Thursday, December 30, 2010

Heartbreaking things abused kids say

"I love you, brother. I'm never gonna abuse you."

That's what Big Guy whispered to Little Guy while holding and kissing him this morning. Afterwards he started talking to me for an hour about how confusing it is when your family beat you but you still love them. This kid has the weight of the world on him - He is so convinced the judge is going to send his brother back to family again and he'll end up getting beat like Big Guy did.

Sometimes I don't know how I parent these kids without sobbing all the time or losing all faith in humanity.

Sorry I've been MIA. I have a lot to post about but am overwhelmed about trying to recap the last few months. Especially about the out-of-state relative Big Guy hasn't seen since he was a toddler, who appeared after the kids have been in (or in Little Guy's case, in and out) of foster care for six months and wants to take both children.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Chanukah! And more adventures in Trans-Faith Parenting.

Wishing you a Happy Chanukah if you celebrate.

With the weight of last week's heavy news (re: potential distant birth relative who wants to take the kids) it's hard to let myself fully enjoy the holidays, but I have gotten a kick out of choosing gifts for the boys... even if they are going to bankrupt us ;-P

This is their first Chanukah so I've had to explain a lot of times to Big Guy that no, we don't wake up tomorrow morning to find gifts waiting for us. And no, you don't get lots of gifts every day. And no, you don't just get toys and fun stuff... some nights you will get things you need rather than things you want. He is having a hard time with the idea that he might get some gifts he won't like.. and an even harder time with the idea of only one gift each night. He also seems convinced he will only get one gift for Christmas and it will be something he doesn't like. I think it's the anxiety of having the holidays with someone other than his mom and not knowing what to expect that are what's making him sound really entitled, selfish and spoiled when the topic of holidays and gifts come up.

Challenging consumerism and money obsession in a kid who you didn't raise for his first 9 years is really, really challenging. Big Guy is completely obsessed with how much money we're spending on him versus his brother, how many gifts he'll get, etc. This kind of thing makes part of me wish I hadn't gotten so many gifts for them and was instead doing what my parents always did with us for Chanukah... very small gifts (mostly practical) each night, something really big and fun for the family (an experience, such as tickets to a musical) on the last night, and lots of opportunities for family activities and charitable giving. Instead, I feel backed into the whole "must make Chanukah as appealing to the kids as Christmas" game, which all Jews know is futile and also cheapens what Chanukah and Christmas are actually about. Oh well, it's our first time having kids at the holidays and we'll just have to feel it out, and eventually create our own family Chanukah traditions that are more meaningful.

Lest you think I'm denying my boys Christmas, since they are not Jewish they will do Christmas at the home of some non-Jewish relatives (which is where Santa will leave their Christmas gifts and we will fill their stockings). I really enjoyed doing the stockings - I bought adhesive foam shapes at the dollar store and they sticked beautifully to the Christmas stockings I bought them at the drugstore. I really like buying little tchotchkes to fill them. I never wanted a Christmas tree when I was growing up, or any of the other trappings... But I always thought stockings seemed so fun. Sometimes it's the little things that are so appealing. I do not believe in mixing the holidays or mixing religions with one another, I think it waters down the integrity of the traditions. However, as long as our kids are not halachically (in the eyes of Jewish law) Jewish, I see no reason not to help them enjoy Christmas.

I am betting by the 8th night of Chanukah Big Guy will have the entire bracha (blessing) on the Chanukah candles memorized, by the way. It's really cute how excited he is about a holiday he didn't even know about until a few months ago!

How Do I Write About This?

I don't know how to write about what's going on lately. It just seems too hard to put into words.

How do I write about how after 6 weeks I have finally fallen in love with our 18 month old Little Guy, and how strange it is to find that I fell in love more easily and quickly with a behaviorally challenged 9 year old than an absurdly adorable cuddly 18 month old when once upon a time I had thought what I really wanted was a baby? (We were signed up for ONE child ages 0-5, remember? Haha).

How do I write about how hard it has been to let myself love the baby the way I love his brother, with the constant possibility of him being sent to his dad (who used to beat Big Guy) has been hanging over our head?

How do I write about how scary it is for us to be missing so much work/school because Little Guy has been sick with very little break for the entire 6 weeks he's been here? How I worry every day that Sarah will lose her job because of her excessive absences, and how my grades are suffering just as I am about to apply for graduate school?

How do I write about the complicated feelings I have about Patty, whose sweetness and simple-mindedness I have discovered is also used to manipulate others, and who will tell us she wants us to keep the kids and then hangs up the phone and calls The Agency to report that she thinks it was our fault that the baby was having seizures?

How do I write about how well Big Guy is doing when he also just disclosed about a time a family member threatened (and possibly even tried) to kill him?

How do I write about how Big Guy's has been ornery, argumentative and oppositional since the baby's been here when he a) told the psychiatrist this morning how scared he is of the baby going to (the baby's) dad because he worries the baby will get beaten and b) turned to me yesterday and said "I love y'all to death. Which really means I love you infinity."

Most of all... how do I write about the fact that The Agency just out of the blue dropped the biggest bomb of all: That after 6 months of the kids being in (or in and out, in Little Guy's case) of foster care, a distant aunt that Big Guy hasn't seen since he was a toddler has suddenly appeared... And that she's a licensed foster parent in a nearby state, and says she wants both kids?

How do I write about how I believe in family reunification (and how incensed I am about how the child welfare system destroys Black families in particular), when I also I think this move would be the absolutely the wrong thing for Big Guy after this many months of  being with us, because of his emotional and behavioral issues and strong bond to us and how much he's thriving with us? How do I write about how stuck I feel about finding out if we have any recourse to fight this?