Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"First Meeting": Gramma Pat

The newest Open Adoption Round Table discussion prompt was “First Meeting,” leaving it open to interpret any way we want ( Participating bloggers who are involved in adoptions in some way have written about when they first met their child, when they first met the birth parent, when they first met the adoptive parent, etc. So here is my first meeting contribution, which just happened recently, last month.
Characters involved:
Doug, Maura and Reed, steaming in the hot, humid North Carolina summer
Me, slaving away in the hot, humid year round Singapore summer
My mom and sister Kathryn, melting in the hot, humid Texas summer
Bill, enjoying the cool, dry, crisp, mountain air of the Colorado Rockies, where he works as a private chef during the summers on a large ranch

The Plan:
I had a one week school holiday in June, and I knew that I wanted to fly back to the US to see Reed, even if it was a short trip. I don’t only want to see him once a year, so any cost or amount of jet lag will still be worth the visit. So I thought, why not have everyone meet in Colorado where Bill is? It would be Bill’s and my first time to see Reed together since I left for Singapore in April of 2010, when he was only 4 months old. But then I also had another motive (besides seeking relief from the perpetual Singaporean summer). I thought that maybe if we were in Colorado, which can be a very tempting place for Texans in general to go and visit (much to the chagrin of most Coloradans), that perhaps some of my family members would be willing to make the trip to finally come and meet my son, their grandson/nephew.
I knew that many of my family members would be busy and it wouldn’t be so easy to drop everything for a week long trip, but thankfully my mom and sister Kathryn stepped up to the plate. Kathryn, the youngest of us 5 kids, was the only one in my family to have met Reed before, having flown up to North Carolina for his birth. I can’t even tell you how much that meant to me, having her in the room with me throughout the labor and at the moment he was born, and apparently it meant a lot to her too because she had his birth date tattooed onto her foot! So it was my mom that was going to meet everyone for the first time.

I can’t say that we weren’t all a little nervous about it. Mom has been supportive of me throughout this whole process from the first time I told her I was pregnant, but also, like a true mother, she has let me know that she wished I had made a different decision. A few different decisions… but I digress. I remember one conversation I had with her when I was first telling her about my decision to place for adoption and she said, “It’s not only that you’re giving away your son, but you’re also giving away my grandson.” I tried to tell her that she could still have that relationship with him, but when closed adoptions are the norm and all a person knows about, it’s hard to imagine anything different working out.
So there we all were suddenly together in Colorado, I was ecstatic to see everyone again, and of course it all went beautifully! Bill was amazing, the entire week he prepared the most spectacular feasts for us. This guy is the most talented chef ever, every single meal we made the comment, “this is the most amazing _____ I’ve ever had in my life!” Even the oatmeal he made for us in the mornings- the best oatmeal I’ve ever tasted! We were able to stay in the beautifully rustic cabins on the ranch where he worked, and we were welcomed by all the staff he worked with and the owners of the property with open arms.

Reed was in toddler boy heaven, surrounded by all the wheel burrows, power tools, trucks, tractors and other various machinery for which he has a particular fascination. It was fun for Bill and me to get to know more about his personality, and we learned quickly that he loves anything that’s big and moves. Also, it was once again good for my heart to see what a happy little boy he is. He has such a sunny personality, even when he was not quite himself because the jet lag and traveling had tinkered with his all so important napping schedule, he still seemed in relatively good spirits. Being surrounded by people eager to make him happy (which often involved tossing him into the air, one of his favorite past times) seemed to help too. :)

Aunt Kathryn loved seeing her nephew again, and by the end of the week Reed knew all too well that if he sought out her attention he would be rewarded with a goofy face, a tickle, or some little trick up her sleeve that was sure to result in a giggle.

And Mom? What a fantastic grandmother to Reed she is!!! Everyone commented all week to me about how much they enjoyed having her around, how easy it was to talk to her, and how great she was with Reed. She had the ingenious idea to tie a few shoe boxes together to make a train for him to pull around, which he made terrific use of for the entire week. It was also her idea to collect some wood chips from one of the work areas for him to build towers with, or just to throw them into buckets of water, which was a big hit as well.

My mom doesn’t often get too outwardly sentimental, and this time was no different. It wasn’t sappy words of love that were poured out from her mouth that were so important to me, but rather, the fact that she made the long drive to come meet her grandson, and made Doug and Maura feel so comfortable around her and excited to have her in Reed’s life. Even Bill said that he really enjoyed having her around, maybe because she contributed greatly to all the praises we lavished upon him for the outstanding food we were constantly eating.
In short, this was a very important 'first meeting' for me. My mom, meeting my son for the first time, and not only my son, but his family whom has become my family too. I have no idea when it will happen, but I can't wait for the rest of them to meet!

I'm always grateful for the encouragement I get from Doug and Maura regarding my relationship with Reed. They are eager to see us develop a loving, healthy relationship with each other, and during each visit have made a deliberate effort to make sure I get some quality alone time with him. I say for the millionth time, I could not have chosen better parents for him.

One of the highlights of our trip was the women's rafting trip. Thanks to some guys at the nearby rafting company being big fans of Bill's famous homemade ice cream sandwiches, Mom, Maura, Kathryn and I were able to raft down the white waters of the Taylor River. This was my mom's first time to try her hand at it, and her exact words were, "I wish I could do that every week!"

On our very last day together, we were all blessed to meet Bill's parents who drove up from Utah. Even though it was a short meeting, they were both so kind, supportive and happy to also finally meet everyone, that it just made the whole gathering that much more wonderful. Am I sounding gushy enough? It's only because I still pinch myself sometimes when I think about how much of a blessing all of these people involved are in my life.

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