Friday, August 14, 2015

Turns Out That There Is Room For More In The Parker Academy.

So, after much deliberation and discussion, we have decided to homeschool Lizzie and Antwan, too!

I wrote a really long and wordy blog about how it all went down.  But, then I re-read it and realized that it was boring.  haha. So, here's the upshot.  Brian and I talked to each other.  And, we talked to Antwan, Lizzie, and William.  Lizzie and Antwan really wanted to home school.  Antwan's main reason were that he wanted to spend more time with his family.  Lizzie didn't have a specific reason and mostly parroted Antwan's reasons.  Although, I suspect her main reason is that she knows that William scored a lot of lunches with Grandma and Grandpa, last year. :)  And William was fine with it, but legitimately worried that it would be harder to focus.  (I assured him that they would be doing work, too.)  Then we promised that Daddy and I would think about it.

So, then, Brian and I went back to talking.  Then I took the kids to their orientation, then they stood firm that they wanted to home school.  Then Brian and I talked some more. 

There was a lot of whining and begging...mostly from me.  ;) And, a lot of valid and logical concerns and questions expressed...mostly from Brian.  But, in the end, I really, really wanted to try it and Brian and I have yet to talk to anyone who regretted home schooling.  So, on Saturday night with school starting on Monday, we decided to try it.

Cutting it as close as possible, I told Antwan and Lizzie on Sunday night.

And, when I went in the room and told them.  They smiled and cheered.  Antwan leaned over and gave me a big hug and said "Thank you, Mommy."  That's when I knew that it was the right thing.

Then there was Kaleb.  Initially, I wanted to home school him as I ran with my emotions and ABC Family vision of how wonderful it would be.  But, Brian made some valid points about Kaleb's need for structure and his apathy towards school work.  The concern that we would butt heads was a real one.  Or that I'd spend so much time trying to get him to do his work that I would neglect the others.  So, in the end, we agreed that Kaleb would go to public school (at least, for now).  My biggest concern was that he'd feel rejected.  So, as we explained the situation to him, I kept hugging and saying sentimental things.  That probably annoyed him more. ;)  But, he took it better than I thought he would.  He wasn't thrilled and delighted with the info.  But, there it was.

So, one awkward conversation with Kaleb later combined with a promise of monthly Mommy and Kaleb dates to offset and one happy conversation with Lizzie and Antwan, it was official.

I got up, the next morning, and only sent one kid off to school, took a "field trip" to the UPS store to fax in homeschooling paperwork, and got William started on his work. 

Faxing off letter of intent (to home school) forms!

A few days later, William is back in the groove with his classes and Lizzie and Antwan are enjoying another week of summer because their elementary virtual school program doesn't start until next week.  This means I am coming up with work for them.  Admittedly, sometimes, that work involves walking a dog. ;)  

But, after the first day, even though, we didn't really do anything, I felt happy.  Just happy.  I feel good about this and I think that they do too. :)

Antwan was ready to get started. :)

We scored desks from the thrift store for 2 bucks. Yay!

Just because you are staying home, you still have to pose for first(ish) day of school pictures!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

My Kids And Their Birth Mother

I've had varying feelings towards my children's birth mother.  I know that anger is not supposed to be one of those feelings but that doesn't change the fact that it has been.  In the beginning, I told William poetic things like "She couldn't take care of you and she's happy that you are with us."  I didn't realize, until later, that I was lying to him.  Because when we went through the year of visits and court dates with Lizzie, I became aware that she actually hated us for "stealing her children."   I assumed she'd have more of a Lifetime movie style guilt and angst approach to life ("What have I done??"), but not so much.  So, we slowly started to hate her.  That may be a strong word and against the value system that we try to instill in our kids, but it's the truth.  But, going through a year of worrying about whether or not you are going to lose your daughter (and I know that she wasn't technically our daughter yet, but she was a part of us from the beginning) will do funny things to a person.

Anyway, after we finalized the adoption, I was content to pretend that she didn't exist.  Although, whenever we were coincidentally on the side of town that she lived on, I would look twice at the faces that I would pass.  I would wonder if I would remember her face (I know that I would) and what I would say if she tried to talk to the kids.  In my head, it usually involved some kind of dramatic scene where I scream at her to get away from my kids, simultaneously causing a scene and freaking out my kids in the process.  At the beginning, we worried that she would show up on our doorstep, but slowly realized that it wasn't worth the trouble to her.

Eventually, I stopped obsessing and went on with my life.  Until Kaleb. 

When you adopt a child who fairly clearly remembers his biological mother, it gets more complicated.  Adopting a teenager who might get a facebook request from her makes it very complicated.  Ok, not that complicated, it turns out, because he told me about it and turned down the request per my request.  (Not wanting her to be able to see my info through him seemed reasonable.)  And, for the record, he didn't really want the contact, anyway, so it wasn't me denying him a relationship or anything like that. 

Anyway, the point is, I can't pretend like she doesn't exist anymore.  I can be secure in the knowledge that to them I am mom and in a lot of ways, that's all that matters.  But, I can't pretend that she doesn't exist.  The reality is that this woman who endangered and neglected them will always be relevant.  Whether I like it or not.  And, I don't, by the way.  But, I'm guessing you picked up on that. ;)

Over the last several months, she's come up more and more.  Not on a daily basis, thank goodness, but she comes up.  Neighborhood kids asking questions.  William inexplicably announcing at a pool party that his mom did drugs before he was born.  And, most recently, Antwan and my friends' child (also adopted from foster care) discussing their birth mothers. 

When Kaleb who wasn't overly thrilled that William was broadcasting their business told us about the pool party incident, I went in my room and cried.  I feel the need to say that I'm not constantly in my room crying as you might think if you've been reading my posts for a while, but when I do it's usually because of this topic.  Anyway, I wasn't crying because I was angry that he brought her up.  That's not realistic or fair.  I definitely wasn't crying because I was worried that the neighbors would think that I did drugs.  It's pretty evident that they are not biological.  I was crying because I wish that they were all mine and that I didn't have to share them with her in any way.  (Hey, I never said I wasn't possessive, haha.)  But, more than anything else, I was crying because he called her mom.  (By the way, I just remembered that I wrote about this incident so I apologize for repeating myself!)  Anyway, Brian told William (gently) what we have told them before.  It's ok to bring her up, it's ok to have questions, but we would like them to refer to her as birth mother, biological mother, or something along those lines.  He told William that I am Mom.  William said that he knew and it just slipped out and we moved on.

There is a slight possibility that I am a bit overly sensitive.  There is no need for those who know me in real life to confirm that, by the way. ;)  (I'm talking to you, Brian, haha.)  But, even so, I've earned the mom title and Brian has earned Dad.

It's been quiet on the bio talk front for awhile, until the kids and I we went to the beach with our friends.  The next day, my friend told me via text that his son and Antwan had gotten into a birth mother convo and that, apparently, Antwan and maybe Lizzie have pet names for her (probably different from my names for her, haha, just kidding.)  His son hadn't heard exactly but it was something to the effect of Great or Break mom.  This totally threw me because they never bring her up or ask about her.  I wasn't even sure that they really understood the whole concept. 

So, I got the familiar icky feeling when I was forced to remember that she exists.  I hated the idea that they talk about her amongst themselves and simultaneously felt angry at myself for being so selfish.  How could they not wonder about her?  But, as always, what bothered me most was the idea that they call her mom. 

Anyway, I mentioned it to Brian who assured me that we'd talk to them and I put it out of my head.  Well, I put it out of my head until I found myself in the living room alone with Antwan, a few minutes later.  That's when I decided to abruptly bring it up rather than wait for a calm moment when Brian and I could talk to him.  I do that. ;)

I mentioned that I heard that he had a conversation about his biological mother. 

He looked up with confusion and avoided eye contact.  But, it didn't feel like confusion, it felt as fake as my casual tone.

I went on, "He said that you call her Great Mom or Break Mom....?"

More confused looks along with a "I don't call her that."

Fairly confident that the other boy didn't pull it out of thin air, I continued.

"You can tell me.  It's ok if you are curious about her. I'm not going to get upset."

More confused responses.

This is so not how I thought it would go.

So, guess what, I continued!

"You understand that you were in someone else's belly and then Daddy and I adopted you and became your Mommy and Daddy?"  (He nodded.)  "It's ok that you talk about her, I just ask one thing.  Don't call her mom because that's my name."  I gave him some ideas of what he could call her.  He continued to be fairly uninterested in the whole conversation.

Through the whole thing, I got the distinct impression that he was holding back.  That he was worried about me.  And, no matter how many times I emphasized that he could talk to me, he didn't change his story.

A few minutes later as Lizzie was insisting that I accompany her to the bathroom, I brought it up with her.  This time, I got the distinct impression that she was more interested in discussing her potty progress than her back story.  She confirmed that she understood but said that she didn't have a name for her.  Then she went back to discussing her poop.  (TMI?)

So, the bottom line is I need to worry a little less and just enjoy my life. 

Kaleb chose me.

William might slip up with terminology, but he is not naive to the reality and he loves me.

Lizzie has no other mommy on the radar but me. 

And, Antwan... 

Well, I'm pretty sure that he is going to be a very successful husband to someone one day. ;)  But, as much as his future spouse will enjoy his sensitivity, that's not my role.  I know now that I have to make sure that he knows that I am strong enough to handle what he has to say.  I need to be strong so he doesn't always have to be.

You know, because that's what moms do.