Theresa recently commented about the Washington Post article:
“In my heart I believe the documentation/account of our dd’s abandonment is based on what actually transpired for her in the first few days of her life-but the fact that this article makes me question her story at all makes me fear for the day when she has to read these accounts. I have made a habit of saving articles I read re. China since we brought our daughter home-so that some day she might read them and have a better understanding of what life may have been like for the average person-for her birth family-at the time she was born. Not all of the articles pertain to adoption or the abandonment of children. How do I share this article with her when she is older?…Just wondering OmegaMom what your thoughts were reading the article in relation to how Omegadottir might react to a piece like this down the road?”
I think that is a hard question to answer.
(What a cop-out, eh?)
I am not saving the various articles–and I should. The question of where to keep them is a valid one in this household! No closets, no storage space, life going on–where does one keep a cache of “background” like that? Currently, I keep it in my head, and bank on the internets being the internets when OmegaDotter hits, say, 13, 14, and starts asking these harder questions. And there’s always the Wayback Machine.
As for your question…Currently, OmegaDotter is just at the very start of the questioning stage, and so far it’s very easy to keep up with her. A “birthmother” is a very tangible idea, a person far away who has Some Relation, and, because of the word “mother” embedded in it, obviously an important person. “China” is where she was born, a spot on the globe.
So I have no idea how OmegaDotter will even be approaching these questions as the abstract notions of abandonment and loss of heritage and loss of birth family move more into her realm of existance.
I know that the dotter has some deep-seated issues with the emotional reality of abandonment. Once again, I hasten to reassure readers that we’re not hammering at her day and night with horrid tales of being abandoned; I have a version of her story that I tell her now and then, and we bring up going to China to meet her on a regular basis as a tangential aside to whatever we are talking about that reminds us of the trip.
But her emotional reality is very obviously there and has been from the start. As a baby, she needed holding and constant reassurance of where we were at all times; waking up alone is problematic for her; disapproval–especially strenuous disapproval!–results in her needing cuddles.
I find myself wondering what it was like, to be a week-old baby suddenly left alone by the only familiar figures in her life. What was it like to be taken from her familiar surroundings and plunged into a world of sounds, smells, sights that (probably) were overwhelmingly different, noisier, strange. Then to have it all happen again at almost a year old.
I also wonder what it was like for her mother, her father. Was it hard? Was it greeted with surface stoicism and inner heartache? Is it something that they have buried away, grieving her as gone, dead; or is it a thought that pursues them in the night? Or do they lead their lives as normal, only to be blindsided at times by a thought, a memory, that comes out of the blue, sparked by, say, the angle of light coming in the house on a January morning? How has it affected their relationships–with their spouses, with their extended family? Is there anger, resentment, resignation with the government policies that help provoke the abandonment?
I’ve never borne a child; I have no idea what it feels like. I do have tales from birthmothers here in the USA, who say that relinquishing a child has left a forever ache in the background. That may be simply an artifact of a luxurious western lifestyle…the luxury of being able to dwell on things, rather than just move forward, get it over with, move on with the business of living.
But all of this is from my point of view, the mother’s point of view. How will OmegaDotter view all the possibilities…? I have no idea. I will try to do for her what I am best at: presenting a wide variety of possible causes, possible viewpoints. But, like all other adoptees, she will be left with that overriding question: Other families in China kept their daughters. Why didn’t mine? All I will be able to answer is: I don’t know. It sucks. And I will try my damndest to keep my, “But it means you came into our family, and we love you very much!” to myself, because that is an answer to a totally different question, and not the answer she will want to hear about The Question.
I will definitely tell her about the theories some people have of international adoption either being the result of or promoting baby-trafficking; it’s A Truth, and I strive to be honest with her. Then we’ll have to work on what it means to her specific situation together.
Which is all we can do.