Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today We Had Tears

Over the years, I've shared on this blog many of the conversations I've had with our children concerning adoption. I have tried to do so honestly but with sensitivity. Partly it is a catharsis for me because in the midst of those conversations I must be careful to keep my own emotions in check. In addition I hope that seeing how adoption can be talked about openly and regularly will serve as an encouragement to other families who may be walking this road. By no means are we any kind of experts - and honestly, often I second-guess myself after those talks - but we are trying.

As our children get older, however, I realize that sensitivity is ever more important. So in some case I may choose not to share, or in others like this one I will not share names. Obviously those who know our family may figure it out easily but if you will refrain from using names in comments, that would be great. :)

Recently we had an adoption conversation that began with many tears. In this case, it was very evident by the child's tiredness and overall behavior that the tears came first - in other words, it wasn't the subject of adoption that prompted the tears, but the overall weariness and melancholy that led her to dwell on it. In fact, my first reaction was to want to put off the conversation because I knew she was just so exhausted. By no means, however, did I want her to feel I was unwilling to discuss the topic because I did not want to close doors for conversation in the future.

So I began by explaining to her that the older she gets, the more she will find herself having these emotional kind of days. I also explained that when girls get emotional, we sometimes try to find the most melancholy (or sad) thing we can think of to dwell upon and often to cry about. In her case, it may often be her adoption.

Whether she understood my point or not, what she really wanted was to "see her birthmom." In her case she is fortunate that we have access to photos, letters, Facebook and even direct communication at times. I could assure her that on furlough she will have the opportunity to see her birthmom again. My concern as we clicked through photos on Facebook of her birthmom's new family, however, is that my daughter sees only the "now" of her birthmom's life - including her marriage and two new, sweet daughters - and doesn't really understand the "then" that is the background of her own adoption story.

With careful words I tried to explain that when she was born, her birthmom's life was much different than it is now. I opened a treasure box of memories that I keep safe, and read to her the letter her birthmom wrote just days before her birth in which she described how God led her to choose Pedro and me to be our daughter's forever family. I am thankful for these tools to share our daughter's story with her, and I was willing when she asked me for a picture of her birthmom to keep in her room.

But I have to admit that my heart ached and I felt insecure as well.

I suppose I felt somewhat like the custodial parent in a divorce, the one who bears the responsibility of daily discipline and the "tough stuff" while watching the other take the kids to Disney World for a whirlwind of fun. I wondered where this road was going to take us as adolescent emotions grow ever stronger. I even pulled out my copy of "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wished Their Adoptive Parents Knew" - which as it turns out, was a good thing because it reminded me that for all the confusion I might feel as an adult, for my child that confusion can be so much more.

Ultimately, I was reminded to be so very thankful for the birthmom the Lord placed in our daughter's life and ours. Over the years our relationship has become much more than either of us imagined and I remain convinced that it is because of our shared commitment to God and the well-being of our daughter. From the beginning I felt that if the Lord allowed this to be a more open adoption than we anticipated, it was because He knew that was what our daughter would need. And so it has proved to be.

Yesterday, my daughter asked me to tell her birthmom next time we were in touch that "I love her." Today, my daughter opened her arms to me first thing in the morning and told me "I love you." I am realizing that just I have found more and more love in my heart with each of the five children God has sent my way, my daughter has more and more love in her heart than I can even imagine.

And for that, I am also so very thankful.


Terri Fisher said...

I know what you are feeling, Steph. It's not easy, but it's the journey we have been asked to travel. You are doing a great job! Tell my nieces and nephews I love them!

HollyMarie said...

Awwww.... yes... we have had many similar conversations in our home with both our girls. Ones where my heart (though I always tell my girls it is strong) sometimes feels a little crack in it. I need them to be able to tell me anything about their adoption loss, without them fearing hurting me. Praying for your daughter and for you.

Life with Kaishon said...

It really is hard.
For them and for us.
We talk about it all the time. : )
Talking is good. Very, very good.

ness said...

It helps me so much when you post these types of things. And maybe it will help your girl to know that she is helping other adopted kids.

My little one is so cheerful and giggly, it's hard for people to understand that she is afraid all the time too, because while so many people can believe in permanence so easily, permanence is kind of a fairy tale to her.

The "20 Things..." book is a lifesaver.

A few days ago, after chatting about her birth mom, she informed me reassuringly, "But I still love you, Mom, even though I have more than one Mom." To which I giggled, "That's good. I love you even though I have other kids!"