A reminder

The only thing worse than tonight will be when she is a teenager and I have “You’re not my REAL mom!” thrown in my face.

Tonight was hard.  Ooh boy.  I kept trying to tell myself she doesn’t mean it, she doesn’t mean it. 

For some reason in the middle of dinner tonight, Odette kept repeating airplane over and over again.  I tried my best to translate what she was talking about and even asked Jeff to intervene.  Airplane.  All we could get was AIRPLANE.  Oh, and Papa John.

Heart stops.

From there I don’t even remember.  It went something like…Papa John.  Congo.  Bye, mommy and daddy.  Come.  Car.  Papa John.  Bye.  We tried to explain that he was in Congo and she was in America.  But oh yes, he told her he was coming to America tomorrow.  She now knows “tomorrow” and she knows “tomorrow” was a long time ago.  We again explained that she is in America with mommy and daddy.  We love her.  We love her forever.  Her house is in America.  Her clothes are in America.  Her friends are in America.  Her food is in America.  Odette is in America.  Papa John is in Congo.  Odette lives in America with mommy and daddy.  Do you love mommy and daddy?  No.  Do you love mommy?  No.  Do you love daddy?  No.


(Now, before you think it and say it…Yes, I know that ALL children at some point say that.  I know I said it to my parents.  But, if you birthed your child you know with every ounce of being that your child doesn’t mean it.  I don’t.  I think she loves us.  She seems very, very happy, but I don’t have that deep, deep knowing in my heart that comes from years of attachment as a family.)

It went on and on for over an hour.  I can’t remember the details.  She was in tears.  She was looking out the window for Papa John.  We tried telling her he would come later and that it was time for a bath.  She then asked if Papa John would come after bath.  Oh boy.  That strategy didn’t work.  She sobbed in the bathtub and we talked it out as best we could.

You miss Papa John.  That’s ok.  When daddy is at work Mommy misses him.  When daddy is at work he misses Odette. It’s ok.  Odette is sad.  It’s ok.  You can be sad.  When you miss someone, you are sad.  When daddy is at work mommy is sad.  We are a family.  Mommy, daddy, and Odette live in this house.  We are a family. We love each other thiiiiiiiis much. Papa John is a friend. —– and —— are your friends. They love you thiiis much. We love you more because we are your mommy and daddy. We are a family.  When you are big like mommy and ——– and ———- then you can go to Congo and see Papa John, but not now.  Little Odette is not going to Congo to see Papa John.  I then had her repeat “I miss Papa John”, hoping that I could give her the tools to articulate what she is feeling next time so we don’t have the meltdown.

It ended with hugs and kisses and I love you mommy, but it hurt.

To be honest it still hurts.  Do I think she truly meant it?  No.

Jeff and I had a long talk about it afterward.  The truth is we were both hurt.  Thankfully, we were able to shed light on what happened and learn from it.  Papa John was special to her.  We know that.  But we think that Odette says Papa John as an umbrella for her life in Congo.  She left everything behind.  Everything she knew and everyone she knew.  She is only 3, but she is mourning the loss that all adoptions come from.  She might not miss her birthmother, as most loss is referred to or thought of, but she misses Congo.  Jeff and I discussed that this is a reminder that we can’t take for granted how well she is doing.  We’ve read the books.  We’ve researched.  Why we thought this day would never come was naïve of us.  We are hurting, but so is she.  There isn’t a way to help her understand that she is going to be here forever.  She doesn’t know forever.  She hasn’t had a family.  She’s doesn’t know what it is like to have a mommy and a daddy.  She’s only been home for 2 months.  It is going to take time.  A lot of time.

We vowed to let tonight serve as a reminder that healing is a process.  The process is not over.

Pray for her.  Pray for us.  Pray for our family.

Sarah Signature

P.S. Shamelessly asking for 2 more sponsors.  What will I do without this outlet?


3 thoughts on “A reminder

  1. I couldn’t sleep last night and must have read this just a very short time after you posted it, with tears pouring down my face. My heart breaks for Odette, her sadness, the hole in her heart, and her inability to wrap her head around it all. My heart breaks for you and Jeff, for the sudden flood of emotion, the helpless feelings, and the pain in those words.

    Sarah, I know you felt helpless in the moment, but you and Jeff handled this well. You acknowledged Odette’s feelings, tried to explain, gave her words for her feelings, and allowed her to grieve.

    You, Jeff, and Odette will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Please know that you ARE doing the right things and you ARE being the loving, caring parents that Odette needs. Your bond will grow stronger through these tough times and Odette will learn that she can trust you both to always be there for her!

    Hugs to you all!!!

    • I completely agree.
      I have been trying to figure out what to say and you just hit it on the head so I will just agree and add that I’m praying for you all!

  2. I totally get it. I was working to adopt out of foster care before i moved to international adoption and DRC, and i had a little girl whom i was expecting to adopt – and that transition from orphan to family, from “that” mom to “this” mom, and rearranging everyone’s identity can be a heartbreaking, fragile, stop-start process. i think you are doing a wonderful job and you’re a great mom. i learn from you with every post…

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