Saturday, June 22, 2013

Just When I Thought I Had It All Figured Out, Our Life Is Changing Again.

If you told me, a year ago, that I would be writing this blog, I wouldn't have believed you....

Wow, that's such a typical way to begin a story, but it's so true.  A year ago, after a challenging two week visit with Patrick (my children's older biological brother), I was confident that we would continue to do occasional visits with him, but that would be the extent of it.  Between his issues and my inexperience dealing with a teenager, it was...not easy.

But, that has changed.

This year, I have learned many things about Patrick and myself.  After learning more about his past, I've come to understand why he acted in certain ways.  After learning more about my present, I've come to understand that I needed to change certain ways that I acted.  I've learned that once you get past his guarded exterior, he has this sweet, gentle soul (don't tell him that I said that because I'm sure he'll deny it!) and an appreciation for the silly, which is kind of a prerequisite for fitting in here.  (I have an awesome picture of the four of them in matching Superman shirts to verify this, haha.  I so wish that I could post it here!)

They say that life is about change and I've always hated change. I'm a creature of habit. I've eaten the same breakfast almost every morning for about a decade.  When I wear my shoes out, I go and buy a pair just like them. And, when I go out to eat, I order the same thing - EVERY time.  Sadly, this can result in a near tears Emily when a restaurant discontinues "my" item.  And, unfortunately for Brian, this results in him having to figure out what to feed me. ;)

The same rule doesn't apply to my children. When William and Antwan came to live with us, the agency skipped the required overnight visit and went straight to the placement.  And, I was thrilled.  When Lizzie came to live with us, they called on a Tuesday to advise us of her existence and she came on Thursday.   And, I was thrilled. 

Well, thrilled and terrified.  :)

Talk about change.   Talk about out-of-control.   Talk about being forced to develop new habits.   And, of course, talk about finding out what real happiness is.

So, I created a new normal.  And, things eventually settled into a routine. 

And, now, it looks like I'm adding a bouncing teenage boy to our life.

Because, after a year of having Patrick in our lives: a year of wondering what goes through his head, wondering how he's so well-adjusted after what he's gone through, wondering how he could take offense to certain things, wondering how he could be so sweet, wondering where he puts all that the food that he eats, wondering how to keep a 13 year old entertained...  After a year of visits, of fighting him for the computer, fighting him for the recliner, feeling like I was losing my mind (because 4 kids in a house is like, well, having 4 kids in a house); it comes down to this.  Patrick belongs with us.

Patrick should be a Parker. 

Why?  Because he's an amazing kid who deserves a shot.  Because he's got a really, really good heart.  Because he's their brother.  Because he has had a ridiculous amount of bad luck (to use the term loosely) in his life.  And, most importantly, because we love him.

I was scared to make this decision.   We talked and talked and talked.   Change is scary.  And, as I mentioned, I don't like it.  I'm more of the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" mentality.  And, we weren't broken.  But it's turns out that we could use a little home improvement. ;)  (Did I go too far with that analogy??)

So, soon, he'll be a Parker and I'll stop calling him Patrick in my blog.  Because, it's a cool name, but it's not his.  I'll start buying in bulk because, seriously, the kid's tummy is never full.  I'll keep my promise to downplay the hugs when teenagers are nearby and he'll keep his promise to not hurt my feelings by running away (again) if I try to hug him in public.  Ok, I don't know if he'll keep that promise, but I'm the eternal optimist! ;)  I'll attend his band concerts.  I'll probably cry because I do that.  He'll probably roll his eyes.  I'll do everything that I'm supposed to do and, hopefully, I'll do it well.

I'll embrace my new normal.

And, I will be his mom and I will love him forever.  Just like I will love William, Antwan, and Lizzie, forever.

And, if there was any doubt that we are doing the right thing...

I constantly peek around corners and try to catch moments. :)

Copying each other :)


Helping his little brother out in the water.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Are You Running A Day-Care?

I've come to accept and expect comments and questions from random people.  Generally, I don't mind.  I feel that it's kind of my job (and an opportunity) to educate; just as much as it's my duty to make people aware of the need for adoption.  But, on occasion, it can get a little tiresome.  We joke that we would make a great reality show because of our unusual and wacky little family.  But, the fact is, when I leave the house, I feel like I am in a reality show.  People notice us, probably more people than I realize.  They observe my parenting, the kids' behavior, and, of course, take note of whatever superhero shirt I've dressed us all in that day. 

I feel like it matters more if I am patient with the kids or not patient with the kids because they will remember us.  For the record, I am patient...most of the time. ;)

I'm ok with all of this.  I mean, there are comments that I like more than others.  I like it when they say my kids are cute because I think they are adorable.  I like it when they say that they are lucky to have us because I can respond with my much more accurate, "we're lucky to have them" response.  I like it when they ask questions about adoption because I want to inspire people to go out and adopt, too.  I don't particularly like it when they ask personal questions, in front of the kids, because it's not really their business.  I also don't like questions about their biological mother because, well, I just plain don't like to think about her and they usually refer to her as "mom" when they ask.  That's confusing for my kids and hurtful to me because, yo, I'm mom.

But, this is our life and, like I said, I'm ok with it.  I wouldn't change my unusual, wacky, little family that fascinates nearly everyone we encounter because I really do understand.  My kids fascinate me, too.

But, every once in awhile, someone really surprises me.  Someone breaks the mold of the innocently curious.  Last week, we encountered the nosiest Taco Bell employee in history.  If I didn't know better, I would tell you that she read my blogs and made a mental list of what not to say to me and then thought, what the heck, and said them, anyway.

As we ate our tacos, a 20-something Taco Bell employee walked by and said to us - "Are you guys running a day care?" 

It sat there, in the air, for a second.  I have to mention that Patrick had just gotten in town for a visit which meant our theoretical day care would serve a 4 year old, 6 year old, 10 year old, and 13 year old?  So, that would be the oddest day care, ever. 

As, I looked at her with confusion, Brian, good-naturedly, said "No, this is the family." 

And, she went away.

We agreed that it was weird and went back to our tacos. 

A few minutes later...

She came back, apologizing, "I was just joking.  My coworker said I was rude and that you might have adopted them." 

We confirmed that we had adopted them.  Neither of us saw the point of clarifying exactly what Patrick's current relationship to us was. 

She told us we were nice and asked if they all had the same parents.  Determined not to give up the title (and more than a little desperate to get back to my Loco Taco), I said, "Yes, us." 
But, then I clarified, "But, yes, they are all biologically related."

Then, she asked if I wasn't able to have kids.  Keenly aware, that my kids were being sent a message that they were second choice, I said "Not biologically.  But, I believe that this is the way that I was supposed to 'have' kids."   (And, I really, really, do believe that.)

She then told us that she was 4 and 1/2 months pregnant with a little girl and she was so excited.  Apparently, trying to relate, she said that her baby was going to be half-Mexican because her boyfriend is Mexican.  "But, she's going to look mostly white because my boyfriend is light-skinned."  What a relief? 

And, after spending a few more minutes, discussing how nervous she was about childbirth as I responded with reassuring statements, she finally went back to work.

None of the kids said anything.  Patrick had just gotten an extreme example of what it can be like for us, but he made no comment.  Brian and I shook our heads.  And, I finally got to finish my taco (priorities).

It was random and inappropriate.  I was too shocked to be offended; even though, the whole conversation was pretty offensive.  But, it's also par for the course.

So, to you random people who I see around town, if I could ask you one thing (ok, maybe a couple of things), it would be this.  Ask your questions.  I'll answer them.  Just please don't say anything to make my kids feel less than.  And, don't say anything to make the sensitive Emily feel less than.  I.E. Don't ask questions about their biological parents, just ask if they are biological related. 

If you follow these guidelines, I'll happily answer any question that you want to ask me; including the ever-popular "What are you using on your little girl's hair?  You know that you have to use grease everyday, right?"  ;)

I suppose, that probably would've been more effective if the random people who I see around town read my blog.  Let them know, ok? ;)