When Common Begins to Unravel

Zo is beginning to realize she came to our family differently than her brother and sister did.

We talk of adoption often.  It is just common talk in our family.  Our family is where we are because of adoption.  We LOVE the beauty of adoption.  We also are fully aware that it is born of pain.

We were discussing Jesus, and Good Friday, and being adopted into God’s family, and what that means.  What today, Good Friday, is.  That somehow landed on discussing adoption in our own family.  I won’t share all of the discussion, but here the big picture:  As Daddy asked “and did Zo grow in Mommy’s tummy?” Ro and O were quick to say no, but Zo squealed YES!  I was watching Zo’s face as Daddy gently told her that she grew in another Mommy’s tummy.  I’m not sure if “Mommy” was the right word to use right then in that moment, but talking through adoption with your adopted child and her siblings is a delicate process.  Sometimes we choose the perfect words.  Sometimes, in our desire to be thorough and accurate, those words can cause confusion…shock.  Zo’s face told me everything I needed to know in that moment.

This was the first time Zo’s adoption seemed to ‘click’ for our girl.  I can’t even describe her facial expression.  She looked at me, pointed at my face, and said “but Mommy,” as her eyes got slightly watery.  Then looked at Ro and O, who we had just discussed growing in my tummy.

We quickly, gently, and lovingly talked about her birth mommy, the love she had for Zo, Zo is in our family, and all that goes into those conversations.  Children come to families two ways: birth and adoption.  We talked about that, yada yada yada.

I told a friend last night that sometimes I don’t feel cut out to be a Mommy.  It is hard stuff!  And my girl’s face today, I can’t shake.  How important a task to explain adoption to her.  How humbling….that I am the Mommy God chose to walk this journey with her.

Adoption isn’t all bells and whistles.  Don’t get me wrong!  No one loves the airport photos or the ‘meeting our child for the first time’ photos more than me.  I could talk adoption all.day.long.  With anyone. Anywhere.

However, in these beautiful smiling photos, there is a story that has trauma in it.  Loss.  Tears.  Pain.  Often abandonment.  There is birth family in those photos, yet not visibly seen.  Those photos contain SO MUCH “before” and SO MUCH “more is coming.”  It is a quick snap of a moment that tells what friends and family have been praying for.  Oh, but it is so much more than that.

I don’t use the word “humbling” lightly.  In that moment, at the kitchen table, I felt so ill equipped and unprepared to unravel all that my daughter’s heart and mind were trying to process.  The look.  The little finger pointing at me.  The trembling words, “but Mommy.”  Once upon a time, ‘waiting’ was the hardest part of the adoption journey.

This adoption journey to #4 has looked differently in most ways.  One of them is the knowledge that waiting isn’t the hardest part.  This journey that we have embarked upon is daunting.  It is absolutely overflowing with beauty and joy and thankfulness and wonder for us parents.  It is also stab-you-in-the-heart humbling, hard, weighty…constantly measuring our words surrounding adoption with the awareness that words have impact.  Huge impact.  We have a little heart and a little mind who is beginning to understand God brought her to us through adoption.  She loves us.  She loves our family.  We love her.  We love our family.

But there is a difference to her story than with Ro’s and O’s stories.  It is an honor to unwrap her story with her.  It is also one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

To my friends that are farther down this adoption road, oh boy am I all ears to hear what you did right and what you did wrong as you discussed adoption with your child(ren).

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