a resurfacing of loss

“Jie jie shouldn’t say that; it’s unkind,” says Madeleine CaiQun from the back seat of the car, with a pout.

We were on our way home from the park, and Miranda had looked out the window and announced, “There’s the hospital where Atticus and I were born!”

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Through much of our daily life, the loss that is an integral part of adoption remains in the background. Of course we acknowledge it, and its presence frames much of the way that Matt and I have chosen to parent. It informs our choices about our parenting philosophy, about our sleep expectations, about how we discipline our kids, and about where we keep food in our kitchen. And certainly we have conversations about China, about adoption, and about Madeleine CaiQun’s life before she joined our family with relative frequency. Most of the time they are quite matter-of-fact.

But every once in a while, our little girl has a viscerally emotional response to a situation that we know is rooted in that deep loss she has experienced. There’s a wound there that will always be a part of her story – and a huge part of that wound is the reality that we just don’t know.

I can tell Miranda and Atticus the specifics of when and where they were born and what the first hours and days of their lives were like; I have no such information to give to Madeleine CaiQun, and that’s a loss she feels deeply.

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Adoption is a beautiful thing. Children should grow up in families, and those who, for whatever reason, cannot remain with their first families deserve to grow up in another. But it is always, always, always born out of profound loss, and never can we forget that. Our kiddos who come from hard places need to be loved in light of that reality, and sometimes that brings up hard stuff.

And so, last night, we talked about the sadness inherent in feeling different from her siblings and in the un-knowing-ness of her story. But we also talked about the beauty in God giving each person a different story and about how we celebrate each one. And we’ve promised to take Madeleine CaiQun back to China, hopefully to the city from which we believe she came, to fill in what gaps we can for her. We hope and pray we can love her well as she continues to express her emotions and raise any questions she may have.

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