A few things to address what’s up for me lately, both in my personal life and as an adoption educator.
1. In Memory of Dominic DePalma
My sister’s son, Dominic DePalma (say his name), was loved by so many, and respected by teammates and rivals alike.
It had been exactly 77 days — 11 weeks to the minute — since our family’s tragic loss. At 7:13pm on a recent Thursday, Dominic’s high school team and its crosstown rival honored his memory in a way that soothed our hearts.
It was a beautiful night of loving Dominic, as much as it was a terrible night of missing him. We are living in the BothAnd, as my sister Tami observes in this interview.
It was such a lovely gesture by the teams, the schools, and the parents. Tami and Gino are buoyed by people saying Dominic’s name and noticing that he left a mark during his short time in the world. Please consider leaving a 💚 in a comment below and I will make sure Tami sees.
Ten years ago I attempted both a time warp and a mind meld when I tried to see how things looked from inside my children’s heads. I imagined, at the suggestion of a group called the Open Adoption Bloggers, what I’d like my grown children to say about the way I felt to them, adoption-wise, in 20 years. They were then 10 and 8 years old.
We are now halfway there, and my children are adults. Baby adults, but adults nonetheless. What were my open adoption goals then, and how well has our parenting aligned with them?
When I lead workshops or consult with adoptive families, I often ask parents to do this very same exercise, which is to imagine what their end zone looks like and feels like. I ask them to write this same letter, based on the prompt given to Open Adoption Bloggers all those years ago:
Imagine your child as an adult describing their open adoption experience. What do you hope they will be able to say about you? How did you view their other parents? In what ways did you support their relationship with them?
Perspective & Clarity
In writing this letter, parents not only practice seeing through their children’s eyes, but they also clarify what they want of their own parenting in the long run. (Aside: every single parent I’ve worked with wants an enduring, loving, connected relationship with their child over time, and they want their son or daughter to have everything they need to be happy and successful in their lives).
Hello, 30something woman on baby forums and infertility groups. May I call you Jessica? You don’t know me, but I was once where you were. I had finally met the man of my dreams, the guy I wanted to build a life with, the father of my future children. I felt so lucky!
Then after a few years of near-unbearable amounts of physical and emotional pain and expense, it became clear we could not make a baby. No way, no how. End of story. Not gonna happen. So WRONG. So unfair. So unlucky.
It was the most horrible thing I’d ever been through. It almost broke me. I was so deeply hurt. Angry. Jealous. Lost. Devastated. I couldn’t take much more. I wanted to be a mom. Was that so wrong? People do this effortlessly — even accidentally! — all the dang time.
Eventually, we set foot on the path of adoption. Surely after all we’d been through, the gods would bless us with an easy path. Surely we deserved something simple and doable. After all that bad luck, things had to even out, right? Please god, just bring us a baby. We will be the best parents ever. I promise promise promise.