Thursday, May 24, 2018

Loss of a Birthmother

Recently, our family learned the wonderful news that my mother-in-law was contacted by a son who she had made an adoption plan for some 50 years ago. She was ecstatic to say the least. She explained that that was why she always had a special place in her heart for our little Noemi.  She loved watching us interact with her and just genuinely and naturally love her and that she prayed that he also experienced that kind of unconditional love from his parents.

My mother-in-law was able to meet her biological son on Saturday, May 12th, 2018, the day before Mother's Day. They had a beautiful intimate meeting, just the two of them like she had wanted and dreamed about for years. Sadly and unexpectedly, she passed away the following night. Noemi has lost her bubu (Marshallese for grandmother) and with this untimely passing has come a whole new series of questions regarding her own birthmother.

When we first told Noemi about her "new" uncle she was shocked (as we all were!), upset, confused and happy. She said she wanted to be the only adopted one because that made her special.  She wanted to know every detail about when and how he was going to meet Bubu. She wanted to know when she was going to meet him and did he know that she had a birthmom too. She wanted to know why my mother-in-law choose not to parent. We answered what we could and were able to meet my brother-in-law ourselves on Mother's Day.

Then she passed away.  Noemi became detached, caring yet distant and we could tell something was bothering her but she wouldn't talk about it.  We asked if she was sad about Bubu. She said she was sad but wasn't sure if it was because Bubu passed away or something else.  We gave her time. A couple nights later, she was able to tell us why she was upset. "Will Mama Rosita die after I meet her too? Is she still alive? What if she dies before I meet her? We need to go to Majuro now so I can see her before she dies!"  

Once again, as it has many many times on this journey, my heart ached for my little girl and I had few answers. Noemi was angry with God for doing that to her new uncle. For letting them meet then taking her away.  She kept asking if he was going to the viewing, if he was ok, who told him that she had passed away. And she kept worrying about not making it to Majuro in time. I offered to set up a FaceTime with Mama Rosita so she could at least see her that way but she didn't want to.  She wanted to fly out that very night. After the tears dried up and her mind relaxed, she understood that God needed his angel back and she'll go to Majuro when it's the right time. (We had initially planned on going this summer but she asked that we wait to go until we she was 10. She didn’t feel she was ready now. Her wisdom and maturity stuns us sometimes.)

She has moved on like the resilient child she is.  She is learning about life and death as we all did, with the births and deaths of our loved ones. But she’s also learning something I never had to: How to love and cherish someone you barely met and have no memory of and how she would process the news that might come from across the ocean one day.

I know how Noemi processes and I’m afraid that she’s going to hold back loving Mama Rosita to protect herself from what may come. We will need to help her nurture that love which honestly will be difficult as we don’t know much about her either.  But for now we just need to comfort her in her two losses; the loss of her Bubu and the loss of a relationship with her birthmother.

Monday, March 7, 2016


Our likatu is 5 years old now and looking more and more like an actual kid instead of a preschooler. She sure keeps us on our toes!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Realizing loss

Today is our Family Day.  Today started tough.

Noemi put two and two together and realized her loss. She's realized Family Day is happy for us but sad for Birthmom.

Let me start at the beginning.  When we first arrived to Majuro on Dec 11th, 2010, we met our beautiful baby girl and her amazing birthmother. The next day both stayed with us for a couple days and then the day before court we were entrusted with her care. Because of all that, we prefer to celebrate the day we met instead of the day she was placed with us. 

Today we woke Noemi up with kisses and hugs and "Happy Family Day!"s. She was tense. Daddy asked her to sit by him and she refused. I had her sit by me as I did her hair. She was quiet. In the car, on our way to school, I asked how she was feeling. I asked if she was happy or sad about Family Day. She asked me, "what's family day again?". I explained, "well it's the day we met you and we all became a family." "So, it's the day my first mommy said goodbye to me?", she asked. My heart sank; I wasn't ready for this.  "No, we still saw her and she would come by to see you and hug you.". Silence. Then tears. Every question the trainings prepare you for; every sad "why didn't she keep me?""why am I not with her?" "I miss her" came flooding out. We both cried. At every stoplight, I'd reach back to hold her hand. I tried to explain the best I could that she was loved by so many but sometimes those who love us are far away but that doesn't mean they love you any less. I told her she was with us so she could go to school and have friends. She replied "I'd still have friends! I don't need to go to school. I wanna be with my mommy."  I told her she needed to go to school so she could learn and get smarter and one day, if she wanted to, she could go back to Majuro and work there or help there. She wasn't to convinced with my reasoning. I told her that one day we will all could go visit, maybe in a couple years. She liked that better.  As the tears dried up, I suggested we draw Momma Rosita a picture and at our celebration tonight at the Mall we could find things to buy and send her.

As the day goes on, she's been in class and having the luxury of working here, I've checked in on her. She seems fine. She looks happy. She's in routine. I know she's resilient and last time, she moved on after accepting her truth and it just became part of her norm. We shall see what the evening brings.

I knew this day was coming. I should have prepped for it better. I should have asked her if she wanted to celebrate, if she wanted to acknowledge this day. I just didn't think she was "there" developmentally. I'm still not sure if she is. Next year we'll approach this day very differently. Next year we'll ask how she wants to honor birthmom. We'll ask her if she wants to celebrate the morning of even if we've talked about it in the days leading up to it. Maybe we'll do something very simple like just a special dessert after dinner.....
We should also remember that Family Day INCLUDES birthmom. It's the day we ALL became family. It's the day Momma Rosita said, "Yes, I trust you both with this precious honor of raising OUR daughter." 

Such a learning experience for all of us every single day....