Her words pierced through my heart. There was honesty in her statement and resentment that couldn’t be softened by my reply. She was frustrated, upset, and too young to understand the why behind my decision to place her half-sister for adoption. She was only eight-years-old, at the time, and sat in the middle of two brothers. The oldest, two years older than her, and the baby of the family, six years younger than her. I remember the look on her face when the technician read our ultrasound and announced she would soon be a big sister to a baby brother. She was devastated.
My children have always known that I placed my first child for adoption. There was no secrecy in our home. Often this led to unexpected and uncomfortable questions, but never have I doubted our choice to be upfront with them at a young age. We discussed where she lived, what she enjoyed, and in simple terms, why I placed her for adoption. There were many times their questions led to a lot of heartache and other moments that filled me with great joy. But today, I found myself speechless as she stormed off yelling, “you gave away my only sister!”
She was right, and there was nothing I could do to take away the resentment or give her the experiences that come with having a sister. She was all girl; loved to shop, paint her nails, dance, sing, and everything pink. My husband and I had experienced three miscarriages before we were blessed with her baby brother. I longed for her to have a sister as much as she ached for one.
I walked out to the backyard and cried out in frustration. I asked myself, how do I respond to this? How do I help her understand when I am still trying to understand it myself? I cried for the teenager that I was when I made that decision. I cried for the loss of her three siblings that never made it into this world. I cried in grief. I cried for her; I wanted to take the pain away and to reply with something compelling. But all I felt as helplessness.
As I stood outside and stewed, I heard the sliding door open, and her tiny feet come running towards me. As I held her in my arms, I realized that she too was grieving. She was mourning the loss, as I was, and I never thought about how my decision, so many years ago, would affect my children. Placing my baby for adoption rippled through my entire family, and together we all experienced great love and significant loss. My job, as her mother, was to guide her through her process of grief, though I was drowning in it myself.
I held her tighter, tears rolling down my face, and I said, “I miss her too. I’m sorry.”
Five years later, she is now a strong and independent young lady. We now talk in more depth about my decision to place. She doesn’t remember screaming those words to me, but I remember it changed how I reacted to my children’s emotions. It changed the way we talk about adoption in our home, and it prepared me for the more mature questions that my children ask now. I am grateful for experiences like this that have taught my family to love unconditionally and wholeheartedly. Together we take this adoption journey in hopes that we will all be reunited someday.