I’ve written and shared extensively about our journey with adoption, I know my thoughts and opinions have made me unpopular with many in the adoption fraternity because I refuse to remain silent and because I refuse to embrace what I believe to be the fallacy fed to so many adoptive parents and birth parents about adoption being love, unicorns, rainbows and happily ever afters.
It’s very simple in my mind. Because I want to create an environment and a society that allows my children to explore and claim their grief and trauma. Because I want to help other adoptive parents recognize and acknowledge that their children probably are grieving. I want to help other adoptive parents create environments for their children that is safe and free and allows them to express their trauma, grief and confusion as they move through the stages of their lives. Because I don’t want my children and other children like them to grow up believing they have to hide their true selves and be grateful for the hand they have been dealt and it seems that society, in general, embraces that narrative more than any other.
I have long been of the opinion that adoptees voices go largely ignored, not just by those working in the adoption circle, or parts of the adoption triad, but that their voices are ignored by society in general. Reading Paula Gruben and Sarah-Jayne King’s books have really helped me open my eyes and my heart to the voices of adoptees. What better way to learn to parent my children than by opening up to, listening to and embracing the thoughts, opinions and experiences of those who are walking a similar path.
Random Glimpses of Grief
It’s been my experience that my children can show their grief at some of the most random times and if it weren’t for the fact that I am open to their grief and aware that every day they have an internal struggle, I may completely miss it. As adoptive parents, I believe we have to be aware enough that our children may be struggling or we may miss the manifestations of their grief and by doing so, miss an opportunity to create the open and accepting environment they crave to share their grief.
This is what happened on Sunday:
Ava, Hannah and I were in the car on the way to the shops to spend Hannah’s birthday money and vouchers. We wre chatting in the car about how Ava was born before Hannah and how she was the big sister when the following conversation ensued:
Ava: I wish I wasn’t the big sister, I wish I was the baby, actually, I wish I was still a baby.
Me: Why do you still want to be a baby?
Ava: Because then I could still be with my tummy mommy. I wish I never had to leave her.
Me: Oh Love, it’s ok to feel that way, how often do you wish this?
Me: Do you want to talk about it?
- She is comfortable enough to show glimpses of her grief and for this, I feel like we’ve done ok, we’ve created an environment for her that allows her to feel safe to truly express herself.
- Ava is very secretive about her emotions, she has always been this way, but I know when she’s ready, she’ll tell me more and I won’t push her for more information.
- She hurts. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Granted, she doesn’t show that hurt, but it’s there, it’s inside of her and it can’t be ignored or swept under the rug.
What I know everyone is dying to ask:
How did that make me feel? It’s irrelevant how I feel. Her grief and her trauma are NOT about me. I am her mother. I love her with every fibre of my being. If I loved her less, I could make this about my feelings but I love her too much to be that selfish. I love her too much to make this about me.
But since I know you’re all wondering, this is how it makes me feel:
Sad that my child is carrying this pain inside of her.
I don’t feel betrayed, or belittled. I don’t feel like she loves me any less because of her struggle. I just feel sad that she is hurting. Like any mother would.
We need to stop making adoption about everyone in the triad while ignoring the adoptee. We have to listen, learn and acknowledge their experiences.