Friday, September 9, 2011

Silence is Golden, But Family Noise is Music to My Ears.

Growing up, I appreciated the refrigerator. By some defiance of the laws of physics, the standard 'family fridge' managed to sustain our super-sized family. I likened it to an overstuffed clown car, except our appliance housed an incredible amount of food instead of circus performers. I wouldn't have been surprised, though, if a clown was buried back behind the pickle jar.
Sometimes, I worried that the fridge would explode, and we'd spend our afternoon scraping margarine and appliance shrapnel off the ceiling. But we assured ourselves that if the fridge didn't implode or collapse when we closed the door, it was probably safe for at least one more day.

Somehow, our fridge stored the required two gallons of milk (one is just foolish; it wouldn't last a day in our home), Costco-sized bricks of cheese and vats of ketchup stuffed in alongside the standard leftovers, baby foods, heads of lettuce for tomorrow night's dinner, etc, etc. 

I miss those days. I miss seeing an overstuffed fridge, and all the other 'squishing' that goes along with a big family. I miss fighting over spots on the couch, and a comfy seat at the dinner table.

I suppose it's a direct result of growing up in a sea of children. Before I was thrown from the nest in my early 20's, I had never, ever, ever, ever come home to an empty house. The door was never locked, the lights were never out. There was always someone lurking, or lounging around to keep me company (or keep me annoyed!)

When I moved out of the family home, I got used to the weird phenomenon of coming home to... silence! I heard - for the first time - the hum of the refrigerator makes.

I actually called my mother long distance from residence in a panic. "The fridge! There's something wrong with the fridge!"

"Is it leaking?"
"Is it on?"
"Is the food still good?"
"Um. Mom. I live in res. There's three litres of pop, leftover Kraft dinner, and a jug of milk."
"Smell the milk and call me back."

..... (Ring).....

"Hi Sarah."
"Hi Mom. The milk smells okay, but it expired last Tuesday." Hmm. Okay, what's the fridge doing."
"It's humming."
"Mom? Are you there?"
"Yes! I'm listening to my fridge. It's humming, too!"

We both marvelled at the sound.

I miss those days, being part of a huge adoptive family. Somehow, hearing the appliances groan and complain is less comforting then the noise of children. I'd take a house full of noise over silence any day.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The 30 Day Mountain

Under BC law, birth mothers are entitled to revoke consent to their child's adoption any time within thirty days of their child's birth.
I thought I had good insight into how difficult those thirty days must be. I've supported adoptive families and spoken with birth parents and birth grandparents who've been on either side of the thirty day mountain.

After thirty days with my international students, however, I cannot fathom how hard it must be for everyone involved during those thirty days of adoption uncertainty.

I KNEW my kids' stay was temporary. I took comfort in the fact that 'my' two teenage children had a safe and stable home to return to, half a world away. I prepared myself mentally (and I THOUGHT, emotionally) for the separation that would occur exactly thirty days after their arrival. And I STILL ended up crying into my Cheerios the morning my big kids climbed onto the school bus and headed to the airport to fly home to Korea.

So, adoptive parents, how do you do it? Does every ring of the telephone strike fear into your hearts? Do you survive on adrenaline for thirty sleepless nights, fighting your inner urge to bond!bond!bond! with your new babe? Do you intentionally hold just a little back in case the call comes? Or do you give all your rapidly-growing heart can muster, so that your child knows love and nothing else even though uncertainty hovers, clouding the minds and thoughts of the adults involved?

Birth families, do you count down the days, too? Do you wish they passed more quickly or slowly? How do you recognize day thirty when it finally arrives? What can family and friends do to support you during this month, and beyond?

I tip my hats to everyone who climbs the thirty day mountain. This adoptive mother can't imagine making that climb. But I congratulate all who do, for the sake of the child you all love.