I’m not a big crier. I hate crying, especially in front of people. It makes me feel too vulnerable. That said, I’ve cried on at least 10 out of the last 14 days.

Two weeks ago we found out through our adoption facilitator about a sibling group of three bi-racial children (a 4-year-old and 16-month-old twins) available for adoption under tragic circumstances. Because we love children, want children, and are just crazy enough, we said yes to being presented to their mother for consideration as their adoptive parents. In the next couple of days, we tried not to get our hopes up but also enjoyed a lot of excited/scared talking and thinking about how dramatically our lives would change. We’d have to buy a mini van. We’d have to buy three kids’ worth of beds and toothbrushes, clothes and toys. We thought, too, about these children and their mom, how all their lives were about to change forever.

We told all our friends and family about the situation, partly to prepare them for the possibility of us bringing home three kids, and partly so we’d have people to share our excitement and fears with. I was met with overwhelming support – everyone was thrilled for us and compassionate for these children and their mother.

D … got a different reaction. He was met with silence from his dad and rejection from his mother. We’ve always known his mom was racist, but we never realized she was this hardcore. She said a lot of terrible things, the pinnacle of which was that she could never love these children the same as her other grandchildren because of their race.

D told me some of what she said, which upset me. But he made the mistake of trying to protect me the worst of it, AND not telling me how much it affected him. Instead, we continued forward. The kids’ mother liked us (along with three other couples), and I spoke with her on the phone. We found out the kids’ names and saw their photo.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t understand why D was no longer excited. I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just tell his mother this is our decision and the only decision they have control over is how they react to it. I kept trying to be excited for us both. I kept trying to tell D they would get over it when the kids were here – how could they not love three adorable little children?

But then he finally broke down and told me what his mom said about not loving them the same. That was a rough night. It’s so hard to comprehend there are people so cruel, and that I’m related to them, and that their racism is affecting how we live our lives.

And D’s brother, initially supportive, did a 180 after talking to their mother. Every time D talked to one of them, he felt worse about the situation. He didn’t want to be ostracized by his family. He had a vision in his head of his children’s ideal relationship with is parents, and he knew that with these three kids, that could never be possible.

I still wanted the kids so much. I felt angry that if D’s mother had just kept her thoughts to herself, D and I would be scared TOGETHER and excited TOGETHER. I felt terrible we were in the situation so deeply. I wanted the kids’ mother to know about this before she chose us, because it seemed unfair to her not to know the kids’ potential grandmother didn’t want to be. We were supposed to talk to the mom again last weekend, but had trouble getting in touch with her.

Finally on Monday, I had a long talk with the adoption coordinator. I explained the full situation and how D was not really on board anymore. She left the decision to me, but said it probably wasn’t wise to move forward if D and I weren’t on the same page. Then she told me the kids’ mom had narrowed it down to us and one other couple. I just didn’t think it was fair to talk to her again, encourage her, and then maybe end up saying no. So I uttered one of the most difficult sentences of my life – I told her we needed to back out. The adoption coordinator was nice and understanding about it, but I still feel terribly guilty about putting them through extra complication – not to mention our home study social worker, who updated our home study to enable us to get these kids – and for talking to the mom and then backing out.

Worst of all, I had started picturing these kids in our life. I cried at the grocery store when I thought about what it would’ve been like to have them there with us. I cried in the car, while I told D I was disappointed in how he’d handled things. I cried while I cooked lunch, and while I looked at the conveniently mailed Babies R Us flier with the double strollers on sale. I cried myself to sleep.

I know it was stupid, but I had a relapse of shopping disease yesterday. I just wanted to do something simultaneously self-destructive and self-indulgent. I bought myself some shoes online. I bought toys for the pets. I went to the Circuit City going out of business sale and bought a Roomba vacuum, a wireless mouse, and about a million DVDs.

I don’t know whether it was the shopping, time passing, or just relief that all the arguing and crying and tension of the last few days is over, but today I feel almost normal again. I am thinking about the future instead of turning in circles in the present. Though I am still very angry with D’s mother for taking away the possibility of these children, I know one day we’ll get a different child or children.

And we’ve learned a lot of hard lessons from this horrible situation. We’ve learned how far D’s family is willing to take their racism and that if we hope to have any kind of relationship with them, we cannot adopt a child of a certain race. I’ve learned that I don’t want my children of any race to be close to D’s mother, because I cannot trust her not to try to teach them to be racist like her. I’ve learned that my husband, who I thought was about as close to perfect as a man can be, is very weak in this one way.

And I’ve learned one very nice lesson: My friends and family will support and encourage me in this adoption, no matter what.

posted by K | filed under Adoption, Family | 15 Comments


15 Responses to “Hard Lessons”

  1. L on February 4th, 2009 12:14 pm

    I totally understand. We finally got our match (and are with him now) but my inlaws found my blog that same day. It went horrifyingly bad…like not speaking to us bad. It’s amazing when something so joyous becomes this negative time.

    I’m so sorry, but I get it. I really REALLY get it.

  2. Kristy on February 4th, 2009 12:26 pm

    You can’t beat yourself up for something that came so unexpected. Think of this as your first of many tears to be shed as parents and know that in the future, having gone through this, you will know in your hearts what is right.

    It is sad that others can ruin such a joyous occassion; but just realize that this is your and D’s life, not theirs. If they cannot be happy for you, then honestly they shouldn’t be in your life, no matter how close they once were.

  3. Jodi on February 4th, 2009 2:59 pm

    I am so sorry. What a horrible time to find out her flaw is much deeper.

    There are plenty of kids though who need a wonderful mommy and daddy so even though this one didn’t work out, you will get that joy soon.

    We adopted our daughter and it is disheartening to see some of our family not accepting her still (and she has been our daughter for over 8 years).

    You are right that you cannot control or change the others around you. You have to do what is best for your family and leave them to work through their own issues.

  4. P on February 4th, 2009 4:03 pm

    I stumbled across your blog back in the days when I had time for old home renovations :) Delurking to say that your post brought me to tears. I’m so sorry that you had to go through this. When your child finally finds you – it will be so lucky to have you as a mother.

  5. Emily on February 4th, 2009 4:47 pm

    Wow. Just wow.

    Family is supposed to show unconditional love. I can’t believe D’s mother would wreck your chances of having a family like that!

    What right does she have, to make D (and you) suffer like that!? She, obviously, could bear children. That’s part she has no understanding of, obvoiusly, otherwise she would keep her racist thoughts to herself.

    Clearly (and just my opinion) you and D should be having a discussion with her…

  6. Mangomaid on February 4th, 2009 6:15 pm

    I am the mother of two biracial daughters, now ages 27 & 20 and my biological children. My mother was very opposed to my marriage to their father and did not attend my wedding, and I was estranged from her and other family members for a number of years; however, she eventually did come around. Although I would say she still does harbor some negative racial stereotypes, she definitely loves my girls and my own relationship with my mother is now positive. My husband passed away a little over a year ago, but my mother finally had accepted him also, albeit grudgingly. Exposure to the unfamiliar is what breaks down barriers. My mother now states that she admires the difficult choice I made to stand up for my beliefs even when it went against my family’s desires. I have never regretted following my heart and what I knew to be morally right. Though I too had a vision of the ideal relationship I wanted my children to have with their grandparents, I had to give that up for a while but ultimately gained much more. When you live your life to please others, you please no one, especially yourself.

  7. natalie on February 4th, 2009 7:58 pm

    I don’t want to scare you, but you should be aware that D’s family not ever be all on board…my dad’s parents finally “admitted” (though it was apparent sooner) when I was 5 years old that they could never love me the same as their other grandchildren (and at 13 they said they could never love me at all) because I wasn’t their blood. Some people are just that way. My mother’s family, on the other hand, treat me the same as if I was blood related. My dad finally had to confront his family & deal head on with their skewed views of what makes a family. In the end, he ended his relationship w/them because of their feelings towards me.
    Many people in this world say they are supportive of adoption, but when it comes down to it, they are scared or afraid or *something*. I’ve had to deal w/it my whole life.

  8. Sara on February 4th, 2009 8:42 pm

    I’m sorry you feel so sad.It was better you found out what kind of child will not rock the boat in your marriage.You have to think that your perfect child will find you!!!! Three is a lot to deal with especially if you start out with that many( I have 4 kids and it is a lot of work) I hope you feel better and try to work things out with hubby.

  9. t in hd on February 5th, 2009 1:00 am

    I’m so sorry. I’ve never been through the adoption process but I’ve experienced 4 miscarriages and the loss of a twin (also have three healthy children and one due in the summer) and I can only imagine that your loss is not unlike that of a mother who has miscarried. You find out you are expecting, you know the risks, but you still cautiously dream because your heart cannot but help to and then that dream is snatched away. How much worse it must feel to know that someone else is actually to blame for that, someone who should be “on your side” in all of this (your in laws, I mean–I wouldn’t judge your dh) I just don’t know.

    I hope you can heal from this loss and that your child(ren) finds you soon.

  10. Wouter on February 5th, 2009 2:37 am

    Family can be cruel like that. My brother never liked my first wife. That’s a large part of why she’s now my ex…

    With that kind of attitude around, and in the long run, you probably did the right thing. Doesn’t make it easier, though.

    Hang in there :-)

  11. K on February 5th, 2009 10:52 am

    Thanks for all your support! I was ready to cut them out if they couldn’t treat our kids right, but D didn’t want to have to make that choice. He knew that when our kids were here and we loved them, we could NOT accept them being treated like second-class citizens by his own family and would have to make some kind of stand. He didn’t want to have to do that.

  12. Jillbert on February 5th, 2009 6:58 pm

    Ahhh, Kristen. I have nothing to offer for advice but many warm hugs and some kleenex for your tears. I’m sorry your dreams were dashed so cruelly.

  13. halloweenlover on February 6th, 2009 3:30 pm

    I’m so sorry, Kristen. This is terrible. We’ve talked about adopting in general, not even on the topic of a different race, and my inlaws made clear that they don’t think they could love an adopted child as much, which I think is ABSURD.

    I hate that you have to deal with this, but I’m just hoping that this means your child is out there somewhere. Maybe this just wasn’t the right time. Hugs.

  14. Cara on February 6th, 2009 6:54 pm

    So sorry about this, I know it must hurt.

    But it’s probably better that you learn now how having a child (even one of your own) can potentially change your relationship with in-laws, parents, friends…even your husband.

    Good luck with finding an adoptive child; there are so many out there who need love and a stable home.

  15. MARJORIE on February 10th, 2009 8:28 pm

    OH.MY.GOD. i AM SO SORRY!! I am so sad for you and D. I am sorry for D. in a different way than I am sorry for your heartbreak. He is the child of a woman who just may not ever be able to love an adopted grandchild ,bi-racial OR white. It will take a lot of courage on his part when your child comes to you- he will either have to choose between his wife, your child and his mother. obviously he will choose his wife & child over his mother but even though that is the right decision I know it won’t be easy for him.( Of course I don’t consider that it will be a great loss, but she is his mother-how sad for him)Honestly I don’t know how you will ever be able to be in the same room with that person -either before your child or after. Try to help d. understand that you will do your best to maintain that family connection but some things really just aren’t possible. This is quite a rambling way to say I’m sooo sad for both of you and hope you can wipe each other’s tears.

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