Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Adoption: The Missing Pieces
I knew when we adopted Rylee, I had missed out on a lot of things. How she looked when she was born, seeing the first time she focused her big beautiful eyes on someone. The first time she held her head up, the first time she rolled over, the first time she sat up or pulled herself up on the furniture. You get the picture...
I knew that I missed those things and it makes me sad... but what I wasn't prepared for is how much it hurts my heart that I don't have these experiences to give to Rylee. I can't tell her what time of day she was born, I'm not even exactly sure if the day we think she was born is really the right day. I can't tell her how old she was when she took her first step, or about the adorable facial expressions she made as a baby. I don't have these memories to give her and it makes my heart ache so deeply when she asks for them.
I wish I could tell her how often she kicked, or how long my labor was, or how I fell head over heels in love with her when I smooched her little baby cheeks.
Yes it hurts me that I didn't get to experience these moments with a daughter that I love so incredibly and so deeply. But it hurts so much more, that I can't give these things to her. I can't tell her much at all about the first 4.5 years of her life. There are no baby pictures, no baby stories... so very little to help fill in the pieces of her early life and she wants to know.
Most of her questions come from our recent venture into our home movies. First we watched all of the videos of her. I knew that this might be difficult, but she really wanted to see them. We watched her on video as she joined us in China, and her first days home. We moved on to weeks 1 through 8. Then we moved on to more of a monthly video and watched how fast she grew. She was tiny when we got her and she was baby like in many ways, but she was not a baby. I am so very thankful for all the "firsts" we were able to catch on video with her.
Then when we were all done, it was time to watch Hanna's baby videos. I wanted to watch them after Rylee was in bed because I thought it might be hard for her. But she really wanted to watch them and see Hanna as a baby. I debated because I wasn't sure that at 7 years old, she really needs to confront this yet. But on the other hand, we are a family and keeping Hanna's baby memories just between the three of us is excluding Rylee from that part of our family - also not sitting quite right with me. Can I and should I shield her from her past? I wasn't completely sure what the right thing to do was.
I settled for trying one video and snuggling close with both girls. The first video started at my baby shower and boy was I pregnant - whewwww! Rylee said "Wow! Mom you gained some pounds there!" She "Awwwww'ed" her way through the first video completely enthralled by the pregnancy, the labor and the newborn baby. She decided that someday, she might want to have a baby in her "tummy" AND adopt some too. I was relieved because she seemed to be doing very well with it. She thought Hanna was adorable and loved every minute of the tiny baby video.
And then the questions started:
"What time was I born Mommy?"
I'm not sure baby...
"Did it hurt when I was born?"
"Yes, I am sure it did." (I am confident that this is a truthful answer)
"Which one is my China Mom again?"
"We don't know who she is." She snuggles in tighter to me.
Each question feels like a knife, straight into my heart. I want so badly to give her these answers. I want so badly to have been there for her. I want her to have these missing pieces.
I can't give them to her.
The next day, she tells me she misses her China Mom. I hug her and tell her that I know she does. I tell her that I bet her China Mom misses her too because I know that if she wasn't with me I would miss her so very much. She is quiet and thinking for a long time.
Then she tells me "I'm glad I am here Mommy, I love my family and our house and living here. It is better here for me. God found the best Mom for me and I am happy."
I hug her but can't really say anything, because there is a big lump in my throat. I am fully aware that there will be more question. Questions that I have no answers for. I want to protect her, to soften things for her, to give her everything she needs. I hope that she grows up always knowing that she is deeply loved, deeply wanted and treasured beyond all imagination.