Just before Christmas, I shared a bit about how Ava was manifesting her adoption grief. Since that post, it’s like a flood gate has been opened in our home!
And honestly, there are moments where I feel I may be swept away in the flood of emotions.
We have always believed and practiced absolute openness and honestly with both Ava and Hannah where their adoptions are concerned. But it’s not easy and there are some things they are too young to understand right now. It’s become like a precarious balancing act and one we were completely unprepared for. I feel like the adoption fraternity, the professionals who guide adoptive parents through this process, failed us on this level. They did not prepare us.
It’s not all hearts and miracles.
And I think a lot of potential adoptive parents go into the process unaware and unprepared for what comes after that baby is placed with you. I know we certainly did. For the challenges you will face after the honeymoon is over. For the hurt your child will experience. The trauma they will carry with them throughout their lives. I can’t help feeling that our social workers let us down in this aspect. It was all painted in a rosy glow of – just be honest with them and then there will be no surprises later on. As an adoptive mother of a 7 year old and almost 4 year old, I can emphatically state, it’s not that simple!
Well SURPRISE – both my children are now manifesting adoption grief.
Initially we incorrectly assumed that Hannah would remain untouched for the time being, because she is so little. And that perhaps her declarations of missing her tummy mummy and her tears were as a result of a bit of big sister worship. But we’re starting to see that perhaps we were wrong. I think being the younger sibling, on some levels, she has matured faster, grasped certain concepts faster because she has a big sister who talks to her about these things, who she can mimic.
The hardest part is that, like all adoptions, every adoptees story is different.
So while we have a rather open arrangement with Ava’s birth mom, we have no such arrangement with Hannah’s birth mom and it’s hurting her. She doesn’t understand how Ava and her birth mom can send each other voice notes and Ava can draw pictures and send gifts to her birth mom, but she can’t do the same. Last night she was in tears. Telling me she also misses her tummy mummy, wanting to know her name and why she can’t also send her a picture or voice note.
How do I explain it to her?
How do I tell her that her that her tummy mummy hid her pregnancy from her family, that no one on her tummy mummy’s side knows she exists? That it’s for that reason, we can’t have any level of openness with her. And believe me, it’s not from lack of trying. I have written letters to her in the past, here on my blog. Because in the information age, she can find me if she wanted to. I have found her, I’ve stalked her Face Book account and googled the shit out of her name. I’m sure she’s done the same with me, I’m not difficult to find. So I’ve written her letters here on my blog before in the hope she would see them. Telling her about Hannah and about how we would like to extend the offer of openness with her. I have even gone so far as to contact our social workers and ask them outright for it, out of concern for Hannah’s well being. I’ve been told NO.
Last night, after answering a million questions from both girls, we showed them their memory boxes.
And oh boy, did that open up a bunch of REALLY difficult questions!
First we went through Hannah’s memory box and I showed her the photo album I’d put together of her birth parents. Ava wanted to know how come there was a photo of Hannah with her birth mom when she was a toddler…… Deep breaths, we then had to explain that actually Hannah has a sister. Actually, Hannah has two sisters aside from Ava. Then Ava wanted to know who the man was in all the photo’s with Hannah’s birth mom. Oooh boy… bracing ourselves we explained that that was Hannah’s birth father. Miraculously, Ava has not asked about her birth father, but the time will come when she will and aside form his name, I have no information, no picture for her.
Both girls have beautiful letters that their birth mom’s wrote to them after placement. They wanted to hear the letters, I started reading Hannah’s letter and then Walter had to take over because I was choked with the tears. When it came time to read Ava’s letter to her, we got through the first paragraph and Ava asked us to stop. She said she didn’t want to hear it, it was too hard, it made her too sad! And she’d like to save it till she’s a grown up.
How do I guide my children through this?
Their stories are so unique and so different from each other, that each time I answer a question from the one, I land up hurting the other?
Where is my birth father?
Why does Hannah have other sisters?
Why was Ava with you from birth and I was in a place of safety?
Each answer hurts the other child. I feel like I am navigating a shit storm. It is so incredibly hard to keep the openness and honesty going.
Insecurity is the one thing they both have in common!
Each time we have one of these conversations, initiated purely by them, they become insecure. They want to take turns sitting on my lap and being held by me. They want to tell me repeatedly how much they love me. Last night, after Ava was done with her cuddle, she told me she wanted to tell me a secret:
No matter what happens, you will always be my special mommy and I will always love you!
I don’t want them to be insecure. I don’t want them to ever feel that talking to us about their adoptions would in anyway change the way we feel about them. I want them to know that I will always be their mommy, no matter what happens that nothing could ever change how much I love them.
This part of adoption is SO hard and NOBODY prepared us for this!