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    « Call For Back Up, The Cows Are Out | Main | The Dear Lily Advice Column »

    Love is….Sometimes Painful


    “Mom? Why did my baby sister’s birth mom leave her in a cardboard box?” Daughter #1 has just been reviewing daughter #2’s paperwork as we get ready to travel to China soon to make her part of our family. #1 will turn eight years old in a few weeks and was adopted from China 7 years ago at the age of 10 months. This injection of information into her still young mind has started the wheels turning; I can see it in her eyes. I explain that they placed little sister in a box so that she didn’t get stepped on or hurt while she waited for the police to find her.
    But why Mama, didn’t her birth mom just take her to the orphanage?” I explain that it is against the law in China to do this and so parents must find another way for their babies to be found so that they can find new homes.


    Oh …. Did they at least poke holes in the box so that she could breathe?”


    Don’t worry baby, I am sure that the lid wasn’t on and she could breathe.” Silence, so thick and painful I want to cry while she processes this. And then comes the question I have been waiting and dreading for 7 years.


    Mama, why did my birth mom give me away? Didn’t she love me? Was I left in a cardboard box too?” This is so difficult to answer on so many levels that I don’t know where to begin. We have talked about adoption from the time she was 2 years old, she has, it seems, always known about it and slowly as she has grown and developed, so has her understanding.


    Well sweetie, I don’t know if you were left in a box, but I do know that you were left in front of a Fu Dragon because I saw it. We even have pictures of it. And Fu Dragons are good luck. I don’t know why they couldn’t keep you since we don’t know who your birth parents are and there could be many reasons why they felt they couldn’t take care of you.”


    Like what reasons Mama?”


    Well, China allows most people to only have one or two children and no more than that.”


    So I was extra and they decided to keep the older kid?”


    Well, I don’t know, that is one possibility. Or maybe your birth parents were sick, or just couldn’t take care of you the way they needed to and wanted you to have a family that could do what they couldn’t.”


    Or maybe it’s because I’m a girl, right?” Apparently she has gleaned this information somewhere. It isn’t hard, strangers in public have commented to me in her presence that “China doesn’t like girls, they only want boys.” And though I have tried to educate the ignorant when I can…or just walk away, you know the message that has remained foremost in my beloved’s mind.


    Can we see my birth mom when we go to China?”


    No, baby, I’ve told you, we don’t know who she is.”


    Maybe she’s dead, and that is why she couldn’t take care of me. Yes, I think that is it, she’s dead.” To think that my daughter would rather imagine her birth mother dead than to imagine her abandoning her is heartrending. My precious one has slowly crawled into my lap as this conversation has progressed and is now inches from my face gazing intently into my eyes. “So if I didn’t get borned in China and my birth mom didn’t give me away, then I wouldn’t have you for my Mama?”


    That’s right baby.”


    Well then, that must have been the plan. Cause you’re my best mom. You are my only mom. You belong to me.” She says this with a fierceness and grip around my neck that is staggering.


    Yes, and you belong to me too, my wisest and most wonderful daughter.” She lets go her death grip and leans back to look at me.


    Do you think that she remembers me?”


    Baby, you’re hard to forget, I bet she thinks of you every day.”


     I love you Mama.”


    And I love you too, forever and for always.”




    Yes dear one.”


    May I have some ice cream?”


    Sure sweetie.”


    With a cherry on top?”




    Mom? You’re the best.”


    Back at ya kiddo.”


    KKW ©2008


    Reader Comments (18)

    seems that you handled that one extremely well. I too am waiting for the day that Glenys will figure it all out.

    August 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRamblingMother

    My youngest one (now 3 adopted at 18 months) is struggling with the fact that her sister was here before she was. Lindsi will often refer back to something we did before Jami came home & Jami will argue for all she's worth, that she WAS HERE...she just can't grasp actually BEING in China. Although, if asked, she will tell you she's from China.


    August 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDebby

    That brought tears to my eyes, Kim. You are such an amazing mother, and you and Lily are so blessed to have each other! You're also a great writer!!! I think you should write a type of memoir-book someday about all of this.
    Has it been exciting for Lily to watch the Olympics? love you! jenna

    August 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

    Ok, my first comment didn't go, so I will try this again. I am Denise, Lily and my son Gabe are in the same grade at school. we met on the Jamestown fild trip after we had just received our referral of our daughter. Well, I found your blog through another mom who is going to China from our town and I couldn't believe where your daughter is from...Maggie is also from Chengdu! They may have been together. Maggie was in foster care up until Dec 2007, but was at he orphanage from then until I went to get her in March 2008. Anyway, I would love to talk to you. Please e mail me or leave a comment on our blog.


    August 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

    love your blog!
    Linked it to mine on:
    its only german though.....
    love your blog! Go on writing! I am begging you!

    August 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterQuintus kommt an Bord!

    Saw your post on the SAC. Really liked this entry. Margot talks about her birth mother and such often. It is hard to stay neutral sometimes. I appreciate your sharing because it prepares me for more questions down the road.

    August 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercanyon401

    My 6 yr. old tells me I'm her best mom too. She is also just coming to terms with the fact that she was had another mother. We are also getting ready to leave for China for #3.

    August 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCindi Campbell

    I just found your blog from your comment on LovingChinasChildren board. Your post brought tears to my eyes. In our Hague required education, we've read about stories like this and you know it will someday come up, but to hear how beautifully and powerfully you navigated the conversation is inspirational. Good job, Mom! It sounds like there is a lot of love going on in your home...
    Be blessed,

    August 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteve n Coco

    Such a lovely conversation - that's very much for sharing this. Like some others, it also brought tears to my eyes



    March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCecilia

    Reading your post was as living again a conversation with my older daughter from China, some months ago, when she was also 7 years old. She was in my bed and said just the same words "Why my birth mom gave me away? didn't she love me? I will never forget these words, with such a sorrow!
    She also frequently says to me that I'm her truly mom.

    Even they live very far away it seems they share many feellings.

    I loved how you are able to express it all.

    From Spain

    March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

    Kim as someone who was a part of you and Lily's beginning I am so honored to say the two of you are a perfect match. And I am sure Mieka is a wonderful addition to your family.
    To everyone and anyone who reads this, all of your are correct in saying Kim is a wonderful mother. She was from the very beginning. It was like she was born to be Lily and Mieka's mother. Watching Kim and Lily for their first couple of years together totally reinforced my feelings about the strength of single mothers of fathers. It is all what you put into being a parent. And Kim you have always put your whole heart into it.
    I know Lily is happy and feels loved more than any child could possibly feel.
    I know it had to be hard to have the talk with Lily, but I think you handled it perfectly!
    I look forward to future writings and conversations with you and the girls. I felt like as if I were right there listening to the conversation. You are so talented and creative. I too think you should follow up with a memiore of you and your life with your so special family.
    Oh and thank you for your very special Christmas cards each year. I always look forward to them. With the creative pictures of your family and critters and updated happenings of your family.
    Please keep writing and sharing.
    Tell Lily I think of her often and Mieka I enjoy the pictures I seen of her and her big sister. They are great.
    MIss you all,Pat

    November 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPat

    I think you handled it lovely.


    December 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertokenblogger

    Thank you so much for responding on dooce to my question about transracial adoption! I am making my way through your blog and it is so helpful to hear accounts from someone who has already been through this and is continuing to. Thank you so much for your openness and honesty. In my family and friends there isn't anyone else that has adopted or is considering, so there are a lot of people that do not understand our decision. Anyway, I am just very appreciative of you taking the time to answer my question!

    May 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterllacia

    Came by via Facebook. That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing it!

    February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterViv

    thanks. you're the best mama :)

    March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterart

    It is very hard to understand why parents leave us. My father died when I was two. My mother told me he left on a plane because she was not sure how to explain death to me. Eventually at about 4 I understood he died but I still felt like he abandoned me. Maybe it was the residual effect of thinking he left me to go on a plane, I don't know. As I was growing up I would point out items to my fiends and tell them my father left that for me. A shovel, a hammer it could be anything. It was important to me to pretend that dad left things for me, I guess I said those things so I felt like my father did not forget me. I used to have dreams about him, I would see him in the dream and ask why did you leave me. He was always nonchalant about leaving (in the dream) and I would end up fighting him. Everyone processes events differently. For me it was hard but to this day I cant tell you what explanation or circumstance would have made me feel differently. I guess we all suffer and the only buffer we have is love and kindness. Accepting it is the hard part.

    March 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdon

    Thank you for sharing Don, blessings.

    March 5, 2014 | Registered CommenterKim Kelley-Wagner

    This. This is beautiful. I love your sweet girl's heart. We too are a family of adoption. Our oldest three came to us from Foster Care, and our youngest is a private (sort-of) adoption. It's always a blessing to see other mammas talk of their adoption experience.

    March 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcy Hanson

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