If you are looking for a foster care/adoption sensitive review of Finding Dory, I found this one to be helpful. Your situation may vary.
I can still remember, vaguely, my first movie theater movie. It was Rainbow Brite, I was probably three years old, and we went with my childhood best friends. They brought snacks — a can of cheese balls stands out in my mind, and I remember a vague image of Starlight the horse walking on the screen (I realized years later this is surprisingly accurate and I remembered a real scene in the movie). I remember the highlight of the experience was figuring out how to scoot back in the seats so they popped back up.
We went to the movies for the first time and saw Finding Dory. I have no idea what my kids will remember — likely the “Nemo Rock” that was more interesting than the actual movie, maybe some surprisingly good chicken fingers and gross toaster oven fries, and either a vague image of fish or something from the no less than 10 (how I would love to be exaggerating on this point) previews we saw.
I keep intending to write a post addressing a few things: the reason I felt it necessary to take what maternity leave I could scrape together even though we have been together for over two years (an anniversary that somehow passed without my awareness). And that’s a topic that, honestly, does deserve a whole post of its own, if not a series of them.
Right now, however, I don’t feel mentally capable. And those two years are partially the reason.
I stopped effusive apologizing for my lack of memory about a year in to foster care. I grew increasingly comfortable with hitting a wall midway through a sentence and stopping just to say, “I’m sorry, my brain just stopped and I forgot where that was going.” After it happens enough times, you have to kind of just go with it. On multiple occasions I told people that I had the memory of Dory from Finding Nemo. And they would kind of laugh, because haha self deprecating. More like HAHAHAHA NOPE why am I in this room again and what room even is this
Before I became a parent, before two years working with the foster system (and we were fortunate to consistently have awesome people working with us), I used to pride myself on my mental ability. Specifically I thought I had an amazing memory… because I did. (See Starlight and cheese balls above).
Then I had twin babies. Then we had foster care, and appointments and meetings and an endless to do list. At the same time all of my responsibilities ramped up, so did the chronic stress.
There’s another post worth writing — the impact of chronic stress.
But others have written on that before and done so better than I can. Google stress and executive function, Google stress and memory, Google vicarious trauma. Do all that and come back to me because guess who doesn’t have the mental energy for it? (Me. It’s me).
This is what it looks like from an experience perspective. All of the sudden my good memory was gone. I wasn’t consciously even aware of the stress as much as I was aware of my brain short circuiting. It honestly felt like I can only assume the onset of Alzheimer’s feels like. The feeling you get when you walk in a room and forget why, all the time. About everything.
I would start a simple task, let’s say folding towels, and get distracted by either my children or my own brain. Midfold, my brain would be like, “HEY! Electric bill! Electricity is a thing that you use!” and I would go to do that. I would login to the website to pay the electric bill and get maybe as far as the “pay bills” section of the website. And then I’d wonder how ants procreate (spoiler alert: it’s weird). Or the kids would need something. Or both. And two hours later, the bank has logged me out for inactivity and I have a half folded towel on my dryer.
And what idiot can’t even fold a towel? Which is even more stressful, because now not only are you the person that doesn’t know if it’s safe to order winter clothes, who has no downtime in sight for your family who desperately need downtime, you’re also the idiot who can’t even fold a towel.
Yes, we’ve been together for two years. They have been wonderful years. The majority of them was spent doing things like this, and if you’re wondering if experiencing “firsts” with an older child is as exciting as having a newborn, I would contend that it is even better.
But adoption changed literally everything. Because it was also two years of consistently retraumatizing my kids and at times myself by introducing them to yet another person they were expected to socialize with. It was assessments scheduled at nap time and expectations and ignoring my intuition in order do the things we had to do, and people telling me what my kids needed without recognizing how trauma contributed to those needs.
What we need is time to heal. What we need is time to experience being a normal family. Maybe then I will get that towel folded.