Friday, April 5, 2013

Dear Kind-Hearted and Well-Intentioned Friends,

My daughter has issues.

Issues that are not your fault, not my fault and certainly not her fault. But they affect us all to varying degrees.

Take for instance, her non-relationship with the stranger in Walmart. If she willingly goes to someone she has never seen before and snuggles up on their lap, it might look cute to you, but to me, it looks pitiful. It fills my heart with lead. 

See, kids who have been parented with with one mom and/or one dad have learned that not all adults are created equal. When babies are inconsolable for everyone but their mommy, that's healthy. Cuddling with strangers is unhealthy. It reminds me that my daughter has issues.

I understand that these issues are foreign to most of you. And I'm glad that they are. That tells me that healthy bonds to your biological children and other kids in your life are the norm. When you see your kids hugging people, most likely it's coming from a healthy place. I know, that's how it is with my biological kids too. It's as it should be.

But for just a minute, look into my daughter's early life with me.

For the past 2 years she has lived in a home with many adults and many children. Adults who bathed her and fed her. But they were not her Mom and her Daddy. When she was hungry, one of the many ladies in the home would give her rice and at night, someone else would tuck her into bed. When she needed to go to her doctor's appointment, one of the big sisters would take her. There were people coming and going in her world, all the time.

The big people in my daughter's life were safe, but not intimate.

Even after weeks of taking my girl potty countless times a day, cutting her french toast, holding her until she fell asleep and kissing her over and over, she still called random people "Mama." And that was a problem.

You are tender-hearted friends. Many of you are moms who look at my daughter and think of your own. You are so tickled that mine found a family and think she is just so stinking cute and want to just scoop her up and smooch on those cheeks. Maybe the only way you know to look at kids is how you have looked at kids from healthy homes like your own.

And up until now, I've looked at all kids the same way too. I'm not being critical or thinking mean thoughts about you. You are good and have tender hearts and just want to love on our new daughter. You just want us as parents to know that you are welcoming her and completely accept her as part of our family.

And we say Thank You. Thank you for the kindness. Thank you for the acceptance. I hear you saying "I'm gonna love this new daughter of yours just as I love the rest of your kids."

But your love might need to look different than you would imagine. It might need to look like space. It might look like not sharing candy from your pocket. It might look like not cuddling her. 

If you want to love my daughter, than do what is the very best thing for her: let her learn the difference between her mommy and you. 

Reinforce to her that her mom and dad and siblings are in a class of their own. They are her Important People. And maybe for a time, her only people.

My daughter has issues.

But we are confident that with time, with day in and day out of the same Important People meeting her needs, our daughter will heal. She will learn who's shoulder to cry on and who's leg to hide behind. She will shy away from the stranger at the grocery store because she will understand. She will understand the intimacy of a family.

Thanks for understanding, my friends.

The Mom

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