Sunday, December 12, 2010

birthday kids

Just a quick one tonight - more pics to come - to post pics of our fall/winter birthday lineup. Happy 1st Birthday to Holden, Happy 4th Birthday to Macy and today, Happy 3rd Birthday to Dawson!!

We will be celebrating for our little monkey boy right after Christmas, but he practiced his cake-raiding skills during Macy and Holden's joint party LOL! :)

Friday, December 03, 2010

the hardest thing

"Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be."
- Anonymous

I am very behind in posting - birthdays, Thanksgiving, many pictures ... but I wanted to go ahead and share the most important thing that has been going on in our family recently.

This morning Matt and I sat for the better part of an hour and put pen to paper many times over, signing over our parental rights for our little Serbian princess, Emerson, before leaving her in the arms of a new family.

This was not a sudden decision, though we are only now sharing it; we actually took the first steps toward this end a few months ago and have been slowly transitioning all the children involved toward this new reality. A couple playdates and meetings, many weekend visits, lots of talking and questioning and yes, much second-guessing, and now that all is final we are ready to share this very personal and very private decision.

I don't feel a need to elaborate on all the reasons for our decision - I think anyone who has read my blog over the last 18 months knows enough of those finer details - but ultimately it came down to what was best for Em and what was best for our other children. There are some people who can't - and never will - understand or accept that, and that's their right to do so as much as it's my right to disagree and stand by our decision. To put it plainly, we didn't fit. It's nothing wrong with Em, or with us - we are each unique unto ourselves - but just that it wasn't the best combination for any of us to achieve our full potentials and more importantly, lasting happiness. Our family is large, active, busy, loud - all things that are very difficult for a child with severe sensory needs to thrive amdist. Trying to balance everyone's needs and still keep our family intact had become virtually impossible and most of the time we found ourselves splitting into pieces, me with Em at home and Matt with the other kids at a sports game or community activity. It hurts to feel like you can't really be a family, that all of the kids are missing out on the thing most important - togetherness.

And though some people would say that you must bend, you must adapt, you must deal - we refuse to accept that for our kids, including Em. Just as much as we want to enjoy our biological children and make memories as a family, we also want that for Em and at some point, we had to admit that bending to the point of breaking was only hurting us and hurting her - and we all deserved more than that.

As always, we want Em to progress to the best of her ability, on her own timeline, and to be happy and connected and part of something while she does it. It is probably one of the hardest things for a parent to do, to admit that they are not the best ones to make that happen. But however hard it is, it's still the right thing.

I did not always feel that way, and admit when we first started our adoption journey and I came across "disruption" I was horrified. How could someone consciously take in a child, only to cast them out? But I suppose I had a similar difficult time understanding how birth mothers gave up a biological child for adoption. And as it often does, life forced me to walk that path so that I might understand, and remember to check my judgements on decisions I've never been in the position to make.

I am positive that some of this decision is motivated by my own limitations - what I feel I can and cannot handle, what I'm willing to handle - and I accept that often disappointing humanness in me. Down syndrome may not have been able to gift me with an infinite amount of patience and grace, but it certainly taught me to accept and even embrace the qualities - positive and negative - that lie within each of us. I am sure that it is that reality which many people find fault in when it comes to adoption disruption and perhaps adoption in general. Very rarely is a child given up by a parent, whether they be teenagers or seasoned adoptive parents - at birth, or after a few weeks, or a few years - without the parent knowing that possibly, somewhere deep inside, they had it in them to continue on. But I think perhaps it is part of our parental instincts to want more than that for our children - to want them not to have "just enough" but to have as much as life will allow. And while we probably could continue on in this difficult, stumbling dance trying to parent all to our best ability, only our own sense of morality and duty would benefit. Reality, however, for our biological children and for our adopted child, would be the thing to suffer. And I'm not willing to let that happen.

The fact is that no matter what this says about us, or me, we are at peace with it. There's really no argument, no disparaging remark, no judgemental comment, that I have not made to myself many times over in the last few months. Sophocles had it right when he stated, "There is no witness so terrible, no accuser so powerful as conscience which dwells within us." But I think often our conscience serves to show us the fallacies of our own moral arguments - it teaches us to be more understanding, more open-minded, more compassionate ... especially toward ourselves.

Developmental milestones and all other practical issues aside, I know we did two great things for Em; the greatest being getting her out of the cell she laid in for 22 months and the second greatest being getting her to the amazing family we feel sure is better able to help her find herself, her own potential, and as much happiness as all children should have. Everything else in between pales in significance and whatever failings we struggle with in our hearts, we do not doubt those two successes.

This has been a very emotional and difficult time for our family and we know the coming weeks and months will be that much harder. We are very fortunate to have family and friends who are all incredibly supportive and understanding of our decision. I will be moderating comments on this blog for some time to come and while everyone is entitled to share whatever opinion they feel they need to, for those who feel unable to share with a loved one or friend in real life and instead must direct it toward us - I will not be publishing any negative, critical or hurtful comments. I will make only this one response, to blanket all of them - I respect your opinion. I am very sorry you feel that way and I wish you the best, as I'm sure you would wish us and Em! Our family is healing right now and I won't waste one ounce of emotional energy on further explaining or defending this incredibly difficult choice. We also sincerely appreciate comments, thoughts and prayers of support.

We are grateful to Em's new family for inspiring us and supporting us so much along the way and we are especially grateful to Em, for all of her lessons and especially for all of the snorting giggles and crinkly-eyed smiles that we will miss the most. We can't wait to see what this next exciting chapter will hold for you, little one.