Saturday, August 11, 2012

her story

The kids are wearing traditional clothes given to them by the care center staff.

Some nights when I'm putting Lily down to sleep she asks to see a family photo we keep near her crib. It is of the four of us on the day they said farewell to the orphanage and we became a family.  Andrew and I are sporting wide grins, Daniel has a quiet smile on his face and baby Lily is chewing a finger.

Helping our two children understand, grieve and process their adoption story is very different for each of them. Daniel was old enough to be very aware of the events happening around and to him. He remembers his first family and the death of his mother.  He understood, as well as a 5 year old could have, what happened.  Why? is his big question.  And as he grows older, he will keep asking it, and keep adding to the layers of his understanding of his story. The essential What Happened, he lived and remembers.

Lily, on the other hand, was an infant (and a very sick one at that) during all of those drastic changes.  She has no memories of it and little understanding.  She doesn't know what happened, and she is too young and has too little language to ask us.  But sometimes... sometimes she looks like she is trying to figure something out, something big.  Sometimes she wakes up from a nap and is inconsolable.  Sometimes she seems like she is looking for someone that she only instinctively knows should be here.

So some nights I tell her a little story: her story.  And this child, my wild, impulsive, active, busy toddler, stills and listens.

I say,

 "Lily Tagessech, you were born in Ethiopia. Your father's name is G-----, your mother's name was A------.  When you were just a tiny baby, your mother died.  Your father decided you needed a new mommy and daddy, so he brought you and Daniel to an orphanage.  Then mommy and daddy flew on an airplane all the way to Ethiopia to get you, and we all came home to America together.

And here you will stay, forever and ever, and always and always.

The Beginning."

And then she falls alseep. What does she dream of? I wish I knew.  I hope. I hope, she dreams of home, all the versions she's known.

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