Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Birth Parents

I was sitting on the sofa in our game room loving on my kiddos before bed. I told Madison how thankful I am she is my daughter, how thankful I am her birthmom brought her into the world.

"Did my birth mom and dad die?" she asks.

"No they didn't."

"Are they still at the hospital?" she wants to know.

"No, they aren't."

"Do you know where they are?"

"No I don't know where they are. I know they were very young and they weren't ready to be parents. I know they wanted you to have the best possible life so they prayed to God for a family who could give you what they couldn't. I know they wanted you to have a nice home with plenty of clothes and food and diapers. And you have that in our home."

"Couldn't you just give them some of your money?" she wondered.

"No, that isn't how it happened and it takes more than money to raise a baby." My heart is racing thinking what the next question might be. Fortunately for me, that was the end.

"Can I wear this head band to day camp tomorrow?" she asks.

"You sure can, baby."

As many times as I have "practiced" answering the adoption questions, I am still scared to death the entire conversation because we didn't adopt through a nice, pretty, private agency where young girls turn in their time of need. We chose to adopt through CPS which means our children were taken and not given. How do you explain poverty and neglect to a 6 year old? How do I understand the complexities of it myself at 36? How do I explain the end result of multiple generations of poverty, drugs, little to no education, and neglect when I don't even understand?

I think the scariest questions my parents feared were about sex. And I am sure my heart will race through that conversation as well. My family has so many issues to discuss and questions to answer that innocent inquiries about sex seem sorta easy in comparison. I remember where I was and what we were doing when my mom and I had the sex conversation. For years I thought it was only done to make a baby. I don't think we ever talked about it again. When Madison was born, I decided I wanted there to be on going conversations in our home about race, adoption, and sex. Of course, I made that decision before Madison could talk, having no idea how terrifying those conversations would be! I don't want her to remember where she was and what we were doing when she found out A) she is black and I am not B) she is adopted C) she's gonna want to have sex.

So why do I want to cry after having this open and honest exchange with Maddie about her birth parents? I am the luckiest woman in the world to have this child as my daughter. Why am I sad? I am sad because someone had to lose for me to win. I am sad because my daughter is verbalizing questions that will haunt her entire life. I am sad because deep down inside I know my daughter lost a piece of herself when she lost the connection to her birth mother and I would rather swallow glass than see my baby hurt. But this is life and this is how her life has played out. I can't change it. I can only help her through it. Lord, give me and every other adoptive mother in the world the strength and the compassion to help our babies make peace with their beginnings. Wondering "what if" does not lesson the enormity of my role in her life....Right?

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