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I guess all of us could write a book about the story of our lives. Almost everyone has at least one good book in them (if not several.)

I haven’t said much about my daughter’s search for her mom lately, and how that’s gone. It’s turned out to be an interesting (and somewhat disturbing) saga. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my daughter Chelsea was adopted by us, at age 3. She was a very strong-willed, spunky, and beautiful little girl. She had a round little face, big eyes, long hair with straight bangs, and she looked remarkably a lot like me. Her mother placed her in my arms one night, and she turned 3, as we headed home, chasing the sun. But she was quite troubled when we got her. Her mother had basically ignored her emotionally. We were told by her husband at the time, that she was a diagnosed narcissist. Chelsea was healthy physically, well fed and dressed, so she was not neglected in those ways. But she was not mothered emotionally. (Boy, can I relate.)

So when we got her, I was prepared to do a lot of comforting, but I was not prepared for how angry she would be. And unfortunately, I was told by counselors, that her anger would be aimed at me, because I was now in the place of the mother who had rejected her. (That was how she perceived it.) It was a very rocky time. She would have temper tantrums about everything! I would take her to the mall, in her little umbrella stroller, and she would defiantly put her feet down, so that I couldn’t push her. No amount of pleading or disciplining could make her stop. Many times I would leave the mall exasperated, with Chelsea screaming over one shoulder, and her stroller over the other. The first time I took her to see “The Nutcracker”, I had her all dressed up in a Christmas dress, complete with a lovely bow in her beautiful long hair. A friend came by and said, “Is this your precious little daughter?” I smiled with pride and said, “Yes.” Five minutes later, she threw such a fit that we had to leave. (Seems like we were always leaving early, every place we went.) At home she would throw a tantrum if she couldn’t get her way. She would cough and spit, choke and scream, and do other things that I had never experienced before. I would tell her that mommy was going to leave the room, and when she was ready to stop crying and having a fit, she could come to my room and get me. She would cry in one room, and I would cry in the other. As I said, it was a very rough time. It seemed that the only way she could get attention from her birth mom, was to have a temper tantrum, or do something negative. So this was her pattern, and it was not easily, or quickly broken.

She did bond with me eventually, but nothing about our situation was normal. She was angry and rebellious. I had wanted to be a good mom, and do all the mother-daughter things with her–making cookies, ballet recitals, shopping, etc. We did all those things, but there was usually some kind of scene or temper tantrum, before, during, or after. Even as she grew, she was a difficult child. We tried everything we knew to help her, and in many respects we were successful. We just kept loving her unconditionally. We got counseling for her also. She was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. If you aren’t familiar with this, look it up, and you’ll learn some of the difficult things we went through. There are different degrees of RAD kids, but parenting them is never easy. But at least we had God in our lives, guiding our decisions, and loving her through us. I know that He was teaching me a lot along the way.

And eventually, she went from being a wild, depressed, nervous little girl, to one of the most social people I know. Her life revolves around her friends. She’s never thought too much of schoolwork (homework in particular), and she never met a rule she didn’t want to break. In spite of all kinds of discipline, she’s always been a rebel. Still, we love her deeply, and we’re very proud of her. She’s a fantastic singer, plays piano, and has a wonderful sense of humor. No matter what we were going through, Cheslea could always find a way to make me laugh. We did have fun together!

When she was young, and would occasionally ask about her mom, we told her that when she got to be older, if she wanted to find her, we would help her. But we also made it clear that during her “growing up” years, we wanted to be our own family. Years passed, and she rarely inquired about her birth mom. But recently (she’s now 19, almost 20) she began to ask her dad constantly about finding her birth mom. We realized that this could be an important time of healing for Chelsea, and for her mother. So we stood by our promise. It proved to be more difficult in reality, than it had been in theory. All those protective mom and dad feelings rose to the surface, though our concerns about her birth mom were only spoken to each other. We tried to be excited with Chelsea, as we gained information for her.

My husband was able to locate her birth mom fairly quickly (in England), and wrote her a nice email about Chelsea wanting to meet her. She wrote an equally nice email in response, about wanting to find Chelsea again, and all seemed well. We are Christians, and we were very pleased that she mentioned prayer and God, and thought perhaps her life had truly changed for the better. (She had worked in casinos most of the time that we had contact with her, and moved from place to place often, marrying several times along the way, but only staying married briefly.) But we had only spoken positively about her to Chelsea, all through the years. We told her that her mom was not able to care for her properly, and that she wanted her to be in a good home, and she chose us to be the mommy and daddy. We always talked about adoption as being so special. So Chelsea had always felt good about it.

Chelsea’s mom and grandmother are from England, and they both have a British accent. It’s fun to hear them talk, and to listen to their quirky, dry sense of humor. We talked with her birth mom by phone one evening, for quite awhile, filling her in on the details of Chelsea’s life. Initially, Chelsea’s birth mom was going to come to the States for a short visit. The next thing we heard, she was moving to the States, for a few months. And the next thing we heard, was that she was moving in with Chelsea! (I had an uneasiness that I just couldn’t shake.) Chelsea was at a time in her life when she was very impressionable, still immature, and we knew very little about her birth mom’s current lifestyle. It was worrisome to both of us. Of all the reunions that I had imagined, this was a little over the top for me. But I was gradually getting used to the idea, when I went to my daughter’s MySpace page, and read in big letters, the announcement that she would be spending the holidays in England. This wouldn’t have been so bad, if I’d just had a heads up, before she announced it to the whole world, as she had never been away from home at Christmas, and it was a bit of a shock, reading it like that.

A series of emails resulted between Chelsea and me. It turned into a comedy of errors, on everyone’s part. Things got so mixed up that it seemed they would never be put right again. It’s too much to tell in one post, but it made me realize (as the Bible says) that what Satan intends for evil, God can use for good. (But it would be awhile before we could see the good in all of it.)

(Please know that my husband is an adoption attorney, and I have the highest regard for birth moms, who try to ensure that their children have a good family.) Every one of these stories is different, and I do understand the need for children to find their roots, and their history. And also the healing that it can bring to both the child and their mom.

But after you have loved your little Cinderella through so much, for so many years, it is not easy to let her go, or to place her in the arms of someone else…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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3 Comments

  1. How difficult that must have been for you, Sparkle. It’s so hard for any parent to let go, and in your situation it must have seemed almost unbearable.

    Yet it seems that you managed to get through it all, somehow. What a great testament to your patience and good will. And where there’s a will…

    And as for we Brits having a quirky, dry sense of humour? Yes, that’s very true — at least when it’s not raining.

  2. Roads! So great to have you stop by. Yes, there’s more to the story in the next installment. What seemed so heartbreaking, is actually turning into something that has brought us closer to our daughter. Because of various revelations from her birth grandmother, she is understanding some things, and we are able to talk freely now about our concerns. Still, she is quite excited to be heading to London for the holidays! A young girl’s dream trip! Sparkle
    P. S. Is it raining there today? LOL!

  3. Your post made me teary…
    You see, adopted myself, and reunited with my birthparents, I was always angry at my adopted parents because they were not more supportive of my need to “know” and to have the “connection”. However, now, as a mother myself (and going through years of infertility treatments to have my miracle daughter), an older mother at that, I can now see the side of the “mother” – the one who raised, and loved and nurtured and protected their child. THAT is a mother to me. And, I am THAT mother now. How clearly I can see so many things now that I am a mother myself…and you were strong Sparkle, for going through what you did.

    …IF you search for something – go looking for something – such as you did in your daughter’s my space page…sometimes we find things we wish we had not found. If you had not looked at your daughter’s my space page, how do you think you would have found out? Would your daughter have just left for England without telling you at Christmas time?

    You have taught me something Sparkle…in hearing your words, feeling your emotion. You seem like a very good person who has done the very best she could in life, for everyone. Your daughter is young…very young. Unfortunately, with life, comes choices and sometimes mistakes. It is hard, I am sure, to watch her go through this process – this “finding herself”. I can only hope, for your sake, and hers, she comes out of this a stronger person. I know YOU will.

    Hugs~


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