My daughter, adopted at age 8 and now 24 years old, would give anything to find her birth parents and understand their actions. For the first few years she happily celebrated Mother’s Day, Adoption Day, my birthday and Christmas Holidays. But once she began to wonder what happened to China-mom things changed (about age 10-11). China-mom has loomed large in our lives ever since. My daughter was with the sense of loss. Birth-dad did not seem be such an issue. My daughter was about 6 months old when found and her birth date is approximate - this is a separate issue of pain.
So I was glad that I told the truth - with various levels of detail as she grew up. The first telling I said her China mom had some grown up problems that had nothing to do with her, that they tried caring for her but could not continue. So, someone made sure that she was bundled up well, placed in a safe place, was found by the police and taken to the Institute where she waited for a family.
As she grew older and asked further questions, I said, we don't really know what happened, but the China she was born into is not like China is today. In the year she was born (1986) there were strong penalties for disobeying the one child policy, food and medicine were more scarce . Someone may have found out that an unauthorized child had been born and the family was penalized; one or both parents may have become sick , lost their job, gone to jail or even died, and could no longer care for her.
Because she had few happy memories from inside the Institute and none outside the Institute, it was very important that we went back when she was 14, 17 and she travelled with a university abroad program at 22 so she could see where she fit in China today. She had much to learn and forgive there, too. On our first trip, she thought she’d recognize China-mom on the street. That notion was quickly extinguished when she saw the sea of black hair and Chinese faces. At the end of the trip I saw a profound change. She stated: Before I came back I was a Chinese person living in America. Now I see I am an ABC: An American Born in China.
Since I know many adopted children think they must have cried too much, or been too much trouble, I stress this was probably not the case, that most of the time it has to do with grownups facing something for which they just could not see another solution. Clearly it was a long term problem as no one came back for her.
Only in the last couple of years has she forgiven China-mom. I never doubted her love for me because once the cloud passed she really could separate the two issues. Outside counseling was not much of an option because she would not open up. We have a close relationship and have always been able to talk about this – and she has talked about it with other Chinese adoptees.
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Thought I would chime in a little late. I usually try to gain insight from the Bible about these things. I know that we are not all of the same faith but thought I would share for anyone who cares to read on. My little one is too young to understand but I plan to tell her that her mother has not forgotten her. That it is close to impossible that she did not love her because God created mothers with a deep connection to their children. Now mothers don't always make good choices or know how to love well but one thing is absolutely certain... God loves you and will never forget you. All of this based on the verses below...
15 ... Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!
16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
I have three children from China, ages 17, 8 & 5. We talk often about all my children's birth parents. My husband and I always say, "We don't know." When it comes to answers regarding their parents we don't know anything. We remind all of them of their wonderful talents and personalities that each of them brings to this world and that undoubtedly their birth parents would be so proud of them. But the fact is that we have NO information. I can not tell my children something that I don't know is true or not.
I say a combo of the first 2. That: your parents had to love you so much, that they chose to do the most difficult thing for themselves, and sacrificed their own to desire to raise you in order to give you a chance at life. That they chose a protected place and may have stood by waiting and watching to be sure that you went to a safe place that could provide all the needs you had. I will say much more when she is older. but I think this lays a foundation for her to understand that her parents found it absolute imperatively to her life and safety that she be left for adoption.
I tell my daughter that while we will never know for sure, all the signs point to the fact that she was loved by her birth-parents. They relinquished her at an older ager when her medical condition became evident, progressive and un-treatable in her poor, rural birthplace. She was left at a guarded gate at a busy university, so that she would be found immediately. Also her report states that she was brought in well cared for and that she cried incessantly for days for her mother, refusing to eat or sleep well. I tell her that for months before we ever saw her, I prayed that God would send just the right child to our family. And at the same time in China her mother also prayed that her daughter would be chosen and loved by just the right family...and that God heard and answered both her mother's prayers.
Knowing the many horrible stories that my child could find on the web when she is older, I think it's a disservice to tell her that her birth parents loved her when I'm not sure. I have told her that I don't know if her birth parents love her, but I know that many birth parents do love their children, but I don't know her birth parents or the reasons she ended up in an orphanage. We discuss many, though not all scenarios, due to her age. And I tell her that I know that God loves her and that He delighted in His creation when he thought her into existence. And that any problems in her birth parents' lives were not about her.
While I start with "I don't know", I also tell my daughters that I think their birth parents would be really proud of them now and would be happy that they are in a family that loves them very much. As a parent, it is hard to believe that a child would not be loved, even if the bio parent was unable to successfully parent them at the time of their birth.
I start by telling them "I don't know" and then go on to say "But, I believe they did love you because they gave birth to you and then put you in a place where you would be found quickly and taken care of. There were other options available to them, but they chose to give you life, so I believe they did love you."
I know in my heart that it was with great pain my daughter's birth mothers left them.
I believe she wrapped them carefully, kissed them, laid them down and watched hidden until they were found. I think it took courage for them to go thru with the pregnancy.
I tell my daughters that on their birthday, of all days especially, their birth moms are thinking of them and holding them in their heart.... it was the best they could do.
I think the bio parents do love the children. They made sure they were in a safe place. I would not talk to my child about this until they are older but the birth parents could have aborted...and they didn't. I know some believe in not painting a pretty picture. I think it's ok to assure them that they were loved...and to speak positively about them.