Coming to terms with not knowing.

28 Jan

There are a few things that I’m in the process of coming to terms with. One=cancer.  Two=not knowing.  Today, I’m talking about not knowing.  And I was trained for not knowing.  I thought I was ok with not knowing.  Turns out, no one can ever be OK with not knowing. Not really.  So if you know someone in the boat of not knowing and they look like they’re OK with it, they’re either faking it or have passed into the world of “coming to terms”.

I’m trying to come to terms.

It’s really this big walk that I’m only a few steps into in the whole realm of things.  Even this whole attachment thing.  We’re 9 months it.  Those who have adopted years ago may nicely giggle at me when I think I’ve taken a leap past hard times into normal times. I’m sure that when she’s been in our family for 2 years, 3 years, 5 years I’ll look back and think, “WOW! 9 months was sooooooo new still.”  And of course it is.  And it is just recently when I’ve decided to chip ever so slightly into the feelings of not knowing.

Not knowing what?

Almost 1/3 of her childhood.

If you think of childhood in blocks of 6 years, you get three of them until age 18.  We missed 5 of the 6 years of her first one.  It’s the reality of adopting a child who is 5, of course.  And we chose that path because it was the right path for us and praise God we did because Cora is undoubtedly our daughter.  There has been nothing else like watching your children become best friends.  If we could go back to the moment we decided to adopt and change our mind to adopt a baby, we never would in a million billion years.  Older child adoption is the right choice for us.

It’s just a bummer for her.


Cause it really is not her fault at all that she spent 5 years in an orphanage. Who wants that for their children? Loving orphanage or not, an orphanage is an orphanage is an orphanage and it is no place for a baby to live. Every single child deserves a home with parents who love them and who would lay down their lives for them.  Parents don’t go home each night to come back each morning. Parents don’t have weekends off or vacations.  When you go to sleep, parents aren’t switched by the time you wake up.

It’s just not fair for her.

So I came across my boy’s baby books.  What their first foods were.  When their teeth came in. How much they weighed each month. Snuggly pictures of baby feet and naked bottoms and sleeping with daddy on the couch.  Stories of how much Miles cried (LOTS) or how much Logan weighed (LOTS).   But I stifled the stories because I didn’t have them for one of my three beautiful children.

And it’s not fair for her.

<This is the part of the post where I’m typing through tears. Cause it’s just not fair for her.>

How do I balance letting my boys “in” on their life without hurting her.  How do I balance not hurting her with letting my boys “in” on their life.

One might think with Korean adoption being what it is that we would have month after month of updates. She was a waiting child for her entire life. What if a potential parent wanted to see her updates!? Well, I can tell you that a child who never had a foster parent, a child who didn’t have to go “check in” each month at the agency for monthly checkups and updated photos because she lived at an orphanage with medical staff does not get updates.  Not the kind she deserves.  Sure, we have some hospital updates.  A bit of her growth and development, but only in check box style.

I don’t know how old she was when she crawled or walked. I don’t know how long she was when she was born.  I don’t know when she spoke her first word or what she felt like when she went to preschool for the first day.  I don’t know when she was potty trained or when she gave up bottles. I don’t know who her teacher was in 3K or 4K.  I don’t know who her classmates where or if she had a bff outside of the orphanage.  What was her favorite food? Color? Animal? When did she smile? Who saw her first smile? Did the person know or care that it was her first smile? Who held her in the hospital when her little body was growing and preparing for the world? I don’t have her first pair of shoes or a baby outfit that I just couldn’t give away.  What made her laugh that full belly laugh that babies are so good at doing? Who did she say “I love you” to for the first time?  Has she ever ridden a bike? What was it like the first time she went swimming? What food did she spit out of her mouth like most babies do with peas?  What happened that first time she had the flu and needed constant care and love and nurture while she got better and who held the bucket so she could throw up? When did she draw her first stick-figure? Has she ever gone out of the city on a trip? What was her first birthday like?  Unfortunately unlike typical Korean adoptees, Cora did not get a Dol party. Did anyone celebrate it with her? Did the day go by unnoticed? Did she eat any cake?  When she had surgery, who stayed with her?  Did anyone feel a minute sense of pain that a mother feels when she sees her child sedated or coming out of sedation?  Was she alone?  What about that special day that sticks out as one to remember – the day she went to the beach (has she ever been to the beach?) or her first picnic (ever?) or first playdate (doubtful?). What was her first song that she learned? What was she afraid of? Did anyone kiss her first scraped knee? Did she ever have a scraped knee? How did she get the scar on her foot? Did she have a favorite bedtime stories? Did she get bedtime stories? Or songs. Or hugs.

How do I balance letting my boys “in” on their life without hurting her.  How do I balance not hurting her with letting my boys “in” on their life.

It’s just not fair for her.

And if I have these questions, she’ll have these questions, too. And as her mama, I can’t help but already feel that emptiness that she will feel some day and I really can’t do anything about it.

Except come to terms with not knowing.

Accepting that God didn’t pick me for those times, He picked me for these. These stories to tell.

So I work, ever so slowly on coming to terms.


If you joined your family though adoption and feel comfortable sharing your feelings on these things that I talked about, I would be honored at hearing your thoughts. And if you are a parent through adoption, ideally an older child – please reach out and share how you are coming to terms with these things.


8 Responses to “Coming to terms with not knowing.”

  1. yvonne January 29, 2013 at 2:03 am #

    My children came home younger, but there are still unanswered questions. But one thing that helped me realize how much we DID know was the book “Before you were mine” ( I have a copy if you would like to look at it sometime. There are so many things we don’t know, and it hurts all of us. But, putting together a lifebook though the steps in this book helped to answer at least some of them.

    And it’s also the reason I take so many pictures of my children now – because now I do know. Hang in there.

    • Jen February 5, 2013 at 4:09 am #

      Thank you Yvonne,

      Maybe I could borrow it for one week? We could exchange at Korean language school?

  2. Rebeckah January 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    I swear you are in my head. Jack joined us younger, but the first 8 months of his life are a total mystery to me, and now by default, him because his mom cannot tell him the stories of his babyhood. We have no info about his first foster family, no growth and development photos, no updates, medical or otherwise, and it hurts my heart. Our agency recently passed along some “well baby photos” from those months but they left me with more questions than answers. (like photos on a poliece surrendur blanket 3 weeks after his doccumented surrender…and that’s not the one that breaks my heart the most). So I join you in this place of trying to accept not knowing. No advice, just here with you in solidarity.

    • Jen February 5, 2013 at 4:08 am #


      Ugh! I’m so sorry the answers you got left you with more questions. 😦 Is your agency of any help? I really need to come to terms with the inability to dig up all of the info I want. I’m a digger. An investigator. It sounds like you are the same way. Hugs to you mama.

  3. Jenn Galstad January 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    I was just thinking the same thing yesterday at the hospital I visited with one of my adopted daughters, sujin. She was 7 years old when adopted. I was There at the hospital for potential allergies she might have. And of course the doctors asked a bunch of questions that I just couldn’t answer. So they tried to get medical information from my little girl… There, she was all alone again, going through questions from doctors and nurses on her own. She had no one to rely on but herself. I felt so powerless.

    I also often think about my other daughter who was adopted at 10. I am deeply saddened by the fact that she will be already 18 seven years from now!

    I am thankful though, because my girls are my little babies which will never change – like in the book “I love you forever “. And I do call them “baby” often even if some people might find it a bit inappropriate. Let’s not dwell on the loss, and the lost time. We have the present and the future to enjoy with our beautiful children. I think my daughters will be much better equipped to deal with their past once they build a good, strong foundation of love and stability from the love I pour into them.

    • Jen February 5, 2013 at 4:06 am #

      I, too, call Cora baby often. She asks for it every day. She wants to be a baby so bad. I know it is because she sees babies and their mommies and is missing out. Such a walk we are talking — such a walk THEY are taking. I pray your kiddos are doing well, Jenn! Update me when you can!

  4. 2plus2mom February 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    I just found your blog, and it’s amazing, because I could have written these same feelings. My son came home almost a year ago and was almost five at the time (or maybe almost six…) I thought one of the nice things about adopting an older child is that he could tell us some of what his life was like, who was important to him, what he ate, who he played with. Sadly, our son has been totally quiet on all these topics and refuses to share anything with us. It makes me so sad because I know each day he is forgetting a little more and I have no way to record it for him. It is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

    • Jen February 5, 2013 at 4:05 am #

      Oh, 2plus2 mom, that’s so hard. I have full faith that when it is time, he WILL be able to share some of those things with you! Do you have many photos of him in his orphanage? (((Hugs))) So glad you connected.

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