The "B" Word
I have a little girl who chooses her words carefully. I can tell before she even opens her mouth that she has calculated the response of the listener in order to ward off even the smallest chance of ridicule or judgment. She longs to be the same, to be normal and fit in just like everyone else--the ever-present reality of being Chinese in an American family hanging just above her head. This is how I know that the words that came out of her mouth yesterday were chock-full of intent, inquisition, feeling and emotion. “Mommy, what do you think my birthmother was like?” Me: “Oh honey, just as we have talked about so many times before….” Oh wait, that is NOT what I said because we live most days pretending there is no difference between her and us, that she was almost birthed out of my body like my other two, so that she will KNOW that she is just as loved. What I really said was, “Where did you hear THAT word?!!! Birthmother?” I almost spit the “B” word out. Now hear me clearly…..I sung the praises of her birthmother before Noa came home to us. I cried over what she must have gone through in giving up this perfect child, enduring the pain of watching and waiting for someone to rescue her newborn lying helplessly in a box in front of the Yellow River Digger Factory. She really is my hero for so many reasons. But in the years that have followed Noa’s homecoming, I have kept that word, birthmother, and the subject of the parents who gave her up, under lock and key for fear it would wound Noa so deeply it would cause irreversible damage.
So now what? She said the word…. birthmother. I was so caught off guard by her little face pleading for answers that all I could think to do was to turn it around and ask her what she thought her birthmother was like. She immediately sensed the tension in my response and asked me why I was looking at her like that. So why was I looking at her like that? Caught up in my eyes was the fear that maybe one day I will not be enough for my daughter, that even though she loves me so fully and so deeply, there will always be a gaping hole I cannot fill.
I. Want. To. Meet. Every. Need. Of. My. Children.
I want to be everything. I want Noa to love me so much that she doesn't even think about from whom she was born. I realized yesterday that this isn't a fair expectation. I know Adoption People, everything I have just said is totally opposite of what I'm supposed to think and do. It has always been that way for us over here, and honestly, It has worked pretty well. Noa is healthily attached and really everything is great on that end. But I realized that even though I have tried to shield her from thinking she was different and from feeling abandoned and left behind by her birth parents, no matter what there is always the underlying truth: She was abandoned. She was left behind. We will never know the reasons, and even though I choose to believe it was an amazing act of bravery and selflessness, in the end the outcome is painful for a little heart. She loves me as her Mama but she had another mother and I cannot write that without sobbing. I always knew this would be hard for her but what I didn't realize is that it would be excruciating for me. I long to be enough. I long to be loved so much by my daughter that she has nary a thought of what she missed along the way. But when I sit inside her heart for only a moment and feel what she must be feeling as she wonders why and how, I know her pain is too big for me to fix. I know I am not enough. Noa loves me like crazy---like with wet, sloppy kisses and endless hugs---and nothing will ever change that, I hope. But her story is different. Her story has a lot of pain at the beginning that only God in His mercy can redeem. I love to tell her her “story.” I love to remind her how God moved mountains to bring us together. That God knew she would be our little girl since the beginning of time. I love to paint a picture of God’s redemptive love that is splattered all over her life. That is the enough in this story. My love, as high and as vast as it is for her, will never be enough to cover all the wounds she has stored in that little heart of hers. But God is enough.
I see myself stepping back a tad. Out of the picture. Letting God take over. Letting God heal the hurts and bandage the wounds. Letting God use Noa’s story in her own life and in ours. And while I am backing up, I’m passing my other children. And my husband. And our finances. And our jobs. And…...everything. All those big things, the things that are hard and ugly and looming, the things that teach us and help shape who we are at our deepest core, they are not always there to be fixed or eradicated. Maybe they are there to show us that God is the only big enough in our lives.