By an Adopt4Life Member
My husband and I are the adoptive parents of three beautiful children from Toronto CAS. Our daughter is 10 and has special needs which include a global developmental delay, ADHD and severe anxiety. Our sons are 8 and 5. Our two older children were placed with us together in November 2009 and our youngest was placed with us is August 2012.
We were blessed that the children were welcomed into the family by both of my parents, as well as my husband’s parents. There were instantly four grandparents in their lives help care for them and spoil them, we were all truly fortunate.
I was especially close to my parents. They visited often and were my go-to babysitters. My mom, or “Baba” to our children, in particular was very detail oriented and in tune with the children’s needs, especially since we spoke on the phone every day. She always called to talk to them on special occasions (from birthdays to the first day of school) or if she knew they had had a rough day. She was the first person to meet them after us, she proudly wore shirts with their pictures and “We Love Baba” on them everywhere she went, she bragged about them to anyone who would listen, she started Christmas shopping for them in July. There will never be enough words to explain the bond that my mother shared with our children. Then the unthinkable happened. My mother and lifelong best friend passed away suddenly in February 2017.
During my own tremendous grief, I was faced with the grief of our three children. Children who have already experienced so much grief, trauma and loss in their lives (even if they don’t realize or comprehend it yet). Our 10 year old couldn’t comprehend cognitively what exactly happened and still struggles to make sense of things, but is definitely sad. Our 8-year-old was openly sad at school, often breaking down and crying in his classroom. This drew too much attention from his classmates so he then tried to cover up and avoid his feelings, which resulted in some negative behaviours in the classroom. At home he also tried to cover up and avoid his feelings. This resulted in either hyperactivity or him talking about going to live with friends or back to live with his foster family so that he could “be happy again” because “his family was too sad”. It did not hit our 5-year-old until three months later when he lost his first tooth and took his training wheels off of his bike on the same weekend. He then realized my mother would not be there to celebrate those or his future accomplishments.
Shortly after my mother’s passing I realized I needed help and guidance to support myself and our children through this. I met with our family doctor who provided some helpful websites and books that I have shared below. I also started to meet with the social worker at our children’s school who provided helpful advice to help me navigate our children’s feelings and emotions, as well as my own. She also suggested some helpful children’s books.
This journey of grief is long and although things seem to improve with time, I realize it is far from over. Personally I still have a lot of work to do in the self care department so I can help to heal myself as much as I have learned tools to help our children heal. The shock of my mother’s passing is wearing off and is becoming our family’s new reality. The hard truth is this will not be the only time our children will face something like this again in their lives. The full impact of their grief, from the loss of my mother to learning about loses in their past lives that they have yet to realize is far from over. But for now the best I can do is to put one foot in front of the other and focus on loving, supporting and raising them to the best of my capabilities. I can use this as an opportunity to grow and learn both personally and as a mother. This is exactly what my mother would want me to do, after all I did learn from the best.
1. The Invisible String; By Patrice Karst (Author), Geoff Stevenson (Illustrator).
2. The Goodbye Book Hardcover; By Todd Parr (Author, Illustrator)