Adoption = Letters to My Children, Part 2

Before we adopted, I wrote letters in my head; often I wish I’d actually penned them:

My darlings, I expect you’re probably already out in the world somewhere. How I wish, wish, wish I could send you a message.

Three years past adoption, I still dream these letters, every day.

My sweet daughter,

The last few weeks have been difficult, mostly because you want control and I refuse to transfer the power. Lately, you are headstrong, subversive, stubborn, manipulative and oppositional. You are single-minded in your quest to defeat me.

In a decade, I will readily admit: at this moment, I am frustrated, exhausted and I’d love to just give up. For now, my dear, we play poker. I smile and pretend none of this hurts, your resistance against my desperate attempt to mold you into a successful human being. I understand the stakes; we both need to win.

Here’s the thing. I’ve started thinking about the young woman you’ll be. Your freedom is coming faster than either of us expects. Perhaps it’s time for a different approach.

Yes, you must learn to follow directions in order to survive and thrive in our world. I’m sorry, but that’s life. On the other hand, maybe there are better words for some of your traits.

Headstrong: you are tenacious, determined and relentless in your bid for power. The same qualities that drive you to make excellent grades while not eating your lunch (to prove I’m incorrect, that you can do well without brain fuel) will serve you well as you work through upper grades and college, first jobs and messy relationships. It will be amazing, your eloquent survival.

Subversive: you are always looking for ways to circumvent my rules. You make up your own. So did Sir Isaac Newton. And Albert Einstein. You consistently take the path of greatest resistance, the one decidedly less traveled. You convince others to abandon the sanctioned course. Sometimes this leads to the most amazing discoveries.

Stubborn: you refuse to renege your crusade to take charge, to “do what you want to do,” as you say. You want control over your life. Better words to describe you: steadfast and unshakable. Someday, another person may try to force their will over yours. I pity the fool.

Manipulative: you will do and say anything to get what you want. You say what you think others want to hear. Right now, it’s not attractive. As you mature, I believe “manipulative” will become “careful,” “intelligent,” and even “considerate.”  You will be the center of many universes.

Oppositional: you admit to this freely, which shocks me and your therapist. Honestly defiant, that’s you. But honey, life isn’t easy. You know that truth better than most adults. Know who else was oppositional? Susan B. Anthony. Rosa Parks.

Like your first years in this world, the start of this letter is discouraging. However, the story doesn’t end in the first paragraph. Both your life and this letter have metamorphosed. The end is not determined by the beginning.

I pray that God will help you continue to grow into the amazing young woman I see behind your beautiful blue eyes. That you will be relentless in your pursuit of wonder as you create your own avenues, and resilient. That you will be resolute in your being. That you will consider the well-being of others, and fight for justice.

I pray that I will live to see the day you change your world.

You are the light, the fire, the love of my life.

I am so thankful you are my daughter.

Love you forever,

Mama

Photo courtesy of AmericasLibrary.gov

About Casey

Adoption = my life. I'll give it to you straight. Success, failure, truth.

Posted on October 3, 2014, in Adoption, Writing101 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Your letter is an exquisite statement of unconditional love – that focuses upon the importance of maintaining a healthy connection with your daughter whether is doing what you expect of her or not. I think if she read this she may see that you do see and understand her, and perhaps she will lighten up a bit. I have been pondering for some time about how we all want to feel significant as humans, that this drive “to matter, to be counted, to be noticed” often causes us to behave, do and say things that may be experienced by others as hostile, negative, aggressive … but what the person who is doing these things desires the most is to feel significant – that somehow they are able to effect the world around them. I remember many times as a child that my mother made all sorts of decisions that drastically disrupted my life, and she never consulted me about these decisions at best, or prepared me for them. So I ended up feeling terribly insignificant. And I can only imagine what sort of sense of insignificance that many adopted children could feel – that they weren’t valuable or important enough for their birthparents to keep them. I don’t mean to project my philosophical reflections or personal experience upon your situation … but if you don’t know already … it might be worth trying to tease out what would make her feel significant … that she really matters … and perhaps you can help her with discovering a way to own her power in a productive way that the world will support.

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    • No projecting–you’re absolutely right. She feels powerless and abandoned. Some days, it’s harder to keep that in mind. I do plan to give her the letter; I’m just not sure whether the time is now. Thank you for everything in your comment; I truly appreciate your input and I hope that you and your mother have been able to mend your relationship.I definitely want to be available for her and help her heal, but knowing how to do that can be difficult. Say a prayer for me; those always help! 🙂

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      • Yes, she is young so it is hard to know whether she will be able to understand it the way you want her to. The one you have written seems more appropriate for 13 or older. Perhaps you can think of writing one that would communicate to her as she is now. The feeling of abandonment is devastating. One thing that I think that children need to understand, and even as adults we have trouble understanding … is that people do things for their OWN reasons, and more often than not it has nothing to do with the people around them. What she must need to know is that her being left is not a reflection of her value as a person, but rather a reflection of her parents’ inability to lover her the way they should – because of circumstance or personal weakness.

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        • You make a very good point. She’s 10 now, but emotionally closer to 7 or 8. She likes to write little notes,so writing her a note at her level would probably be a good way to reach her. Thanks for the encouragement. Not sure why I didn’t think of it before.

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  2. Very powerful, honest and real

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  3. This is beautiful and powerful at the same time. Have you considered giving her your letter?

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    • Thanks so much for reading. Yes, I was actually thinking of that this morning. I’m planning a letter to my son for part 3, so maybe I will give them each their letters after that. (Definitely can’t give something to only one of them…that doesn’t go well.) 🙂

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  4. You are so right- the story definitely doesn’t end in the first paragraph. I love how you see the good side of every thorn, I guess that’s what mothers do. I love this, and I could feel the love. 🙂

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