Sunday, May 9, 2010

The beginning of the sadness...

There has been some talk recently on some of the blogs (one in particular) that I follow about adoption and the realities of adoption, the joys as well as the sadness of adoption and the journey that we as adoptive parents must make in order for our children to thrive.

I read a lot about adoption, especially international adoption and sometimes I read too much, but I learn and I grow as an adoptive parent. If you have been reading my blog long enough, you know that I have a tendency to obsess just a teensy bit over certain things, things that affect my children and this would be one of them.

I know I wasn't clueless going into Lizzie's adoption (because again, I obsess) but I have evolved??? For lack of a better term, I have evolved but I am still learning and growing and yes, obsessing because I want to be the best darn adoptive parent that I can be!

Notice I didn't just say "parent" but "adoptive parent." That doesn't mean that I feel any differently about Lizzie than I do my other kids, but it does mean that Lizzie was adopted (reality) and taken from her birth country and her birth culture and I would not be a good "parent" if I did not (at the very least) acknowledge that.

Why do I post about this now?

Well, as I mentioned, there has been some talk about this on a few of the blogs that I follow, especially TM's blog, Our Little Tongginator. She has written some truly thought provoking and wonderful posts on all of this. I don't necessarily agree with everything that she has posted but they are posts that help the thought processes start and as a result, the learning and the growing as an "adoptive parent."

In the midst of all my reading and learning and growing, I had my first "on the job training" and I was glad, so very glad, that I had obsessed and so very glad that I had read and reached beyond what I thought to be true.

You see, a few days ago, the girls and I watched some of our family videos, which included baby videos. We have watched these before because Em just LOVES babies and anything to do with babies, so she adores watching our videos of herself and her sibs when they were babies.

I have often wondered and worried about how this would effect Lizzie. I don't have any baby videos of Lizzie. I do, however, have video of the day that we met and held and kissed Lizzie for the first time and watching that always seemed to make her happy. She loved hearing about that day and would always tell me that she is happy now because she is home and that would be that.

This day, however, was different, so completely different. As we watched some video of one of the kids as a baby, Lizzie began to ask questions. Hard questions. Tear you heart out questions.

She asked me if she had hair as a baby?

I don't know, sweetheart.

She asked me if she cried a lot as a baby?

I don't know, sweetheart.

She asked me if she liked to be rocked as a baby?

I don't know, sweetheart.

"Why Momma, why don't you know?"

I thought for a moment of all the things that I could tell her just based on knowing her now, what she might have liked and how she might have looked, but that would have been a guess at best, a lie at worst.

I instead decided to simply tell her the truth, that I did not know her as a baby. That I would have loved to have been able to rock her and sing to her and held her when she cried, but I could not. I reminded her, though, that I can do all those things with her now and that I love her and that not knowing her as a baby made me sad but that I was so very happy that she was home now.

After that conversation, I thought a good dose of Lizzie's China videos was in order. Lizzie loves watching those videos and will tell me that she was sad when she was in China and that she is happy now and that she is home forever and ever. She does love talking about China and learning about China but she has been very vocal about her experience there and about how much she loves us and is glad to be home. It usually makes her feel better, but not this day.

On this day, watching her China videos made her sad and as we talked she expressed her feelings in a way that made me realize the depth of her understanding.

She talked about how she missed China and that she was sad. I told her that I understood and that I was sad for her too and that we would one day go back to China and we cried together.

She then looked at me with such grown up little eyes and with tears streaming down her face, said, "Momma, I want to go back to China but I don't want to go back to China."

Oh my love! Would that I could take your pain away, but I cannot.

I can, however, grieve with you, along side you, comfort and support you and most importantly, allow you to feel what you are feeling. I checked my feelings at the door and let her be sad. I cried along with her and tired to let her know that as much as I could, I understood and that it was ok to feel that way and that it was ok to talk about those feelings, to talk to me about those feelings.

I do not think I would have known quite how to handle that conversation with my daughter if I had not read and learned and grown and obsessed as an "adoptive parent." So as hard as it can be sometimes to read the blogs of adult adoptees or the blogs of adoptive parents who lay it all out there, the good and the bad, I do think it is important, and while I disagree with some (if not much) of what is said, it is still important.

I want my Lizzie to know that she can trust me with her feelings and that she will not hurt me with her feelings and that I do not dismiss her feelings, because no matter how happy she is to be home, her life began with a great loss and I cannot dismiss that. I feel it too.

So, I will continue to read and yes obsess (sorry honey) and hopefully continue to evolve into the best darn "adoptive parent" I can be

because she deserves no less!!!!


  1. fantastic post. and you did such an amazing job meeting her right where she is, mentally - emotionally.

  2. Once again, Annie, what a profound and beautfiul post. I am actually so glad that Lizzie is processing her feelings so soon, that she has you to grieve with, and that she is so deeply in touch with herself. You are both amazing. All my love to you, Monica

  3. I'm all teary eyed now, Ann. You handled everything beautifully and how wise your little Lizzie is. She's very blessed to have you and you are very blessed to have her. Sometimes just crying together is all you need.


  4. Sweet post. This is all just part of the inevitable moments that we will have to share as a mom to a child adopted from China. I try my best to listen, share, sympathize, but I don't tell my daughters how they should feel. Everyone is different and they all have their own feelings and coping mechanisms.

    I think you summed it up very well.

  5. Your post captures an incredible moment so beautifully. It's wonderful to "hear" that level of honesty between an adoptive parent and child. I wish more parents (adoptive and non-) were as comfortable as you are with their children's unique journey. We all can bring people along with us, but in the deepest sense, each of us journeys alone, and I think the greatest gift parents can give their children is to realize that it's an honor to accompany them. To BE with them without trying to change the BE-ing.
    Glad I found your blog. I'll definitely be back.

  6. You handled that so well! Lizzie is so cute, and she sounds very mature! It's amazing that she can remember meeting you in China, and it melts my heart that she broke down crying like that. When my mom cries with me, it helps. I guess that's how it is for all girls. What a little blessing Lizzie is!


  7. Hate the tough questions but they just keep em comin'! Good thing we can learn from each other and see things from other's perspectives as well.

  8. Austin's been asking hard questions too. We've always talked about him being adopted, but he's trying to figure out those missing pieces from the first 17 months of his life.

  9. This is a very hard thing. But it sounds like you're doing the best you can, giving her space to cry and feel, while you do the same.

  10. Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job mommy!!! Some hard stuff we have to do for our kiddos :)

  11. I loved reading about your journey. Sounds like you are right where you need to be for your little girl. (((hugs)))