Perhaps there is part of me that thought that in all of this adopting and raising of children a magic wand would be waved, and with a sprinkling of fairy dust, the world as these kids had known it before would just cease to exist. I believe in my heart of hearts that because of the special needs of some of them, this is the case. They have blocked out or pushed away the memories of old that cause them pain, or misunderstanding. For that I am grateful. Parenting older children that you did not birth is a challenge. Parenting older children that you adopt is a bigger challenge. With children that you gather to your side through combining families, at least one part of the family unit has a clear understanding of where those children have been and are going on their journey through life. There is a clear picture of medical issues, special needs, an understanding of the "drama" factor, the normal for each of those children.
Often you have probably heard me say, these kids carry a little black bag over their shoulders. We have no idea what it is in it. It is the history, the reason that they are who and the way they are. The black bag is unpacked not upon arrival in our home, but randomly, without any rhyme or reason, at sometimes very inappropriate times throughout their lives as trigger assaults them. It can be play time, or nap time. It can be a smell, a television show, or an observation while at the store. A police car, an ambulance, a salad, or bed time. Seemingly random to us, but clearly not to them.
Fast forward to Bashful. Bashful is the youngest of the sibling group that the Prince and I have adopted. He was 18 months when removed from his biological home. While we know that his older siblings endured much abuse while in that home, it is our belief that he was relatively unscathed in the process. He went from his biological home with his eldest sister to a loving consistent foster home, where he stayed until he came to be a part of our family. In the early days of his life with us, we were potty training, playing ball, rocking to sleep, living the life of an excitable and happy toddler. We had some hitches along the way and as he progressed to school age we were able to get some help with figuring out some of the things that made Bashful tick, or the triggers for his behavioral meltdowns.
Along the way I felt that the best course of action for Bashful was to re-write his memories for him since he was so young. For example, the first time I took him for shots at the doctors he was so afraid. But as we sat and I soothed him as a mother tries to do, I told him what a big boy he was, and how the last time he got shots he was such a brave boy, and it would only hurt for a minute and then we could go home. (Clearly I had no idea how he would respond, but figured by planting the memories of bravery couldn't hurt.) Round one of shots successful. Then at the next appointment where more shots were needed, we built on that memory. Do you remember every time you get shots, you are scared and always end up being so brave. We started "remembering" the first time he got shots. How brave he was. How quickly they were over.
Or the time that he was talking about being a baby and being in my belly. While I never pretended to have birthed the child, I had a great story or "memory" for him about my love for him growing in my heart until it was time for him to make his arrival in my life. How I have loved him since before I knew him, and that is how God prepares mothers for children. He has the love for them grow in their hearts in advance of their arrival, so that when they come to their parents it is as if they have always been in their lives and part of the family, because that love was growing in our hearts before we knew them.
How about the time when he wondered if when he was a baby he wanted to eat his vegetables? Well Bashful, you know you have always loved your vegetables. Your favorites are green beans, but you like peas and Lima beans too. He would look at me sceptically and then try one, and agree that yes he had always loved Lima beans.
Fast forward to current day, really the past two to three weeks. Bashful is really torn up about his biological mom. He laments that she must not have liked him, she did not love him, that he can't remember her. Clearly, new territory for me. Because of the abuse and neglect none of the others ever want to discuss this part of their lives. I have no idea what this woman looked like. What she sounded like. From paperwork we have a general idea that she was a tall as she was wide, that she had mental health issues, that she was unable to care for herself and her four children, but somehow I do not think that these are the things that my almost 11 year old dwarf is longing to know the details of. He is remembering a blank space in his mind where there is nothing to draw from. No memory of her nor any sense of her. Just that he must be at fault some how to no longer be with her.
So I am at a crossroad. As an adult, I know and understand the ugly truth surrounding why these children are now mine. I can see the hand of God's favor and protection in their young lives to get them from where they started out at, to home, here with us, their forever family. So I sit and watch my youngest sob hysterically in the Prince's lap and then come to me for a cuddle, seeking comfort and a memory of someone that none of us knows and that he can't remember.
This is how the story goes... If your mother was sitting right here in front of us Bashful, she would say that she loves you so very much. She loved you so much in fact that she gave you up for adoption because it was the best way for her to show you her unconditional love. She knew in her heart that she could not care for you and your siblings. It was hard for her to provide food and clothing and shelter for you. It was hard for her to care for herself in these areas as well. She knew she was too old to be adopted, but she knew that her children were not. She wanted you to have everything that she could not provide for you. A home, with toys, and running water, and food. A place that you were safe from harm of people, diseases and pain. She wanted you to be clean, and well fed. She wanted you to be able to go to the doctors if you needed to, to go to school and learn and grow your mind. She wanted you to be surrounded by people that made you their priority, not an after thought. She loved you so much that she gave you up for adoption.
In her giving you up, our family became complete. God kept you safe the entire time you were in your biological home. In the midst of not having clean clothing, running water, or food, in the midst of abuse and neglect (that part we will save til he is older) God kept you safe and secure and provided for your needs, because God knew that your forever family was waiting for you. God knew that our family was not complete without you. So while you are sad Bashful that you can not remember your biological mother, you do not have to worry about any of this being your fault. She loved you so much that she did the most unselfish thing that she could for you. When you try to remember her, you need to remember that she loved you enough to let you go. That she had a dream for you to do more, to go further than she was ever able to go. When you think of her, and can't remember her face, or her smell, or her voice... remember her heart. Remember how much she loved you. Remember the sacrifice she made for you to have what she could not provide for you. Remember that God's plan all along was for you to be born to one mother, and raised and nurtured here in our home by another mother, surrounded by unconditional love and acceptance.
When our hearts our heavy, or filled with joy, it is comforting to know, you just can't make this stuff up!