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....