Thursday, January 14, 2010

How sad

During the course of our adoption of Sammy Wei we've been very open about the process with Simone's school, her teacher and even the children in her classroom- partly because she is so open about it and partly to help her with any questions or comments arising from this new baby coming into our lives.

As you may know, I like to try to have lunch with Simone at her school a couple of times a month. I so enjoy seeing her "in her element" with her friends and in a completely Mom-free zone. So when I started showing up with Sammy for lunch and school events all of the kids pretty much knew who he was and partially how he came to be in our family. Most knew his name but still had tons of questions ranging from "where's he from" to "how old is he" and "does he eat real food" and "can he talk yet". We always let Simone lead the responses but step in whenever she wants us to. We also have let her know it's okay to say "I don't feel like talking about that" or "that's too personal" about both Sammy's adoption and her own.

Well there is a new girl in Simone's class, we'll call her M, and she and Simone have become good friends. Since she is fairly new to the classroom I don't think she knew the whole story of how Sammy, and Simone, came to be part of our family.

So one day I had gone in to help with a classroom event and brought Sammy. All the kiddos fawned over him and were just tickled every time he smiled or even made so any type of noise. Simone was in heaven, being the obviously adored big sis.
And naturally all sorts of those questions came up. Nothing too deep, mostly just innocent surface questions.

Nothing from our little M except giggles and words about how cute he was. We soon left and later when we picked up Simone she was thrilled that we had come, that she could show off her Wei-Che.

A few days later Sammy and I went to have lunch with Simone. And joining us at our table was little M. On this day there were just two simple questions from our new friend.

"Was Sammy really adopted?" she asked first.

I said "Oh yes, he really was."

She appeared to mull that over for a moment and then asked "Was Simone adopted too?"

I looked at Simone, who happily said "Yes".

A moment more of inner thinking for M, while I silently waited for the next round of obvious questions.

"How sad." was all that she finally said.

Huh, what? I thought.

So I said "Huh, what?" I feel like I've been saying those words lately...must be all of the intellectual stimulation I've been having....

And so I went on to say "No, no sadness here. We are thrilled with how our family was made."

M looked at me for a moment and then said "How sad that their parents couldn't keep them I mean."


And yes folks, yours truly was at a loss for words. Complete loss, utterly stumped.
I had to think this through, process was for sure a first for me. My mind was going through it all. Was this something she had heard from her parents, did she go home and mention the "new baby". Or were her thoughts truly that deep? Either way I was really moved that a 6 year old could appropriately apply that kind of thinking.

Because in my mind and my heart I've echoed those words as well, thought that thought and felt a pang of grief, maybe even remorse. How Sad is right. Adoption is an amazing and beautiful way to form a family, but it comes with a price- there is an element of sadness behind the rainbow ending.

So I've found myself wondering who really feels that pain, and for how long?

Well my dear child gave her answer at that moment, leaving me feeling like the sadness has passed for her, at least for now.

She said "It's really not that sad. How else would we have gotten our Mom & Dad? I don't even miss them anymore."
And went on to ask which boy M was planning to chase that day.

Well, nothing more to say, now is there.

I tried to talk to Simone later about it, to make sure she didn't have any questions or thoughts, but she wasn't very interested. To her it was just something a friend said, like "mashed potatoes are better with cheese on them". Just an opinion uttered that hasn't much to do with her except a like/dislike of cheesy taters.

But I still go back to those words...How sad....
I wonder when and/or if those feelings and thoughts will enter my babies minds. And how will I respond when a part of me agrees?

The very idea that my sweet children could feel sadness over their coming into their forever families is not one I like to think of...and yet that is an emotion they are fully entitled to feel. Each day I hope I can instill the right message to my children- that adoption is a natural and beautiful way to become a family. And yet, yes there still is an element of sadness that may be felt by each person at different times during this journey we are taking together.
And that's okay, because at the end of the day we have each other-our wonderful family- and there is nothing sad about that.


Lisa said...

Oh gosh, it would seem that you had your own "M" moment too.....children often say the very things we or others might internalize & yet it is expressed from their lense of pure innocence and boundless curiousity.

Jen, I just cannot think of a better person or Mama to address this young girl's inquiry, as you have the benefit of standing on both sides of this very complex journey ~ and just like always, you handled it with grace, honesty & warmth. And over it all, you shared with this little girl a response from the didn't judge or overwhelm simply answered in a loving and clear way. A gift to both this child and to your beautiful children.

A gift to us all too, as you chose to share this conversation and how you handled it.

I'm also deeply impressed with Simone's response ~ another child may have been upset or confused by this friend's unexpected reaction.....its clear that Simone feels both confident and very LOVED and thus was able to view this in such a healthy way. She's a remarkable little girl....quite a bit like her Mama I would say! :)

And I too often worry about the sadness our children may one day feel ~ I know in all the big ways, their stories are so much bigger than me, us or even our family. But I pray every day that our family strength, unity and love can buffer them through every storm or moment of doubt.

I pray their sadness is fleeting....and while perhaps part of the journey, isn't the defining element.

Thank you for this....

Melissa said...

I have to say my niece (who was in 3rd grade at the time) was sad when we talked about our adoption process. She honestly felt bad that their were kids that had parents that did not want to keep them. Now that she has been around Ella and understands how much she is loved she doesn't feel that way anymore.