"Your mother/family loved you so much, she/they wanted to give you a better life."
It's a phrase I hear used to explain adoption to children quite frequently. I know it comes with the best intentions of trying to create a postive image of a child's first mother/family.
I don't like it. Not one bit.
First, I tell my kids I love them every day. If their mothers/families placed them for adoption because of love, what does my love mean? That at some point, I'm going to relinquish them too? Obviously, this is not such an issues for Violet. She remembers her relinquishment and understands it as much as any 10 year old can. This is huge for Blueberry. She worries a lot about being left. I don't want to add to her fear by equating love with leaving.
Instead, I tell her that we think her mother loved her very much (we have good reason to believe this) but didn't have the resources to care for her. I also love her very much and I do have the resources. I've also told her that here, if I didn't have money, there are places I can go for help but those places don't exist in Guatemala. I also tell her that her foster family loved her very much but they didn't have the choice to keep her. It's not that they didn't want to take care of Blueberry any more. It's that they were only allowed to take care of her until the adoption was completed. Then, they had to give her to me. Again, it has nothing to do with love.
Second, Violet will be the first to tell you her life is not better here. Okay, wait...there is one thing she's always said was better. Going to the bathroom without fear of hyenas. Understandable. Otherwise, she will tell you life is most definitely not better. It is different and it is good...just not better. Obviously, she has more material things, increased access to education and healthcare, and an easier lifestyle (in terms of physical work). For that, she's traded the chance to live with and be raised by her family, a family that she loves and misses tremendously. That's not to say she doesn't love Blueberry and me. I know that she does. Still, if given the choice, she would never have left her family and Ethiopia. Because, really, who would choose stuff over love?
Nope...my children will never be told that their mothers/families loved them so much they wanted a better life for them. The sad and tragic reality is that the lack of social resources available in their first countries left their families feeling that they had no other choice. And that just sucks!