I had reached out to Sheila to let her know the adoption would soon be final and to set up a visit so she wouldn't have to ask us. We were a few months away from the year mark of last seeing her and I thought it would be better if she could see all that we are trying to do to keep our children connected to their birth family. She of course put the ball in our court to plan the visit, so we did.
We picked a garden in her town that the kids enjoying going to. It's the type of place you can only spend a few hours at so there would be a natural break in leaving. It's about an hour away so we also planned on getting lunch at a habachi resturant we really like.
Overall, I think the visit went well. We had prepped the kids at family therapy about things we wouldn't want to discuss (like Solana's permanency) but things that we were sure she'd want to hear about. School, camp, swimming. The kids were really nervous but afterwards they told us it was easier than they expected. Sheila respected our request that she let us parent Solana during the visit and towards the end I asked her if she wanted to hold Solana for a while, which she of course said yes to.
We tried to give her some space with the kids, letting them wander through the paths without us and taking pictures of them together. She also asked me if it was ok if she took their picture and I agreed. I thought is was nice she asked. She brought stuffed animals for the kids and also let each of them pick something out from the gift shop.
We hadn't really set an end time so when we reached the visitor center we invited her to lunch if she was free. She said she had a prior commitment and we began saying our goodbyes. Then she asked if she could get a picture of us with the kids and I suggested we take one all together. As she hugged the kids she asked if she could hug me as well and thanked me again for letting her have the visit. I told her we would try to do another one before school started.
I think she did genuinely appreciate the chance to see them. The kids had a hard time conversing with her about anything other than the activity we were doing so there were moments of ackward silence. Sarah was upset about Sheila not coming to lunch. I can't figure out if that's because it felt like rejection to her or if her love language is quality time. Maybe both. Lunch ended up being chaos because the resturant was closed and then other places were busy. So it's better she didn't come with!
All the kids were happy they saw her. Felt it went better than they expected and we managed to continue on with our day. We even managed to run a few errands with no issues. And dare I say, we've not had any fallout. We've also had a busy week so that probably helped.
Sheila did text to thank me yesterday and also let me know she found lice in Smiley's hair during the visit. It annoyed me but also exemplified the reason why she can't parent. It didn't dawn on her that I would need to know right away to take care of the problem. (Again.) (I actually researched salons that do the lice treatments and not picking for you last night. Either I missed some nits from the last outbreak or there is someone at camp that still has it. I didn't find many big/live bugs so I suspect this is a new infestation. But it was interesting bonding time for hubby and I as he was "helping" me look through her hair.)