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 not....um...um..." 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!