Sometimes a hug isn’t enough. Sometimes love isn’t either.
After asking permission to come up to the sacred spot (another story), I climbed into the top bunk to find my sniffling, sobbing, sad daughter wrapped up in her blankies and surrounded by her collection of stuffed animals and one of our (her) boy kitties. The heat emitting from her fetal position indicated just how upset she was.
She lifted that beautiful face up as soon as she found the emotional control to do so and mumbled through the snot and tears, “I’m sad.” And the sobbing began all over again.
I asked, “Can I hold you, baby?”
With barely a nod, she scootched over and deposited her head facedown in my lap. I began to rub her back and could feel her calm.
“Can you talk?” I asked softly.
Not yet. The sobbing started all over again. And I sat—quiet, rubbing her back, intermittently playing in her long silky dark tresses.
“Do you want me to help you? Can I ask some questions?”
A barely perceptible nod gave me the opening to converse.
We had a long quiet dialogue—mostly me tossing out a few “pebbles” in the beginning, her slowly joining in and sharing as her sobs lessoned. She flipped over and faced me, engaging me with eyes dark from emotion. Deepening the connection. Except for blinking, our eyes never left one another.
We talked about adoption and being adopted. We talked about choice and freedom and decisions people make. And decisions that are made for others. We talked about how hard she feels it is to be Chinese and Asian, how she believes people assume things because she is Asian, how she feels about being Asian, and what she thinks of the Chinese.
Those perceptions are her truths and they made me ache. It is my job, as best as I can do being a white parent, to empower her to feel secure, confident and proud about who she is. It is a challenging task. I do not walk in her shoes. I never have and cannot ever attempt to do so.
We bantered ideas and played “What if?” for some time. Eventually I felt she was “good place” so I began to move away with the intent of making dinner.
“Mama, don’t leave me.”
Although it had been close to an hour, I stayed and we talked of China and her story. I watched the last vestiges of sadness leave her face and body and felt lighter myself.
A mother dislikes nothing more than to see her child suffer in any way. Sometimes, as a transracial adoptive parent, it is difficult to help the child when they are sad, grieving or angry about not being white.
Sometimes a hug isn’t enough. Sometimes love isn’t either. But patience, compassion, and listening actively with your entire being can make the difference. Be present for your child. They need you.
Food for Thought: What do you do to be present for your child? Do you validate what your child feels? Are you able to help him or her with the words to convey his or her emotions? Are there sticking points for you, topics you find uncomfortable? If so, why? What can you do to address them and help your child?