Our Imperfect Lives

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Sleep, Glorious Sleep

When Sport and Sunshine first came to live with us they were good sleepers. They would nearly sleep through the night with little trouble. Sunshine wouldn’t even cry for a bottle. We had to set our alarms just to make sure we woke up at some point during the night to feed her. We theorized that in her previous home crying didn’t get her a bottle at night so, she just stopped crying, but it’s only a theory and we’re not really sure why she was so quiet. Now Sport, on the other hand, slept through the night like the little champ that he is. However, he did have some trouble actually getting to sleep.

The first couple of nights as parents one of us sat in the room in a chair waiting for Sport to fall asleep and our chance to slip out of the room hoping to miss all of the loud squeaky floor boards. Then we spent the next week or so weaning him off the necessity of having us in the room to be able to fall asleep. It was a relatively easy process because we don’t think he actually got that upset with us leaving the room. When we first left him alone he pulled out what we like to call the fake cry. Yes, he was upset but it was more of an act than actual crying – there were no tears and he stopped once he realized he wasn’t going to get what he wanted.

Around the time we got Sport to the point where we could have story time, say good night and have him go to sleep on his own in his big boy bed in his very own bedroom, Sunshine figured out if she cried at night we’d come give her a bottle. We no longer had to set our alarms and there would be no more sleeping through the night. However, she only woke up once each night and it was midway through the night so we were still able to get a decent amount of sleep.

However, fast forward a month and half and sleep is starting to become a cherished treasure that seems to be in short supply. Sunshine has started teething and as painful as that is for her it’s also pretty painful for us. She’s had some pretty fussy nights where she hasn’t been too interested in sleeping the whole night through. If it was only Sunshine who was having sleeping problems, we might be able to take care of her and still manage to be bright eyed and bushy tailed.

However, Sport has also developed a bit of anxiety around sleeping in his room. This anxiety appeared after his first visit with his biological parents where the social worker picked him up. Again we theorized (because we have such a vast knowledge of child psychology) that the problem might have arisen from being taken away by a social worker, as his previous visit while in our care involved us personally driving him to the DCF office. But now that we’re both back at work, we’re taking advantage of the social worker’s ability to provide transportation.

Thankfully, the first bout of anxiety didn’t last long. We were back to normal sleeping patterns in a couple of days. Unfortunately, this pattern repeated itself after his most recent visit. This time around had been a bit more tricky and it has involved more real tears and more high pitched squeals – our favorite of course.

This time we’re not sure what the root of the problem is (yes even with all that vast psychological knowledge of ours). It’s possible it was just the visit with his biological parents. We are not ruling out the overstimulation of two big family parties in one week on top of a big holiday celebration for Thanksgiving, followed up with the confusion of a schedule change and not being in “school” (aka daycare) for nearly five days due to the holiday. Or, perhaps it’s a compilation of it all. Whatever the cause, it has resulted in actual sleep not setting in for Sport until as late as 10:30 at night (normal sleep time is 8:00 PM).

Day one of this round of anxiety was managed with a car ride after an hour of crying and screaming. At one point he was so worked up he was actually having a hard time catching his breath. We were happy to get him to sleep but car rides are not a long term fix.

Day two included the same vicious cycle as the night before but we increased the amount of time we spent in the room. We started with sitting next to the bed and then slowly moving out of the room. Sport was so hyper-alert that every adjustment or move we made he popped his head right back up and on came the waterworks. He ultimately fell asleep with Marcy standing just inside his door – but sleep didn’t come until about 9:00 PM.

Day three we took a slightly harder stance and did not stay in the room at all while he fell asleep, but instead went directly in our room right next door. This started off a bit rocky with him trying to make his way in our room by first sitting on the floor outside and then slowing sliding into our room.

After his sneaking into our room we told him we’d shut the toddler gate in the door of his room (which was put there in part to keep our two dogs out of his room but, let’s face it, it’s mostly to keep him in when necessary) if he didn’t stay put. He didn’t want that gate shut. He was given the choice to go back into bed or sit in his chair; he chose the chair. That was the last we heard of him for the night. We later found him sleeping on the floor next to his night stand where all of his books are kept. After feeding his sister in the middle of the night he did manage to finally crawl up into his bed. His sister’s crying likely woke him up just enough to realize he should get in bed.

Now we’re over a week into this anxiety and after a bit of crying and defiance he’ll stay quietly in his room, but for right now he prefers to stay in his chair and not his bed. He’s still sleeping in his bed and a couple of nights he has fallen asleep in his bed, but for the time being we’re just happy he’s getting comfortable with being in his room alone again. Although he’s still falling asleep too late. And while we enjoy having the added time alone in the morning while he tries to play catch up, we’re working on getting sleeping time back closer to 8:00 PM.

Nonetheless as we’re managing this little problem, we’re having a good laugh with the odd positions we’re finding him in:

Blog 25a

Blog 25b

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Adoption Carnival

It was a hell of an experience. And yes, it may be something we’ll experience again. The adoption carnival last weekend was our first “recruiting event” and we don’t think we could have ever really prepared ourselves. It was an emotional and overwhelming ride that also felt very, very strange.

The day’s activities were broken into two parts separated by lunch. The first part consisted of workshops. There were five different workshops and each person could attend two. We opted to get our feet wet together and attend the same workshop first – a workshop on legal risk.

The legal risk workshop was particularly interesting because it featured two unexpected speakers – a mother and her adopted 17 year old teenager. The two were actually attending the event as an adoptive family, looking to add a younger sibling to the family, but were asked to speak by the social worker who worked with them on the adoption five years ago. The other leaders of the workshop were the area supervisor for the southern region of our state and a lawyer who was also an adoptive mother, whose children are now grown.

The workshop was very revealing, we heard from a side of the adoption process that we hadn’t yet heard much from, that of the adoptive child. The teenager spoke about when her biological parents’ rights were terminated and when she was legally adopted by her mom. While the story was immensely informative it was equally as emotional.

We both successfully made it through the first workshop and were ready to take on the second workshop. This time we decided to divide and conquer. Meg went to a workshop about maintaining open relationships with biological families and Marcy headed off to a workshop about adopting sibling groups.

Meg’s workshop was lead by two adoptive fathers. The fathers, one black and one white, adopted two young boys together, also one white and one black. The two young boys came from separate biological families and were adopted two years apart. The fathers shared techniques for handling visits with biological parents – for example, the child was rarely told about the visit before the day of in order to avoid any anxiety about the visit or disappointment if the parent couldn’t make it. They never spoke negatively about the biological family, instead telling their sons that the reason they were adopted was because their birth parents needed to take care of themselves (and therefore could not also care for their children.) This explanation is not only true, but also a reminder of the importance of self-care for all of us. We cannot care for others if we don’t first care for ourselves.

They also shared fun stories from their lives like one about a visit to the dentist. The white father took his black son to the dentist one day and the young boy, while playing with another young (black) child, was asked who the man sitting in the waiting area was. The young boy simply answered saying that was his dad; however, the other child, confused by the answer, asked again – clarifying that he was talking about the white guy in the chair. The young boy again responded saying, “ He’s my Dad. I have a brown one at home too.” That gave everyone a chuckle. The fathers attributed much of their success to frequently checking in with their sons and reassuring them that no topic was “taboo” or would hurt their dads’ feelings.

Marcy’s workshop was lead by two social workers. One of the social workers was also a father of ten – two were biologically his and the other eight were adopted. This workshop produced some comforting facts, as we’re very interested in adopting a sibling group, such as the fact that siblings who are adopted together often act out less and can be more open to lettings other into their lives since they already have life long positive relationship with another person – their sibling.

Even though these tidbits are essential to us as potential adoptive parents to a sibling group, the most interesting parts of the workshop were the stories from the adoptive father/ social worker. One such story was about a lunch he had with his wife, his adoptive daughter and the daughter’s biological grandmother. The grandmother mentioned to the adoptive daughter that she had recently seen “Jessica,” and everyone else at the table responded with a quizzical look. They didn’t know who “Jessica” was. As it turns out “Jessica” was the adoptive daughter’s sister. The daughter found out for the first time at thirteen years old that she had a sister who was 3 years her junior.

Next up in the day’s agenda was lunch. Now this event was also attended by four other couples from our MAPP class so we sat and ate lunch with them and caught up. It was nice to see them and to hear how their adoption process was going so far. One of the couples, two gentlemen who live fairly close to us and are working with the same social worker as we are, recently finished their home study and have already started to receive phone calls about possible matches – we found this to be pretty promising for our own prospects.

After lunch was the toughest part. The children (about 100) had made their way to the event with their social workers and were given t-shirts and name tags that identified them as adoptive children. We, as adoptive parents, now had the opportunity to meet the children we were interested in, who we had already read about in the booklets we were provided at registration, and to chat with their social workers. 150 potential adoptive families had registered for the event, so it was very busy.

There were bounce houses, crafts, face painting and a DJ all set up for the kids. The adoptive parents could just walk around, observe the kids, and hunt down the social worker matched with the child you wanted to learn more about. We found this process to feel very strange, especially since most of the children were outside of our preferred age range.

We took a lap around the carnival, chatted with our social worker, who was attending the event representing our area, and left. It felt too strange and overwhelming. We didn’t feel ready to speak with anyone new at the event. While we saw a young sibling group of two little girls we thought seemed great, we didn’t make any effort to meet them or their social worker. We just weren’t feeling ready, confident, or outgoing enough. Plus, we aren’t yet even eligible to be placed with a child. Our home study is not quite ready.

Of course, now that we attended our first event we’ll be more prepared if we choose to attend another one.