For Adopted Children, the “Innocent Days of Childhood” Has a Double Meaning

For Adopted Children, the “Innocent Days of Childhood” Has a Double Meaning March 5, 2018

After a recent, and rare, evening out, my husband and I asked my baby-sitter sister how things went with our 14-month old daughter. After assuring us everything went well, she shared how during the one time baby girl woke up, she was calling for “mama.” This melted and broke my heart all at once. I loved that I was on her heart and mind. Yet I hated that she wanted – needed – me and I wasn’t there. I was thankful she had a loving aunt to comfort her in my place.

I know my daughter is thinking of me when she says “mama”…often times, she is looking me right in the eyes when she says the word I cherish most from her. As I look into her beautiful little face, I think about how blessed I am that she is my daughter. How much I love and cherish her. I also think about how she won’t stay this young or innocent forever. For the time being, her biggest upsets are when she doesn’t get the electronics that are always slightly out of reach or when she can’t quite grasp the door handle she desperately wants to pull. And the girl gets a little hangry too. But, otherwise, she is happy: quick to flash her toothy smile and eager to giggle at the slightest tickle.  She is surrounded by many people who love her, and who adore  watching her run and play, most of the time without a care in the world. All too soon, these innocent days will end. What she knows nothing of now – all of the pervasive evil that surrounds us – she will all too soon be faced with.

It’s what all children have to face. Try as we might, us parents can’t keep our little ones young forever. And it is one of our many duties to prepare them to face the world. To give them the tools to cope, filter, engage, and overcome. The innocent days will soon be over, and we have to come to grips with that and prepare for the future. But for children that have been adopted, when we talk and think about the innocent days, there’s a second meaning.

You see, when my sister told me my daughter called out for “mama” I knew she was talking about me. But, for a split second, my mind flashed to her birth mother. The woman my daughter has not seen since she was less than two weeks old. I know I am my daughter’s mother. I’ve known it since the moment the door opened and this precious baby was placed in my arms. I certainly know it during middle of the night wake-ups and the changing of stinky diapers. And I know it when my girl calls me mama. Yes, I am her mother. I know this with every fiber of my being, and I have the legal paperwork to prove it.

But there is still an internal struggle. Knowing that one day she will know I did not give birth to her. And not knowing how she will feel. Knowing that her feelings about adoption will likely be varied throughout her life. And not knowing how that will impact how she feels about me. You see, these are the precious, innocent days where I am the only mother she knows. For her, they are simple days. Hours of chatting, eating, hugging, laughing, playing, and running. For me, they are the innocent days. I long for these days to never end. To protect her from all heartache and pain she will one day face. But I know I can’t. What I can do is point her to the One who knew her before He formed her in her birth mother’s womb. You see, He also knew all along that I would be her mama. I’m so thankful He saw fit to give me this honor. And this duty.

The innocent days of childhood – both meanings – will end one day. It will be hard, but we’ll be ready. Because even though adoption is messy, it is also beautiful. And hearing my daughter call me mama makes it all worth it.

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