Open Adoption and Returning to the Well
posted by: Lori Holden
A few weeks back, my friend Crystal offered to have my children come play at her house for a few hours. Rob had been out of town, and some down time for me sounded reealllly good.
It was a no-brainer. Responsible child watcher? Free time? Of course!
But I had to stop to think a moment.
Because Crystal is Tessa’s birthmom.
“Is this weird?” I thought. “It doesn’t feel weird. It should feel weird. Other people would find it weird. But I am definitely not sensing weird.” The thoughts chugged through my head as I searched for some rain on my parade.
I brought the kids to Crystal’s house for an afternoon with her, her son and her stepson. I knew Reed would be in heaven with all the weapon-wielding that was about to take place, and I suspected Tessa would find Crystal’s purse endlessly fascinating.
I told the kids to behave, double-checked that Crystal knew she could call me no matter what, and left, almost giddy at the open hours laid out in front of me.
Now, let me expand a bit on my relationship with Tessa. We are going through what seems like teen years, in spite of the fact that she’s not yet 7. She and I butt heads on everything from too-long showers to homework, from talking on the phone to doing her chores. I am hopeful that we will not duplicate this tension when she actually becomes a teenager, but rather that we will have already been-there/done-that (please — don’t be the one to burst my bubble). We each seem to “miss” each other often. I am frustrated with our disconnect, and I imagine Tessa is, too.
When I returned after Me Time, Crystal had trimmed Tessa’s hair (they have the same wispy hair, and hairstyling is Crystal’s line of work), painted her nails, and had given her a pair of hand-me-down spiky-heeled purple boots . A beaming Tessa cuddled in my lap while Crystal and I talked.
Once we got home, Tessa said, “Mom, I’m a new person!” I’m not sure if she meant the beautifying activities or what. But for days afterward, SHE WAS DELIGHTFUL, and the fight in her was gone. Witness this:
Tessa wanted to wear the spiky boots to kindergarten the next morning and began to have a meltdown. I said, “I’m telling you that those shoes are not appropriate for school. You do what you think will get you the consequences you want.” I was fully expecting her to wear the shoes to school, which would earn me the Bad Mother of the Week Award, and then I would have to throw the boots in the trash after we got home as the logical consequence.
But Tessa came to breakfast, smiling and cheerful, wearing her sneakers. I can’t tell you how out of character this is. I was so impressed with her response that I brought the boots when I picked her up from school so she could wear them to the dentist (not as inappropriate there).
Tessa and I are simply more sympatico since her time with Crystal. It’s as if Tessa has been to the well.
I must admit I am pleased with myself that I don’t feel hurt or threatened. I don’t know how to pull teeth, so I take Tessa to the dentist. I don’t like to play house for hours at a time, so I arrange for playdates with friends. I simply can’t fill this emotional need that Tessa seems to have, and another woman can, so I wholeheartedly support these trips to the well.
On Saturday, October 11 from 9-11 a.m., Lori and Crystal offer a two-hour class at Colorado Free University about creating a successful open adoption. For more information, contact Lori; to register go to FreeU.com.