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Sonder

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An unexpected effect of our adoption journey has been “sonder”.  I happened to be listening to Vsauce’s YouTube episode on The Science of Awkwardness  as I was working on the introduction scrapbook for the adoption, which is provided to the caseworkers and prospective Kiddo.  I stopped what I was doing a couple of minutes in and watched the episode without any other activity, because it was kind of an eye-opening moment to finally have a name for what I was realizing as I worked on things for Kiddo.  He discussed sonder, which is explained wonderfully by him, but is from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

 

“The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for. Follow the project, give feedback, suggest an emotion you need a word for, or just tell me about your day.”  It defines sonder as “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.”.  There’s a lot of great information in both videos to explain it and gives great examples to help you put it into perspective in regards to your own life, so I highly recommend both videos.

 

As I have worked on different exercises to prepare us for parenting a child who experienced trauma, and read at least a hundred posts about it, and worked on Kiddo’s room, I learned that we need to go into parenting Kiddo with the realization that there is a whole other life that Kiddo has had, good and bad, and that we need to not only be there for Kiddo and try to bond, but understand that we need to acknowledge and work with the other main characters in her life.  It’s no different than my being a stepdaughter, really.  Both families are part of my story, but they’re probably an extra in one another’s life, and only connected through me.  Kiddo’s life pre-adoption is filled with other people and experiences, and they’re not just part of some worksheet or case study that we’re supposed to work through.  She has all ready had such a complex life at such a young age. 

 

It’s not something you really think about usually.  You know that your friends have lives and you’re an extra in them, but you don’t always really realize that they are the main character of their own novel, just like you are the main character of yours.  This young lady has an extensive life that we not only have to “work through”, but we need to bond with any other supporting characters in her story that she desires, and we need to work to become the leading supporting characters in her story once we meet her.  There was finally a name to explain this concept that I was suddenly so aware of.  You take the concept for granted and don’t think about it when they’re your friend or someone else in your own life, but when it’s someone that you don’t know (yet), you don’t really think about how they have their own story and you’re just an extra in it.  And we have to work hard to not only help heal this teenager, help her reach her potential, and bond with her, but also recognize the previous chapters of her life and incorporate her other supporting characters into our family life if she wants that.  

 

We had to do a project in our TIPS-MAPP class (taken to help those considering adoption and fostering how to recognize and handle trauma in youth) where we had to make a diagram of the connections in our lives.  We’re each a little bubble and you draw lines to bubbles of other aspects that make up your life, such as interests and other people, and how strong those connections are.  When we did ours and then listened to our teacher’s description of her own family diagram, where her connections to the step and adopted children led then to connections to their own family and friends as well, suddenly the little diagram becomes this huge connected world that is just one family’s story and I realized that our own diagram will be so different one year after making the one for class.  And I started becoming more aware of this butterfly effect of connections.  I might be a nerd, but this was mind blowing for me and not something I’d ever really paid attention to.  

 

Within a week I came across Vsauce’s video and suddenly I know I have finally realized what sonder is.  I pray each day to “…have a good impact…” and it wasn’t just about making something easier for others; it was about making that page of their story a little better, if not improving the rest of their chapter, because they have just as difficult, blessed, and unpredictable of a life as I do.  And somewhere out there Kiddo is living her own life, waiting to become a permanent part of a family, while starring in her own story with all of these other characters.  It’s no longer just about raising our daughter; it’s about respecting and incorporating her story’s characters into ours.  I couldn’t wait to become a mother of some unknown person, but then the love went beyond the concept finally, and I fell in love with this unknown person that has all ready lived a few chapters of her life and is just as complicated as we are.  Sonder helped me convert adoption from a two dimensional concept to the beauty of falling in motherly love with a complicated person with a short, traumatic, story that I will become a lead supporting character in.  It’s no longer about my story, or his, or ours.  Our story will now become part of hers and we will have a whole new book.  A new book with three flawed, complicated, and blessed main characters.   

Kiddo’s Room

I realized that I never shared any pics of the renovation from storage and cat box room into Kiddo’s room, so here goes! I’ve noticed that the formatting when I blog via my app is rather smashed together no matter how much of a gap I leave between paragraphs or pictures, so I apologize now, because the pics are on my phone and that means I’m blogging on the app again. Now that I know about the issue I promise to try to utilize the other version as often as possible. On to the good stuff now!

This is when you first step into the doorway. It’s kind of an odd shaped room, due to the back to back closets between her room and ours. This first bookcase will be shared (since I lost my space when I organized all of the tools and such into my office so it would all be in one place). Since the picture was taken I filled the bookcase with cookbooks, my favorite educational books, and the small group of physical fictional books that I just couldn’t give up. The bookcase against her back wall will probably get moved out soon, so that we can actually put my old office desk there (modified to fit, but it’ll still be heavy duty desk). I’ve been looking up design plans for shelving above the desk and her tv will go on the desk, too.

This is taken from the back wall bookcase facing the entry where the other pic was taken from. We decided to swap the closet door for curtains that she can tie back. It gives more accessibility when going between the closet and the room, since the door would pretty much close off the back half of the room. *laugh* What you can’t see is the long cherry wood dresser on the short wall beside the closet with a mirror running the full length. There is also a quilt rack from my mom at the end of Kiddo’s brand new bed on the frame that’s been passed down to Larry. The bed sits so hi I need a small stool to get enough boost to not look like a little kid trying to climb up. *grin*

Look how tall that sits!! *laugh* That bed and bedding is more luxurious than any hotel I’ve ever been in, let alone owned! We want her to feel and see the care we put into her room. It’s the nicest room in our house. *grin* Come Spring we will sand and stain all of the wood to match the cherry, so it’ll be even more incredible then. And after painting the room three times (nope, don’t want to talk about it, just know that we learned a whole lot about what not to buy and use for painting!), Kiddo is welcome to swap out the cream walls and pink cocoa trim, and make it all her own. I’ll be happy to keep her company or give tips, but I am not painting that room myself ever again!!

Abby is absolutely obsessed with “Sister’s” room and races to the door anytime a person gets near it. *laugh* She loves to attack the little tucks in the comforter, watch me hang decorations like the print out I framed, and watches out the lace curtains sometimes, unless nap time hits and then she is snoring up near the pillows.

On her dresser is a makeup organizer, storage containers, the most meaningful quote that I framed, and then two projects I did for her. I spent a long time making her the year long jar. Each topic is color coded, so she can easily grab the right one to read for whatever she’s feeling. I even used different scissor borders for each type. (Yeah, I went a bit overboard, but when don’t I when it comes to Kiddo, really? *grin*) I also made the small Anti-Depressant Kit, which I found on Pinterest and thought it would be perfect. One with those sentiments would have really helped while I was mired in working through my traumas, so I’m hoping Kiddo will find some peace from it, and know that she is loved. There is also a basket on the dresser with gift cards we received to help get whatever she needs and help her learn to budget her money, if that was never taught. I also put a collage of the Shower in the mirror edge.

The basket on the bed is now divided up between a lot of gift bags and almost everything is hidden in her closet now. Our social worker pointed out that it might be overwhelming to come for the first overnight visitation and have so many things to go through. I read that sometimes they’ll also expect to be showered in gifts if visitation starts that way, and I also read some grown adoptees had a hard time as kids when they came into the home and were all ready overwhelmed by the new surroundings, being around the new parents in the new home, and then they felt that they had to put on this performance of excitement despite needing a little time to process everything else. And they were afraid to voice that because they might get sent back. Reading their journeys and tips has been so helpful, but I’ve shed many a tear for how much fear and sadness even the happiest adopted child hides. Anyway, that helped curb some of my shopping for her until we actually get to know her, plus it means I get to throw a Placement Party for her (how big it is will totally be up to Kiddo, since she might prefer just her new “family” for a bit). No matter the size of the party, she will pretty much have a Christmas sized haul that day. *laugh* If ever there is doubt before that day, this should show her how much we care – it’s hard to believe, but I got several cheesy, lovey items that are so uncharacteristic of me. *grin*

We still don’t know when we will get to read the other half of her profile, let alone when we will meet her, but at least everyone in this process knows that we are ready to make our family complete. Her room is waiting for her and so are we. Sometimes I sit on the stool in Kiddo’s room and it helps me remember why we have continued this difficult journey. It may be hard to be on God’s timeline instead of my desired immediate timeline, but it’s all been worth it. Every person deserves a home and a family, no matter how old they are.

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