Dear Daughter: You’re Finally Mine

Dear Daughter,

Your adoption has been (finally) finalized, and I am so relieved. I think that you are too; you haven’t vocalized it, but I can see it. A part of me was skeptical that the day would ever come. I think the adoption process makes a person cynical. But, the day did come and then it went, and now you’re mine forever.

In the days leading up to court, I cried and cried whenever I was alone. I couldn’t believe it was finally going to happen, and I felt all of these walls coming down inside myself. Walls I had up to protect my heart in case it didn’t happen. I didn’t even know I had these walls up. I’m sure you knew. I know you had walls up, too.

Walking out of that court room… I was so overwhelmed with emotion. It was as though I’d been holding my breath for the last year and a half and finally I could breathe again!

It was so special to have our family there with us to share in our day. I’m grateful that your biological aunt and grandparents could come. I know it was important to them for you to see that they support us. It was also really cool that you requested that your cousins be there with you. They are too young to realize just how special it was, but someday they will know how much it meant to you to have them there! I am so grateful for our blended family and all of the love and support that surrounds us.

Our journey doesn’t end here, my dear. Our story is really just beginning. We will have many hills to climb in the future, but we will climb them together.




Dear Daughter, On Christmas

Dear Daughter,

It’s our second Christmas together and I’m so grateful to be creating these memories with you. Being on this side of Christmas is really new for me… the holidays are stressful as a parent! I hope I managed to get everything right so you have magical memories to look back on. I think in the future we might spend more holidays just you and me, which will be strange for me having always had my extended family around, but I want to truly enjoy and cherish my time with you while I can. You will be grown before I know it, I can already feel the time flying by.

Christmas is a time when I’ve experienced a lot of loss, and so I usually try to compensate by having as many people around as possible. I’ve tried to compensate for the losses you’ve experienced by scheduling phone calls with your biological family on Christmas. I thought it would be important to you, to wish them a merry Christmas. Your grandparents have been great, and your sister is a bit disorganized but she tries… she’s young and she’s pregnant now so she’s got distractions. But you’re biological mom, I don’t have any excuses for her, other than her alcoholism. Honey, as long as your mom is an alcoholic, her priority will always be alcohol. So I hope that you can understand if we don’t make as many phone calls to her and we don’t have visits. I hope that someday the two of you can have a meaningful relationship, but right now I’m worried she’ll spend her life disappointing you. I won’t spend every holiday seeing disappointment on your face or hearing you say “it’s okay” when I know it’s not.

So from now on, we’ll have to get used to it just being us for the holidays. I will cherish each one that I spend with you and I’ll never take them for granted.



Dear Daughter, I Choose You

Dear Daughter,

I’ve never lied to you but I haven’t figured out how to explain this to you, so I’m glad you haven’t asked questions yet. I’ve been cranky lately and I want you to know that I’m trying really hard to put it behind me and get back to normal.

I had to make a really hard decision to end a friendship, and I’m feeling really sad and hurt about it. I want you to know first and foremost that it’s not your fault. I was warned when I started the adoption process that people would drop out of my life, and so I expected it. I was warned that even close family and friends will question my future child’s behaviour and the parenting decisions that I make. I didn’t expect it would be one of my best friends, but I knew it would be someone.

I’m really struggling with losing my friend, but I don’t regret my choice. You are the most important person in my world, and everyone that surrounds us should be supportive. There just isn’t room in our lives for anyone who isn’t. I want you to know that I chose to adopt you and I will continue to choose you as my number one priority for the rest of my life. I will never regret those choices.

Dear Daughter, I Don’t Enjoy This

Dear Daughter,

They told me that children with trauma and attachment issues would do everything they could to push a parent away and to test boundaries… but this sh!t you put me through; Kid, there ain’t enough vodka in the world. I don’t know why you take it to such extremes. I have always been good at following through on the consequences that I lay out for you, but it’s like you have to keep upping the ante. You keep pushing past my consequences like they don’t mean a thing to you, and I have to make the consequences harsher and harsher to match your escalating behaviour. And when you’ve been warned a thousand times of what will happen if you continue, you do it one more time just to see if I’ll follow through… and so I must, and now you sob uncontrollably because I’m such a mean mom.

The parenting techniques I used to preach to clients, have no effect on you.  Natural or logical consequences are out the window. So much for discipline vs. punishment. So much for getting down to your level. That does not work with you. You don’t need a friend, you need a parent. A strong one.

I want you to know that I don’t enjoy this. I do not want you to think that I am mean. I want to be warm and loving and let you bend the rules and have exceptions sometimes, but I can not. When I do, you are out of control. You do not feel safe, though you have begged for the flexibility. I must be firm with you, and when your behaviour is not appropriate then I must be more firm, and when it escalates then so must I.

This does not come naturally for me. I am spontaneous. I am care-free. I don’t enjoy following a routine or having every part of my life mapped out for me. But I do it for you, so that you feel safe within that structure.

So when you are older and you have memories of those times when “mom was mean”, know that I was doing it for you. Know that I didn’t enjoy it but that it was the only way to keep you from spiralling into an anxious mess. Most importantly, know that I was doing it because I love you.



Battle for Control

Lately my daughter hasn’t wanted to go to school. I haven’t been able to figure out exactly why, but her teacher says that all kids are like this in the spring as the days get longer and they want to be playing and not stuck in the classroom. She thinks my daughter is experiencing the same thing as the other children, just to a more extreme degree. She’s probably right. My girl takes everything to the extreme. But, I have to keep my power. I have to always be the one in control, so that she feels safe and taken care of. And so I resort to whatever methods I can to win the battle.

Three times I had to make good on my threats to put her on the deck with her clothes and lock the door until she went to school. Twice she eventually did. The third time the sun was out so she decided to play in the yard instead. Since then I’ve had to up the ante. If she won’t go to school, I threatened to carry her to the driveway and stand there in my pyjamas in front of the passing cars and school busses until she crosses the street. This morning I did just that. This morning she went to school.

I don’t like it one bit. Tossing her things onto the deck and locking the door doesn’t make me happy. Neither does having to embarrass her in front of her schoolmates. But consequences don’t work; I’ve tried them all. Letting her get away with it certainly does not work. There is a reason traumatized kids need high structure; it’s because it’s what makes them feel safe. And so I keep things structured, I make her go to school every day because being flexible doesn’t work for us. I get her out that door by whatever means necessary, and I really have no idea if I’m doing this right or not, but I’m doing the best that I know how to do.