Monday, July 2, 2012

Adoption has taught me... To be a gracious gift recipient

Remember this post where I painstakingly told of the gifts we had been collecting for Brit? In the same post I shared that the gifts had been picked up by her father and we were just relishing the idea that she had them and was enjoying them.

Well, we never did hear back from her parents telling us that they got them. Not a word. The only way I knew that they must have them was because the gifts were not in the hallway when I returned to work on Monday.

I guess we have grown accustomed to this. Our gifts are only acknowledged in the monthly email we get each 25th. So if we send a gift right after we have just received our monthly email, then it will be a full month before we hear if they received anything we mailed, if we hear anything about it at all. Most times it is never mentioned.

This time I was so hopeful that maybe when we got our monthly email, they would share with us that Brit or her brother or sister liked the XXX or that they really appreciated the thought.

The good news is that in the monthly email Brit's dad did say "Thanks for the gifts". The sad part is, that was all he said.

I know it is petty of me to be disappointed. But the truth is, I hang on their every single word. I wait and pine for any words they send.  And those gifts were such a labor of love for me.  I was so excited about the kids getting them.  I wanted to hear that they were received in the same spirit.  (insert disappointment)

When I was choosing those gifts I put so much time and thought into choosing just the right thing. I would sit down at night and look over all the gifts we had collected up to that point. I would consider what else we could add without going overboard. When I came across something that I thought would be perfect for the care package, I would get so excited. I would rush in the door and immediately show BF and he and I would talk about how we thought it was just right. Each gift, no matter how small, was an investment in love.

I would love to see a picture of the kids with the gifts.  Any of them.  Never once have we gotten a picture of Brit wearing an outfit we have sent. They don't make a point of including photos of Brit with any of our gifts. I do recall one time when they did acknowledge a care package we sent and they made mention of how she played with one of the toys. It made us so happy.

However, never do they mention the personal gifts. The photo books we have sent from her visit with us. Or this time, the books with her photo as the main character. The things I spend the most time creating and contemplating get the least mention.

So here is what I am going to take from this.

I need to be a considerate gift recipient.

I hope I never neglect to acknowledge someone's heartfelt gift, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem.

And I will make sure I have my children do the same. I want them to be amazing adults and being appreciative people is so important. I would like to think that we practice this already, but I will definitely make it a conscious choice to be deliberate and purposeful and above all else grateful.

If you are someone from the adoption triad who receives gifts from another family member, please make the effort to acknowledge the time and effort put in the gift, no matter how small. Take a picture. Tell how it made you or your child feel. Make it personal. And do it when you receive it, because you just never know if the giver is sitting on pins and needles hoping the gift brought you joy.


Jenn said...

I'm right there with you today. I'm sorry they haven't thanked you properly.

When I was younger, my mother was really strict about thank you cards. We wrote them all the time for gifts or nice gestures. I used to hate being forced to sit at the kitchen table writing notes when all I really wanted to do was go play outside. As I got older however I started to appreciate it more. I had several people comment on how much it meant to them to get a Thank You card from me because not many people take the time out of their day to write them. I realize now what my mother was getting at. It doesn't take a lot of time, but it really means a lot to people to show them that you care.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this (((hugs)))

LisaAnne said...

Thanks Jenn.

Unfortunately I am not good about the written card any more. But I do immediately send an email, a text or make a call.

For the record, my mother did the same with me. It made us better people, didn't it? :)

Anonymous said...

They are only thinking of themselves. They could care less about being gracious, considerate and compassionate. They got what they wanted and just wish you'd go away. That is the sad TRUTH of adoption; not just for you but for all of us natural mothers who lost while others gained. They are selfish and only care about themselves.

lu said...

U are so nice! you gave then the greatest gift of all and this is how they behave.....oh well u just have to tell urself you do it for Britt not them and that once she's older she'll look back and see it all!!!xxx

LisaAnne said...

Lu, that is exactly what we tell ourselves. BF and I talk about what seems to be a general lack of consideration of us and our feelings and we both have had to just come to terms with it.

This week when I mentioned how disappointed I was with the simple 'thanks for the gifts' comment, BF looked at me and said, 'Haven't we come to expect that? We send the gifts for Brit. If we know that she got them, then we just have to be OK with that.'

Monika said...

I hope...that they just don't think about it. It's possible their parents never enforced that it's important to thank people, and especially now that they have children, it's important for the people to see the children WITH the gifts they were given. It's not any better than the other option that they just don't care (at least in your eyes I know it isn't), but it's slightly better for them being less evil and selfish. Maybe if you told them how much it would mean to you to see the kids with the gifts you got or hear about how they love one thing or another...? You've probably already told them something like that. Like BF said, Brit will know someday all the things you did for her and all the times you thought about her with love.

LisaAnne said...

Monika, I think you are dead on. I truly do not believe they are evil. Or that they try to torment us. They just do not share the consideration for us that we thought they would.

I think they are consumed with their life and we are a complicating factor. They do what they feel obligated to do to fulfill what they believe our relationship should be.

Truthfully, I think that receiving the monthly emails is something they probably feel is more than they are obligated to do.

I am just disappointed because I feel like it could be so much better for all of us.

J said...

Do you worry that Brit will grow up to be like them, in the way she treats people?

LisaAnne said...

J, I think you bring up a good point. I do wonder how it will all work out.

They really are great parents. It is obvious they love Brit and Brit has a very good life with them.

These years when she is little and they can control everything I think they are doing a good job of making her polite and kind. It is apparent that she is a wonderful kid when we have our annual two hour visit with her.

However, I worry more about the psychological impact of how they treat(ed) us and how she will perceive it when she is old enough to establish her own opinions.

I still hold out hope that we will have more interaction with her as she gets older and that interaction will show Brit that we love her, support her and want to be part of her life.

I also have to believe that her parents will not sabotage that. And if they do, then I guess I will be really glad that I have kept every email that I have ever sent and every email that they have sent in return. I also take pictures of everything we send her so if it ever comes up when she is an adult, I will be able to show Brit that we wanted so much more. We begged for it.

I pray every day that Brit's desire to know us will come early and cause her parents to allow her access to us because of her desire.

I also pray for a change of heart for her parents so that they will see us as someone they would want to have a relationship with, instead of feeling obligated.

As for the inconsideration, I hope it only applies to us. And if it doesn't, maybe my kind and tender heart has been passed on to Brit and she will naturally be a generous and appreciative person, irregardless of any examples she may have witnessed to the contrary.

Anonymous said...

@J: "Do you worry that Brit will grow up to be like them, in the way she treats people?"

That is exactly what happened with my child. He is cold towards his natural family and only seems to care about himself, just like his adopters.

Jennifer said...

From what I've read on your blog, it sounds like Brit's adopters are very threatened by you, your BF, and your boys. It sounds like they don't know how to integrate the two families, and I really wish they would get help to figure out how to do that.
I think the chance is tremendous that when Brit grows up, she is going to want a relationship with her natural family. A lot of my adoptee friends especially wanted to find their natural families after having their first child. Someday, I am sure, Brit is going to want more. She is going to age out of their control and it would be so much better for everyone--including them--to start finding a way to deal with things now.
There can never be too many people who love someone! Maybe it's difficult or outside of the norm to navigate the complexity of an open adoption, but I hope that if Brit's adopters ever read this, I hope they will reconsider.
I am so sorry that this has ended up like this, but I hope things get better someday.
Sending hugs your way,

Vertical Mom said...

Yes, I feel the same way. My son's parents are kind and thoughtful people but they are also very busy so I don't hear much from them (or from him now that he's old enough to do it himself) about gifts that I send. I try to take it with understanding but, like you, it would be awesome if I heard a reply about what the gift meant to them. Have you ever read The Five Love Languages? I would bet you're a Gift am I ;-)

Venessa said...

I am so sorry that they cant send a quick email saying thanks or a picture of what you have sent. We try to make that effort with our birth parents- it is important for them to know that we do appreciate their thoughtfulness- at least that is how I feel about it.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I'm an adult adoptee (40 years old) and this is my first comment here. First, I want to send you a big, warm, virtual (((hug))).
I think what prompted me to write is the comment that asked if your daughter might turn out like her adopters. As another first mom said happened with her son, an adoptee certainly MIGHT turn out like his/her adopters. I'm here as an example that says she might NOT. :-)
My a-parents are a lot like Brit's seem -- maybe unsentimental, maybe thoughtless (as in "it didn't occur to me"), or maybe worse.
My a-parents have been all of these things as different times. One thing they always are (mine... I'm only talking about mine here)
is selfish. *sigh* Yes, I said it. Their first, last, and only thought is for themselves.
As I am reunited with most of my natural family members (including extended family) I have come to see how gracious my mom is and what a lovely example she has set for my siblings (her raised kids) and now, for me. I have also realized what a 'natural' thing that is among all my natural relatives. She is so kind and so thoughtful in her expressions of gratitude for even the smallest of things. Both her gifts and her thanks are so personal and heart-warming. :-)
I'm not saying I'm great at this like she is. I'm saying it feels more right, more 'natural' to me than what I witnessed/experienced in my adoptive home. While it doesn't come as easily to me as it might if I had 'practiced' my natural mom's graciousness as I was
growing up, I still try and it is how I truly feel inside. :-)
As it happens, I have very little in common with my adoptive family -- politics, religion (or spirituality), social skills, money management, etc.-- we are pretty much opposites in all these ways and more. When I reunited with my natural family -- surprise! I am JUST like them -- in all the above ways and more!
I don't hate my adoptive family. I love them. We are just so different.
Take care! I will pray for your daughter and all of your family. I am sure I will continue to read -- and relate to -- your blog. Thank you so much for sharing!