Saturday, February 18, 2012

Missing Mama

As Aria gets more proficient in speaking English, we get the privilege of getting to know this little girl more and more. We find out some of the things she is thinking, some of the things she feels, and we get to hear a little bit about her past.

And that's where missing Mama comes in. I'm talking about her orphanage mama, that is. Every now and then Aria mentions something about Mama and China. I'm not quite sure how much she remembers as reality or if it's just how she wants to picture things in China. As she shared more of her history with me today, she said she got to eat lots of food in China, not just a little bit. It could be lost in translation, it could be how she remembers it, but no, sweetie, you didn't get to eat lots in China. Some stories she tells us are certainly made up with tell tale signs of imagination (like people that don't live in China having adventures with her there). Whether she thinks those stories are real or not, I'm not certain.

As we continued to talk about China today, I asked some probing questions. "Did you get carried a lot, or did you walk a lot?" (Aria said she was carried a lot and only walked a little bit there - I'm pretty sure that tale is true.) After she shared more and more what was on her heart about her life in China, she said to me, "I no like this home. I like home with Mama." It never ceases to cut my heart a bit when I hear that, even though I know it's not a matter of rejecting me or us, but a matter of her grieving process. I asked her what she didn't like about our home... is it the toys she doesn't like? "I like those," she says. Is it her room she doesn't like? "I like Aria's room." Is it Mommy, or Daddy, or Elliana, or JJ she doesn't like? She says she likes each of us. So she does like this home. But what she cannot express to me is that she likes her old home because that's where Mama is.

She reminisced today about her last contact with Mama. She told me again about the time when we met, and how she talked to Mama on the phone and she cried. I wish she had a more positive last memory about Mama, and it didn't have to do with us "keeping her" from Aria. But it is what it is. The orphanage director made that decision for Aria and for us when they were all in our hotel room, trying to transition Aria from their care to ours. She decided, while Aria was already crying because she didn't want to stay with us, to call the "mama" on her cell phone and put the phone to Aria's ear. Aria proceeded to go into hysterics. This wasn't good for us that first day, and it was hardest on Aria to put her through such a tortured goodbye. Does Aria need to talk about that day in her own 4 year old, broken English way? Yes, I think she does. I know each time we talk about Mama, talk about her past, we acknowledge that it is hard for Aria, and that it is ok to love Mama.

Sometimes when we talk about China, it gives us an opportunity to give Aria a little reality about her situation there. Although we cannot fully know Aria's true reality at the orphanage, the pictures we have speak 1000 words. Almost every one shows Aria frowning. Almost every one shows Aria being carried. Almost every one shows the conditions of her orphanage - not awful by any means, but not good either. We also have the evidence that was Aria's very little, malnourished, weak tiny body as well as the behaviors she came to us with. Little bit by little bit, we share with Aria how she was not healthy in China. ("Aria's legs no work good in China.") Slowly and bit by bit we will need to share with her how the "mama" was not her Mom (but did care for and love on Aria), and that she did not have a forever family when living at the orphanage. Slowly but surely we will need to share with her how she was not healthy, not thriving, and would have little future if she stayed in the orphanage. But again, little bit by little bit, revealing only what her little heart and mind are ready for.

This is Aria's story, and right now Aria still has some fresh grief about the part of her life that is over, living at the orphanage with Mama. I think in some ways if Mama was here living with us, her life could be exactly what she wants - food, toys, her own family, and Mama.

Aria misses Mama.

No comments:

Post a Comment