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On Sunday, we visited Ellie’s birth mom. If you’ve followed this blog for long, then you know that while we have an extremely open relationship with Ellie’s grandmother and aunt (the Ls) including almost monthly visits, we’ve had some bumps in the road regarding visits with her mother, C. We’ve always been open to visits, and we’ve continued to send letters and pictures every few months. The last time we saw Ellie’s bmom was Easter, and we had hopes for establishing a more regular routine. However, due to work and life circumstances, C.’s schedule changed, and last weekend was the first time she was again available.
The visit went extremely well, and I’m grateful.
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Prior to visiting, we took Ellie to a pumpkin patch, and unfortunately, we interrupted her nap a bit. She’s rather unforgiving when it comes to meddling with her beauty rest, and she communicated her disdain by refusing to smile for the entire afternoon.
NOT smiling for close-ups
NOT smiling for Daddy or the chickens.
Completely UNimpressed with adorable, tiny pumpkins.
Bored with the pirate-ship playground.
Hayride with Mom and Dad? A soporific affair.
And our attempts at Ellie’s first pony ride? Epic Fail.
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However, miraculously, by the time we made it to visit C. later that afternoon, Ellie perked up dramatically and decided to be her charming, giggly self. She showed C. all her sign language. She climbed onto a table and attempted a triple-back-flip to the ground. She “borrowed” two handfuls of Oreos from a nice lady nearby and proceeded to run in circles, scream-laughing while C. chased her. She showed C. how she tackle-hugs other kids. (#NotPlanned #SorryInnocentChild) C. showed her off to some friends. And when it was time to go, she went right to C. and gave her a hug and kiss. Perfection.
So what’s the conundrum?
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C. told me she plans to buy Ellie one of those Power Wheels battery-operated vehicles for Christmas. In pink. I smiled politely and said something along the lines of, “Oh, please don’t go to any great expense,” and mumbled something about Ellie being into books and dolls.
What I didn’t say was, “Ummm…..no thanks.” I didn’t explain how Charlie and I pretty much agree that it’s better for kids, whenever possible, to move around outdoors by their own power, possibly with the assistance of a bicycle, tricycle, skateboard, or scooter. I didn’t say how with a tricycle, multiple strollers, and a wagon, we really have no more room to store a toddler vehicle at the moment. I didn’t discuss how we’re trying to move more toward a more Montessori-type learning environment and collect simple toys that will inspire creativity while limiting items that require batteries, have flashing lights or sounds, etc. (I may or may not have gotten a little carried away with the toy buying initially. I’m repenting and trying to change my ways. For real, y’all. No comments from anyone who has actually been in my house for the last two years….mmkay? ) I didn’t clarify how we’re in the process of re-examining Christmas traditions and attempting to move the focus away from extravagant gift-giving.
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For many reasons, I wasn’t honest in my reaction. For one, I’ll have exactly the same problem with grandparents, aunts, and uncles from the rest of the family as they raid the North Pole and return to dump Santa’s sleigh into the living room floor of my Mama’s house. Seriously, I think my Mama may have been Christmas shopping for Ellie since December of last year. Furthermore, it’s a gift, and I should accept it graciously and then just hide it away in the attic or something? Right?
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Also, I know Ellie will probably love a battery-operated car. She spends her days following me around trying to imitate every. single. thing. This is adorable, of course, but makes things such as putting on makeup or going to the bathroom….well, challenging. She already has a Little Tikes car I purchased at a consignment for $20, and the blessed thing has provided hours and hours of entertainment.
But honestly, I mostly didn’t say no because I don’t want to hurt C.’s feelings. This relationship is still new and forming. I sense the fragility, and I don’t want to risk damaging anything. However, I know that for this open adoption thing to work smoothly in the long-term, both of us are going to need to find a way to be honest with one another about our thoughts, emotions, hopes, expectations, etc. And, she’s barely tow, and a toy isn’t such a big deal, but will there be things in the future that become more of an issue and require more definitive decisions from me? I want to build a strong relationship now to hopefully avoid any miscommunication in the future. As always, open adoption is an ever-evolving, growing relationship.
So, to my adoption friends out there, what do you think? APs: have you had to set limits or guidelines for Christmas or birthday gifts? BMoms: How do you approach giving gifts to your child? How can I best share our thoughts on this in the future without offending anyone?