disclaimer: this is my blog, therefore it is my opinion. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. If you don’t like my opinion, I am okay with that. Just be kind when expressing your opinion here.
Isabelle was born with a hole in her heart.
Abandoned at the gates of an orphanage.
In a very poor, rural town.
She was left with only the clothes on her back. No birth note, no supplies, no mementos. Nothing to tie her to the mother that had carried her. That gave birth to her.
“Of course she loved you.”
“Certainly your birth parents wanted to keep you.”
“I’m sure they were just too poor to be able to care for a child with a heart condition. So they made the best, most loving decision they could under the circumstances.”
These words, these hope-filled words, were the ones I had planned to use on the day that would eventually arrive, unannounced.
The day she would ask the heartbreaking question, “Why?”
But in the almost-five years since Isabelle has been our beloved daughter, we’ve had time to think and rethink. And this long contemplated plan exists no longer.
We plan to share with our daughter, in the most loving way we can, the only things we do know… when and where she was abandoned.
We believe that making any assumptions, with no birth note, no history, no facts, no knowledge of anything remotely related to her birth and her abandonment, would be a total fabrication. With unforeseen and potentially far-reaching consequences.
And we really don’t know anything. Not even her birth date. The day we celebrate her birth, June 26th, is only a guess. A heartbreaking speculation for the day our child was born into this world.
There is a chasm where facts and pictures and smiles and stories and hugs and memories should all be packed away for her. All for her to delve into when she’s big enough to unpack her history. When she’s big enough to ask, “Why?”
And we, as adoptive parents, want to find something to give our children when they come to us looking for answers. The urge is to create a past, or even just a tiny hint of a past to offer as a temporary balm on a gaping wound.
And yet the very people who love her outrageously have nothing for her. And anything we might offer would be even worse than nothing. It would be a lie.
Children who have been abandoned have already lost so much. A family. A history. An integral sense of who they are. I will not be guilty of adding to the list of heartbreaking losses in my daughter’s life by creating a false reality of her birth family.
The truth is that there are an infinite number of scenarios for why my daughter was abandoned. Some fairy tale like. Some grossly implausible. But the only truth we can cling to is that we just don’t know. And that has to be the truth she learns from the beginning.
As Americans, we have the haughty assumption that every one every where must be just like us. Think like us, act like us. But they are most certainly not. The Chinese people couldn’t be more different. Their culture, their ways are so far from what we consider to be ‘typical’ here in America. We wear blinders, created by our lavish and luxurious lives in in the United States. Whoever you are and how ever ‘poor’ you feel, once you’ve spent some time seeing the real China, you’ll feel differently. Women in China face scenarios we could not imagine, even in our worst nightmares.
So speculating based on who we imagine our daughter’s birth mother to be, or what struggles she might have faced, or how she might have loved our daughter, well… I just can’t go there. I can’t assume to know the mind of a woman so unlike me on so many levels. I’m spoiled. I’m rich (relatively speaking, of course). I’m well-educated. I’m an American. And insanely blessed to be living in a country that values women as much as it does men.
The only real way for healing and growth to take place is by sharing the unadulterated, un-‘created’ truth. Allowing a child to build fantasies based on a fabricated tale of love and loss by birth parents is misleading and deceitful. And the ramifications could be enduring.
And when Isabelle pours over the details of her earliest days, when she goes through her pictures from the orphanage, when she rolls the few facts she has over again and again in her mind, I want everything she thinks of to be based on truth. Not based on the shifting sands of half-truths and outright fabrications.
And my prayer is that she will grow from there, into the beautiful child God intended her to be. Seeking answers, asking questions and turning to Him to fill the void that nothing else can.
So when that day arrives, and she comes to us for answers about her beginnings, we will have to be courageous enough to stand before her with empty hands.
And open arms.