Gotcha Day!

Today marks the 17th anniversary of the day we went before a stern lady judge in Russia and in half an hour became parents to a child we’d known for a grand total of about 3 hours.

As the Soviet government had broken apart, the huge communist bureaucracy had gotten smaller and smaller. The courthouse we walked into in Murmansk was essentially deserted. There were desks and chairs stacked in the halls. None of the offices were occupied. We waited for the couple we were traveling with to finish their time then it was our turn.

We walked into a back room that didn’t look anything like a courtroom: me, August’s dad, our translator, the representative from the adoption agency and a representative for August. The judge and a prosecutor were already there. They began by telling August’s story and I was amazed at how much I learned. He had a grandmother who refused to take him. He had a grandmother! He would be alone for days at a time or left with friends or neighbors. Stories that made my heart break.

The judge asked the rep for August and the adoption agency rep a few questions all in Russian which of course I didn’t understand. The translator gave us a brief rundown. Basically what had the communication been with the birth mom as far as her desire to keep him and care for him. She wasn’t interested.

Then the prosecutor got her turn with us. By the way, I was surprised at the number of females in positions of authority. I don’t know why but I expected Russia to be more sexist than it turned out to be. Glad to be wrong! The prosecutor asked about our willingness to bring August up with an understanding of Russian culture. We of course said we planned to do that and we did, though we didn’t yet know what that would look like. And it depended a lot on August wanting to which he did at first but had no interest in at all later on.

The only other issue that came up was that all court proceedings in Russia required a 10-day waiting period before they became effective. We desperately wanted that waived so that we could travel home with August rather than have to spend more time in a hotel. We wanted to get started being a family! That was the judge’s call but the prosecutor got a vote too. Luckily they were both in agreement.

Then the judge said a bunch of stuff I couldn’t understand but it all boiled down to my becoming August’s mother forever! It was the most amazing feeling. I was happy, scared, excited, overwhelmed, overjoyed. It may not be the traditional way to become a mother, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

My only wish is that I could have been his mother from day one. Knowing what I know now being his mom from the beginning might have kept both of us from years of pain. Might have kept us from being apart today. Might have kept him from being where he is now. Might have changed the path he seems destined to travel.

There are no guarantees and I don’t blame anyone. I can only be grateful that I was given the privilege to be this sweet boy’s mom. The song below was a wonderful inspiration to me during the adoption process. It was sung at his baptism by my fabulous friend Susan Brehmer thanks to my amazing friend Dave Golden creating sheet music from listening to it because it was out of print. Listening to it today brings me right back to that day.

Wishing everyone peace with their families and knowing there is a place for you.

Wayne Watson – A Place For You

 

 

Mother’s Day

I am writing a few days ahead of actual Mother’s Day for several reasons. Mother’s Day this year also falls on my mom’s birthday. She passed away 30 years ago now but the day is still difficult. But then, so was she. Having these two days fall so close together and occasionally on the same day was rough for a young child. She insisted that they be celebrated separately since it was all she’d get in the year. A tough undertaking for an 8-year old with $2.37 to spend. I believe I have retaliated on every boyfriend since then as my birthday falls a week after Christmas.

Holidays are rough on RAD families. Anything that disrupts the routine, forces bonding, and makes the child spend time in the relationships he or she doesn’t want to have is a recipe for disaster. Add anxiety, lack of impulse control, everyone trying too hard…you get the idea.

If the holiday has a focus on the child you can maybe get away with it with little angst. So Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving can usually be managed if there’s no travelling involved (I’ll focus on these holidays and car trips in the future). But Mother’s Day has no purpose on RADish radar.

When August was little and I was still married, Mother’s Day was handled for him. Whether or not he knew it he got me a lovely card and present and I could probably score a hug and a kiss and breakfast in bed even though he had nothing to do with it. I know from taking him to buy Father’s Day cards as he got older that root canal would have been preferred to shopping for something that wasn’t for him. And forget the present.

But here’s two pictures of one of my favorite Mother’s Days. I was divorced and the boys were on their own. I was upstairs in bed because I knew they were downstairs making me breakfast. There was no yelling or screaming so the boys were getting along (for once!) Quite a long time passed and then they came upstairs with this:

222346_1999049982537_7375673_n

And all I was told was, “Something happened.” I was afraid to go downstairs. But there were three yogurts and the three of us laid in bed and ate yogurt together and had a great breakfast. It was wonderful.

Of course I did have to go downstairs eventually and I found this:

229674_1999357910235_610622_n

But the fact that they tried this hard made my heart melt even more.

August will never understand how much Mother’s Day means to me. That for seven years I didn’t think I’d ever be a mother. That getting the call with his court date the week before Mother’s Day in 2001 (and finding out I was pregnant two days later) was the most amazing 48 hours of my life. I wish he could feel how full my heart is when I think about being his mom. And how much it breaks that he can’t. If he could I know his life would be so much different.

Mother’s Day is a time for celebrating our mothers, or those who have served that role. Remembering the mothers we’ve lost and acknowledging what a vital role mothers play in the development of every human. Understanding Reactive Attachment Disorder brings the role of mother to a whole new level of importance now for me. I have been robbed of much of that bond with my child but nevertheless I would not be a mother without him and for that I am truly blessed.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and mother souls out there. Thank you for caring.

Mother’s Day

I am writing a few days ahead of actual Mother’s Day for several reasons. Mother’s Day this year also falls on my mom’s birthday. She passed away 30 years ago now but the day is still difficult. But then, so was she. Having these two days fall so close together and occasionally on the same day was rough for a young child. She insisted that they be celebrated separately since it was all she’d get in the year. A tough undertaking for an 8-year old with $2.37 to spend. I believe I have retaliated on every boyfriend since then as my birthday falls a week after Christmas.

Holidays are rough on RAD families. Anything that disrupts the routine, forces bonding, and makes the child spend time in the relationships he or she doesn’t want to have is a recipe for disaster. Add anxiety, lack of impulse control, everyone trying too hard…you get the idea.

If the holiday has a focus on the child you can maybe get away with it with little angst. So Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving can usually be managed if there’s no travelling involved (I’ll focus on these holidays and car trips in the future). But Mother’s Day has no purpose on RADish radar.

When August was little and I was still married, Mother’s Day was handled for him. Whether or not he knew it he got me a lovely card and present and I could probably score a hug and a kiss and breakfast in bed even though he had nothing to do with it. I know from taking him to buy Father’s Day cards as he got older that root canal would have been preferred to shopping for something that wasn’t for him. And forget the present.

But here’s two pictures of one of my favorite Mother’s Days. I was divorced and the boys were on their own. I was upstairs in bed because I knew they were downstairs making me breakfast. There was no yelling or screaming so the boys were getting along (for once!) Quite a long time passed and then they came upstairs with this:

222346_1999049982537_7375673_n

And all I was told was, “Something happened.” I was afraid to go downstairs. But there were three yogurts and the three of us laid in bed and ate yogurt together and had a great breakfast. It was wonderful.

Of course I did have to go downstairs eventually and I found this:

229674_1999357910235_610622_n

But the fact that they tried this hard made my heart melt even more.

August will never understand how much Mother’s Day means to me. That for seven years I didn’t think I’d ever be a mother. That getting the call with his court date the week before Mother’s Day in 2001 (and finding out I was pregnant two days later) was the most amazing 48 hours of my life. I wish he could feel how full my heart is when I think about being his mom. And how much it breaks that he can’t. If he could I know his life would be so much different.

Mother’s Day is a time for celebrating our mothers, or those who have served that role. Remembering the mothers we’ve lost and acknowledging what a vital role mothers play in the development of every human. Understanding Reactive Attachment Disorder brings the role of mother to a whole new level of importance now for me. I have been robbed of much of that bond with my child but nevertheless I would not be a mother without him and for that I am truly blessed.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and mother souls out there. Thank you for caring.