Oh, how I feel your pain.
Not the pain you’re feeling now, the troubling, nagging feeling that’s bothering you each time little Veronica asks when she’s going home.
That’s pain I’ll never know, because I haven’t been there. But I have been to a place you’re going: My daughter is almost fourteen.
I’ve been across the table from my only child–the person I love most in the world, someone who I would kill or die for, in a way I couldn’t have imagined before I adopted her–as she realized that she had another family out there somewhere.
At each stage of development, I’ve been with my daughter as she manages to accept what she lost and somehow go on.
The day she was four, when she first understood that she wasn’t ever going to be reunited with that other family, and she was too sad to eat, nap, even swim. I watched her sleep that night, afraid she might be too sad to breathe.
The day she turned 7, when she asked if it was true she would never, ever be able to know that they were okay. Or their names. Or whether she has a sister somewhere.
The day when she was 12, growing into womanhood, and a coach asked her how tall she was going to get. She looked helplessly at me before mumbling, ‘I don’t really know.’
At least I know that it’s not about me, that it happened to her before I was in the picture, that there is nothing I could have done to prevent my child from having to live with this loss.
I get to be with her, on her side, by her side, as she finds a way to manage. To figure out who she is and who’s in her family, what it means to live a different life than the one she was born to.
It’s my privilege and my burden to stand by my daughter as she assembles the puzzle of what happened to her.
The pain you will live through, that you will find a way to live with, as you come to realize that your daughter has survived a terrible trauma–that pain I know. It’s going to leave a mark on you, a scar that won’t fade.
I can promise that when your baby grows up, and the teenager you love expresses how it feels to be her, you will be changed by the realization that someone did an awful thing to your child, whom you love in a way you wouldn’t have thought possible.
I don’t know how it will feel to be that someone, to have had the power to affect the outcome.
I’d expect it’s going to trouble you for the rest of your lives.
Or so I fervently hope.