On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from March 2010.

Yesterday was not my best day.

It started when Mark dropped Jafta off at school. He’s been complaining about one of his classmates being mean to him. He comes home talking about it quite a bit – saying that he’s getting hit and kicked and made fun of. Jafta can be dramatic and overly sensitive, and he can also be antagonistic, so we weren’t sure how much of this to believe. We talked to the teacher about it, and she basically indicated that this boy acts this way towards everyone, has discipline issues, etc. But when Mark dropped him off he stood and observed. He watched Jafta walk out to the playground, and then watched this little boy run up and slug Jafta in the stomach. And then he watched Jafta walk away dejected and play by himself. We have parent-teacher conferences coming up, and I know I need to address how they are handling this. We also need to have some big talks with Jafta about being more assertive without being aggressive. Not sure how to do that.

As we were discussing this at lunch, India chimed in with some news of her own. Some girls in her class have been saying that India isn’t really Kembe’s sister. So, in addition to the bullying, I get to bring up this issue in the parent teacher conference. I don’t want to be the problematic mom. But I also need to communicate that the kids in her class might need some sensitivity training. Not sure how to do that.

This afternoon we got a letter from Jafta’s birthmom. While I think open adoption is usually the best route, we don’t have a traditional open adoption arrangement.  Jafta’s birthmom did not want him to be adopted. He was in the fostercare before he came to us. We write letters and send pictures, and we’ve asked her to do the same. Even that level of openness is more than what social services recommended, but I felt those ties were important. However, she doesn’t write often. She hasn’t written in over a year. When her letter arrived yesterday, I was hopeful that it would be something nice I could read to Jafta. It wasn’t. It was a letter in which she accused us of stealing her child, and denied her own wrongdoings in leading to his removal. We had nothing to do with Jafta’s removal or the court’s decision . . . but the details aren’t important. What is significant and discouraging about the correspondence is that she didn’t once ask about Jafta, or relay any message to him. A page full of bitterness, and not one kind word that I could read to him. What a sad legacy for him. I’m not even sure if I should keep the letter. Mark thinks we should – so he can read it when he is older and understand her character in the event that he decides to make contact with her as an adult. I’m not so sure. When it arrived, I impulsively told Jafta that it was a letter from his birthmom, and then I made up the words that I thought a child would want to hear from their first mom. I don’t know why I did that. I just want him to feel love from his birthmom. I need to figure out how to do it without lying for her. Not sure how to do that.

And Kembe. Dear Kembe. It really is two steps forward, one step back with him. Only some days, more like five steps back. His personality the polar opposite of Jafta – assertive and aggressive and parental, even with me. I am struggling with patience, especially with his attitude. Sometimes he is cute and darling, other times he just plain yells at me. He scolds me, rolls his eyes at me, bosses me around, and otherwise acts as if I am a child and he is the parent. It is a difficult dynamic. I need to figure out how to teach him to respect me, without having him be in trouble all the livelong day. Because today, based on his behavior, he could have been in one long time-out pretty much the entire day. Not sure how to do that.

It was a depressing day. But after dinner, we turned on some old hip-hop and had a little dance party in the kitchen. We know how to do that.