E.'s Birthday Tinker

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S.'s Birthday Tinker

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Older Adoption....

Older adoption is not easy.  It's difficult, and it's work everyday.  I love S. with all my heart, and I think that takes us through a lot, but it's not easy.

The nervous ticks.  She has a number of them.  When she first arrived home, she twirled her hair continually, which was kind of cute, except, she did it so vigorously.  Then a few months later, she started moving her shoulders up and down all the time, a little stranger.  Now she moves her neck all around like she has a disorder or something, and she doesn't.  She also bits her nails continually.  They are little stubs.  This week, we all went and got a  manicure, and she has already chewed off the nail polish.  Yikes.  I don't want her to eat nail polish. 

One of the hardest things for me is she remembers her birth mom.  I'm sure it's one of the hardest things for her too.  If you are adopting an older child, older than 3 or 4, be ready for this sort of inflated memory.  Her "first mom" was a saint.  :)  Of course.  If you are going to make up a memory, or fill it in, why would you fill it in realistically?  Just go for it, in terms of imginary perfection.

So last night, S. says, "I'm going to be tall like my mom."  (Okay, the doctor's have said, she will maybe be 5' 1" tall, when she is an adult.)  (I'm 5' 4" maybe 5' 3&1/2" :) 
So, she said it over, and over, and over again, "I'm going to be tall like my mom.  I'm going to be just like my real mom."
Shot through the heart.  Your "real mom".  The person whom I will never be, but wish I was.  Let that sink in.  Ouch.  Your "real mom."  I feel pretty real.  It feels real, when I'm rocking you when you are sick, or when I am cleaning up your puke, or reading to you, or playing games with you, or cooking for you, or doing your laundry, it feels real to me.  It feels really real when you are being rude to sister E., and she is crying herself to sleep at night.  It feels really really real.  Deep breath.

I look at her, "like your mom," I say.
Yes, "like my real mom," she repeats, twisting the knife.
"I'm your mom too," I say.
She says, "I know, my real mom."
Me - "You probably will look like your first mom, that's true.  I'm your real mom too."
S. - "You are my step mom, right?"
Me - "No, I'm your real mom too.  Aren't you lucky?  You got two real moms.  Your first mom, and me, your second mom."
S. - "Oh, okay."
Me - "S., your first mom was probably not tall.  You are only supposed to be 5' 1" when you grow up.  That's shorter than Mommy."
S. - "No, my mom was way taller than you."
Me - "Okay, but I don't think so."
S. - "She was.  She was really tall."
Me. - "Okay, honey."

What could prepare you for this conversations, and thousands like them.  Praying.  I do a ton of that.  Talking.  I talk to other adoptive parents a lot.  Reading books.  I've read a few.  I could read some more.
It is what it is.  And I do love my daughter.  But this is not what I imagined. 

I imagined, she would adore me, and my older daughter.  I imagined our relationship would be a lot like the one I have with my older daughter.  But it's not.  It's different.  Not different bad, necessarily, just different.  I feel guilty that it's not the same relationship that I have with my other daughter.  I wanted it to be the same, but it's not.  So here we are muttling through each day the best we can.  I think she loves me.  I know that she knows I love her.  I tell her 20 times a day, or more.  But I don't know when she will feel it.  When it will sink in.  When she will relax, and stop twirling her hair, shaking her shoulders, rolling her neck, biting her nails, and just be okay?  I don't know.  But for this, I pray.  Amen.


  1. Hi Jennifer - couldn't agree more - about older child adoptions. My 5 yo daughter has been with us for 8 months now - and still continues to twirl her hair and bite her nails. She does seem to be winding down from her hyper vigilant mode though. The truth is that there is a lot of 'reality' in an adoptive family's life! You are her real mum . . . and your daughter's grief is real as well. Thanks for Sharing . . .

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog. Thank you for sharing as well. I went to your blog, and read some of your first posts. It's an amazing journey, isn't it?