Hey Hallmark, Your Lack of Adoption Cards is Appalling

Hey Hallmark, Your Lack of Adoption Cards is Appalling

I mean, with a title like that I may as well just dive right in? So much for intrigue.

I went to Hallmark today! You can probably imagine all of the necessary backstory but I’ll tell it anyway. I went to Hallmark today, because I had a nightmare last night about forgetting to get my kids’ annual Christmas Eve ornaments, so I felt like I should remedy that. I got their ornaments and decided to look for a card for friends who recently finalized the adoption of their previously foster children.

 

SPOILER ALERT: NOBODY’S GETTING AN ADOPTION CARD. (Sorry).

 

There were exactly three adoption cards, which took a while to find.

Here’s one, that is nice enough if the person is adopting a singular infant child.

Here’s another… oh, also for a singular… infant… And this one is intense about being for a singular infant too. One little baby. Okay, Hallmark, point taken.

There was one other that isn’t online, also adorned with a baby carriage, also with a cute rhyme about… one singular infant.

Then wayyyyy down at the corner below a million other cards for literally every event under the sun (I took note of the “Congratulations on your doctorate” card and I’m going to need someone to send it to me if I ever decide Doing Things is something I can stomach again), there was the “Welcome New Family Member” card.

Finally!

…except this one was very precisely for one new family member. That’s it. One. You get no more than that.

Hallmark. Get it together. People are adopting older children.

I was going to be nice-ish and semi-patient but you know what, no. I’m not. This is ridiculous. It’s 2017. Diversify your cards.

 

Infant adoptions are not actually that common.

 

Adopting an older child and/or more than one child (e.g., a sibling group) is not strange or rare. In fact, the majority of finalized adoptions are overwhelmingly of children over one year old. In 2014, in every state but Utah (and let’s face it, Utah is kind of wack anyway) children under one year accounted for less than 5% of total adoptions.

Less than 5%.

And yet every adoption card assumes that the parents are adopting a single, newborn baby.

Where’s the card that says “Congratulations on your forever family?” Where’s the card that says, simply and applicably to all situations, “Congratulations on the adoption of your children?” Where’s the card that says, “Congratulations, now you can start buying clothes a season ahead of time and take holiday pictures without wondering what your family will look like at the next holiday?”

Where is the card that conveys the fact that what you have known in your heart for so long is finally, finally, completely official?

I want to send these cards, Hallmark. This is what I want to celebrate, this is what to say to my friends who have adopted. All of us have adopted older children. All of us have adopted sibling groups.

We’re here, and we’re buying cards… or would be, if all three of your cards weren’t based on archaic assumptions about adoption. It’s time to update your cards, and provide us some options, Hallmark. At the very least, even some generic “On Your Adoption Day” cards would be a start.

Oranges

Oranges

My daughter woke up and decided that we should take oranges for “all our neighbors” which meant taking a bag of Cuties to preschool. I don’t see any harm in handing out Cuties at preschool, so I said yes, and also she loaded the whole bag into her backpack and is walking around with it which is probably good sensory input, or something.

“I hope all my friends like oranges,” she said.

Preschool both is and isn’t great. The weekly break is great (they go once a week because we are poor). The teacher is great and my daughter actually feels safe and seems to trust her. I want her to mentor me. I want to absorb all of her magic and transform my parenting.

At the same time, my kids are challenging. I don’t think they’re too extreme compared to kids I’ve known, but they’re busy, pretty much always in fight or flight mode and there are two of them. We’ve already had one meeting and the preschool sought me out when I failed to sign up for conference week. I get the importance of communication, but school conferences put me in fight in flight mode, and we’ve had a rough few months. It’s not really on my radar right now. If they’re safe… I’m good. I’m aware of all their behavior, because we spend every waking moment together. I know it’s difficult and challenging. I do it every day. I’m sure I should probably care more and have a more positive attitude, but I don’t. But we have a conference scheduled for tomorrow, whatever.

So apropos of nothing (except her undying love of oranges), my daughter woke up wanting to gift the world with oranges. It looks so contrived, especially as I go into every meeting expecting they’ll be expelled. But this is truly who she is. You don’t see it when she’s biting you and melting down because her brain is telling her she’s going to die (and neither do I, honestly), but this is my real daughter, and she will absolutely destroy you but her apologies and gifts are always genuine, and always her idea. I don’t force apologies and I don’t need to. When she’s functional again, she knows what she needs to do and she does it.

But I know it looks like I’m trying to win favor and it looks super cloying, my little girl with a backpack full of oranges for “friends and neighbors.”

It’s all her, though. This is who she is.

We’re a lot alike.

Both

Both

Today I laughed.

My son was spinning circles in the living room with his Lego spaceship and my daughter was playing a video game on my phone and suddenly burst out singing Old McDonald at the top of her lungs.

OLD MCDONALD HAD A FARM, E-I-E-I-O. Painfully loud. Yelling more than singing.

And I laughed. Gasping for breath. The more I laughed the louder she sung, and she was laughing too.

WITH AN OINK OINK HERE AND AN OINK OINK THERE

And he was spinning and she was oinking.

And I was laughing.

I don’t know when I last did.

I thought of you. I was thinking about you. And I thought of me. And I thought of how not one of us has a brain that functions anywhere close to normal. I looked at the manifestations of my sensory seeking children, and my own gifted, too-intense, hyperfocusing, depressed self, and you and all the struggles you had, and must have had. How I wish we’d all been more open. How I wish I’d been less frustrated, how I wish you had felt less pressure to be more “normal” and less concern about what everyone else thought.

I wish you had felt free to spin in circles in the middle of the room (though it gets annoying and triggers my own sensory overload, that’s on me), and to scream Old McDonald at the top of your lung when the silence was too loud.

That is what I would want you to know. That is what I want them to know. It’s the same. I want them to know they are loved, completely, as they are, with no pressure to conform to anything. I want them to feel safe. I want them to feel free.

I want to give to them, in some way, what you gave to me.

So much love. So much love.

So I laughed. And couldn’t stop. And then I was crying, and my son was asking, “Mama, are you happy or are you sad?” I said I didn’t know. I said maybe both.

So, so happy to have known and loved you. So sad and so heartbroken to say goodbye.

I love you so much. I love you forever.