Last Friday was Forever Day, the day we met our our four Ethiopian children for the first time. As I wrote on Saturday, last year the day was a disaster for one of my daughters, and this year, I was concerned that it would be difficult again. Honeybee, in particular, has been processing a lot of grief this year and Dimples is highly sensitive to Honeybee’s emotions, often regulating to her. I saw the potential for it not to be a happy day for them. And if we are being perfectly and completely honest, it is hard for the other children to celebrate when they hear comments like, ” My real family is my Ethiopian family. I wish I still lived in Ethiopia; it is better there. I hate this family. I wish you had never adopted me…”
I have some wonderful and wise friends in my life that I value more than I can say. My friend of many years, Emily, left this comment on my post last Saturday.
I think when so many kids struggle with this anniversary that it’s ok not to make a big deal or celebrate it. Talking about the joy of bringing your kids home on an ongoing basis so that story becomes the fabric of their personal life story and not making a celebration out of that anniversary might work better for some children and families. One thought is – its yet another way we are imposing what we think should be a joyous occasion on a child who saw that time as full of grief, mourning, loss, fear and anger. Our culture sort of dictates that we celebrate this like it was a birthday (often with cake and some even do gifts) but for the child it is not their birthday.
I also feel that some kids would love and welcome a forever day celebration or some kids 6-7 years down the road might want to mark that time. But when you fear it will be a disaster then we should pause and say “why” and maybe treat that day like any other but offer a few extra kind words or if you can sneak in a little kiss so in your heart you recognize why that day is meaningful to you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this Lisa because maybe we all need permission to let that one go if it doesn’t work for our children and causes them extra stress. What do you think?
I read her comment and asked myself, “Why do I feel compelled to celebrate this?” Like a marriage or a birth, I want to mark the significant events of life – the great things that God has done. The challenge comes when those things came as a result of suffering. For my daughters in particular, but for all four of our adopted children, their adoptions and life with us were the result of great pain and loss. Their parents died, they endured life in an orphanage, some of them suffered severe neglect and abuse in their early years. We came to give them a life of security, love, and happiness, but it doesn’t always feel that way to them. It is complex and brings emotions that are confusing.
Russ and I decided that he would simply mention Forever Day in the blessing he prayed at the beginning of our Sunday dinner. I served a favorite meal and we moved through the day. It felt just right – not forgotten, but not emphasized in a way that triggered big emotions.
We ended the afternoon with a Sunday stroll – in the snow – a good adventure that helped us make it through the evening with fewer challenges.
Does your family celebrate Forever Day? How about families who adopted older children – do you celebrate? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Have a great start to your week.