When you were growing up, did your parents go out of their way to make things "fair" between you and your siblings?
If Sally got a new dress did Sue get one as well, "just to be fair?"
Did each of you always have the same number of gifts under the tree regardless of the thought or meaning behind the gifts - only in an effort to remain "fair" to all parties?
My parents didn't (not even a little bit), I quizzed my husband and he said his parents didn't either. Today the girls and I spent the day at Children's Hospital (Ava's bi-monthly appointment) and I had an opportunity to ask some other mom's there the same question.
As an aside, I love how friendly you can become with other families who are on the same appointment (rotation) schedule. Since most of the clinics only see patients one day per week and many of us have to come back every 4-6-8 weeks, you really start to recognize people, it gets easier to start up conversations, it makes the whole experience a little more "human."
So today I used those moms as a kind of sounding board. I asked what they did in their own homes to ensure their children were treated fairly. Here's my super-scientific data...
Of the 6 moms I asked, all 6 laughed immediately after I asked the question.
5 of the 6 clearly did nothing to "ensure" fairness but rather recognized that each of their children were individuals and needed to be treated as such.
1 of the moms did rotate the child who was allowed to sit in the front seat. Each of her children (2 adopted, 3 biological) had 1 day per week assigned to them - and on that day they were the front-seat passenger. They also had to help carry in the groceries, take the cart back to the store, help buckle the other kids in their seats... and if, for whatever reason they missed their assigned day, the made up for it in the next week. The rest of the children were not penalized because of their brother/sister missed their front-seat day. So, after listening to her explanation we both agreed that she was a nice, and fair mommy - but she didn't go "out of her way" to ensure each of her children were treated equally.
I was glad to see she had adopted children. I think it added a bit of credibility to my study :) since this is a blog about adoption and family...
Of the 6 moms I spoke with, 2 of them had adopted children and 1 of them was in the process of adopting her foster daughter who had been living with their family for 4 years. Our children ranged in age from 6-19.
I explained my interest in the topic - pulled up my blog on the Blackberry and let them read for themselves. After everyone finished (and we lost 1 family to their appt time - of course, the ONE TIME the doctors are on time it's when we're deep in conversation) we dove right into what the comment made by "Anonymous" meant to us. In an effort to ensure everyone is on the same page - I'm going to cut/paste Anonymous (in the future this person will be known as "A") comment here so you can read it and refer to it as it is discussed.
I think it is important that things are as fair as possible. for the adopted child and the bio child. to not get extra because they are either or. I would think if anything making the adopted child not feel as important is also a bad and painful confusing thing. one should not get extra treatment just because this is his or her situation. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to have to go to bed early while a sibling cuddled on the couch and got to watch a movie.. the guilt of leaving the bio child in the dust may just turn into leaving the adopted one in the dust out of guilt. BALANCE needs to happen... not guilt parenting. bio is still a child and can manipulate and add guilt. at some point saying to them all the years i have poured into you are still reality.. but with that reality comes the reality for this adopted one we prayed over and moved mountains to bring home, they now need me to be that for them.. and you to be that for them and we need to start off on a firm foundation of love. so im sorry you feel invisible you are not, and lets the 3 of us snuggle. this post and the past few paints a picture of slowly moving ava out so that grace can be the focus and life can go back to what it was as much as possible before ava came home. stop and look through avas eyes. how grace has felt is now how ava feels, that she will never measure up or have the mom that grace has.
Let's begin at my very favorite place - the beginning...
A's first sentence was, "I think it is important that things are as fair as possible."
If I spent any amount of time really worrying or thinking about how to "make" things fair - it would be all consuming... How can you make fair the fact that my daughter had to watch both of her first parents die? That she has a disease that could take her life, that she worries about her living sisters and brothers every day... What exactly would I do to "fair" that? On the other hand how do I make fair the fact that people practically ignore Grace now? It's as if they stopped seeing her the minute they were introduced to the sweet little Ethiopian orphan... How do I make fair the fact that Grace had to give up some activities that she LOVED because her dad and I have to pay an extra $500/month for insurance + $400 for medications not covered by insurance + the $500/month for two visits to the therapist so we can all figure out how to deal with these life changes... If "A" could come up with some ways I could "fair" that - I'd love to hear them... because really, I'm stumped.
His/her 2nd comment was, "I would think if anything making the adopted child not feel as important is also a bad and painful confusing thing. one should not get extra treatment just because this is his or her situation. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to have to go to bed early while a sibling cuddled on the couch and got to watch a movie.. "
Quite interested to hear what it was that I did to make Ava feel "not as important." Was it sending her to a private school because she wanted nothing more than to GO to school rather than be homeschooled? She mentioned that neither child should get special treatment because of his or her situation... What situation is it that we're talking about? Being birthed by me or adopted by me? Or being a student out of the home vs. a student in the home? There really is no "special" treatment - just the fact that one child HAS to get up early and NEEDS more sleep than the other child. I guess I don't see that as special treatment but rather as a fact of life that required a few adjustments. Again, if anyone has suggestions about what might work better - I'd love to hear them.
Here's a funny thing though... Ava doesn't care less about going to bed early. She'd be fine if we sent her to bed at 5pm - as long as Grace goes too... One night Grace had to get out of bed and re-do the dishes that were her job that night and Ava threw the biggest fit about having to stay in bed and not being able to wash dishes... The other interesting thing - Ava wouldn't, for any amount of money in the world, "snuggle on the couch" with any of us - to make her do something like that would be torturous to her. Sad - but so very true. She wasn't angry that Grace and I were on the couch watching a movie - she was angry that Grace didn't have to go to bed early just because she did.
(It's a lot about control - but we can get to that later)
So far all of the other parents (ALL of them - those with adopted children and those with only bio kids) agree 100% with what I do with the girls. Each of them would do the same thing... A wise friend of mine made a comment to me when we were contemplating putting Ava in school. She said, "different things for different kids at different times." It pretty much sums up my philosophy right now - what Ava needs at this moment is not what Grace needs - and we deal with it accordingly.
The next comment - and really, for someone who chooses to remain anonymous (and I believe a relative stranger to our lives) it's quite judgmental... Not having all of the information on what life is like here in the Murphy household... but - perhaps "A" is someone we do know and they are just to ashamed to say these things to me directly. Either way - I'll clear up a few of the assumptions and address the comment.
the guilt of leaving the bio child in the dust may just turn into leaving the adopted one in the dust out of guilt. BALANCE needs to happen... not guilt parenting. bio is still a child and can manipulate and add guilt. at some point saying to them all the years i have poured into you are still reality.. but with that reality comes the reality for this adopted one we prayed over and moved mountains to bring home, they now need me to be that for them.. and you to be that for them and we need to start off on a firm foundation of love. so im sorry you feel invisible you are not, and lets the 3 of us snuggle.
The guilt of leaving the bio child in the dust. Rest assured "A" that I have no guilt nor have I left Grace in the dust. When we first brought Ava home I did everything I could to "prove" to her that she was an important part of our family - THAT alone brought guilt - It felt fake and stupid and just plain wrong. I felt guilty that I didn't know "how" to parent Ava... but I have no guilt over parenting Grace - I have a hugely thankful heart that Jason and I had raised her and instilled self-worth and love and value into her sweet little 9-year-old self that she was able to take a step back HERSELF understanding and knowing that her sister needed me (at that moment) more than she did. I have NO guilt about that... If anything, it is the accomplishment I am most proud of. I wonder how many 9-year-olds would be able to do that?
I find it interesting that "A" makes the comment about neither bio or adopted child being treated differently because of their "situations" but then, in the comment above, it appears she's suggesting I tell Grace, "Hey, I've parented you for 9 years and it's been great but now there's your sister and well, she needs me more than you do so step-aside." Well, the phrase, "No-way" comes to mind. They are both MY NINE YEAR OLD daughters... Both little girls - and just because Ava needs more of me - doesn't get to mean that Grace gets less... not for a single second...
The moms who were still with me in the waiting area were still "with me" on the parenting choices I made. Always nice to know...
And finally, "A" makes some very bizarre comments - comments that lead me to wonder if I have a little spy in my house... How else could a person go from the bits of information I post here to making the statement that I'm trying to "push" Ava out... WOW.
this post and the past few paints a picture of slowly moving ava out so that grace can be the focus and life can go back to what it was as much as possible before ava came home. stop and look through avas eyes. how grace has felt is now how ava feels, that she will never measure up or have the mom that grace has.
I am so curious to learn what it is that I've said or done that indicates I'm slowly moving Ava out... Grace is the focus of my life - as is her sister Ava... Both are my children - both have different stories and I share those stories at different times for different reasons here on this blog. Now, unless "A" is someone who knows what home is like for us right now, this comment was just plain stupid.
I'll be honest and say I'd love for my life to go back to the way it was before. Not "not" having Ava - but the quiet, peaceful days - days when I didn't have to worry that my 9-year-old was going to freak out because she didn't think she should have to wear any of her clothes twice and kick me in the face out of anger (Hey, "A" want to pay for the dentist bill from that one - I have 2 front teeth that needed repair). I'd love to go back to the days when I didn't have to lock up my cleaning supplies or my contact lenses. Several times, when Ava hasn't gotten her way, she's put windex in my contact lens case. I wonder if "A" would like to pay for the multiple, frequent visits to the optometrist and the medications and treatments I've had to endure to save my sight. I'd love going back to a time when I didn't know what it felt like to be punched in the kidneys, bitten, or hit with any and every single thing she could get her hands on to throw.
I'll be honest.
I'd LOVE that...
I wouldn't trade any of this garbage, any of the pain, any of the fear and anxiety and worry... I wouldn't trade having 2 daughters, I wouldn't trade ANY of it for anything...
I'd love to have my quiet, peaceful, relatively painless life back though...
8 hours ago