us both, was that somehow at just 5-years-old our son instinctively knew that the ‘Adoption’ card was a valid one and that it was a powerful one to play.

Best Health Blog Contest – I need your vote!

I found out yesterday that my website was nominated for Healthline’s “Best Health Blog Contest!” (Note: This is separate from being voted one of the “Best Adoptive Mom Blogs” of 2016.) I am more than honored for this as someone had to submit the nomination and it wasn’t me! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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My vision in creating and maintaining this site has always been to educate the world about open adoptions and to clear up the many misconceptions and fears that open adoptions often bring.

If you’ve found value in my site and you wish to put your vote in to support me and my vision here’s how you can vote:

  1. Go to the Healthline “Best Health Blog Contest” page
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page to use the search box to locate “Karen’s Calling”
  3. Enter your email address and click the “Vote” button. The screen will then turn gray – your VOTE HAS NOT BEEN COUNTED YET! You must scroll on that page until you find the “I’m not a robot” pop-up message somewhere on the page, and check the box.
  4. You will be returned to the voting page. Click “Send A Confirmation Email.”
  5. Follow the link in the email to approve your vote. This is important as VOTES ARE NOT COUNTED UNTIL THIS FINAL STEP IS COMPLETE.

Healthline allows everyone with a valid email address to repeat their vote every 24 hours so feel free to vote as many times as you’d like!

Thank you for your support!

Adoptive mother: The sister

“I want to meet my sister, and have deep dish pizza, and play in the snow.” These are the words we’ve been hearing from our five-year-old son recently.

“We can eat deep dish pizza here you know. And we could drive 4 hours to the mountains this winter to play in the snow,” we say, to which he replies, “No, we have to have deep dish pizza in Chicago” (apparently he saw a kids video about Chicago’s deep dish pizza,) “and when we go to Chicago we can play in the snow. There are tall buildings there – that’s what Mom says,” he says to his Dad. “And we can meet my sister when we are there.”

“We want these things too honey. We do,” we reply honestly. “We don’t know when we can meet her sweetie.” Inside we both wonder, does his sister even know he exists? Have her adoptive parents ever brought him up to her telling her that she has a brother? We have no clue. We know people have all different levels of comfort about what they want to share and what to not share with their own adoptive children. For us being as open and honest as possible about information that we know about his adoption is how we are choosing to raise our son. The people we surround ourselves with tend to share our viewpoints, or if they don’t agree with us at least they accept our choice as we do other people’s. As adoptive parents we knew that things would come up over time that would be complicated regarding our son’s adoption. Adoptions are messy and hard sometimes amongst the beauty and love that they contain.

The weird thing is that we hardly ever talked to our son about his sister in his five years of life. We introduced Catherine, his sister, to him when he was three by showing him a picture of her and briefly stating that she was adopted too, lived in Chicago and that she was his sister. (See “Introducing Catherine”) Since then we’ve only brought her up a handful of times, if that, just to remind him that he does indeed have a sister. So recently when he’s been expressing interest in meeting her it came as a surprise to us. Perhaps seeing all the kids with siblings at school has piqued his interest about his own sibling?

I believe the ‘not knowing’ aspect of this is the hardest part for me and for anyone that has faced any kind of adversity in their life especially for adoptive families who don’t know their child’s history or a birthparent who doesn’t hear a lot of information about their child. Because my husband and I are not in touch with the other adoptive family that is raising his sister, we have no answers for our son about her other than the little bits of information that has been shared with us over the years by his birthmother. We are very fortunate to be in touch with both my son’s birthparents. He knows them, has talked with them and has seen them several times. They are not at all missing pieces in my child’s life, which is beyond wonderful. The missing piece of the puzzle has always been our son’s older sister.

We had tried once to be in touch with Catherine’s adoptive parents years ago but for whatever reason (not known to us) it never happened. We dropped it, until now, when once again we are reaching out to them via our son’s birthmother. Perhaps this time they will be ready to connect with us? Or not? We don’t know.

Our hope is that eventually the two siblings (now ages 5 and 9) will form a relationship with each other. They can meet via Facetime or Skype or perhaps in person some day. How cool I envision that being for them! Our children are incredibly lucky to have a biological sibling when neither of our families alone could give them that.