I knew it would happen one day. I guess in my heart I was just hoping it would happen when they were a little older and would be able to understand a little more when we explained it.
The other day we stopped in at an old favorite restaurant, where the seven year old daughter of the owners helped set our table, and in doing so struck up a conversation with my girls.
She seemed intrigued, as many children are, by how much my girls look alike, and the conversation started innocently enough. She is an only child, and a very sweet one at that, and the girls are always chatting with her when we see them every once in a while.
But today was different. As the twins were happily shoveling in Egg Foo Young, and Fried Rice, she looked at me and asked:
“Are you their REAL mommy?”
I froze, fork halfway to my mouth. In that instant of choking, throat strangling panic that happens for many adoptive moms, as you struggle to put everything into order that the person will understand..when a thousand thoughts rush through your mind and you are not sure which route to choose…when you look and two lovely pairs of brown eyes who have never once questioned the status quo of your family all of a sudden are fixated on you…..well, if you are an adoptive parent you know what a challenge that can be.
She calmly turned back to the table and looked at my girls, and touched their hair. I was still speechless. Then her next question: “See, their hair is black and curly, and yours is red.”
She touched Sophia’s arm softly and said: “See their skin is black-ish, and yours is white and spotted (I have freckles). They don’t look like you. I look like my mommy. So are you their REAL mommy?”
How can you explain to a seven year old that you were there at their very first breath? That before you held them in your arms, you carried them in your heart? That every appointment, every doctor visit, every ultrasound you longed for the moment you could hold them in your arms and look into the faces of the children the Lord was filling your home with?
How can you explain to a seven year old how their birth mommy did the most selfless and amazing, yet heartbreaking thing a mother can do? That she herself sought us out, became a part of our family, placed those precious girls in our arms and walked into another chapter of her life?
I don’t think I will ever forget that moment of watching my little Sophia’s face change. Clara, I think, realized the conversation was interesting, but was more interested in her sweet and sour chicken. But Sophia is my thinker. My deep feeler. My one who chews and gnaws on things and then comes to me with questions.
I answered her questions as best I could. I told her that yes, I was their real mommy. That even though they did not look like us, that God himself had placed them in our family. I asked if she had ever heard of adoption, and she nodded yes. I explained how much their birth mommy, who had carried them in her tummy, had given them the very best gift that she could give…life, and a family who would love them no matter what. I told her some mommies carry their children in their hearts, and some carry them in their tummies. She, sweet precious girl, seemed to understand.
And later in the car, as I held Sophia’s face in my hands and looked deeply into her eyes that were pooling with tears, I told her that I am glad that little girl asked those questions. That her hair, and her skin, and her eyes may not look like mommy’s or daddy’s but our hearts looked the same. That she was, and always will be, my precious little girl. That I am her real mommy, and anytime she wants to talk about how we adopted them and that super special amazing story, that I will talk about it. They both will have more questions later, I am sure, and I am very thankful for the many times we have talked about adoption, and how sometimes God’s plan is to form families through this beautiful way of placing children with parents.
But my heart beats hard too. For an adoptive mom whose adoptive experience was rough, it brings all the other issues to the forefront. It reminds you that there will more questions, tougher questions, for years ahead. That you can thank God for the innocence of a sweet little girl and starting the conversation off in a good way, rather than a rough child on the playground turning it into a taunt and planting a seed of hurt that may last a lifetime.
Blessings to you and yours,
Do you have friends who have adopted who need to hear this? Send it to them. Send them here. Lets start the conversation and support each other. Some of us cant talk openly about our adoption stories, and there is more hurt than good about them. Trying to walk that path is challenging. and the more they can build each other up, the better.