It turns out, visiting Little MPB’s birth mom and sibling while Little MPB was too young to really understand the visit, was a very good thing for Mr. MPB and I. As I mentioned yesterday, this visit gave us, the adults, some very important insight into what to expect for future visits. (And yes, we do plan to visit again in the future, probably in a few years, which means Little MPB will be at an age where he will understand adoption much better).
Our lessons are pretty straight forward:
- Do not have a plan. And, even when you make basic plans for the next day, don’t expect them to happen. After two really good days of visiting, we didn’t expect our third day to completely fall apart. Honestly, it’s a good thing for us to really understand just how quickly things can change.
- Give gifts at the very first visit. I was disorganized and decided to bring a special gift Little MPB made for his birth-mom to the last visit. Needless to say, I now brought that gift back home and will have to mail it. Next time I will be more organized.
- Be prepared to explain hard things to a child. And be prepared to explain the hard things to a child who is probably too young to really understand everything. I suspect in a few years, should plans fall through, Mr. MPB and I will have to answer much harder questions, while being honest and age appropriate. And even if things don’t fall through, I also suspect there will still be a lot of emotional discussions as Little MPB processes everything.
- Plan a day or two of just MPB family time at the end of the visit. While we didn’t plan for this on this visit, it actually happened when they didn’t join us, and it was really valuable. It gave Mr. MPB and I the chance to talk through our feelings. And, I think in a few years time, it will be very important for Little MPB to have a few days to talk about his feelings with the safety of just his parents to listen. Realistically, even if a future trip goes perfectly, I am sure he will have some pretty big emotions and questions about everything and giving him a few days to process and talk seems like a really important thing to do.
- We think a 4 days visit was too much. Next time we will keep it shorter and only do 2 days. Given the distance we had to travel, we thought 4 days made the most sense. But, his birth mother chose to take take time off work for our visit, which we suspected caused them a lot of stress. I don’t know if there is a perfect amount of time for a future visit, but I think next time we will try a shorter visit.
- Probably our most important lesson is that we only know partial stories as there appeared to be a lot of half stories. Not lies, per say, but a lot of omissions and avoidance of certain topics. When only some things are shared, and a lot of things are not, there are a lot of blanks in the communication, even when we are face to face. Just as I wouldn’t push a sibling to talk about something more then they want to, I wont push our son’s Birth Mother to talk about something she is clearly trying to avoid – we respect their privacy. We can only guess at what is missing from the script, but we also must remember we are just guessing. We really don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. But more importantly, what this means to us is that we must respect what we are told and back off if we unknowingly ask a question that is dogged.
- Financial / economic differences are a very real part of life, that I have taken for-granted my entire life. (More on this one tomorrow).
But here’s the thing, as much as I currently feel more prepared for a future visit, the reality is we are not. Adoption does not have a guidebook, as every adoption is different and no two are identical. And adoption visits also definitely do not have a guidebook! Even though all the players are the same in an adoption visit, the fact is every single adoption related visit is bound to be different. In our circumstance, the only one I actually have some understanding of, the reality is that two very different families are coming together and trying to put the needs of one child first. I firmly believe we are all doing our best, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy or predictable.
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