Sissy in her newly acquired goggles
This picture makes me laugh. She is more and more like her birthmom every single day (some good ways, some not so good) but BM wears glasses. So when Sissy put these on and smiled the same crooked smile, it just made my head spin and I had to laugh because wow. If ever there was cloning, it has happened right in our home. Sissy is EXACTLY like her mother.
I've had my laughs on my blog this week but as my therapist will attest, I use my laughter to hide my pain. A good coping skill but only if used in moderation. For me, it's a reflex. Fall on my butt and get a whopping bruise that requires icing it down and wincing every time I sit for the next two weeks? I'm laughing. Laughing when I should be crying.
The truth is, despite the laughter about the insanity of a RAD mom's life, and as mama drama times two astutely proclaimed, "If it wasn't all so true it WOULD be hysterical!" (emphasis is mine.) "We have to laugh or we will cry! " said, Bren.
What they said.
As mother's day approaches, instead of getting excited, I find my glee and quick wit dissolving into gloominess. This road of mothering, for ANY mother, is much more than any of us bargained for. But when our children are suffering, we suffer too. It doesn't matter how they suffer, if they're not whole be it physically, mentally or emotionally, the mommas aren't whole either. We can try, we can fake it, we can laugh it off, we can attempt to divert our energies to our whole children, but it's always there. The pain and anguish that we have a child that needs more than we can offer, more than even doctors can give, is always weighing on our hearts. But if you will indulge me once more, I'd like to quibble that adoptive moms often have a harder road to hoe.
Adoption comes from loss. There is the loss of a child's first family. Even in open adoptions, the fact remains that the child is removed from his home and I've never heard an adoption agency counsel the adoptive parents to allow the child to grieve. There is only discussion of transition.
For me, adoption included my own loss, the loss of having a biological child. Sissy and Aspie Boy were adopted hot on the heels of the doctor concluding that natural children would be unlikely without radical interventions. I didn't have time to grieve the loss of the opportunity to have a child that was born to me. I will never look in Sissy's face and see my reflection looking back at me. Instead, I'll always be smacked with glaring reminder that she looks EXACTLY like her first mother. Aspie Boy won't grow tall like his dad, and Wonder Girl won't inherit my love of math and science. Some days, it's very hard to see enormous tummies, burgeoning with life, particularly when the mother-to-be is a child herself. Other days it's even harder to see mothers with their daughters and recognize the overwhelming resemblance. And when people tell me their child "came by it honestly" referring to some trait they have inherited from their parents, I wince. I can never say that of my children.
I am a mother, yes. But just as my children have been torn from their first families, forever altering their fate, so have I been torn from the chance to say that I bore them in my womb, birthed them in pain and joy or nurtured them from my breast. I may be a mother, but a legal document is what declares it to be so. On Sunday, there will still be a mother of my children, lamenting that she does not have them to call her own. They won't be rushing into her room to bring her hugs and kisses and shouting "Happy Mother's Day!" to her. And she deserves to hear those words too. Adoption then, is the essence of loss for every member in the triangle. You'd think that in that great loss, the suffering of all would be eased. We'd be feeling the pain together and grieving while learning to love. It doesn't work that way.
In adoption, there is often trauma. I've heard tales of adoption stories that have happy endings, whole children that grow up to love both of their mothers, stronger for it instead of weaker. But once again, that's not the case for me. Sissy is forever traumatized, and because their mother is challenged, so are both Sissy and Aspie Boy. And Wonder Girl endures it because what else could she do? When The Dad and I were naive and not yet married, we thought we'd like five children. We only have three and as much as it would be tempting to adopt again, the uncertainty, the risk and the fear that we will have more traumatized and challenged children has prevented it. So we grieve again. We grieve that our children need so much extra. We grieve that their needs are so great that it has altered our life and our plans. We grieve that we are so jaded on this road of parenthood that we aren't likely to adopt again.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the first time Sissy injured me. Last weekend I was pouring over my written journals and found an entry written on the day that she had bitten me.
The Plight of the Barren Woman
I adopted Sissy knowing I adopted her despite the possibility of Sissy becoming mentally challenged like her first mom. I did it because I'm barren and I desperately wanted a child to love. The thought has haunted me that Sissy might be unwell too. For the love of a child, I have invited this trauma into my home and my life. Fertile women told me "well, you can adopt. there are lots of children that need loving parents." Sure, that's easy to say when you can give birth to children that look like you, when you don't ever feel like a cradle robber or a baby stealer, when you can be nearly certain that your child will be "normal." So are all the barren women of the world just to lie down and surrender to loving the unlovable because we can't get anything different? What a cruel fate! Barren by chance, doomed forever to suffer grief and sorrow and unwittingly taking on traumatized children just to be called "mother". Adoption is callous, heartless and unfeeling to both the orphan and the barren. The adopted child becomes a generic, second and less desirable option and the barren woman becomes a pitiable, second-rate mother of the unlovable. THAT is the plight of the barren woman.
Lastly, as yesterday's post pointed out, when raising traumatized children, we are forced to grieve once more, because we are faced with the loss of what could have been, what friends we might have had, what careers, what financial securities, what hope for our challenged child's future, what indignities we endure as we are always subjected to defending our characters to first home study workers, then lawyers, then judges then the unending stream of therapists, doctors, teachers, and other "professionals" that claim to know what's best for a child. We grieve that despite our choice to adopt a child so that we might have someone to love, we learn that the RADish is even challenged in finding a way to love us back. We grieve that despite our constant, unyielding efforts to guide and nurture, our RADish still doesn't know how to trust us and instead, steals our trust in them.
So on this Mother's Day, I don't wish for you roses, candies and a breakfast in bed. I don't wish that you will laugh your tears away. I wish that you would have the chance to mourn that which you believe you have lost, forfeited, surrendered or forsaken all for the love of a challenged and traumatized child.