Saturday, January 30, 2010

Martin Luther King and a Birthday Meltdown

Ava shared her birthday this year with Martin Luther King Day. Which was a stroke of luck in that she could celebrate her day in style with LBF (little best friend) while at the movies rather than taking a timed multiplication test within the confines of Near The Cul-De-Sac Elementary.

The next day at school the children were given a piece of paper in which they were instructed to write their big dream, similar to Martin's famed "I have a dream...."

Ava promptly wrote that her dream was that the Chinese government would change their one child policy so that children like her could stay in China with their real parents.

Ouch, real parents. Me of all people know that the word "real" in the adoption community is, well, emotionally packed with less than positive innuendo. But, as the mother of an 8 year old I also know that political correctness is not necessarily first and foremost. I know what she meant. I know I am a real mom. I've cleaned barf up at 3am, I've endured countless Hannah Montana songs. Ava's birth mother, whoever she is, is also a real mother as my friend had to delicately remind me at lunch last week. Ava's right, in a perfect world she would have been born to parents who were willing and able to lovingly care for a baby girl newborn. She would have been raised in her hometown, schooled with kids in China, been given the chance to make a life for herself amongst her people. But she wasn't, and she's beginning to process the consequences of her being left by someone at a government office. I can't say that I blame her for being a bit pissed.

She says she just wants to know what her birth family looks like. She wants to know if the one child policy enforced by the government of her home country had anything to do with why she was left. I can't give her any of this. I can give her any doll she wants, any computer game, a warm bed, good schools, my love, and all the hot chocolate she absolutely seems to crave. But, I can't grant her that one wish. This my friends, really stings.

And now we have one of those moments I always knew would come when we decided to adopt. It is one of those" yea, we are adopting" and someone says "oh, how wonderful for you, and have you thought about what will happen when the child questions where she came from and experiences loss and grief"? And since I'd read the memo I astutely responded that we had so much to give a child and we will cross that bridge when we come to it. We will just love her enough to get through any issue that ever comes up. And, love conquers all right? I'm not so sure anymore. It isn't one of those snappy response issues. I'm not sure there is a right answer. It hangs over us with some days seeming to be more clear and sunny than others but we always have that one cloud.

It's now been several days since we had our conversation. She's grieved a bit. I've grieved a bit and now we are rebounding. She is at this moment in her room with her sister belting out Taylor Swift tunes at the top of her lungs laughing hysterically.

At one point I think I really did believe back in 2002 that getting that beautiful baby in my arms would in some way be reaching a destination. I now know is probably isn't true. Seven and a half years later we are simply starting a journey.


Sister Carrie said...

Wow, is she ever articulate! I think that shows that you have talked about adoption frequently and thoughtfully with her. She has a really good understanding of the situation.

I do not object when my children refer to their "real mother." As you say, she *is* their real mother (Nobody else is allowed to say it, though.)

Diana said...

Oh boy. I was just wondering today when our Ava will ask the question, Why was I left. She's 5- she knows she has birthparents and she didn't grow in my tummy, but she hasn't asked why she couldn't stay with them. It was comforting (and a little unnerving) to read your post, but I like to know what might be in our future.

Monkeys Mommy ♥ said...

I agree, ouch! Lily asks lots of questions, but has yet to truely process any of it. I worry the day will come when she resents being the only person of Asian descent in our family, as well as the only person in our family who is adopted. I guess I'll just take it one day at a time until then.

Jeni said...

Just catching up and saw your post. Bless her heart for getting straight to the point. I would give anything to have those answers for our girls, no matter how much they hurt.