adoption, family

Seriously, Please Leave

She drives me crazy. I have no idea why her opinions affect me at all but they do. Every time our children’s older biological sister  M is around, my back teeth ache. Her invasive questioning and snide comments put me over the edge. It takes all that I have not to seriously lash out at her.

Unfortunately, M was the one transporting Marcus to and from school after the holiday. Luke was fresh off of eye surgery and not able to drive. I’m not cleared to drive yet either. It is probably good to give Carl some contact with his older sister. At least that’s what I try to keep telling myself. Foster care took so much from my kids. I never wanted their adoption to mean we were taking more.

It’s odd to me that M gets under my skin this way. My family often makes a spectacle in public and by now I’m fine with it. I think M reminds me a lot of Sean. I can see her calculated moves a mile away. Although she appears sweet there is always the underlying fact that she doesn’t believe we should have adopted her siblings.

From the second she entered my home the other day she began looking through things (bedrooms, photo albums) and digging for information. For whatever reason she selectively remembers what happened in their biological home. She champions her biological mother as a victim. It would seem Luke and I are the villains here (but mostly me.)

I know that Mary and Carl both exhibited rages in their biological home. I know they were both significantly underweight there. I know that Mary didn’t speak and her pediatrician was concerned. He suggested multiple times that she needed to be evaluated for developmental delays.

I know Carl didn’t start Kindergarten until he was 6 years old. I know they missed over 80 days of school that year. After the adoption we ordered copies of all their previous medical and school records. According to M it’s a completely different story.

Just because I know these things doesn’t mean that strangers do. When my kids are panicking in public and begging me not to get drunk I know it’s not about me personally. Past trauma causes my children to be afraid that moms get drunk or violent.

Past trauma also causes my children to fear showers, bedtime, Halloween masks and mothers. All of them share these fears (even Sean) so there is clearly a history there. Because I know about their trauma I don’t really mind when strangers make ignorant comments. They simply don’t know what it’s like.

With M it’s a different story. She absolutely knows what happened. She was there. For whatever reason her denial permeates every conversation. She acts shocked that Mary needs to be in a residential school. M does not believe in therapy.

She demands to know why the service dog didn’t go with Mary to her school. She demands to know why Mary didn’t come home for Christmas. She demands to know Mary’s psychiatric diagnosis which I will not share. It is Mary’s private business for her to share as she wishes. She demands and demands and demands.

I told M firmly that Mary has a very difficult time during the holidays. Therefore we relieve pressure by bringing Christmas to her. M’s face was the portrait of pure shock.

“Really?!?! Why???”

At this point I was done with the prying questions. I was done hearing about how well Sean was doing now that he’s out of our home and about to age out of foster care. I could not take any more of M’s questions.

I told her about how Mary only slept for 45 minutes at a time when she first came home. I told M that Mary was terrified and would wake up screaming for the entire first year. I told her about all of the things we did to help her feel safe.

Then I got a little bit catty. I told her Sean had the same exact problem and I got up with him every night, too. I was sorely tempted to tell her that he also sobbed before every bath at age 15. It was hard not to tell her I sat outside the bathroom while Sean was in the tub to sing him silly songs. Every. Single. Time.

For once M was speechless. She stammered that it must have been hard. I countered back with the fact that it wasn’t (it was) and that we didn’t mind (we did) because it wasn’t their fault. Luke and I would do anything for these chickens.

Undoubtedly she feels that Mary only has these problems because of us and our parenting. She’s basically continued to hint that things used to be fine and she doesn’t understand why Mary needs all this treatment. She doesn’t believe in therapy anyway.

Why do I even care?? I sat through the rest of the visit listening to M talk about how the shelter she stays at is giving her $8,000 and helping her find subsidized housing. She had another baby 6 months ago. The shelter bought both of her children all of their Christmas gifts. Her baby’s dad hasn’t gotten his cell phone back from the police after they took it as evidence in a case against him. Blah blah blah.

It’s really uncharitable for me to have these thoughts. Logically I know it’s good that the shelter is helping her. My angry jealous side is mad that Luke and I put in tons of work and still get blamed for things. No one is chipping in for our kids’ gifts or offering us $8,000.

I should have more grace. She was never adopted. She doesn’t have a family, really. I don’t even know if she’s in contact with bio-mom.

In the end I was happy to hug Marcus good-bye and wave him off in M’s car. By the time her van pulled out of the driveway I was shaking. It was a relief to get her out of the house.

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

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17 thoughts on “Seriously, Please Leave

  1. The tendrils of connection never let go, do they? Fostering and adoption involve so much more than meeting the needs of the child who joins your household. I admire you! Far beyond the words and manipulation you spoke of your kids know the commitment you express to support them, daily. You are doing everything very well. Isn’t it exhausting, though?
    Sometimes when kids get that kind of stuff said to them, I tell them, “She’s just jealous.” It’s possible M is jealous, and even feels guilt for the trauma have suffered under.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. C says:

    As always I have to preface this with I am not a mother. I am 31 and have similar issues as your kids and I know what that I guess it’s a line of questioning and like an interrogation as an adult receiving treatment feels like. I get similar feelings as you. It’s not their business, right, or place to do that full stop. However, it is you right to fell as you do. At some point we have to take responsibility for our actions. She may not have been adopted but I would put my money on she knows exactly what she is doing. I do not thing your reactions lack grace or compassion. There are lines in life and when they are crossed it’s ok to react. I learned that the hard way. I am also a fan of communication. Do you think she would be open to meeting you and Luke outside of your home and having a conversation. Tell her how he behavior looks to you ask what her motive is and lay down the boundaries. Try to level the playing field. Tell that questions need to be directer to you or Luke and not in front of any children. If she refuses. Maybe grandparents could pick Marcus up. Or uber or something. I know it’s difficult because she is your kids sister but if you are having that reaction now how long can you hold that in ?
    I dunno if this wold work but maybe involve the kids a little bit see how they feel about her and her visits. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, C. This made me feel better. She might be open to it. We did try to do this before but she canceled twice at the last minute. I need to revisit having a conversation with her. I worry that we will somehow put Marcus in the middle. Hopefully I’ll be able to drive soon and it will solve the problem.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. C says:

    I was thinking about Marcus ending up in the middle too. It’s really bad timing. He is doing so well but he’s just getting his feet wet. He’s still very vulnerable and of age. Maybe there is a way you can involve him in a very small way, so he isn’t taken completely by surprise with any decisions made. Sticky-wicket. oh and by the way happy new year to everyone.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Jack says:

    What? There’s another chicken? You’ve never mentioned M before, at least not that I can remember. This is like on the Cosby Show, when they added an oldest daughter out of nowhere in the 10th episode.

    You have my complete sympathy. Having M around sounds like a nightmare.

    May I offer two perspectives?

    One is that dealing with annoying relatives is a big part of the holiday experience. Or at least, that’s how it is portrayed on SNL and many holiday movies. It is the one time of year that we feel that we have to share a meal with people that we probably wouldn’t choose, but who are tied to us by the bonds of family.

    Secondly, reread that paragraph about how she is hoping to get out of the shelter into real housing, how her boyfriend is in trouble with the law, ( and worse, he doesn’t have a phone!), and how she wasn’t able to buy her children their Christmas presents. Your life, and your kids lives, look pretty awesome compared to hers. (Except for the back pain, that sucks). Plus, she is in denial about what happened at the bio home because it makes her feel terrible and guilty to admit the truth. She may not believe in therapy, but she could use some.

    You know all this already.

    Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jack. You’re absolutely right. There are two adult bio sisters K and M. I mentioned them briefly years ago (I linked to one of the posts) when M tried to take the children. There is also a 7th sibling , a baby with a another different father. I wrote about deciding not to take the baby. It can be a sticky wicket around here for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

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