Today is a monumental day in my life. My two older daughters arrived fourteen years ago from Romania. One was nine and the other almost twelve. I had already a house full of four other children. The lessons, triumphs and heartaches that arrive with their entrance into my life are too many to write in a blog. They are too long to write in a book.
Adopting older children is a huge risk. They are very much set in their ways carrying a million traumas. The oldest girl came with a bag of surprises. I look back now and cannot believe I didn’t notice all the red flags. It took years of therapy, patience and complete surrendering to deal with the psychological effects of being institutionalized in an orphanage in a third world country for seven years. Her need to find her real mother was all she would think about while pushing me away. Her mind began to split into fragments, as she entered puberty. She suffered from multiple personalities. The horrors and nightmares those personas brought into my home are still being felt today. Her siblings cannot forget.
She left home at eighteen. I was able to find her real mother and when she contacted her the woman wanted nothing to do with her. This was a huge blow to her fantasy. But, now a mother of two young children, she seems happy. I have tried reaching out to her but sometimes feel that the relationship is based on what I can do to fill her financial needs. Without a single question in my mind, I know for certain, that she has been one of the most incredible lessons in my life. I am still, after five years of not being in her life, trying to grab onto the psychological effects she created to our family dynamic.
Many times, those who know the stories well, ask if I could go back would I have adopted such older children? Absolutely! I wouldn’t change a single moment of the heartbreak, the doubts, the worrying or the lessons that have forced me to see humanity in a completely different light. There are many secrets trapped in this young woman. There are places in her mind that she will never travel to and try to release. I am not sure she even understands all she did to create fear in our family. I am certain she cannot comprehend the rejection from everyone in my extended family.
I am no saint. I was the adult in that relationship. I failed miserably when it came to her. The more I pushed myself into her for love, the harder she rejected me. I took it personally (as any parent would). When I recently wrote her a long letter to apologize for my behavior she reacted in a very adult way. She, also, took responsibility for her behavior up to a point. Unfortunately she can’t understand why her brothers and sisters cannot forgive her. They can’t get past the point of her last night at home and the details she wrote in a journal about how she was going to burn the house with us as we slept. Those things require hours and hours of psychological processing. I don’t know if they will ever reconcile with her. I know my older sons cannot get passed the fact that she was given a good life, a home, love and attention and she just threw it all away as if she was a “spoiled brat.” No matter how I try to explain to them that mental illness is a valid excuse. They want nothing to do with her because they can’t trust what they know to be true: she never loved them. I was able to get her institutionalized for several weeks after that mind-blogging event. She was eighteen and after all she could get herself out. She did. She needed to be in the hospital for a longer period of time because it took weeks to see how she manipulated with all the other personalities. Her short stay didn’t help get to the root of any problems, but created bigger ones.
Now as a young adult she explains that she just wanted to find her “real” family. No matter how I explained that we were her real family, she couldn’t connect. Last night going through her pictures on Facebook, my heart melted with grief. Seeing two little ones, my grandchildren, and knowing that I may never be part of their world…well, it is difficult to express.
Today, as I received the day, I said a prayer for her. Then again, she’s always in my prayers, even when all the drama was going on. There are people who come into your life to teach very painful lessons. The many stories of her behavior seem exaggerated when I think about it. They really were not. There is nothing worse than feeling unsafe in your own home. I cannot recall the many sleepless nights I would worry about her and how she could hurt any of my other children. She wasn’t a monster. She was a fragile, damaged, rejected child. The way she developed into different personalities, which would go for days, made me realize she was trying to live each one of those personalities: the little silly girl, the teenage boy, the Gothic scary woman, and others.
As I go into my day, I send hope and light into her darkness. Perhaps things are different now that she has her precious children. She did mention recently that she cannot understand after having her babies how anyone can abandon a child. I told her I didn’t either. I also expressed that love has no boundaries, and that my love for her was like if she was physically mine. Will we ever have a healthy mother-daughter relationship? Only God knows that. Until then I hold her and her children in my heart.