I have always loved to dance. As an adult adoptee, a bio mom, and an adoptive mom, I dance between love and loss regularly. I dance with joy over small victories and small signs of acceptance. I dance to escape pain and to avoid obvious rejection from my family(ies). Let me continue to dance with the pain, the understanding, the surrender, His plan, and not faint.

Posts tagged ‘Haiti’

Our Bodies Remember

In our split-level home around our kitchen table that seats our family of six, we pray for Naika; bringing Naika to us from her orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti will make us “seven.”  We labor to send Three Angel’s Orphanage support money each month, gather paperwork to prove our financial stability, our mental stability, the healthy tone of our home and family, that we have no criminal records attached to our fingerprints.  We are pregnant with the anticipation of bringing Naika to our home, and after ten months, she arrives on U.S. pavement at the Miami airport.  We wait, our unblinking eyes and our cameras fixated on double-doors with double-paned glass windows—limiting our vision.  In a slow moment, we see our little two-and-a-half year old daughter delivered out of customs; she rides in a cart toting her “luggage”—a candy apple red backpack with one change of clothes in it, and the name “Rosaline” written in black marker across the top.  We smile and speak softly to her, and she (with no smile written on her face) lifts her arms up to me—a request to be lifted out of the cart.  I place her on my hip, the hip accustomed to carrying our other four children.

Photos of our daughter this first night together in the airport hotel in Miami prove Dr. Bryan Post’s theories on attachment.  No matter my soothing tones and gentle rubbing of anti-fungal lotion on her skin.  No matter the first warm bath for her and her little Haitian friend who came over on the airplane too.  No matter the My Little Pony new jammies and the Pooh Bear sticker book.  No matter our concern she must be hungry and the ice cream cone she hesitatingly accepts.  Our expressions of joy in the pictures clearly miss her expressions of fear in the moment.  Little do we know, she falls asleep quickly and easily that night in the Miami airport hotel not because we love her and she feels safe, but because her two-and-a-half year old brain is shut down and fear chemicals race through her bloodstream.   

We awake the next morning in Miami, and the three of us get on a plane.  We put Finding Nemo in my husband’s computer to entertain her, and a couple hours later, we land in Minneapolis.  Naika on my hip, we maneuver ourselves and our luggage to our big black Yukon XL with one car seat in it—for her.  My ignorance haunts me still.  In my eyes, it’s our family vehicle with the car seat we have used for years.  Through her eyes?  A strange tangle of belts and buckles, bright colored fabric, in the back of a hollow black vehicle she has never seen.  I would like to think she trusts us enough to get in the car and allow me to buckle her into this car seat apparatus.  But most likely, she simply senses she has no power and no choice but to follow our lead.  Stripped of everything familiar in one night, survival now requires compliance with us—her parent strangers.  I buckle her in lovingly, but still–I buckle her in.  Eight years later, Naika does not remember this trip—only the story we tell her. 

As the years go on, well-meaning friends and acquaintances ask me, “How is Naika doing?”  They smile expectantly and wait for a good report.  I walk down a narrow path to answer them honestly, sharing Naika’s early days of living in an orphanage, of abandonment, of brain development that occurred apart from us, of experiences Naika had that we missed for two-and-a-half years.

“Well, she was so young.  She doesn’t remember any of that, does she?”  No, she cannot verbalize her memories.  But her experiences and memories shape her–just like they do you, I want to say.  And, they surface, like a beach ball pressed under water.

In the orphanage, she experiences hunger in a country where food is life-threateningly scarce.  Our videos and pictures of Naika eating at the orphanage table teach the memory of eating with one hand and protecting her food with the other—her arm circled around her plate.  By the time Naika arrives in our home, she experiences abandonment.  Her birth mom, Mama Marie, visits Naika in the orphanage—each visit surely ending with a newly pricked wound of separation between mom and daughter.  Naika does not remember the visits, but pictures teach the memory of Naika on her birth mom’s lap, Naika’s dark brown eyes—darkened by wondering and vacancy.  Naika learns competition and scarcity in the orphanage.  Visitors and relief workers bring gifts (sunglasses, fruit treats, and such).  Naika and the other children clamor to get theirs—shoving toward the front, afraid they might not get any.  By age two-and-a-half, my daughter’s experiences and memory train her to protect her food, to fear being left by her mother, to push to the front.  Two plane flights (Port au Prince to Miami, Miami to Minneapolis) and one car ride to our home in Brookings, SD does not erase who Naika became before she came to us.

Bedtime in our home her first night, and my new daughter screams terror in my right ear while I press my body over hers and sing loud lullabies into her right ear.  She cannot tell me this, but her orphanage director explains to me over the phone what bedtime looks like there.  I imagine Naika missing all things familiar at bedtime each night—her friends, where she slept, a favorite spot in the room, maybe a favorite set of sheets or blanket.  She gains us—her new family—and loses absolutely everything else.  I try comforting Naika as I have my other children and get nowhere.  She cannot tell me anything.  She is two-and-a-half years old and doesn’t speak English.  And so, screams and hot terrified tears on my cheek pressed up against hers with my singing lips in her ear, until she finally exhausts herself and sleeps.  Night after night we go through this process, until she finally copes better with going to sleep.  We create new memories about bedtime at our house; and eventually, I can simply sit on the floor in her line of sight until she feels secure enough to fall asleep.

Naika’s sadness, her fear, her trauma, her loss, and her confusion show up in her behavior.  I walk down the narrow hall between the bedrooms of our home behind my new brown daughter.  She bounces, jumps, and tiptoes oddly, pounding her feet into our carpet—all in the short hallway walk to my bedroom on the end right.  I am losing it and I don’t know why.  Why does she bother me?  She is adorable.  Everyone says so.  She bounces and moves with jerks and abruptness unfamiliar to me.  I sense disorder, imbalance.  I sense her anger.  Subconsciously, my observations of Naika’s terror in her new home awaken the adoptee in me, and I begin to unravel. 

My twenty-two year old birth mom and birth dad were both in the delivery room (unusual for 1970, I’ve been told).  My birth mom held me–my mom told me as part of my adoption story.  But then what?  Who did she hand me to when she let me go?  Who fed me?  Did I scream terror and cry hot tears while a stranger tried to comfort me?  I recognize Naika’s grief and fear more than I realize at the time, and my grief, my loss, and my memories begin to surface. 

I know the story well because my parents have told it to me since the beginning—every day since they brought me home.  I am chosen.  I am special.  I am adopted.  And I never remember not knowing.  A few months before my birth, my mom and dad receive a phone call from the adoption agency.  My mom rushes in with an outfit she picked for this very occasion—the day they will take me home as their daughter—a one week old little baby girl.  She dresses me anew.  I am their baby now.  They hold me, cuddle me, breathe in my smell, as I breathe in theirs.  They smell differently than the foster mom who cared for me from day three to day seven.  Who was she?  And, she smells differently from the nurses who held me in the nursery at the hospital.  Who were they?  And they smell and sound differently (each one of them) than my birth mom who carried me in her tummy for forty weeks.  Where did she go?  I would ask these questions, but I am seven days old.  And so my parents hold me, their baby, as I wonder and adjust to yet another change.  Do they look into my baby face and see the “blank slate” the social worker tells them I am, or do they see the grief, loss, confusion I cannot express?  Why does writing about this make me tired and make my head float?  I want gum, ice to chomp, coffee, chocolate, ibuprofen, a drink, chips, something.

Early on (for the first few years), Naika hoards trash, wrappers, remainders of candy bars she discovers she doesn’t like after one bite, a hard-boiled egg yolk because she only likes the whites, broken crayons, Barbies with jagged cut hair she must now hide, crumpled paper with scribbles, chewed gum (something we told her she could not have without asking), and more.  Here, under her bed and tucked in corners of her bedroom, lies my daughter’s pre-verbal memories of loss, of chaos—and evidence of how she feels about it.  Angry.  Ashamed.  Frightened.

About six years since coming to us from Haiti, on a sun-filled spring Friday for her first track meet, Naika sprints at the sound of the track gun.  She runs to win.  She must win.  It is scary to be slow and last in an orphanage.  In our kitchen, Naika says things to me like, “I am almost taller than you,” “I am the oldest in our family,” and “Someday I’ll be the tallest.”  It is scary to be small and weak in an orphanage.  At home, Naika’s eyes follow her favorites—sour cream and cheddar cheese chips, watermelon, knock-off Uggs, gum, refried beans to make bean burritos.  She trusts herself to find and get what she needs most.  I fix her favorites, and she eats heartily–to the point of being too full and uncomfortable, just in case.  We stand in the grocery aisle at Hy-Vee checking out groceries; the clerk offers her a choice of maybe eight different flavors of suckers.  It takes her an abnormally long time to pick because when choosing one flavor, she then loses all the others forever.  She does not like the feeling of losing—even if she cannot narrate a memory to explain why.

Naika is a fourth grader now, and she has been in our family for eight years. This day, I drive to pick her up from school.  She sees both me and my car, but I have to go around the block and come back to get her in that same spot.  She watches my car begin to leave—without her.  She panics.  I see it in her face. Mostly, I don’t like that the adoptee in me recognizes that feeling—the panic of not being noticed, not being seen, and being left behind.  On a Sunday morning flurry of our family getting ready for church, I (the 40 year old adoptee, married into this family for 20 years) experience the same.  My husband’s detests being late for anything—especially for church.  I rush around the house, offering breakfast to the children, tidying up everywhere, showering and trying to meet the expectation of all of us going together on time.  My husband gets himself ready, expresses frustration that we are already late, and leaves our bathroom.  I rush to pull myself together, grab mascara that I can put on in the car, run down the stairs to the door leading to the garage, and find my husband and children gone.  He took them all. Deep in my gut, I ache. 

Bringing Naika into our home stirs the adoptee in me.  I see her brown little body running around our house and realize:  I am her.  She is my memory. Strange awakenings begin happening in me, and inconvenient awakenings:  a panic attack in Sam’s Club while pushing my cart, three trips into the emergency room for fear I have a brain tumor and want to be checked over, sleeplessness, anxiety driving me, and an awakening to know whose genes I carry.  One middle of the night, I startle out of sleep with a “ping” released deep in the middle of my brain.  I grab my husband.  I am frightened, I feel lost and abandoned, panicked, and I am being separated from my birth mother in that moment.  This night, a memory buried deep under, now surfaces.  I seek help for this new me by visiting my doctor.  He listens carefully, and suggests I am experiencing the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  “Isn’t that for soldiers who deal with bombs going off?”  He replies, “You had a bomb go off in your house.” 

Naika and I carry memory in our bodies, not always our words.  We carry early memories in our behaviors, not our narrative.  Naika carries some of my memory for me.  I do not remember my experiences as a little baby growing in my birth mom’s womb, separated from her shortly after delivery, held by nurses, sent to a foster home, and then arriving to my parents’ gentle loving care; but, I get a glimpse of the effects of such disruptions as I watch my daughter.  Each of us shaped by memories we cannot recall, but nonetheless. 

 

 

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To be Known

Recently, sitting down to work through a project (specifically a Bible study), I faced this assignment–and opened a whole can of worms:

“Fill in the diagrams below describing both the positive and negative influences from your grandparents and parents.  If you never knew your parents or grandparents, substitute the caregivers you have experienced.” (italics mine)

Trouble.  The directions kindly make room for someone who “never knew” their parents or grandparents, which would be a sad burden to carry throughout one’s life.  I started to think about kids who lost their parents to death, divorce . . . foster kids.  And how about adoptees?  We fit into this category of never knowing . . . I am an adopted person who “never knew” my parents or grandparents (my biological ones); and, the directions suggest I “substitute the caregivers” I experienced.

Ick.  “Substitute”  “Caregivers”  The words do not taste good in my mouth.  My biological parents are definitely in the category of parents who I “never knew.”  But, my parents who actually raised me are NOT in the category of “caregivers,” and I am not filling in this diagram with “substitute” parents.   I am filling in this diagram with my Family.

Ponderings.  Did I need/have “substitute parents?”  What was wrong with me that I couldn’t keep my first set?  And how do kids treat and view their “substitutes?”  A teacher cannot/chooses not to be in class one day, so the students all get a “substitute?”  All these words/thoughts mingle around in my head together . . . .

In a deep emotional place somewhere inside of me is the feeling that my birth parents left me because I was too much, too much to handle, too much trouble, too embarrassing, too . . . , and substitutes were then called.  If that pill is too hard to swallow, consider my daughter Naika instead of me.  We brought her home from Haiti (which is her first home) when she was 2 1/2; we brought her here because her birth mom (birth dad unknown) had to leave her/couldn’t provide basic nourishment for her.  It was “too much.”  So, my husband and I are substitutes.  Caregivers.  And not only are we substitutes, but we are obviously the “wrong” color, so everyone can tell she has a substitute.  Ugh.  Kind of raw, I know.  But also a fact.  The first ones couldn’t, so now we fill in.  Hmmm . . .

So back to the assigned work.  Here is the diagram . . .

“Maternal Grandparents

Grandfather                                                                          Grandmother

Positive Influence                                                                Positive Influence

 

Negative Influence                                                              Negative Influence

 

Paternal Grandparents

Grandfather                                                                         Grandmother

Positive Influence                                                               Positive Influence

 

Negative Influence                                                              Negative Influence

 

Mother                                                                                 Father

Positive Influence                                                                Positive Influence

 

Negative Influence                                                              Negative Influence”

I set out to fill in the diagram with the knowledge of my family and the limited knowledge I have gained of my biological family over the recent past 4 1/2 years.  As I do so, I recognize that perception skews reality.  However, I also recognize my perception is my reality.  So, I set out to “fill in the diagram” from my own memory, reality, and perception.

Here goes:

I have hard workers in my family (adoptive), people who remained in one field of work for their entire adult lives, remained in one home/town for their entire lives, a grandma who preferred order over chaos in her home–and one who preferred just the opposite it seems.  I have a grandpa who I’ve only heard stories about because he passed away when I was a baby, people who are good savers, who try to do “the right thing,” who are loyal, and people with a sense of humor–just to give a brief overview.

On my biological side, I find dancers, a grandma who “loved babies” I’ve been told, a grandpa who had a tender spot for “little girls,” military people, people who are emotionally frail (so I’ve been told), people who sever relationships, some very welcoming family members, and people who keep secrets.

My pervasive response to this exercise?  As I look back over my diagram, I see on my biological half several family members who never knew me, don’t know that I exist, maybe suspect that I exist, or refuse to know me.  And this is where I am stuck emotionally–in a place of not wanting to be known.

Over the past three years or so, I have been fighting the feeling of not wanting to be known.  A ha.  I have been jumping through hoops and crossing all sorts of boundaries to be known.  Strangers, family members, long lost friends, all sorts of people–I reach and I reach and I reach.  This is my reaction to being told by people I wanted to know and love (my birth family)–“We don’t wish to know you.”  😦

Now that I recognize this, I know what I am supposed to do; and, it’s not easy . . . .  I must sit with the realization/feeling that some people just don’t want to know me.  I am NOT comfortable with that.  Can I face not being known potentially for the rest of my life by people I biologically care about?  Given no choice right now, I have to (?) accept this.  And, can I recognize that the people who do want to know me are the ones worth spending time with and chasing . . . ?  What a switch.

My security blanket? . . . Remembering that God was present through “every single day” of my heritage.  “He was there . . . .  He knows every detail.  He knows exactly how you’ve been affected, and His expertise is reconstruction.”  He does not and cannot make mistakes.

 

 

 

 

 

Hypophrenia

I haven’t even stopped yet to see if this is a real word.  I don’t really care I guess. I like the definition.

My daughter Naika has “hypophrenia.”  How to explain . . .

There is a pervasive loss in her heart.  Her birthmom is in Haiti.  Doesn’t that explain it pretty well?  I almost feel like I don’t need to say anything else.  I am here, yes.  Her dad, her siblings, her school, her gymnastics, her food, her dogs, her room, her toys, her friends, . . . we are all here.  So, how could she be sad?  Her sadness is “seemingly without a cause,” but I know from where it stems.

Her mom is in Haiti.

The mom who carried her in her tummy is in Haiti.  We don’t know where.  We don’t know how to contact her.  We don’t know what she does every day.  We don’t know where she lives or if she is OK.   It’s very different from my birthfamily situation; I could call any number of my birthfamily members right now if I had the guts to jump through their “don’t call us, ever” ultimatum.  And some of them, I talk to regularly–via email, mail, facebook, telephone conversations, and lovely overnight stays.  Even the ones who choose to not know me–at least I know where they are, what they look like, and kind of what they are up to in their lives.

Naika’s mom and dad, . . . well, it’s just way different.  They are in Haiti.  It seems impossible to me to be in touch with her mom.  Maybe I am just lazy in my attempts to find her.  Maybe it’s easier than I think.  But things are terrible in Haiti.  We don’t have her mom’s phone number, don’t know if she has a phone, don’t have her address and most likely she doesn’t have one, don’t know the name of her youngest (Naika’s baby sister) or what she looks like,  . . . .  Naika cannot look at her mom online, catch glimpses of her here and there.  We have just a few pictures from when we first brought Naika to our home and that is it.  And Naika’s dad?  We have no idea who he is/was.  So half of her genetic identity is  . . . ?

As Naika’s mom, I’ve got somethin’ goin’ for me, I think.  I know what hypophrenia is.  I can put a word and more words around it.  I can define the pervasive sadness that we both feel.  She is only eight.  She doesn’t know why she needs a thrill sometimes, or something to numb her heart, or to feel superior in comparison to others, or why she is so driven, etc.  I do.

And, through counseling I have learned that it’s OK to just sit with people when they hurt.  I can’t fix her, don’t need to fix her, and can’t convince her that being adopted fixes being relinquished.

Instead, I can just recognize that sometimes, she is just sad.  Same as me.  Even amongst all the blessings that we both have in our lives, we feel hypophrenic.  Something is always missing.

I am fairly certain that the loss of a loved one leaves a person hypophrenic, too.  When we lose a spouse, a loved one, a friend to death, life goes on with all of its ups and downs and many blessings.  Still, there is a pervasive sadness of just plain missing someone.

Hypophrenia.  Interesting.

I can see the wreckage, and by grace I can help rebuild

Yesterday’s sermon got me thinking . . .

Nehemiah got down and dirty and observed how bad things in Jerusalem really were.  He inspected the walls of the city and they were broken down.  Its gates were destroyed by fire.  Well, oh my goodness, the walls of my city have been broken down, and the gates to my heart and to our family have been destroyed by fire.  Strong language, I know.  But I’m not exaggerating.


Nehemiah 2: 17 . . . it’s Nehemiah talking: 
17  “Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in–how Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates are burned with fire . . . .  “

ruins, burned with fire, disgrace . . . Those words describe what has happened to our family during both adding Naika to our family and seeking out my birth family–in hopes of love, joy, and peace in both situations.

I am naive.  We brought Naika into our home when she was 2 1/2.  In my own ignorance, I parented Naika the same way I parented our other children.  I promptly got no where; in fact, I made myself and those around me crazy.  It took a whole year before my eyes were opened to the fact that parenting a child who spent two years in an orphanage would require different knowledge, skills, and approaches.  And then, . . . when she was 3 1/2, I began to learn.  But from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 and somewhat beyond/somewhat still, our family/lives were upside down.

Ruins–family time held no joy.  Ruins–she literally ruined things in our home.  Ruins–everything that we thought we were doing that “worked” with our other children . . . ruined.  Ruins–ruined confidence in myself as a mother.

Burned with fire–my insides were burning with fire and pain from this little girl who would not let me be her mommy.  Burned with fire–my husband and I had heated discussions about what to do, what to change, what I was doing wrong (I already felt like a failure so that didn’t help).  Burned with fire–angry at people who told us how “lucky” Naika was to be in our family, or what a “great” thing we had done in adopting her (good intentions, but not reality).  Burned with fire–wanting answers–wanting everything to go back to normal.

Disgrace–ashamed that I was doing such a poor job with her.  Disgrace–ashamed that she would not look at me in the eyes while I fed her a sippy cup or a bottle of milk like the counselors and books suggested.  Disgrace–ashamed that she happily jumped into a strangers’ arms than into mine.  Disgrace–ashamed at her behavior, . . . and mine.  Disgrace–the social worker explaining to me that I was part of the “problem.”  Disgrace–that my husband came home night after night to a fried wife.
—————————————————————–

Ruins–once I received a threatening letter from my birthdad telling me not to contact anyone him, my siblings, or anyone else anymore (need I say more?).  Ruins–the strain it put on my family of five and husband emotionally, financially as I was insatiably focused on somehow loving/knowing my birthfamily and them loving/knowing me.  Ruins–as I struggled to feel alive and real instead of snuffed out and stuff back into a secret closet.

Burned with fire–I burned to find them and know them.  Burned with fire–I burned from the sting of receiving very small gifts I sent to them for Christmas back.  Burned with fire–I burned with fire before I found any of them when I would look in the mirror and not recognize ANY of my features.  Burned with fire–I got burned, my parents got burned, my pain burned my husband, and even my kids were burned by birth relatives who they were hoping to be able to know and love.  Burned with fire that my need to know my past was stealing my present–and could potentially steal my future.

Disgrace–it is my personal theory that when people are hurting, they seek relief.  My choices which came out of my need for relief = disgrace.  My behaviors, desires, choices, thoughts, . . . all became uncharacteristic of who I really am = disgrace.  Note–I have no disgrace in my choices for searching/how I searched, etc.  The disgrace comes from choices I made to cope with my pain–to self-medicate.

Nehemiah then says, “‘Come, let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a disgrace.'”
Aha!!  I am ready and building up the walls again.  By God’s grace.
Because of the above visions and experiences of Ruin, Walls burnt by fire, and Disgrace, I can uniquely see the wreckage . . . the pain that others cannot:  pain in searching, pain in adoption, pain in reunions, pain in marriages,  pain in parenting.  AND, . . .

I am uniquely made with certain gifts and experiences now to minister to some that others simply can’t.  I cannot minister to my husband regarding his job as a basketball coach.  Haha.  I cannot dribble.  I can, however, support families who are struggling through adjustments to all things adoption!  In fact, could it be that “He planned me to be the way I am because then only I can be the one to help/minister in certain situations?”  That’s what our pastor said on Sunday morning.  And, I’ll tell you what:  that thought increased my self-worth which has suffered Terribly during the above things mentioned.  I can uniquely serve/minister in this area, because . . . Ha!  I’m an expert.

Mother’s Day Multiple Personalities

 

Sigh.  I can’t figure out all the angles surrounding this day in my own head.  As I start to list and categorize all of my thoughts surrounding the day, let me say this first:

My knee-jerk instinctual thoughts regarding Mother’s Day go straight to my mom.
My mom loves me.  I don’t know if she always likes me or understands me, but I know she loves me.
How do I know?
She has been there with me, for me, in spite of me, because of me . . . she has been there.
And, she loves and supports the people who I love and support–my husband and kids.
And, she sends me newspaper articles about family life, teenagers, drinking too much caffeine, how to clean my house better, adoption issues, money stuff, music stuff . . . .
And, she listens to me.
And, I talk a lot–but she still listens.
And, she sacrifices for me still.
And, she fed me, bathed me, changed my diaper, clothed me
And, she disciplined me, grounded me, made me do chores, made me practice my piano.
And, she drove me to dance lessons, piano lessons, theatre rehearsals, 4-H meetings
And, she worried and still worries about me.
And, she loves me.
My mom raised me.  I love her and I am thankful to be her daughter.

Angle #2
Will Naika say such things?  I do think she is feeling a little tender towards me–perhaps seeing and believing that I will take care of her.  I wonder if one day, when she is older, if she will count me as her mom–the one who raised her.  And, I realize that I am writing that history now.  I must do all of the above listed things that my mom did for me in order to “achieve” such status.  Can I?  Can I do it well?  I don’t know.  I am just going to rest on the saying that I am “doing the best I can with what I have in this time” for now.

There is such a pull for an adoptee–no denying it–we have two moms.  Naika and I have one mom who we resemble physically, genetically, and probably in more ways than we know because they have now become strangers of sorts to us.  And we have another mom who fulfills the roll of mom beyond the tummy.  Thank God for both.  It takes a mom who carries a baby in a tummy and a mom who cares for the baby’s needs for their lifetime beyond the tummy to produce a human being.  It takes both.  And Naika and I have both.  Thank God.  In a perfect world (haha), Naika and I would love/need the privilege of time with both mommies–time with our birthmoms to fill in the genetic blanks, and neverending connection to the moms who have raised us.  Yes, that is an adoptee’s plea.

Angle #3
How can I honor my birthmom, who I also love, but from a distance since she cannot bring herself to allow me into her life.  Last year, Mother’s Day stirred some depression into me.  Just for a couple of days, I felt that low low inescapable feeling of sadness and loss.  I missed my birthmom.  I am one of her children biologically, and I wanted to be able to pick up the phone, call my birthmom, and tell her Happy Mother’s Day–just like a “normal” child might like to do.  But I couldn’t.  Her other children she carried in her tummy could.  But not me.  I couldn’t send her flowers without upsetting her, couldn’t write her an email because I don’t know her email address,  . . .  My hands were tied as if I had a restraining order.  I just wanted her to know that I love her even without knowing her, and I wanted to tell her Happy Mother’s Day.  But I am too much–too upsetting–connected to too many memories .  . ???  I don’t know.  I am still guessing.

This Mother’s Day, I don’t know if I will go to that place or not.  I feel a little differently, although just writing about last mother’s day above draws my heart close to hers–admittedly.  But, over the last year, the people who actually know me and love me have made themselves very obvious to me.  And, the people who are choosing not to know me have also made themselves very obvious to me.  I am a little more exhausted from trying to know people who don’t want to know me this year.  It still makes me sad.  But not everything can be fixed.  And so, my sense of thankfulness for my mom and those around me seems to overshadow my sense of loss of my birthmom and those around her right now.

Yet–I feel tears well up because of what I stated in Angle #2–I have two moms.  I have been asked to let go of one–to “focus” only on one.  Could you do that?  If you were Naika, a Haitian little girl in a white family, could you  deny the fact that you have two moms and just talk yourself into forgetting about the other one?  I would never ask Naika to do that.  Never.

Angle #4
How is Naika feeling about her birthmom this weekend, and how can I help her honor her birthmom?
Status quo for territory that is uncharted for me:  We plant a flower in honor of her birthmom and mine every Mother’s Day.  This, we will do again.  And we will pray for both of them.

Angle #5
My heart is tender towards the hurting:  the ones who have lost their moms to death and the ones who long to be a mom but have yet to bring home a child.

The day, may it be far far away, that I cannot call my mom–I can’t imagine.  I remember one Christmas time when my parents were here visiting, and I was in the kitchen.  I absentmindedly wanted to call my mom to tell my mom (haha) that my mom and dad were here!  🙂  It was just a fleeting thought, and I laughed and told my mom what had just crossed my mind.  But I realized–anytime something good, bad, boring,–anything happens, I call my mom.  She cares the most about what I have to say.  I hurt deeply for those who are in the place on Mother’s Day weekend where they can’t call their moms because they have already left this earth.  You have experienced loss.  May you experience comfort this weekend.

And the dear friends of mine who (like my mom for ten years before adopting me) are facing infertility.  I am highly uneducated in the right and wrongs things to say regarding this issue, so my words will be few.  They may hurt this weekend.  I know hurt and most of us do–from one source of pain or another.  I am aware of their hurt.

And sigh, Happy Mother’s Day!  🙂

I have no idea to help her . . .

 Our little Naika has been in our home (from a Port-au-Prince, Haitian orphanage) for five years.  She show signs of attachment disorder, signs of gaps in her comprehension, signs of a high need for control, and signs of . . . me.

She has a quite different set of circumstances than me, and yet, I am like my coach/husband watching a basketball game:  I know too much.  I can see her insecurities/attempts to fit in/read through her eyes/wishes for the mom she knew in Haiti . . . . I see it.  I see her signs of anger that show up in torn/ripped/destroyed items.  I see her attempts to hide herself/her feelings/her behaviors.  I see her concern that she will mess up/get in trouble, and be  . . . ?  I don’t know.  . . does she fear that we will send her away???

I guess I think that about my parents even at 40.  I don’t fear the they will send me away, but I fear sharing all of who I am and what I do because I fear that I will lose their love.  She perhaps fears losing her ability to survive, while I fear a loss of love.  And, because she fears losing her ability to survive, she is vigilant in day to day survival tactics and skills.  She is very capable of getting what she needs–one way or another–usually on her own and sometimes behind an adult’s back.  And, because I fear losing love, I am vigilant in day to day tactics and skills to receive acceptance/feel loved.

Crap.  We are essentially at the same place, but she is 7 and I am not.  I am just latent in my “facing the facts” steps.  My counselor tells me that if I had processed my loss of my birthfamily/my adoptee feelings a little at a time that I might have continually integrated all of this into my days rather than hit a brick wall.  I hope for that for Naika–that we could help her process some of what she feels/thinks/experiences along the way, so that she does not suffer the concussion of a brick wall.  However, I stink at it right now.  When I see opportunities for “moments” with her, I am repelled mostly.  I hope that changes.

Why am I repelled?  Because she doesn’t trust me/love me, isn’t attached to me.  So, if I move towards her re: her heart/her real thoughts and feelings about her birthmom and being here, I am just not sure who I am talking to.  Someone who wants to be honest and talk/be together–not ever so far, or someone who gives me words she thinks I want her to say and someone who doesn’t trust me with her heart. . . more rejection.  :((

Attempt to Heal

 So, I’m reading this book Questions Adoptees Are Asking by Sherrie Eldridge.  I have had her other book–20 Things Adopted Kids Want Their Parents to Know, and I have never been able to get through it; it’s Biblical, and it’s very difficult emotionally to process.  So, I just quit trying, and I’ve picked up this one by the same author. To this point, I’m really benefiting from the reading, but there are many questions/exercises which I have skipped over so far.  I am going to “do” the exercises here for starters.

Where am I supposed to seek safety when I feel anxious about being separated from my first family? . . .
Psalm 91:4  “He will cover you with His feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Who created me?
Psalm 139:13 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Was I ever alone?  (even though I felt alone and still do . . . )

Psalm 139:15 “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,  . . . ”

Psalm 139:16a says “your eyes saw my unformed body.”

All of this is comforting, until this part:

Who planned every day of our lives before we were born?
Pslam 139:16b says “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
I don’t understand this at a gut level.  While I would not NOT want to be my parents’ daughter, my husband’s wife, my kids’ mom, I have a hard time understanding that He planned for me to be separated from my birthmom and birthdad . . . .??  Same with Naika  . . . that he planned that pain for her–to be separated by her bio mom/raised in a white family in South Dakota, and to most likely never know her bio dad?  I don’t understand . . . knowing that all these things would cause such pain, did He “plan” all of this?  Or perhaps He only planned the good stuff.  But the good stuff to me is somewhat undefineable . . . is it just “good” that Naika isn’t in Haiti anymore like so many people say?  Is it “good” that I wasn’t raised by my bio parents because my parents have done such a great job . . . The initial separation hurt.  Did He plan that before the beginning of the earth . . . that I would be the one (a “one”) who would not be raised by her biological parents????

Answer please.

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