Thursday, November 30, 2006

Grief Versus the Good Life

Dominick and I were talking with one another this weekend, and we were chatting about "T" and all we had to do to prepare. As we talked, our conversation became more subdued as we began to grasp the reality that our new son would have to face. So often, people...adoptive parents included...tend to focus only on what their new child will be gaining by being adopted by an American family. The benefits are huge overall, no doubt, as a child is always better off with a loving family, enough food to eat, a chance at a good education...a future. But what about what they are leaving behind?

Those of you who are parents, imagine your child leaving behind all that is familiar to go to a new place that is totally foreign to them, a place where no one speaks their language, they'll never have the same foods again, they know absolutely no one. And it is forever. How would your child handle it? I think of Matthew in the same circumstance and I know he would be terrified, and would feel so lost and alone, regardless of the good intentions of the people he might be with.

What some people fail to recognize is that regardless of how much better his life will be, he is leaving the only family he has ever known. He has been in the orphanage since infancy, and grown up with the kids that are there. They are his brothers and sisters, and he will be leaving them forever, most likely never to see any of them again. He will leave his home to go live with strangers, knowing that he will never return. What panic might he feel? What all will be happening around him that he doesn't understand? What will he wish he could tell us but won't have the language to do so?

And what courage must a tiny 8 year old boy have to jump off this virtual cliff? Surely more than I could ever muster.

I hope that somehow I am able to convey to him a sense of security, I hope that I can ease his mind at moments when he might feel like he wants to explode with feelings he can't yet express. I wonder if there will be moments when I question the wisdom of what we have done, if we have taken away too much from him. I wonder if I will have the wisdom to be the mother he needs me to be as he goes through the grief and adjustments he will need to face.

I have an inkling that when all is said and done, I will come out of all of this with a great deal of admiration for a young boy who just might be willing to risk his heart to embrace a new life. And if it takes him awhile to get to that point, than we will be right beside him as he takes those tentative first steps into his new world.


Jamie Hollis said...

Great post:) Thank you for sharing these experiences with the public. I have been doing work with Kyrgyzstan since 2002 and my husband and I plan to adopt from their eventually. On the note of your new child never having the same meals: I learned how to prepare a few of their traditional meals while there and I have a small cookbook as well if you'd like to send me a few. When I get homseick for Karakol I can always makes some ploav and it helps just a bit.

LaJoy Family said...


Thank YOU for your kind comments! I am just as happy that others are finding this useful. It keeps me motivated to write...and to be as honest as I can about sharing those inner thoughts that an adoptive mother goes through. I would LOVE to have some recipes if you wouldn't mind emailing them to me, it would really be helpful I think to be able to prepare some comfort food for him when homesickness kicks in. Thanks for the offer!


judy in california said...


I hope you can find a good Russina/EE deli! We have one and it's easy to get Julia things she remembers from Russia.
I have a freezer full of pelmini/veriniki, which are basically Russian ravioli. We have a few different fillings, sour cherry being one of Julia's favorites. (Her orphanage was across the street from a sour cherry orchard and the kids would climb to the top of a huge tree for a handful of cherries!) Keep a tub of sour cream in the fridge, as well as tons of fresh fruit. Yogurt too. And do get a few recipies from friends online. I have actually started collecting Russian cookbooks. Anything in particular you want let me know and I can look it up for you.

I was just thinking about you yesterday, wondering where you were in the quest to bring big brother home...


Anonymous said...

As we are about to jump off the cliff to adopt a 4 year old and a 5 1/2 year old, this blog post speaks to me. This is what has been on my mind so much. Thank you. I hope, like you, that I can be the mom they need me to be.