Today my 6 year old was asked if my partner was her "real mom". Maddie responded with, "My real mom is sick and when she gets better, I'll go live with her."
Wow. Nobody teaches you how to answer these questions. There aren't any easy answers, especially when you adopt through CPS. We have fostered children over the years and explained to Maddie the parents of these children are sick and we're going to take care of them for a while until the parents feel better. I thought it was such a good answer and then it bites me in the ass today.
Obviously we will have a talk tonight about the issue of being a real mom and the idea Maddie will someday go to live with her real mom again. It breaks my heart to think about how much Maddie must miss that connection. It makes me want to cry to know I can't replace the connection. I can love my daughter to the moon and back every single day of her life; I can take care of her when she is sick; show up for every basketball game, dance recital and first day of school; I can wait up with a light on to hear about every date; I can drive her to college; and somehow give her away in marriage, but I can never replace the connection she shared for 7 months with a woman named Vanessa who wasn't prepared to be a mother.
My sweet baby is having adoption fantasies, wondering "what if" in her little head. I would have never known this unless we overheard a conversation like the one today. Maddie is so strong willed. She only tells you what she wants you to know. We used to naively think she was unaffected by her adoption because she came to live with us when she was 9 days old. Dr. Steve has now drilled it into our heads that no matter what age a child is adopted or placed with a family, they have already been traumatized by the separation experience. I could see it in our other kids, but not in Maddie.
So what do I want Maddie to know when we talk about this tonight?
1) I love you no matter what
2) It is ok to wonder what if and dream about your birth mom
3) It is ok to feel sad
4) It will not hurt me to answer your questions about Vanessa and it is ok to talk about her
5) I love you no matter what. Nothing you can do or say could make me stop loving you or change the fact that I am your mother too.
Today is just another day in the world of adoption. It definitely isn't for the faint of heart and I wouldn't have my life any other way. Maddie has always been the Guinea pig by the mere fact she is the oldest. I am sure my parents "experimented" with me in similar ways. I know I will be better prepared for McKenzie and Morgan's questions when it comes time for them to wonder what if ...