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Category Archives: adoption

I guess all of us could write a book about the story of our lives. Almost everyone has at least one good book in them (if not several.)

I haven’t said much about my daughter’s search for her mom lately, and how that’s gone. It’s turned out to be an interesting (and somewhat disturbing) saga. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my daughter Chelsea was adopted by us, at age 3. She was a very strong-willed, spunky, and beautiful little girl. She had a round little face, big eyes, long hair with straight bangs, and she looked remarkably a lot like me. Her mother placed her in my arms one night, and she turned 3, as we headed home, chasing the sun. But she was quite troubled when we got her. Her mother had basically ignored her emotionally. We were told by her husband at the time, that she was a diagnosed narcissist. Chelsea was healthy physically, well fed and dressed, so she was not neglected in those ways. But she was not mothered emotionally. (Boy, can I relate.)

So when we got her, I was prepared to do a lot of comforting, but I was not prepared for how angry she would be. And unfortunately, I was told by counselors, that her anger would be aimed at me, because I was now in the place of the mother who had rejected her. (That was how she perceived it.) It was a very rocky time. She would have temper tantrums about everything! I would take her to the mall, in her little umbrella stroller, and she would defiantly put her feet down, so that I couldn’t push her. No amount of pleading or disciplining could make her stop. Many times I would leave the mall exasperated, with Chelsea screaming over one shoulder, and her stroller over the other. The first time I took her to see “The Nutcracker”, I had her all dressed up in a Christmas dress, complete with a lovely bow in her beautiful long hair. A friend came by and said, “Is this your precious little daughter?” I smiled with pride and said, “Yes.” Five minutes later, she threw such a fit that we had to leave. (Seems like we were always leaving early, every place we went.) At home she would throw a tantrum if she couldn’t get her way. She would cough and spit, choke and scream, and do other things that I had never experienced before. I would tell her that mommy was going to leave the room, and when she was ready to stop crying and having a fit, she could come to my room and get me. She would cry in one room, and I would cry in the other. As I said, it was a very rough time. It seemed that the only way she could get attention from her birth mom, was to have a temper tantrum, or do something negative. So this was her pattern, and it was not easily, or quickly broken.

She did bond with me eventually, but nothing about our situation was normal. She was angry and rebellious. I had wanted to be a good mom, and do all the mother-daughter things with her–making cookies, ballet recitals, shopping, etc. We did all those things, but there was usually some kind of scene or temper tantrum, before, during, or after. Even as she grew, she was a difficult child. We tried everything we knew to help her, and in many respects we were successful. We just kept loving her unconditionally. We got counseling for her also. She was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. If you aren’t familiar with this, look it up, and you’ll learn some of the difficult things we went through. There are different degrees of RAD kids, but parenting them is never easy. But at least we had God in our lives, guiding our decisions, and loving her through us. I know that He was teaching me a lot along the way.

And eventually, she went from being a wild, depressed, nervous little girl, to one of the most social people I know. Her life revolves around her friends. She’s never thought too much of schoolwork (homework in particular), and she never met a rule she didn’t want to break. In spite of all kinds of discipline, she’s always been a rebel. Still, we love her deeply, and we’re very proud of her. She’s a fantastic singer, plays piano, and has a wonderful sense of humor. No matter what we were going through, Cheslea could always find a way to make me laugh. We did have fun together!

When she was young, and would occasionally ask about her mom, we told her that when she got to be older, if she wanted to find her, we would help her. But we also made it clear that during her “growing up” years, we wanted to be our own family. Years passed, and she rarely inquired about her birth mom. But recently (she’s now 19, almost 20) she began to ask her dad constantly about finding her birth mom. We realized that this could be an important time of healing for Chelsea, and for her mother. So we stood by our promise. It proved to be more difficult in reality, than it had been in theory. All those protective mom and dad feelings rose to the surface, though our concerns about her birth mom were only spoken to each other. We tried to be excited with Chelsea, as we gained information for her.

My husband was able to locate her birth mom fairly quickly (in England), and wrote her a nice email about Chelsea wanting to meet her. She wrote an equally nice email in response, about wanting to find Chelsea again, and all seemed well. We are Christians, and we were very pleased that she mentioned prayer and God, and thought perhaps her life had truly changed for the better. (She had worked in casinos most of the time that we had contact with her, and moved from place to place often, marrying several times along the way, but only staying married briefly.) But we had only spoken positively about her to Chelsea, all through the years. We told her that her mom was not able to care for her properly, and that she wanted her to be in a good home, and she chose us to be the mommy and daddy. We always talked about adoption as being so special. So Chelsea had always felt good about it.

Chelsea’s mom and grandmother are from England, and they both have a British accent. It’s fun to hear them talk, and to listen to their quirky, dry sense of humor. We talked with her birth mom by phone one evening, for quite awhile, filling her in on the details of Chelsea’s life. Initially, Chelsea’s birth mom was going to come to the States for a short visit. The next thing we heard, she was moving to the States, for a few months. And the next thing we heard, was that she was moving in with Chelsea! (I had an uneasiness that I just couldn’t shake.) Chelsea was at a time in her life when she was very impressionable, still immature, and we knew very little about her birth mom’s current lifestyle. It was worrisome to both of us. Of all the reunions that I had imagined, this was a little over the top for me. But I was gradually getting used to the idea, when I went to my daughter’s MySpace page, and read in big letters, the announcement that she would be spending the holidays in England. This wouldn’t have been so bad, if I’d just had a heads up, before she announced it to the whole world, as she had never been away from home at Christmas, and it was a bit of a shock, reading it like that.

A series of emails resulted between Chelsea and me. It turned into a comedy of errors, on everyone’s part. Things got so mixed up that it seemed they would never be put right again. It’s too much to tell in one post, but it made me realize (as the Bible says) that what Satan intends for evil, God can use for good. (But it would be awhile before we could see the good in all of it.)

(Please know that my husband is an adoption attorney, and I have the highest regard for birth moms, who try to ensure that their children have a good family.) Every one of these stories is different, and I do understand the need for children to find their roots, and their history. And also the healing that it can bring to both the child and their mom.

But after you have loved your little Cinderella through so much, for so many years, it is not easy to let her go, or to place her in the arms of someone else…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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I wanted to clarify that we have never said one unkind word about Chelsea’s birth mom. We always presented her in the best light possible (probably too good at times.) We were happy for Chelsea to find her, if she wanted to. We are the ones who located her. It’s just the way that Chelsea has handled it, that is so disappointing. Then today, I go to her MySpace page to write her a note, and am greeted with a banner saying, “One Life One Chance (her online nickname) is spending the holidays in England!” What a great way to find out that information. Very inconsiderate on her part, and it hurt. I guess the two things that have hurt most, were that she invited her mom to move in with her, and now she plans to spend the holidays with her in England, without ever saying a word to us about it. I don’t think anyone reading this would deny that Christmas is a family time, and we are her family. We are the ones who raised her, loved her, and took care of her when she was sick. We were there when her mother walked away. She shouldn’t act like we don’t exist, just because she’s found her birth mom. I am very hurt by her lack of sensitivity, and she could have easily handled the whole situation better, but chose to think only of herself (as always.) If she had even been thoughtful enough to talk it over with us, I would have said that Christmas in England was fine, but she didn’t. She just plastered it all over her MySpace page, so she could be the envy of her friends, and possibly to hurt us. (She seems to be playing games lately.)

I have had it. This child has brought me so much heartache and sorrow, that I am weary. Just weary with all her drama, narcissism, and self-centeredness. She is almost 20, and old enough to know how to be somewhat sensitive to the feelings of others. (You would have to know the whole story, to ever understand what life with her has been like.)

My blog is a place where I let it all hang out, and that is what I’ve done.  I make no apology for it. I’m only trying to find a way to get through this very difficult time in my life, when everything is falling apart. Chelsea knows how I feel, as I wrote her an email. For now, I have had all of this rollercoaster I can take. I’m getting off this ride. One day the Lord will wipe away every tear. Sure hope He has lots of tissues…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

A couple of days ago, my cell phone lost its mind–(a symptom of my life lately.) It stopped responding completely to having its buttons pushed–(something I have yet to achieve.) It started dialing numbers on its own, like 44444444444. Then it would show my ring tone volume, and quickly go up and down. I could still receive calls, but I couldn’t send any. And wouldn’t you know it? After reporting all this to my husband, and asking him to drop it off for repairs, the darn thing worked perfectly for him all day, so he didn’t take it. (You know, it’s the old mechanic’s lament, “Ma-am, I just can’t duplicate your problem. You’ll have to bring it back when it’s acting up.” 

I guess everything around me is strange lately. Nothing’s ordinary–that’s for sure. My entire life feels like someone picked it up and threw it into the air, and when it came down, I didn’t recognize it anymore.  It’s been a gradual thing, but a consistent one.

For 15 years, I struggled to understand and raise my daughter, who we adopted at age 3. Nothing was ever normal with her. She was far more than “strong-willed.” In fact, I bought every book that I could find about our situation. Things like “Your 3 Year Old–Friend Or Foe?”, Dr. Dobson’s classics, “The Strong-Willed Child”, “Dare To Discipline”, “Parenting Isn’t For Cowards”, and on and on. I read about how to use time out, when to spank and when not to, how to handle temper tantrums, what to do about lying, how to deal with arguing and talking back. I read the Bible and all the best sellers.

She’s 19 now (soon to be 20) and things haven’t gotten any better. She recently decided that she wanted to find her birth mom. When the questions came up a few times when she was younger, we told her that we wanted to have our own special family, but when she was older, if she wanted to find her birth mom, we would help her.

Unfortunately, the last few years at home were very rocky. Her rebelliousness increased, and she never saw a rule that she didn’t want to break. It was hell on earth. She wouldn’t do her homework, causing her to go from being an honor student at one point, to almost being a drop-out. She didn’t get to walk down the aisle with her senior class, because she refused to do the make up work, graciously offerred to her by a teacher, in order to pass. We were in total agreement with the teacher aout failing her. (There are just some lessons in life that have to be learned the hard way.)  We made her attend summer school, and my husband actually held her hostage at his law office every day, until she finished the class. (She would have preferred to just be a drop out, but we had come too far for that.) She did graduate (though without ceremony, due to her choices) and actually was able to receive a Bright Futures scholarship, which covered all of her tuition. But she dropped out of college almost immediately. She never could seem to find her way to class, and never connected attending class with a passing grade. Oh well…

We told her that if she threw the scholarship away, we would not finance school for her later. She defiantly chose to drop out.

She always says that she is”working her butt off” at 3 jobs, but the total hours of all of them have not yet added up to 40 hours a week. After doing this for awhile, she decided that she would perhaps go back to school, and get a degree, because she is very materialistic, and doesn’t like not being able to shop and play. (However, she doesn’t at all mind not paying her bills.)

And suddenly, in the midst of the absolute worst time of my life, she decided that she wanted to find her birth mom. (I have been the primary caregiver for my mom for the last 3 1/2 years, since my dad died unexpectedly. In mid June she fell (while I was holding her hand) and broke her right foot, and left leg.) She received physical therapy, while recovering in a nursing home, and was just about to be released, when she fell and broke her right hip. (This changed everything.) She has been experiencing dementia, incontinence, hallucinations, and all sorts of things. So it was not the best time in my life to deal with yet another stressful event.)

But we had promised to help Chelsea find her mom, and we did. It wasn’t really all that difficult, and things initially went well. We knew that it would probably be a time of healing for my daughter and her mother. I took a deep breath, and went on. I was doing fine with it, until my husband came home one night, and told me that Chelsea had invited her mother to move in with her. (This was a bit much to take, and we both thought a little inconsiderate towards us.)

My husband is an adoption attorney, so the world of birth parents is not foreign to us. Many children do not even choose to find their birth parents, but when they do, it is often a special reunion, followed by sporadic calls and occasional visits. (But I have never heard of them moving in together–but that’s just me.)  So this dear child has hammered one more nail into my coffin. (A bit of an exaggeration, I admit. I usually leave the drama to Chelsea.) But how much more can I take? I tend to think–not much.

Apparently, her mother arrived last week, and we haven’t heard a word from Chelsea. When we first talked about it, we had decided that early on in the visit, we would all have dinner with her birth mom (who we had met at the time of the adoption), and then they could have their time together alone, while she was visiting. Chelsea thought she would feel more at ease that way. But then her birth mom decided to live here until at least January. (Surprise..surprise…) Chelsea has basically left us out entirely.

So on we go. Do I feel hurt? Yes. I don’t resent her finding her birth mom, but inviting her to move in was a little over the top for me. (Just being honest.) And this at a time, when Chelsea has little direction in her life, and will certainly see her as a role model. Her mom is a gypsy of sorts-married several times, and never settling down. She is 44, and recently sailed a boat to Guatemala alone.  She was a casino dealer for a good part of her life, though claims to have recently become a Christian. She is British, and presently living in England. What a fairy-tale for a teenage girl! (My counselor calls her an adrenaline junkie, as is Chelsea. LOL!) She wants to take Chelsea backpacking, and on a possible trip to Australia. Chelsea has suddenly decided that God has “called her” to go to worship school in Australia (studying with Hillsongs), which would cost about $20,000.00 for one year’s tuition, and that we should pay for it. (We have other thoughts.)

So, that’s the situation with my daughter. Right now, we are not making any moves. She has not called lately, and we are not going to chase her down. We will just have to trust God with the outcome of all this, whatever it may be. I only know that we love her, tried to raise her according to God’s word, sacrificed much, and suffered greatly. I feel sad to say that it was very, very difficult, but it was. We did the best we could, and we will always love her.

So that’s my life lately. No wonder my cell phone had a nervous breakdown…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html