"Mamma....why didn't Foster Mama want to keep me? Why didn't China Mama want to keep me?" I could answer the first question easily. I am able to explain how the foster system is set up and from the beginning it is known that it will not be forever. Foster families are in place temporarily while children wait for a forever family. But the second question that immediately followed, this is the questions that I have been dreading. I knew it would come one day ,and I know it will come again, but I still was not prepared.
On October 11 we will celebrate 4 amazing years as a family of four. In some ways it seems like forever and in other ways it seems like it has whizzed by. The 4 years have not been easy. We have been on an emotional roller coaster but as we look back we recognize that we are in such a good place. Regardless of where we sit on the attachment wheel, we are connected as a family and the love between us all is intense. The truth is that there will likely always be work to do but isn't that always the case in life?
We can now go for weeks at a time with out a set back or an issue that we need to slowly work through. And when set backs occur we can handle it because we have been there so many times before. Nothing is fast with Lu. She is very slow and steady....that is how she likes it. When she gets into a funk it is a long and dreadful wait as she works through it. We have grown to accept that everything is in her own time. As it should be. Her life changed in a blink of an eye so if she needs time to heal a wound or work through an upset I get that. Time was taken from her with out her ever asking for it and she ticks differently as a result.
If you are wondering about my response to the question it was this...."We do not have an answer to your question about China Mama but I feel quite certain that you were loved because you were given life. For some reason unknown to us, your birth parents could not care for you. Lulu, we do not have answers for all of the questions that come up about your birth parents but you should still ask them. We can sit and we can wonder together. If you want to get angry or upset, it is okay. We are here for you." You see, we strongly believe that we can not and should not say more than that. The honest truth is that we do not know. It is not up to us to make assumptions and lead her thinking in a certain way. We do not have the right to do that and if we do it could come back to haunt us one day.
A year after Lu joined our family I got working on her Life Book. This is a book written by me for her about her story. We are honest with the fact that we know little but there is still quite a bit of information in the book about the history of China, culture, traditions etc. Writing the book was very therapeutic for me. I thought that by doing so I would face all the skeletons in the closet so to speak. Deal with the "issues" before they came into our daily conversation. I was wrong. It helped at the time but I can not say that it actually prepared me for the emotional set back I would have when Lu asked me the question. I lied there in bed with her crying silent tears. I hurt for her. I hurt for her birth parents. I hurt for foster mama. I hurt for us as we so desperately want to help her to get a place of acceptance and understanding. Especially Elle, she overheard the question and came into Lu's room. She sat lovingly next to her sister and did her best to explain in her words that we do not have the answers but we will always lovingly help her through the tough times. Lu was not accepting of this. She told us she did not want to talk about it anymore. Elle felt sad and helpless....as she has so many times over the past 4 years. My heart broke for both my girls.
We are all ok. We will move forward. It is progress because Lu is talking. And that is not always the easiest thing for her to do. When she shuts down, she shuts down completely and does not udder a sound. This is different. She is aware of our Family Day Anniversary coming up. She is aware of what it means to all of us. We know that she loves us even if she still has difficulty telling us or showing us. She does in her own way. We still do not get a lot of physical touch from Lu...she keeps us at a distance unless she is in the right place. We do however get more smiles and more giggles....all of this helps with attachment. This is what we focus on. The hard times are.....hard. The nights continue to be a struggle. Change continues to be difficult but we know what we need to do. We need to keep loving Lu with all of our hearts. We need to keep things simple and predictable as often as we can. We need to be open and honest. We need to be patient. We need to accept that things will happen and progress in her time...not ours. And we need to embrace the surprise and glory when Lu defies all odds and does the unexpected....as she did this summer at her cousin's wedding. The bride was certainly shining that day but so were the flower girls...both of them....and this we did not expect.
Our focus going forward will be living day by day. Smiling more, loving more and letting go of the anxious feelings or emotions that creep in. It does not mean that we do not acknowledge the upsets but we do not dwell on them. We need to keep moving. Lu has a tendency to be negative. We are doing our best to think positive thoughts as a family....to "feed the positive dog" and to move forward together.
Healing can not be rushed but it can be guided with love.