This week marks a milestone for my children: their birthmother’s birthday. We have an open adoption by mutual request, thus, I have the kids make something and we send it off.
My daughter seemed particularly sad this year as we created our gifts. I asked her about it, and her eyes welled with tears. She said she missed her birth mother. Now, I’m not at all competitive with her birthmother, but I questioned this a bit. Whereas my daughter does recall certain fairly catastrophic events in her childhood, and has the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to prove it, by and large, she has forgotten the day-to-day life with her birth family. She was placed in foster care somewhere around her 4th birthday, and her little brother was not quite 3. I’m not saying the possibility that she could remember things doesn’t exist, but rather she has said things like she doesn’t remember what her birth mother looks like, and tends to talk much more about her birth grandmother, with whom she lived for awhile.
I validated my daughter’s feelings, and said I understood that she was sad. I also told her that her birth mom loved her very much, and would be sad if she knew that her daughter was sad, because what she did was so hard, and it was because she wanted her daughter to be happy and have a better life than what she was able to provide.
My daughter thought about that for awhile. She wrote a little bit. She drew a little bit. Then, I don’t remember what made us goofy, but all of a sudden we were giggling and the moment passed.
I don’t know if I handled it in the right way or not. I do want to validate my children’s feelings. Yet, I don’t want them to lapse into depression, either. Because of my daughter’s PTSD, it’s a fine line, to be sure. I try to keep contact with her birth family because I said I would, and honestly, because I really do feel it is the right thing for our particular situation. But, at the same time, I try to balance that contact with a watchful eye to see how they handle the interaction and if it continues to be a healthy one for them. There are times when I’ve felt the need to pull back just a bit from weekly calls to their birth grandmother, to more occasional calls, letters and e-mails, only because of the effect it seems to have on the children at various times. When they appear to be able to handle it, we have more contact.
I know this will be a life-long balancing act. For my children. For their birth family. For my husband and I. But, I am hopeful that by being in tune with my children, and really communicating and listening, we can navigate these uncharted waters.