Parenting Doesn't End With Adoption, In Fact, It Is Just Begining

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Did You Want Me?

  I think every bio-mom's worst nightmare is the thought that her children will grow up thinking she didn't want them.I remember prior to my post-adoption reunification with Ashley, laying awake at night praying I would someday have the chance to explain what happened. To tell her it wasn't her fault, and I did everything I could to get her back, I was just too late.

I never expected to have the relationship I do with Ashley and her forever family. Nor did I think my chance to explain what happened to Ashley would come so soon. I always imagined sitting someplace quiet with her, like at the park or on the beach, when we were both older. I figured she would be in her late teens, early twenties when we had this talk.Wow, was I wrong! Instead of the park or the beach, it was my kitchen, and instead of late teens, early twenties, it was ten years old.

Ashley came over my house this past weekend for a visit. I was very excited, because this was the first time I would be able to cook dinner for her since she was removed from my custody. It's the little everyday things we take for granted when we are parents, that I miss the most. I planned on making what used to be her favorite dish, and was even going to show her how to make it. We picked up the supplies from the store and I got right to cooking. She was my helper, and did more chasing of Tyler than cooking, but that was a help in itself!

As I was mashing the potatoes, Ashley came real close, and quietly spoke. I could tell she was nervous, and I know why now. In a shakey voice she asked, "Mom, did they say I couldn't come home or did you" I dropped the masher, I knew what she was trying to ask, she wanted to know if I didn't want her. Now I was nervous. I turned to her, placed my hands on her little shoulders, bent down and looked her in the eye and said, "Ashley, I love you so much, and I always wanted you to come home, but they wouldn't let me have you, because I was sick, but it wasn't your fault, and I love you more than anything in this whole world."

It was here that I began to panic internally. How on earth was I going to explain to this ten year old angel, that I suffered from addiction, and I couldn't no matter how hard I tried, overcome it in time to get her back. So, I took a deep breath and asked, "Do you know what addiction is?" She answered "Well yeah, it's when you start doing something so much, you can't stop." Awesome! She gets it! Now I just had to figure out an age-appropriate way to explain MY addiction.

I must say, I'm very grateful for my faith and the power of prayer, because I swear the right words were placed in my head. I began explaining I was addicted to alcohol, and how that effected my behavior and made me do things I wouldn't normally do, I said it led to other bad things I got addicted to and I became very sick. I referred to some personal struggles she had herself, so she would understand. I then explained I didn't get the help I needed, when I needed it. This all seemed to make sense to her and we continued to have a great conversation over our favorite meal.

At this time of Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for my daughter, her amazing forever mother, and family, and for having the opportunity to answer a question that could have haunted my child for the rest of her life. Even though, this didn't go the way I had planned, I'm grateful I had the chance to share with her. I'm grateful that I have been able to create an environment for my child, where she feels comfortable enough to ask me anything she needs. And I am eternally grateful for her adoptive family, who have made this all possible. Without them I can't imagine where we might be.

So I'd like to say "Thank you", to them and to all adoptive parents out there who have given their children the chance to identify with their first families, and for never giving up on them. Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Read with tears in my eyes, as usual. Love you!

  2. Oh, my heart...Erika, you are a beautiful woman and a precious mother. I am a first mom, as well, and now I will have the chance to be a second mom to some precious kids. THank you for sharing your heart. It is inspiring evidence of God's grace and second chances.

  3. Rebecca, I love you too!

    Kim, thank you for your kind words. I'm grateful I have a second chance to share!

  4. I plan to ask this question soon. If I get to see her that is.

  5. beautiful! What a precious time you had together, even if it happened way sooner than you had planned. What a brave soul you are to own up and tell her the truth.

  6. Thank you for sharing. We adopted a sibling group of 3 from foster care five years ago. We now have contact with the birth parents whose lives have changed considerably from the time their children were taken. It has only benefited our children to have the connection re-established with their birth family. I know this isn't always true, but I thank God for our children's sake that it is for them.

  7. I grew up with a mother suffering through an alcohol addiction. She could not control her addiction any more than a cancer sufferer could have said, "I'm done having cancer now." I was lucky enough that the authorities never found out how sick she was- never took me away. My mother got sober when I was 12. I will say, I'm more proud of her for getting and staying clean than I've ever been proud of anything in my entire life. Your daughter will one day look back, she will be as proud of you as I am of my momma.

    1. Thank you so much for this comment! When I speak publicly I often say the same thing, if you have cancer, you can't just make it go away without treatment. Addiction is a disease just like cancer, it takes over every cell in your body, until you can no longer function! I'm so glad your mom found recovery, and thank you for sharing your pride, we need more people like you. Thank you!

  8. Too often, I think we parents fear that our kids "can't handle the truth" (said in my very best Jack Nicholson impression). But you got it, Erica, that what they REALLY can't handle is when those they trust don't deliver the truth. Age appropriately, of course.

    Kudos to you for trusting yourself to find the right words, and for trusting your daughter's ability to receive them. Love it, and I love that your daughter could go to YOU for these answers.