How to explain an absent parent and what I learnt
When we think about motherhood, the first words that comes to mind are unconditional love and protection. This rings true for me as a mother, but not just to my boys who I gave birth to, but also to my little girl whom I may not have given birth to, but I am her parent.
It's normal that Summer has questions about why her birth parents do not come visit her anymore, why they don't come and spend the day with her anymore, why they are not in her life anymore. Painful as it is, as her legal guardians and kinship carers, hubby and I want to be prepared with what to say, how, and when.
I thought I was giving her right answers!
The other day, during a chat with Summer's occupational therapist, we were talking about the background of Summer and I mentioned how when Summer's birth mum disappeared/blocked us last year, at first Summer blamed herself, but most recently she now asks "Why doesn't she love me" and, how I reply, "she does love you - she will always love you."
It was at this point the therapist stopped me and asked me if that is the right thing to say - I stopped, frowned and within a few seconds, it clicked. I am teaching Summer that it is okay to be loved by someone special even though they don't want to be apart of your life, to not be present in your life, they are not there, never! But, they still love you?! - No - this is not okay to be treated this way, to accept it. This is not how I want Summer to grow up and understand what love is. If she has her own children, I don't want her to think it's okay to treat her them this way. I don't want normalise that to be loved is okay to be ignored.
I shouldn't excuse it. By trying to protect her, I've been doing the complete opposite. I have been doing more damage than good. I get that now.
I feel confident in that, she know she has our full unconditional love, however, she still lives in fear that we will leave her, and I often have to reassure her - The damage is already done, but by us being here for her always, she grow up to understand what real love is. I don't want to jepodise that by trying defending the actions of her birth parents.
Love should not walk away from you. It should not abandon. Love does not give up. Love does not take the easy way out. Love fights.
Of course, I can't go on to now say to Summer, "No she doesn't love you" - I will remain sensitive to the situation. I will answer with "I’m sure if they knew you like I do that they would think a lot of you"
Whilst this explanations won't justify their choice not to be involved, it can help affirm for Summer that the decision was not about her. Summer needs to know and understand that it wasn't anything she ever done wrong, it's not her fault.