Consider for a moment what goes through your child’s mind when she thinks of her birth parents, especially her birthmother. Typically a mixed bag of deeply-seated emotions. One of those emotions is fear of hurting you.
Yes, you. Your child struggles with this guilt because she loves you. Her allegiance is with you and the rest of her adoptive family, yet she has the need to know as much as she can about her birth parent(s). They are part of each other: family and cultural history, genealogy, biology, ethnicity, and race.
Another fear is rejection. Your child has already experienced rejection at the most primal level by being relinquished by her birthmother. She fears rejection again—by you—because she thinks about her birthmother. After all she wasn’t worthy of being loved and kept by her birthmother (my daughter’s sentiments)…
Years back I asked one of my daughters if she was afraid I wouldn’t love her because she thought about her birthmother. The dam broke. Her crying was different than it ever had been. When she was calm we talked and she shared these thoughts:
“I want you to keep loving me.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I am so sad; I hurt.”
“Sometimes I want to talk and sometimes I don’t. I feel my monster.” (Her term for her uncontrollable anger.)
During that conversation one thing crystallized for me: Her pain is not about me, but I am part of it. It is also my job to own my parenting role and to make sure I do everything I can help her resolve these issues. She is not looking to replace me, but to find come to terms with loss, rejection, control, and her identity.
Parents: Can/have you given your child the permission and encouraged her to move forward she searches for her the missing pieces of herself?