Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thinking about the process

Yesterday's post was written quickly, right after the hearing and before Roland and I left for another appointment. I wanted to get down what happened before it became foggy in my mind. I wanted to remember. I also wanted to express a frustration with a system that kept mis-representing what we said. There wasn't a whole lot of reflection though.

I want to add something to the dry accounting of facts though. The state social worker who was there was not smarter or nicer than the regular one. She is the regular social worker's supervisor. My guess is that she is the one who said something like, "If they aren't planning on adopting before he is 18, is it really a good idea to spend all this money?" (The expensive part is what they have to do in a different state given that all mail to his mother has come back as undeliverable.) She was also the person who was able to listen to our reason and had the authority to reverse the decision. I am so very happy that she was there. So in two weeks there should be a TPR hearing. The consensus is that neither parent will have responded and the TPR will be granted at that time. Other outcomes are possible, of course.

I continue to feel unexpectedly relieved and Gary continues to feel empowered.

I know I said it in yesterday's post, but I really do feel the way I think I would if we just had a family meeting and decided that it was time to turn off the life support of a family member who had been in a terrible accident and been in a coma for months. On one hand this isn't the way the world was supposed to be. My made-up relative wasn't supposed to be in a terrible accident. Gary's parents were supposed to be able to take care of him themselves. In the world I imagine, this would not be happening. But in this world, where what has happened has happened, we are doing the right thing. We are letting go. There will be an end to the limbo, the waiting, this particular betwixt and between state. The next stage is mourning, which is has it should be.

And Gary is feeling empowered. I hate that word. I try never to use it because it is so over-used, but this time it is the right word. He no longer sees himself as the abandoned child. He is the actor, the decider. In his re-telling of the hearing last night he was the central character. If he hadn't been there it all might have happened differently. The judge made the decision because HE said it was what he wanted.

Suddenly he does want to come to the TPR hearing. He wants to be able to speak. Right now at least, he almost wants his father to show up so he can tell him to his face that it is too late. Gary has the power, not his dad.

As the once-adolescent child of an alcoholic I understand this so well. I imagined the same thing in my teens and twenties. I often wanted to tell people that my father wasn't really my FATHER. I wanted to cut him out of my life. I was jealous of my mother and the lack of guilt she had about divorcing him. He just wasn't part of her life anymore. She just didn't have to think about him and she didn't have to feel guilty for not thinking about him. I wanted to be able to make some grand gesture and have it all be over. After that there would be no pain. I would not debate whether to allow my children to have time with him, whether to allow him to visit or to visit him. It would all be over.

As the adult child of an alcoholic I know it wouldn't have worked out like that and it almost certainly will not work out that way for Gary. Our relationships with people who raised us and failed us is part of who we are. Even if they die, the effects they have had on our lives remain. I am not saying that we never get over it, or maybe I am. The pain comes back at odd moments, but it lessens, becomes more manageable and ceases to define our lives.

And I don't think the TPR is going to make as much of a difference to Gary's emotional journey as he thinks it will, but it is important none-the-less.


  1. Whoo boy. Your reference to feeling jealous of your mom for being able to divorce your father is very familiar to me! Although I am well aware of all the reasons that I couldn't just cut him out of my life, there are definitely times that I am envious of the way my mother has been able to move on and cease to put up with my dad. My sister is still very much in the stage of trying to emotionally divorce him - but she's slowly learning it just doesn't work that way for kids and their parents. Ah, families are hard aren't they?

    I'm glad that Gary has someone who understands this process so well to help him through it! :)

  2. I don't know...I think it just might help.

    I know from personal experience, while it hurts to end a relationship regardless of whether you're the dumper or the dumpee, it salvages your pride and gives you a bit more confidence when you are the dumper. You still have to deal with the loss, yes, but you at least have the knowledge in your head that you had the sense to bail when you realized it was pulling you down, as opposed to sticking it out and then getting creamed by the other person. For a kid in foster care, confidence is often hard to find.

    For my older girls, I know they really struggled when their bio mom dumped them on a relative, then called to say (they heard the ans mach msg) that I could have them if I wanted them, that she didn't anymore. They were the dumpees and it crushed them completely. A few years later, they made the choice to walk away from the majority of that bio family because of the way they were treated, and it really really really helped them "find their backbone" per se, which helped them later defend themselves and avoid being in a repetitive cycle of accepting abusive relationships.

    So good for Gary. I can see this has benefits, but my concern (as I'm sure yours is also) is that regardless of how cruddy family can be, choosing to walk away from it is like choosing to let go of the leaky life raft in the middle of the ocean. You may regret it, you may not, but you probably won't know for a while, and by the time you do know, it would likely be too late to do anything about it.

    I hope it all works well for Gary and I'm thrilled that you're getting to officially add your boys to the legal family tree. For the people in the world that think family is limited to those on the birth cert or marraige doc or that share DNA, this is important. Specifically, next of kin situations, etc. Congrats!

  3. It's funny because I am 30 and I have just recently made the grand gesture with my mother and cut her out of my life. We went to Ethiopia to adopt our youngest daughter and when we came home she had no interest in meeting our new daughter. It was heartbreaking. And so I told her I really did not want to have anything to do with her anymore. I feel empowered. I really do. I protected my children from someone who could do nothing but hurt them (she was abusive to me as a child and even though I tried to get past it as an adult I never fully trusted her).

    But yet the pain remains. She failed me as a child and now she failed my kids. And it hurts. It stinks. I don't think of it at all times but when I do - it stinks!

  4. I like your post. You express yourself beautifully!!
    All the best!!

    This is Nancy from Israeli Uncensored News


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