Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mommies Don't Give Their Kids Away

Sydney, September 2014
Sydney will soon be eleven years old. She lived her first ten months in an orphanage in Russia. In Russia the law at the time of her birth was that an abandoned child had to wait six months to make sure no relative came forward to claim them before they could be put up for adoption. We got Sydney’s picture in August of 2004. She had just become available for adoption and our adoption agency wanted to know if we would like an invitation to visit her. The adoption process took eight weeks between our initial visit, which they scheduled for October, and the adoption date in December. We stayed two weeks when we visited Sydney, actually seeing her only twice, spending an hour or two each time. We came home and returned in December for the adoption. That trip also took two weeks but most of it was spent with Sydney in our care. I have many blog posts I could write about those two trips and I plan to. I’ve touched on some of this before. See: A Sparkling Personality

Sydney has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, thus making it hard for her to understand difficult concepts and retain things she has learned. I have often told her the story of her adoption, explaining that I did not give birth to her but got her from a hospital (which doubled as an orphanage.) Even so she continues to forget and ask me about her birth sometimes as if I were her birth mother. Because we adopted Sydney at a young age and she has no memories of her previous life in Russia I have not spent a lot of time reassuring her about being in her “forever home” as I would have a child who was adopted later in life. I wrote a book for Sydney when she was around five or six years old to help her understand. She loves to look at it and she loves it when I read it to her. She has a paper copy and I keep a copy on my computer. I update it from time to time, making it just a little bit more detailed and adding a new picture or two. I’ve attached a copy to this post.

I dread the day Sydney finally realizes that she had to have come from somewhere and not just originated from a crib in an orphanage. I dread the day she asks me just whose tummy she did grow in. I’ve thought about the things I can say. “Your first mommy loved you so much she wanted you to have a better life with a mommy who could take really good care of you.” How does that sound? It might be the truth. Maybe. Perhaps, “I don’t know” will be what comes out of my mouth. Or maybe, “Go ask your dad.” I love that little girl so much I don’t want to hurt her or even plant a seed that might someday grow into hurt.

I was motivated to write this blog post this evening when Sydney did ask me a question that knocked the wind out of me. I thought she understood the concept of adoption and family, even if she does not understand the origin of life. Out of nowhere this evening Sydney asked me what happens to kids when their parents have to move to a new house. I must have looked at her a little funny because she went on to say, “Like, if you and dad move to a different house, do you find someone else for me to live with or do you take me with you?” For a second I could not breathe. I had no words at first. I reached over and pulled her onto my lap and said, “Sydney, you are my little girl. You go wherever I go. Mommies don’t give their kids away.” Then I choked up again because I remembered she had already been given away. Thank God she’d been given away. Given to me. I only wish I had been the one to give birth to her and to have been able to nurture and cherish her as she deserved those first ten months.

As the hours have ticked by since Sydney’s question, I have considered where it could have come from. She does have friends who live with grandparents instead of parents. She knows children who have their custody shared by two households. She has asked me in the past to explain why some kids have stepsisters and stepbrothers. Sydney even had a friend briefly a couple of months ago that was in foster care. I THOUGHT I had done a pretty good job of explaining these things to her.

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