Wednesday, December 30, 2009

First Visit

Dylan with his birth mom, V.

The little man w/his Uncle, Auntie, and cousin

(who is so happy to no longer be the youngest!)

We had not seen Dylan's birthmom, V., since a few days after she was discharged from the hospital and while he was still in the NICU. We had planned for her to come visit us during Thanksgiving weekend, but a few days before, she let us know that they were having car trouble and wouldn't be able to make it. We told her we understood and hoped to reschedule soon. Then we didn't hear from her for a couple of weeks. Privately, we wondered if it was all just too hard for her right now and if it would be awhile before we connected again.

But I emailed her once more, indicating a few specific dates that would work well for us for a visit, and after a bit of delay, she responded enthusiastically!

The weekend before Christmas, we were delighted to have her to our home for several hours. The visit was preceded by a bit of my nervous scurrying to determine and buy some holiday gifts, tidy up the house, prepare a meal, and ensure the boy was bathed and adorable (the latter not being a hard thing!). I was actually really glad she was coming this time of year, as I love the way our house looks all decorated for Christmas. Bright poinsettias lined our entry stairs and the tree sparkled in the window; plus, we got to show off the beautiful stocking Dylan's aunt L. needlepointed for him, a true labor of love.

We were fearful that the visit might be canceled again, but V. called several times - the day before, again as they were leaving their town, and shortly before arriving - to reassure us!

She came along with her new fiance. They also brought their beautiful dog, who they had brought home that week from the SPCA. They joked a bit while she was here that we were adopting a boy, and they were adopting a dog...but it did feel a little odd. I am sure Freud would have a field day with it!

I wondered what it would be like for her to see Dylan for the first time in our home. I know it must have been hard. I suggested to M. that he be holding the little guy when they arrive, rather than me. For some reason, I just suspected it might be easier for her to see him with his daddy.

The dog's arrival - and our cat's presence - probably made those first minutes less awkward. We had to take the dog around the house and make sure he was all set in the back, which M. did with Dylan. Then they all came in the house, and while we were giving them a quick tour, M. asked her if she wanted to hold him. She did.

She held him close and made funny faces and talked about how much he'd changed. She said that his gorgeous long eye-lashes didn't come from her, which surprised me; I remembered her having really pretty eyes and associated this striking feature of the baby's with them. She seemed comfortable with him and with us...

They were very sweet and polite guests, complimenting our simple lunch, indicating how much they liked various things around our home and garden, etc. It's clear that our "approval" means a lot to her. She asked quietly what I thought of her guy, and I told her he seems so nice, and very into her (which is true).

After a leisurely lunch, I suggested we move to our front porch. I brought out our gifts, which they genuinely seemed to appreciate: for her fiance, a hot cocoa set (not too personal, but after all, we hadn't met him yet); for her son turning two this month, a set of Curious George books for his birthday and some sidewalk chalk and an activity book for Xmas); and for V., a soft, green sweater (which V. said she'd wear for their engagement photos), a Barnes & Noble gift card (to feed her appetite for reading), and a little craft kit with a photo frame on one side and stuff to "cement" a child's hand and/or footprints on the other).

The visit was complicated by the fact that we had previously made plans for my older brother and his family to stop by around dinner time on their way from their home about eight hours away to my sis-in-law's family, about 1.25 hours away. I thought that this was good timing, as V. has said many times how much she hopes to know and be involved with our extended family, I wanted them to meet her to help remove some of the "mystery" of our open adoption, and who knew when they'd be in the same area again. But in hindsight, I don't think it was ideal for a first visit.

Just as V. and her fiance finished opening their gifts, up pulled the raucous crew! My niece and two nephews (ages 12, 9, and 7) came racing up the walk. They were SO excited to finally meet their new cousin! It melted my heart, and I wanted to intercept them with huge hugs and lots of nuggies, their enthusiasm meant so much to me.

Introductions were made, and everyone was very friendly. But the focus was off of V.

We all spent more time together, mostly hanging out in the back yard (including cleaning up after the dog, whose poop my littlest nephew promptly stepped in). My relatives couldn't take their eyes and hands off of the little guy; I had to remember to make sure his birth mom had time to hold him. She did take him some more, and fed him a bottle. We made the frame memento, with both his little feet and hands fitting. To it, she added his name with the date and some hearts. She provided some mothering advice about various things and chatted with the children. In fact, at one point M. and I realized that she's actually closer in age to the kid with the poopy shoes than to us!)

Not long thereafter, V. made motions toward leaving. M. told me later that she had confided in him that she knew it would be tough to "leave" her son again. I wish I'd thought of this; I mean, I suspected that the visit itself wouldn't be easy for her, but I didn't really put it together that physically departing would pour salt in her wounds.

They did say their goodbyes to the motley crew, so I purposely put Dylan in his crib, and M. and I headed out with them. After lots of hugs, and good wishes, and promises to keep in touch and vague allusions to seeing each other in February, they pulled away with freshly-printed directions to a famous local attraction that they don't often get a chance to visit.

She left from her fist visit and I felt...relieved. I am so proud of V., that she followed through and really put herself out there. Plus, she saw an authentic slice of our lives...and seemed to appreciate it. Over lunch, she confided that though she is having a harder time with the separation from her son than she anticipated, she has no doubts that we are the right family for him.

I feel like we've passed a major landmark in open adoption: the first visit. Though there were things I wish had been different, I can see how this can work in the future. And I so hope it will, for all of our sakes...


Lisa said...

Congrats. It does get easier for everyone. We had the opportunity to really get to know J before Henry's birth. This made it easier and we've seen her at least once a month since then. I can tell sometimes when we leave it is easier than others. Try not to second guess the visit. This is your life after all, and the life that she chose for her/your son...she got the crash course. :)

Ginger said...

I'm glad to hear that the visit went well...

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, I'm looking for a post I wrote once about the leaving at a visit and I can't find it.....I'm going to keep looking though.....but YES - physically walking away is HARD.

Bobby said...

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing. I hope our reunion with Sabrina's birth mom this month goes as successful as yours did!

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Curious George, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.