The joy and heartache of friendships. We love our friends and they can break our hearts – just being the messy, complicated and beautiful human beings we all are. That said, some lives are much more challenging than ours. And when our dear friend has such a life, out of love, we do our best with the reality. This is one such story.
I’ve adopted two little girls from a childhood friend. They are ages 5 and 3. The five year old, I brought home when she was born, her mom was very ill at that time. The 3 year old came to me through the foster care system, when she was 9 months old at her mom’s request. My friend had stage 4 cirrhosis during both of the pregnancies, as well as substance abuse and varying illnesses and had been homeless most of her life, was suicidal and with a history of violent behavior. She was in and out of jail. She passed unexpectedly in December two years ago.
I knew the girls had 3 older sisters who were adopted out by the state years ago. I had promised their mom I would look for them but today, they found me. They are 16, 18 and 19. They were looking for their mom. They asked me point blank if their mom was still alive. I answered that and a few questions. I did let them know that she loved them and missed them and thought of them every day and wondered how they were doing. She had hoped to connect with them again. I let them know they had little sisters We exchanged photos.
I just don’t know how to navigate this. I don’t want to give them a negative image of their mom. I’m thinking of just letting them know that she had had a lot of trauma that led to her addictions and illnesses, kind of a negative spiral she got caught up in but that she was a beautiful, amazing person with a big heart and a brilliant mind who was funny and creative and one of a kind….
Some responses to this sad story about life’s more difficult realities.
You tell those sisters that she was a human being that battled a war. With her self, her world, and still loved her children. Even while she fought. There’s something terribly strong and loving about that.
Let them know the truth as much as age appropriate for them to grasp. The real truth is people are messy & complicated & beautiful all at the same time, and that’s something they can grasp at any age, regardless of depth of details.
Please tell the older girls everything – the good, the bad, the ugly. They can handle it and it’ll be valuable information as they navigate their own trauma and mental health issues (and questions about their lives).
The woman replied – I’ve talked to two of the older girls and answered their questions. I sent them videos of their mom telling her life story, about her paintings and stuff.