Thursday, August 25, 2011

More Fun and Games in the ER

It was fun and games as usual at our household last night. My homestay son and daughter had been outdoors two nights before, and gotten more than their share of mosquito bites.

Last night, I bought them calamine lotion for their old bites and OFF spray to prevent new ones, and sent them out for an evening walk. 

When they returned my son had enormous welts covering more than half his body. These weren't just mosquito bites, this was an all-out allergic reaction. They covered his entire back, both arms, his belly, his legs, and were sprouting up on his neck and face.

So off we went to the emergency room at 9:30pm. First I had to rouse my not-quite-sleeping three year old (who was MORE than happy for a middle of the night adventure!) and pile all the kids in the truck.

My husband met us in the parking lot to take our little guy home, which left me and my two teenagers at the doorsteps of the local hospital.

The admissions clerk was frustrated because I didn't have a Care Card for my student. I kept referring to him as my son (force of habit at the ER, I suppose, from the many occasions with Noah), and I gave them my local address, therefore he must be a Canadian citizen, or at least a BC resident covered under MSP, right?

Next she couldn't understand that the kids COULD speak English (but not perfectly), and that I could NOT speak Korean.... and that somehow between these two languages, we still couldn't determine if there were any possible allergies that - so far, during his one month stay - had not been disclosed.

The nursing staff was great, getting him set up with an IV and antihistamines, finding warm blankets for his sister as we waited, watched, and waited some more for the swelling go down.

The doctor arrived and wondered who on earth I was, and how everyone was related. The phone at the nurses station kept ringing because the homestay coordinator kept calling the hospital for updates. (How he got that direct line, I may never know!)

I felt like I was being Punked when the doctor came back and insisted we refer my son to see an allergist in Japan. "Korea," we smiled.

In the end we were sent home in the wee hours of the morning, with extra anti-histamines and instructions to come back if there were any problems breathing. Ahhh, such a comfort!

I must say, however, that the experience really endeared me to my big kids.... I've heard many a social worker advise new adoptive parents: "When you get your kids, pray that they get sick. Not a big sick, but a little one... so you can baby them and take care of them."

That was certainly true last night. In all the hustle and bustle of the busy ER, I felt a stronger bond growing between me and my teenage son and daughter. Funny how a few dozen giant welts can endear you to someone, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Someday, Maybe, Baby, This Could Break Your Heart.

I'm parenting a child with a closed adoption. While we lack the connectedness to his birth parents, my son doesn't consciously notice their absence yet. He's too young. As a parent, it's too easy to take comfort in not having the privilege of negotiating roles, relationships, and rules. But the responsible, forward-thinking part of me looks forward to an eventual reunion between my child and his birth parents. When he's ready, of course, on his terms.

But... what if he's ready, and they're not? What if he knocks, and door remains shut? What then, do I say to my child?

When the boy I dote on grows into a six foot tall man, with stubble on his cleft chin. How will I look into the face, the now-porcelain skin turned rough; years of enjoying life carving delicate creases in the folds of his mouth and eyes? Can I look at him someday and see a grown man instead of the little boy I cherish now? Can I look into his adult face and break the heart of a man, knowing that the soul of my small child is still there, just below the surface?

How will my spirited, emotional son manage? How does it feel to be placed for adoption once as a child, and to be told "no" as an adult by the same family members that weren't able to raise you?

I asked a dear friend of mine - an adult adoptee - who had been turned down by his birth relatives in his own search. He's guarded. Not wanting to say too much, not wishing to superimpose his feelings, emotions, and experience onto my son, when he's years away from such a possibility.

"I... just want to know WHY." he said simply. "Just why." 

Not good enough...I thought. To leave a grown man still wondering, still searching, half a century later.

I scoured our library. Lots of books on reunion. Stories of twists in fate reconnecting families. Tales of sometimes awkward, sometimes distant relationships. Of once-or-twice meetings followed by a return to the usual worlds. Booklets outlining how and where to search. Groups devoted to supporting adoptees and birth relatives on the road to reunion.

But nothing devoted entirely to refusals. Isn't that painfully ironic?