Yesterday we finally showed Li Li pictures of her with her foster family. I was a little nervous going into it, worried that it would start the grieving again, or cause odd behaviors, but it went really well. I’m reading “Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child” and the author suggests that with a toddler you put together 3 pictures to help your child understand the major change they have experienced. The first picture is of the child in their former country with their caregivers or biological parents. The second is a picture of the handover from former caregiver to new family. The third is a picture of the child with their new and forever family.
Thankfully, we have several pictures of Li Li with her foster family, but we had to create the 2nd picture – drawing the foster family holding Li Li out to us and us happily receiving her. When we showed her the first photo of her with her foster family after explaining what we were going to show her, she didn’t seem to recognize them. We pointed to the Mama and asked “Who is this?” She said she didn’t know. After we told her again she seemed to understand more and pointed at them, calling them Mama and Baba (Chinese words). She also still calls us Mama and Baba, but when she was referring to her foster family, she used the Chinese tones instead of our Americanized versions.
We eventually pulled out other pictures we had of her with her foster family and she told us that her foster mom was “Mommy,” a word we don’t really use. Maybe she actually called her “Mommy?!”
Today we went over the pictures again, with little reaction from her. She gets excited to see herself and is pretty matter of fact about it all. We’re talking about the “big change” and China a little more. We will continue to talk about it and reinforce that THIS family is FOREVER now – no more big changes!