I had sensed something was going on for a while. There were two solid weeks of behavior upticks and comments being made. Then, after a counseling appointment, we drove home, I shut off the car, and I asked the question, “What’s really going on?”
At first, the response was dismissive, “Nothing.” Then I did some digging. I mentioned the comments that had been made about being adopted. I noticed the connection to “Meet the Robinsons” and the comment about wanting to see their birth mom. I used my mom gut and asked the question…, “Do you wish you were not in this family?” Almost immediately there were tears. Then, the response.
The reality was, my child did not wish they were in another family but, they were processing through the loss of their birth parents. In the conversation that night, words rang through our car that cut deeper than I thought they would, “You are not my real mom”. Even though, being an adoptive mom, you expect to hear these words at some point, it does not take away the sting. Yet, I met my child in their pain. Instead of trying to justify my place as their real mom, I tried to give them permission to feel how they felt.
That night I shared that a real mom is someone who takes you to the doctor, who bandages your owies, makes you breakfast, and picks you up from school. We acknowledged the love we both had for his birth parents and gave space to feel the loss before spending time in a hug. My child walked away lighter in step while I felt that I was carrying a boulder in my heart. The insecurity of wondering if I would ever be enough kept me awake. I kept rehashing our conversation. I processed it alone and with my husband until finally I put it on my mental shelf for the night.
The next morning, I woke up and went through our morning routine; waking up the kids, getting everyone showered, packing lunches, making breakfast. As I finished adding the cream cheese spread to the bagel, my child came up to me and said, “Mom, thank you for making me breakfast.” I replied, “You’re welcome buddy.” “Mom, thank you for packing my lunch.” I responded again, “You’re welcome.” And then, he looked at me with sincerity and said, “Mom, thank you for being my mom.”
I will never be able to heal the pain that comes from losing birth parents. There is no way that I can make something OK that is not designed to happen. What I can do is acknowledge the loss and choose to walk through the pain with him. You do not have to be blood to show up for someone and meet them where they are. Family is about seeing a need and being willing to step into it. When I choose to do that, I am actively showing I am enough for my children. And, when you are doing the same, you are also showing you are enough.
With or without validation, you are enough.
Founder/CEO Foster Arizona