She said it freely, just a fleeting thought. She wasn’t teary or red faced. She had her dolls joy riding in a convertible Corvette and was simply talking while playing.
I was fluttering around tasking, putting cups in the dishwasher and considering pulling chicken out of the freezer. She had been chatting all morning, and I was in semi listening mode. But that I’d heard.
“Nobody wanted me in China.”
My distracted fluttering screeched to a halt, but I fought the momma bear impulse to scream, “No, no, baby girl! You are totally wrong about that!” Instead, I just listened on.
“That’s why I’m here. I’m adopted.”
One of the dolls was telling her doll squad that she was adopted.
Another doll told her friends that she was from Florida.
The superhero? He was from space.
Everything in me wanted to take that toy conversation right over. I wanted to pick her up and blast her with my love. My baby girl should never feel unwanted. But, experience tells this adoptive mom to pause before pouncing in.
1. Mostly I stopped myself because I always want her to keep talking. To speak her heart. I don’t want her to be afraid to share what she’s thinking because she fears my big, emotional response. That’s too much to place on her.
I hope she’ll know that her thoughts aren’t bad, hurtful to her dad and me, or wrong in any way. As much as I want to speak truth, I don’t want her to be afraid or embarrassed to verbalize the questions that simmer beneath the surface. If I shut her thinking down, my guess is that she’ll keep me out of the conversation.
2. She has questions, her own understandings, and misunderstandings. Even when it’s uncomfortable, I am trying to hold space for her processing and wondering. She’s the one who will have to make peace with her story. I can speak truth over her her whole life, but in the end, only God can heal wounds.
What I can do is sit close and be her safe place. I can help her identify emotions, make suggestions, speak truth and ask probing questions, but my first objective is to listen. She’s a deep well, and I want to honor that.
3. I can’t tidy it up for her. I want to, but I don’t have answers. I can’t fill in the blank pages in her life-before-us baby book. I’m her mom, but my love doesn’t heal all the hurts. I plan to speak life to her every day of her life, but she’s suffered the loss of birth family and culture. Being happy in a family in the here and now, redeems, but doesn’t replace.
The hard part of motherhood is that we can’t make all the hurts go away. The beautiful part of motherhood is the gift of walking alongside our children. We can be the person in their lives who doesn’t look away when hard questions are asked. We can sit close, speak love and make safe space.
So, after the pausing, and after the dolls in the Corvette grew quiet, I pulled a chair up close.
“So one of your dolls is adopted?”
And mother and daughter did the hard thing and went there. We talked about why she might have needed to be adopted. About what unwanted means. It’s sometimes hard to listen to her thinking. I prefer to just fill her with my own thinking, but I tried not to.
The truths I could tell her was that she’s wanted. That she was designed on purpose by her very intentional Father in heaven, and that He loved her even before her first breath. He’s always wanted to know her.
“There is much more to the story, baby girl. I sure wish we knew it all, but we just don’t right now. I’m so glad you talk to me about your adoption. I always want to know your thoughts. Tell your dolls that I am here to listen to them too. Do you think I could catch a ride in her pink Corvette?”
Photo credit: Zakaria Ahada