Be Present

Sometimes a hug isn’t enough. Sometimes love isn’t either.

After asking permission to come up to the sacred spot (another story), I climbed into the top bunk to find my sobbing, sniffling, very sad daughter wrapped up in her blankies and surrounded by her collection of stuffed animals and one of our (her) boy kitties. The heat emitting from her fetal position indicated just how upset she was.

She lifted that beautiful face up as soon as she found the emotional control to do so and mumbled through the snot and tears, “I’m sad.” And the sobbing began all over again.

I asked, “Can I hold you, baby?”

With barely a nod, she scootched over to me to deposit her head face down in my lap. I began to rub her back and could feel her calm.

“Can you talk?” I asked softly.

Not yet—the sobbing started all over again. And I sat, quiet, rubbing her back, playing in her long silky dark tresses.

“Do you want me to help you? Can I ask some questions?”

A barely perceptible nod gave me the opening to converse.

We had a long quiet conversation, mostly me in the beginning with her slowly joining in as her sobs lessoned. She flipped over and faced me, engaging me with eyes dark from emotion, bombarding my heart and soul again and again. Deepening the connection.

And we talked: about how hard she feels it is to be Chinese and Asian, how she believes people assume things because she is Asian, how she feels about being Asian, and what she thinks of the Chinese.

Those perceptions are her truths and it made me ache. It is my job, as best as I can do being a white parent, to empower her to feel good about who she is. It is a challanging task.

We bantered ideas and played “What if?” for some time.

I thought she was “good place” so I began to move away with the intent of making dinner.

“Mama, don’t leave me.”

Although it had been close to an hour, I stayed and we talked of China and her story. I watched the last vestiges of sadness leave her face and body and felt lighter myself.

A mother dislikes nothing more than to see her child suffer in any way. Sometimes, as a transracial adoptive parent, it is difficult to help the child when they are sad, grieving or angry about not being white.

Sometimes a hug isn’t enough. Sometimes love isn’t either. But patience, compassion, and listening actively with your entire being can make the difference. Be present for your child. They need you.

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5 Comments

Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, China, Claiming, Growing Tweens & Teens, Identity, International Adoption, Racial Identity, The International Mom

5 responses to “Be Present

  1. Thanks. That was a message I really needed to hear tonight!

  2. How wonderful that you knew just how to abide with and comfort your daughter as she worked through her emotions.

    Such a good reminder to be present. Well done!

  3. Beth Mink

    It’s hard enough to be an adolescent girl, without dealing with the heartbreak of being adopted. I remember my girlfriends in the 5th grade crying together in the bathroom. All three adopted- the fourth was from a divorced family. They kind of pushed me out because I wasn’t. They needed each other to grieve. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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