Sometimes people say "I can't imagine." Many times people say "I can only imagine." I always appreciate these words. I appreciate when friends acknowledge that we deal with some tough stuff. And just as much, I appreciate that friends do relate.
Recently I spent some time getting to know a couple of women who asked questions about my life, my family, my kids, and all the stuff that is not so "normal" (whatever that means) in our lives. They often hedged their questions with "if it is ok that I ask" or "I hope I'm not asking too many questions." My reply is that I am happy to answer questions. I'm thrilled that people are interested and want to understand.
There are so many things that never get said. Once you are on this side of the fence, you hear about all kinds of "stuff" that families deal with. It's not generally shared because these children are people. Small people. But people nonetheless. Their deepest pain and suffering does not belong on a billboard over their heads. That said, I know that many adoptive mamas wished they could help the world to know more about the "stuff" without betraying their children's trust.
So I am going to try to give you an idea of what I am talking about. Please know that this is not a contest. Parenting is difficult no matter which way you go about creating your family. This is just the only way I can find to share these things. Some of these apply to us. Many of them don't. All of them are real issues that real families are dealing with right now. So here we go:
Can you imagine your child literally throwing herself into walls because she is so desperate for attention that she will injure herself to get it?
Can you imagine your child slamming her head into the tile floor when she doesn't get her way?
Can you imagine your child biting you, kicking you, spitting at you, aiming to hurt you?
Can you imagine your child dumping her entire closet and refolding every item twice a week? It sounds nice until you realize that it is because she thinks it will make you want to keep her and not send her back.
Can you imagine your child just walked into the area where the dog just peed and so you yell at her to stop but she keeps walking into it and so you snatch her up and plunk her down 6 feet away and then you see that she is now shaking from head to toe?
Can you imagine your child flying into a full blown rage multiple times per day because her entire world has just been flipped upside down and you just said the word "no" (to a 6th cookie) reminding her of how hurt her little heart is?
Can you imagine video taping your child's tantrums and keeping records of every bump, bruise, scratch, and owie because they are so violent that they have led to questions of abuse in the past?
Can you imagine trying to explain to your child why her first mother kept her siblings but not her?
Can you imagine trying to explain to your child why she was thrown away like garbage, left to die in a pile of trash?
Can you imagine trying to explain to your child why she was abandoned, why she wasn't wanted?
Can you imagine knowing that your child was a prostitute prior to coming into your life?
Can you imagine knowing that your child was raped by her step father with a plastic bag over her head because she screamed too much and that she was forced to participate in the sexual abuse of her sibling?
Can you imagine your child scarfing down adult sized portions into a toddler sized belly until she cries with pain but still wants more?
Can you imagine your child eating until she pukes?
Can you imagine knowing that your child was witness to murder?
Can you imagine your child telling you about laying in bed next to her first mother while her mother prostituted herself in order to feed her child, your child?
Can you imagine your child flying into a rage when the food is over even after eating extreme amounts because she still feels the hunger pangs from months prior of going without food for multiple days?
Can you imagine your child wanting you to go to school with her because in the orphanage she went to school without any food for 12 hours and she knows that if you go with her that she will have food?
Can you imagine your child needing to sleep with a water bottle in order to be able to sleep because her survival fears just won't let go of the hold that they have on her?
Can you imagine your child needing to have some canned food under her bed in order to feel safe because she only knows survival and the canned food provides her with the feeling of a safety net?
Can you imagine everyday tasks suddenly triggering painful memories? Like throwing out coffee grounds triggering memories of eating leftover tea leaves. Or a storm reminds her of having collected hair to eat. Or clipping toenails reminding her of the time that she was so hungry that she sat at the feet of women and ate their clipped nails.
Can you imagine knowing that your child doesn't truly love you, yet?
Can you imagine knowing that you don't truly love your child, yet?
Can you imagine your child asking you point blank on day one "will you beat me?"
Can you imagine your child puking up her food so she can chew it again?
Can you imagine your child being consumed with fear when you loose your purse because your keys were in it and now the "bad people" can come and steal her and even though you find your purse, her confidence is shaken to the core and takes weeks to repair?
Can you imagine knowing that you will never know the exact date on which your child was born?
Can you imagine your child peeing all over her books and toys because she is so desperate for control that it consumes her and her pee is one of the very few things that she can control?
Can you imagine your child leaving a little pile of poop for you to find every morning, her brain compelling her to do things that make no sense to you or I?
Can you imagine your child posing a threat to animals or other children?
Can you imagine seeing your child's little body covered in 50+ scars?
Can you imagine not knowing how all of the scars on your child's body took place?
Can you imagine changing your child's diaper only to find live worms wiggling around in her poop?
Can you imagine your child having giardia so bad that you layer 3 diapers on her at night and yet her little body is so inundated with this parasite that the effects still cannot be contained and this goes on a night after night for months?
Can you imagine your child sexually stimulating herself while sitting on your lap?
Can you imagine your child asking to touch you in very inappropriate places?
Can you imagine your child telling you about specific events that lead to the scars on her body and how they were intentionally done to her?
Can you imagine listening to your child tell you about being hit with multiple strikes, multiple times per day, every day?
Can you imagine your child being so very traumatized at such an early age that it has essentially rewired her brain but because of her age at the time she can't even tell you what happened?
Can you imagine your child telling you about going days without food?
Can you imagine knowing that your child was sold by her first mother; sold into the orphanage where big American dollars would be spent to come and get her but now the damage is done and can't be undone?
Can you imagine your child telling you about how their first mother didn't want to place them for adoption and how extended family took them from her home in the middle of the night? Can you imagine how you would feel when she told you that her mother wanted her back but she was instructed in the orphanage to call and tell her that they were already in America?
Can you imagine your child saying, "Every night I prayed that you would come. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited for you. But you didn't come. Why did you take so long?"
Can you imagine holding your breath each time your child says "one time..." for fear that this will be the time that she tells you about being raped?
Can you imagine?