May 14, 2010

Adoption Angst

When I'm done tucking the girls in, Sally stalls. I think she's stalling. She usually starts asking me hard questions. If she didn't wait until I was standing at the door of the bedroom, I would think she was actually interested in my answers. Rather, I think she is grasping at straws hoping to baffle me long enough to get a few more minutes with the light on.

She finally struck "stalling gold." Her line of questioning wound itself around to, "Whose belly did I come from?"


Seems like we have talked about this before. Seems like I've been having this talk for the past five years. Rather, Ella follows up with, "Well, I grew in your belly."


I remind the girls gently that they grew in another belly far, far away. And I began to tell them their amazing stories. It seems, to me, that I've been telling Ella her story since we brought her home. Until now, nearly six years later, she hasn't been too interested. Her face was betraying her feelings and it dawned on her that she spent years without us. It seems impossible.

Though Sally was older, she hardly remembers the way things really unfolded. She can't believe that she and Josiah didn't come 'from the same belly' in Ethiopia. I tell her about the long line of mommies who have babies that didn't grow in their bellies. Starting with their own Daddy and moving down their family tree.

To me, that makes it easier, knowing that so many of your family have been adopted. They have been loved and they have become mommies and daddies too. To my five year old that made no difference. After my sweet words and good intentions her only comment was, "But I wish that I was from your belly just like the boys."

Oh, how my heart breaks.

That was only the beginning. At any random moment during the day Sally will approach me asking 'Whose belly did ____ (insert friend or relative) come from?' Of course, none of them would happen to be adopted. I feel ill equipped to deal with the onslaught of questions. My (adopted) husband is no help either. Simply stated by him, "She loves you and wants to have as much of you as possible." But he can give no great response to ease all of her insecurities and worries. If he can't, who can?

We tread very lightly around our house. In a family comprised of children who have come into our family by birth and adoption, we can easily make someone feel alienated by making the other feel too special. In an effort to keep everyone feeling loved, perhaps we've been too cautious.

I've used the "grew in my heart" line to no avail. I've told them that their stories are amazing and God brought them right into our family. It seems that they are stuck on the unknown. I have no names, stories, or pictures. Honestly, the bits and pieces we know are too much for either of the girls to handle. I have to be relatively creative in censoring their stories.

Any words of wisdom?


Daneille said...

Abrehem has recently been very emotional about the fact that he is not with his original family. Twice in the past two weeks he has watched movies (the sequel to Born Free and Lilo and Stitch) that have made him sad about being adopted. He has told me he wants to go back to Ethiopia, and that everything would be better there. He told Hana that he misses his parents (whom he never lived with, to my knowledge).

I'm kind-of at a loss, too.

Apryl said...

I *hate* getting a movie that churns up something unexpected. We still haven't watched Meet the Robinsons for that reason :) Sally has also been talking about Ethiopia fairly often lately and I can't help but associate it with her adoption interest. So sorry to hear you are dealing with this too!

Rob and Candy said...

oh I wish I had the magic words! I do like to reference- Raising adopted children by Lois Ruskia Melina. She includes the stages adopted children go through by age. I don't know if it will help but this is very natural for kiddos to ask these questions. They say..."children age 5 to 7 can differentiate between birth and adoption. Even parents who have talked about adoption before may have to start from the beginning of the story in this age group who are just beginning to realize what it means to be adopted."
It also stated that we should include in the story the child was birthed just like bio children. Some adopted children do not think they are birthed like other children so it's important to say they are. They also say if you know any details of the birth it's important to share them so the child can understand that her birth was normal and had nothing to do with becoming available for adoption. If you don't know where she was born you can say.. "you were probably born at home or in a hospital..."
at 8-11 children go through feelings of loss or separation.

This book has helped me understand that my boys are always going to ask me hard questions and it's normal. I don't need to know all the answers just listen and always affirm their place in our family.
I wish I could be more help.

Carpenters said...

Eventhough my little ones are not at a stage where they understand adoption, I've been thinking about this same thing recently. It breaks my heart each time I think about the pain of their loss that they are going to have to realize and accept. A huge part of me just wants to protect them from this hurt for as long as possible. The other part knows that they will begin exploring this when they are ready. I pray that God will heal Sally's heart and give you the words to help her through this.

Karen said...

Wow - I'm waiting for those questions but have not gotten them yet. When I went back to Ethiopia in December, Jayden (my 9 year old) kept asking "You going to Ehtiopia?" I would respond "yes" and he would shrug and go on with whatever he was doing. After the 3rd time of being asked the same question, I tried to draw him out to find where his heart really was. He finally asked "Me going too?" I said, "no, just mom" thinking he would be disappointed to not be going. Instead he breathed a big sigh of relief. He was worried that I may be taking him back. I was able to locate his birth mother and spent about 3 hours with her to piece together more of his past. He had a tough childhood and really wants no part of it. Each child is so different and they process their past so differently. I'm praying for you and for your kids as they process their past. Hugs Apryl!