I read an interesting article on when to tell your adopted children about their birth parents. Reading it made me think about our own experience of shepherding our children through the facts of their early life and journey to us. Like peeling an onion.
Each of our children, though two sets of siblings, have unique stories. For ease I will share the story of one.
From the very beginning of our journey Mr C and I decided that we would be as honest and open as possible. Reading the files we realised that at 18 everything that we were reading would be available to them. We resolved to ensure that by the time they were old enough to access the files there would be no surprise information.
The big one knew her parents, she entered the 'system' at 4 and a half. 18 months later moving in with us only a few memories remained, some sad, some good and some scary.
So we began to peel the onion.
Answers that satisfied a 6 year old, "mummy A couldn't" were subtly changed to "mummy A wouldn't" as the years passed.
With increased understanding came a new grief over old facts.
Knowledge about the process of reproduction brought new revelation and sadness.
An appreciation of the nature of relationships brought insight into lifestyle and choices and disappointment.
Warnings of the perils of substance misuse from school made sense of some memories.
At each stage her questions scratched a little deeper, pushed a little further.
And with each layer the grief came with new losses and new heartache.
Slowly simple monochrome memories became technicolor windows into the world of the little girl she was and her life and journey.
The day came and we handed over the file to apprehensive hands. We promised no surprises, no revelations. But to see it in black and white in her own hands with her own eyes was a new layer, so new grief and new tears.
The layers continue, life events remind of what was lost and continues to be lost.
We have constantly been the bearers of bad news, tempered with explanations of context and our love and empathy. We've resisted the temptation to judge and searched hard for the positive.
We've navigated three through their past so far, with varying results, sadness, anger and indifference.
It's early days for the little three, they're not so little now and we cannot guard them any longer, the onion must be peeled.
I don't feel threatened and I'm secure in their love for me and my love for them.
But I hate that in giving them what is rightfully theirs I cause them hurt and pain.
There will never be a soft focus, 'TV moment', adoptee parent reunion on a park bench with mutual tears for my children.
But the onion must be peeled.