Friday, June 1, 2012

Living with it

In the near future Prof Plum, Ms Scarlet, and Festus will be moving. At least that's the plan. Last I knew they hadn't yet found a new house yet, but the hunt is on and the motivation is strong. Believe it or not this is actually very welcome news. They're moving closer to us! I'm really glad for this, as it not only simplifies their lives (Prof Plum will  have a drastically shorter commute to work) but it also makes it even more convenient for us to visit. It feels a little funny to talk about our visits being easier, as even now we're only 35 minutes away by car. Unfortunately, this underscores a slow dawning realization for me that I'm less comfortable with.

Our visits have become a bit less frequent. The same is true of chatter back and forth in terms of e-mails and such. I wish we were meeting more frequently, that more pictures were being sent back and forth, but they aren't. Unfortunately I tend to be a worrier anyway, so this isn't playing out particularly well in my mind. Worse is knowing exactly who is responsible:

It's me.

I'm entering a major transition period, and I'm not handling it very well. I've never been particularly graceful with significant change, and I'm definitely bungling this one. The major change going on is primarily financial. As such it's pretty stressful, and as mentioned above, I'm a worrier by nature anyway. Given that mine is the sole income for the household this transition feels very high stakes. But this feels like a big problem because it's interfering with my relationships.

My preoccupation with my finances is keeping me from reaching out and continuing the conversation with my adoption family. Flatly put, that isn't okay. It's taken some time for me to recognize that was going on in the first place. Now that I have the only thing I know to do is, simply, live with it. It isn't comfortable, and I certainly don't like it. But the best I can do is try to quiet my mind, let it be uncomfortable, and try not to ruminate. This is another significant change for me, as my previous answer to such difficulties was to try harder. For a long time that worked. Unfortunately my work for the last five years has taken advantage of that attitude. As a result, I've compromised my health.

Balancing the need to work more against the need for self-care is a common struggle. It often plays a major role in adoption plans. Fiscal poverty and physical poverty often work in tandem. When an adoption takes place with a primary goal of placing the child in better circumstances, it is common to applaud the first family, then dote on the child. Sometimes triumphant stories are shared about first parents who overcome their difficulties and persevere, entering the middle class or overcoming drug addiction. Unfortunately, for many people, this never happens.

Many first parents place their children because of a their realistic understanding of socioeconomic mobility. For many their circumstances of necessity do not begin with an inopportune pregnancy. Nor do they end there. It's rather common to hear first mothers described as being "brave" and "strong" by their counterparts in the adoption world. It's true that going through an inopportune pregnancy results in a huge amount of personal growth and development. But most of these women didn't become brave by facing down doctors. Defending themselves against judgmental peers and family wasn't their first call to strength. Many of these women had been tested well before their pregnancy. And their mettle will continually be tested after it as well. But the cheerleading usually stops there.

Almost no one cheers the woman buying her groceries with an EBT card. I've yet to see anyone high five a man picking soda bottles out of trash cans on his lunch break. As a society we deplore poverty. In adoption we recognize its powerful impact. Yet we aren't being honest about it, or our attitudes toward it. We can't hope to change it if we aren't willing to recognize what it is, and how common it is.


  1. You are a good and honest man. Festus is fortunate to have you as a father.
    Wishing you the best.

  2. Yes! To the new move. Big Mama has just switched from a 128 miles away to 3.5miles down the street. It makes a huge difference to our family. It's only been a few weeks, but already for us the difference is noticeable and positive.

    Your comments about poverty really resonate and the situation frustrates. As an immigrant from a western wealthy country, the level of poverty just below the glossy surface in this country astounds still 20 years after I moved here. I hope your health and your work/financial life and balance improves soon.


What do you think? I'm curious.