Number 12 on the list of Sherrie Eldridge's Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew: "I am afraid you will abandon me." Oh, yes. It's there. And you don't have to dig very far below the surface to find that fear in my kids.
Saturday night we were snuggling on the couch watching ice skating on TV (the girls LOVED the number of Asian-American skaters competing for the U.S. championship), and during a commercial, Maya said, apropos of nothing, "Mama, if someone else adopted me and then gave me away to someone else who adopted me, I'd be sad because you wouldn't be my mom and you're the best mom!"
Wow, unpacking this one is interesting. I think it's particularly noteworthy that the people who give her away in this scenario are not her birth parents. And as usual when Maya talks to me about adoption, she reaffirms that I'm the best, like she's afraid she'll hurt my feelings if she doesn't. She always does this when she talks about her birth mom -- part of that divided loyalty that adoptees often speak about. There seems to be that loyalty thing in not pegging her birth parents as someone who gave her away.
I told her that I was glad that I adopted her instead of someone else adopting her, and I told her I would never give her away. I talked about all the things that make me able to take care of her -- a job, a house, money, food, family who helps us out -- and said that I thought her birth parents didn't have all of these things, which is why I thought they couldn't raise her. I said I had promised to love her and take care of her forever when I adopted her, and that was what I was going to do. And we snuggled some more.
I didn't address the issue of being adopted by one family who gave her away to another family -- I didn't really think that was what she was really getting at. She doesn't know anything about adoption disruption. She was asking about permanency, a typical theme for adoptees who've been "given away" once and wonder whether it will happen again.