Monday, August 24, 2009

Adoption Part 4: Where Things Get Ugly

Well, I promised you a three part adoption story and look what you get – bonus coverage!

Yes, I realize now that when I originally wrote about adoption we were actually embroiled in part four of the story. I just didn’t at the time feel up to sharing the story in real time. Now that I look back, this part of the story could truly be considered the beginning of the end for W and me. Sigh. . .

Picking up where we left off at the end of Part 3:
So W and TS happily brought N home with all intentions of living happily ever after. We were happy, just us three, or at least we were at first. We got through the first year, you remember that year, the one where you rarely sleep, where you alternate between thinking you’ll never survive and being absolutely entranced by having the most perfect baby ever.

As N grew, his personality became very apparent very quickly. He’s an energetic, outgoing and charming boy. He can enchant new acquaintances at first sight. He is also headstrong, convinced that he’s right and you’re wrong, and ready to stand up for his position vocally and physically if he feels the situation calls for it. N was, in most ways, the typical toddler, into everything, a daredevil, always exploring and forever testing to see if Mom and Dad were serious about rules. W’s idea of parenting was basically drill sergeant mode: W ordered and N should immediately obey. N learned quickly how to be combative and learned that W would give up and back down. W had no clue how to hold firm. He was quick to say “No” before thinking through the situation and then when realizing he should’ve probably said “Yes” he’d do an about face that taught N that if you complain long and loud enough things will change. So in essence W would put up the drill sergeant front, but when challenged would quickly disintegrate into "Fine, do whatever you want" mode. W was home with N all day while I worked so I had less influence than W although goodness knows I tried. W accused me of being to easy on N. I claimed that I was simply choosing to pick my battles, choosing to shrug off minor things like toys left in the middle of the floor and coming down hard when N refused to stay off the glass coffee table (This was one of the very rare times when I used spanking, but I told N that every time he tried to get on the coffee table I would spank him. He tried twice. I spanked him, one swat, each time. He stopped trying to get on the coffee table.) because of the danger if that glass were to break. I was anything but the perfect parent, and I did go overboard sometimes on the easy side trying to counteract what I saw as W being too tough. W and I were clearly not on the same page parenting-wise. From our parenting it’s a wonder N didn’t become psychotic.

When N was five, W and I decided to adopt again. (I know, I know. What were we thinking? I know. . .) We wanted N to have a brother or sister. We decided we didn’t really want to do the baby thing again (okay, so W decided this, but I went along because he was, after all, the stay at home parent) so we decided to pursue adoption through the foster care system. W and I took the required classes, first the one required to become foster parents and then a second one required of those wishing to adopt foster children. As part of the process we were assigned a social worker to complete a home study. As part of it, she interviewed N. It was after her interview with N that she addressed with us some concerns she had about W’s parenting style. She also expressed concerns she had that W and I weren’t on the same page and were giving N inconsistent messages. W was furious that anyone would dare question his methods and flew into a rage, giving the social worker no reason to think she was off base in her assessment.

The social worker refused to approve us for adoption, or even fostering, unless we saw a counselor to hone our parenting skills. W had always been anti-counseling. However, I managed to convince him to go with the persuasion that this was the only way we could adopt another child. He resented it, but he went. We went to SHDTMYF (so-how-does-that-make-you-feel). She would sit and listen as we argued in front of her about our childrearing differences. She would occasionally ask one of us how we felt about what was just said. Eventually, W told her he felt he’d learned all he could from her (which was actually really diplomatic of him since truth be told he felt she hadn’t done jack shit), and asked if he had changed enough for SHDTMYF to recommend that the social worker let us adopt. SHDTMYF was completely snowed by W’s ability to lie to her about all the changes he was making, and I was too weak to speak up.

So we were approved to adopt. We went forward with the process. However, unbeknownst to W I dragged my feet on as much of it as I could. I knew, absolutely knew deep down in my heart, that he hadn’t changed one whit and that he still wasn’t good parenting material. I was just too much dependent on him and our relationship to risk it all by standing up to him. There were a few occasions when this child or that would tug at my heart, and I would allow us to pursue adoption. Fortunately, none of these situations ever got beyond us expressing interest officially with the state. I can’t imagine how much more difficult things would be now if there was a second child involved.

Writing this out and thinking back over those times makes me really sad at how messed up I let things get. I was weak. I was weak because I thought I couldn’t survive without W. I thought that I had to have him there to take care of me and was willing to let him treat N badly in order to hang onto him. I was a complete effing idiot. I look back and just wish I could’ve been stronger and would have stood up to him when things were going badly instead of backing down or turning a blind eye. There was a part of me, though, that knew better, a part that tried desperately to speak up only to be quashed by the fear within me, all of which lead to my descending deep into the black hole and the very beginning of this blog.

Now I feel the need to go take a really hot shower and scrub myself really hard. This whole post leaves me feeling like there is a really ugly layer of muck all over me and more than just a little nauseous.


Sailor said...

There are no instruction manuals for parenting, nor are there checklists that we get to look at before experiencing children- so, good for you for holding back, even if you think now you should have done more; hindsight 20/20 and all that.

Take your hot shower for yourself, but you're not mucky, not by a long shot.

Hugs coming your way-

Fusion said...

Sounds like there's one more part to write here TS. It's hard to let go, even when you know you should. I don't think you have anything to feel bad about here, you did the best you could. W was the one covered in muck, flinging it on you at times.

Val said...

Everything worked out alright after all... Remember that we've all done things we're less-than-proud of!