This is my response to Anne Cavanaugh-Sawan’s article in Adoptive Families Circle: Does She Know?
Love this sensitive, well-written post.
It is clear that you are a psychologist and know how important it is to include the story the birthmother may have had, even though it may be quite different to your sensitized version. But your daughter knows she is an adopted child, and while she may at this point not show you that she feels different, you know she does.
From my own experience, although I am much darker than the family and community in which I grew up in than your daughter may be: the fact that I was different was first and foremost on my mind at all times. And no one knew about it. I was happy, well adjusted, and very well behaved… I know I was pretty much an exemplary child because somewhere deep in my psyche, a feeling lurked that I could be sent back to where I had originated. I did not want that.
Parents (and I have to include myself) don’t really consider the reality that children don’t say everything they think or feel. When I was little, I tried to protect my White parents from them being insulted because of me. When I talked about this with my White adoptive sister, decades later (she was considerably older than me) she was, time and again, surprised and amazed at what I had done and how I had interpreted situations. In my case, acknowledging issues surrounding a birthmother and her sacrifice surfaced much, much later in life. There had been no secrets as to who she had been, but there were secrets as to why I ended up with the White family. –