Thursday, November 18, 2010

Making contact

I just got off the phone with our social worker from John's adoption. She contacted me because they have been receiving several packages and letters from John's foster mother and wondered how we were feeling about the amount of contact. I have to admit that it is leaving me conflicted. It was obvious from the enormous bag that arrived with John in JFK that his foster mother was very attached and enjoyed showering him with gifts. During the time that he was in her care, she took five albums worth of pictures, something that I am sure he will treasure (and already has - he loves looking at himself as a baby!) throughout his life. Just this past week we received another huge package with toys for both boys and a letter that was written in August. Apparently the gift was hand delivered by an escort who was bringing a baby to the US from Korea, the last arrival for a while as the agency has reached their yearly quota. The letter was very sad and described how much John's foster mother missed him after he left. My heart breaks for this woman as I can only imagine caring for a child for over a year and then sending him on a plane to live halfway around the world. Especially when that child is John - who is just a barrel of sweetness and love. I explained to our social worker that I have no problem sending her letters and pictures to help ease the pain of her loss, and that from what I have read believe that her need for contact will taper off with time. The reason I am feeling conflicted right now is because of Paul. He too had a wonderful foster mother, who described him as her busiest child ever (he was her 25th foster child). But after the initial exchange of letters and photos, we lost contact. I feel almost guilty maintaining any long term contact with John's foster mother because it just doesn't seem fair. Thankfully she always sends a gift for Paul and mentions him in her letters. I wonder how much of this he understands. We talk about his adoption pretty regularly, but he has never asked me questions about his birth parents or about the time he spent in Korea before he came into our family. Sometimes I wonder if one day it will suddenly occur to him that he could have led a completely different life. In the meantime, I hope that he is not feeling hurt by the letters and gifts. I am thankful for anything that ties my children to their homeland and know that they will appreciate it all someday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Social divide

One of the biggest difference between me and my oldest son is the fact that he is extremely extroverted and I am most definitely an introvert. He jumps into social settings with both feet and is rarely afraid to strike up conversations with strangers, while I remain on the sidelines riddled with anxiety whenever confronted with new people. The good part in all of this is that he is teaching me to come out of my shell a little, and I have been working on opening up to people. It is hard not to when he garners a reaction from strangers wherever we go and has been doing so since he was a baby. The bad part is that he wishes to spend his days surrounded by others while I prefer the comfort of solitude. I have made efforts to accommodate his needs while on the home front by involving him in several social activities, but it never seems to be enough. He regularly questions me as to why we don't have more play dates and why other children do not come home with us from school. How do I answer him honestly? That I have a hard time approaching parents about such things? That I have learned to make small talk in some situations, but taking it to the next level fills me with fear and anxiety? That is not an easy thing to explain to a four year old who has no qualms about walking up to a complete stranger, introducing himself and sharing his life story. He is extremely popular with the neighborhood kids and will most likely continue to enjoy popularity his entire life. I have no idea what that feels like and honestly have no desire. Social temperament is something we are born with and it does not change. I inherited mine from my father, who fully understands and appreciates the need to escape from overwhelming crowds. My husband shares a similar mindset, and we often spent our pre-children weekends relaxing at home. We quickly learned that that lifestyle would not fly with our son. I remember coming home from our first Christmas and watching him sit in the middle of the family room floor, surrounded by toys, crying. He had been swept up in the chaos of the holiday and did not want it to end. So where do we go from here? I hope that we are able to reach some middle ground and perhaps learn from each other about how the other side of the social spectrum thrives. As for my youngest, he seems to be in the middle. Not nearly the social butterfly but nevertheless eager to impress a crowd. His sensitive soul with surely make him a good listener, someone who the girls will probably turn to when they are eager to get a date with big brother.