Archive | December 2013

On The Menu: Pomplinies

pompinies1 (2)I don’t really care for traditional breakfast foods, but every Sunday I always make brunch. Usually the traditional pancakes, scrambled eggs, French toast and fruit, eggs Benedict, and the best bacon. But one of my favorite comfort foods are pomplinies. They are a Puerto Rican fry bread topped with butter and sugar and eaten with refried beans. (When I went to Puerto Rico last year, I was so happy to order them in a restaurant and have them served exactly as we make them!)  Whether my grandmas made them for breakfast or on a rainy night, they always hit the spot. I remember being a young child and watching the dough go round in the food processor. I used to play with the dough and would try my best to roll out the pieces. This is one of those recipes that everyone in the family knows how to make and all eat the same way. I wanted to be sure that my niece has her family recipe. 

Ingredients:

4 cups flour

1/4 cup baking powder

1 tbsp. salt

Oil for frying

Directions:

1. In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. Slowly add cold water until dough forms.

3. Remove dough and let stand 15 minutes.

4. Pinch off pieces of dough about half the size of a golf ball.

5. Roll out individual pieces until they are 1/4 inch thick. (Sprinkle with flour to prevent them from sticking.)

6. Fill a large fry pan with 1/4 inch of oil.

7. When oil is very hot, carefully place the dough in the center of the pan.

8. Use a spatula to splash hot oil across the top of the dough to help it rise in the middle.

9. Fry to golden brown on each side and place in a strainer lined with a paper towel.

10. Serve with refried beans, butter, and sugar.

Serves 4-6

The Wait.

One of the biggest obstacles in getting through this is the visitation, or lack thereof.

I want to be very specific in getting my niece to understand why it was necessary to resume our visitation after we reconvene in court when she is 12 years of age.

It is crucial for her to understand that we didn’t just stop seeing her.

The fact is that the stress in dealing with her adoptive parents was too great, they are literally the worse people I have encountered. It felt like they had us by the throat every time I saw them. It felt like the air was sucked out of the room, it was like I could hear my own heartbeat thumping in my ears. The right side of my face would go numb, the insomnia was a monster, anxiety immeasurable.

Seeing the faces of the people who have her, the way they looked at us, the way they treated us. Putting us through hell so they could play house. Keeping a child away from her family that so obviously wanted and needed her. They looked at us like how dare we love her. How dare we fight for her. Little things to jab the knife in further like putting a note in her snack bag that read “love mommy” at a time when she could barely speak let alone read. They did unnecessary things just because they could. Every chance they got, they added salt to the wound.

Every visit was harder than the one before it. The anger I felt was just growing and growing. Months before the visit until months after, I was so physically ill I could barely eat, couldn’t sleep, barely able to function. I would be at work dealing with patients, then I would go in the back and cry my eyes out, then go back to the front and try to smile and act as if moments before I didn’t want to just die. I couldn’t focus on anything, I started feeling confused constantly, not able to remember or process thoughts. I would be driving, forget where I was going and miss the exit.

The visits at a park in the freezing cold, paying a monitor $75 per hour because they “didn’t trust us with her”, seeing them sitting in their car glaring at us from a distance watching us like hawks, dealing with their every changing demands, dealing with Los Angeles lawyers, being at family court watching the “system” controlling so many families and lives. All the extra burdensome things they did on purpose, staying at hotels in a city I despised, the constant feeling of dread we have  to carry. So many things factor into this equation, nothing is black and white. My niece needs to understand that none of this has been easy. Nothing has been fair.

It came down to risking my health further, possibly having to be hospitalized, or waiting until or next scheduled court date when she will actually have a voice. The cost of seeing her became too high, not financially, but in every other sense of the word. Along with losing her, it cost two marriages, a miscarriage, countless friendships. Completely devastated and all-consumed, our family was in a four-alarm state at all times. The restlessness, the constant flood of negative emotion, I can honestly say I have barely survived this. The cycle of grief has been like a hamster wheel.

Life separated in two timelines, before the adoption, and after the adoption. It shook us to the core and we are still trying to recover. We’re still trying to pick up the pieces. We still trying to get through each day without buckling under this enormous pressure. All we have is faith in the time we wait for her to be out from under their grip. We wait, desperate for her love and anxious for vindication. We wait to even be able to tell her who we are. We have a whole lifetime to catch up on. We have to backtrack on whatever made-up story they have fed her. I think about what this will do to my niece, how she will feel. There is no win or lose in this thing now, it’s an ugly thing that happened and now the question is, how do we deal with it?

It has been a very, very long journey, and it’s not over yet. I know there are many hurdles ahead. For my niece, I am up for the challenge. I’m stronger than I have given myself credit for. I know how much patience and prayer this is going to take. But in the end, I know it will all be worth it. I know I am worth it.

Getting Through Another Day….

I so often dream about my niece. Not only at night, but during the day.

Places we’d go, book we’d read, memories we’d make.

Next weekend, I’m hosting a Christmas get-together and I only wish she could be here. The house is decorated beautifully and the love is palpable. Everything else is in place.

We’re decorating cookies, stringing popcorn, watching Christmas movies, hot chocolate; everyone in cozy socks, warm by the fire.

I’m always in charge of everything, whether it be a party or a project, and I think that’s what keeps me from coming apart. Simply, I have to keep it together. I can’t crumble like I want to. Like I deserve to.

No matter what, I feel her absence. That familiar ache that is there every day becomes a million times more heavy on the days that are for most people, the happiest. Every holiday is bittersweet. At one point, I didn’t want to celebrate at all, and didn’t. This clandestine adoption changed everything. It yanked the carpet out from underneath me and left me in a world that never stops spinning.

Every time I make a wish, she’s what I wish for. I dream about holding her, hearing her voice.

My niece is the only person I hurt over.

It is all-consuming and overwhelming. When you’re dealing with a situation pertaining to a child, the game is totally different. The rules, your logic, your sanity seems to go out the window. There is no acceptance, the cycle of grief is never-ending. One step forward, ten steps back.

Christmas is special, but so is every other day that my niece is supposed to be in my life. Her whole family is here and it kills me that our baby is looking into faces of strangers that are pretending. Sold away by our neighbor, there’s no way to sugar coat that.

So as I wait, I write.

I write to survive the ugliness of this whole thing.

This  kind of whirlwind is so lonely. Days are busy teaching, nights are seemingly never-ending.

Worst of all, it’s all mental and emotional. It’s not like having a flat tire, getting it fixed, and being on your way. The fix for something like this is far less simple. Even when I was in the middle of the Caribbean, a world away, surrounded by nothing but ocean, I sobbed. Looking out at the water in the darkness of night, the hurt was still there. there is no getting away from it.  

Hurt hurts; time and distance are irrelevant.

 

 

 

Learning to Relax

After being wound up for so long it feels so good to just, be.

Books are my passion and I’m thankful I can escape into the pages, although I mainly read non-fiction I find a way to get away.

I’ve allowed myself the time to cry when I need to, but these days I find myself lost in thought about the future.

I know in my heart that one day all the emptiness and heartache will be over. The story will be told and I will be able to finally get on with a “normal” life, whatever that means. This huge weight will be lifted, my niece will be home, and all will be right in the world.

I’ve been praying to feel peaceful for so many long years and I feel it slowly happening. There comes a point when you just have to trust in God with all your heart and absolutely believe that evil never triumphs over good. The puzzle will be complete, and I’ll finally be able to smile without there being tears not far behind.

I am learning to relax and trust with my whole, broken-heart. I’ve had to force myself to take this much-needed break, but in my mind I never get that break. In a way, the thoughts start to pile on top of each other and I have to get it out somehow. It’s been so long since I’ve let myself be myself, I really haven’t paid attention to my own happiness in years. I’ve been this fighter, arguing every point of this case until I can no longer process information. This person desperate for absolution; for justice.

This is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through and will ever go through and making it through this will be the greatest testament to faith. I am learning to be patient, to be hopeful. I pray, and I know everything will be alright.

She is still the last thought I have when I go to sleep, and I know when I wake up, she’ll be with me.

 

 

~ Sweet dreams to my babygirl, auntie loves you more than words can say….