On our way to therapy last week, Genea started telling me a lengthy story about Daddy's shirt. It's from Denver, and he got it a long time ago. And when she asked him about it, and he told her, she remembered another question she'd been meaning to ask.
"Why didn't that other family want me"?
"Do you remember what we've told you?"
Whenever this has come up in the past, maybe a handful of times, we've always told her it was because the parents who adopted her first were getting a divorce. This is not exactly the truth, though that marriage had clearly been over for a while, and they did wind up divorcing a year later. Genea has been young enough, or oblivious enough, that the answer was enough. She accepted it with the idea that all three of them separated from each other.
The truth as I know it is, she was too much for them. Her shrieking, that primal infant scream that they could not stop with any usual methods. They resorted to some unusual methods and the shrieking stopped, but there was nothing there then. They had no relationship, and felt like she hated them. She may have. She had stopped growing after a few months with them and developed a cortisol disorder similar to Addisons Syndrome. She also developed the bizarre ability to stop herself from making any sound while crying. Imagine a 3 year old who can do that. If I'd not seen it I would never had believed it.
In the therapists office, Genea pushed me for more information. "I don't know" was not going to cut it this time. I said "I can tell you what they told me, which was they thought they were bad parents and they didn't know how to help you. You were so sad all the time and they tried but they had some really bad ideas of what to try, and that made it worse". I asked her if that made sense, and she said sort of.
I explained some more, the things about her screaming and how they thought she was miserable. I made a point to tell her none of it was her fault. There is nothing a 4 year old can do to make parents do anything. The entire responsibility is on them. It was a hard conversation for many reasons, one being to describe her as she was then, without using any language to suggest anything was her fault.
When I asked her again if it was making sense, she again said "sort of". I realized she was waiting to hear a good reason. Something she could hang on to, to tell herself, oh so that's why. A reasonable explanation as to why the people who adopted her first didn't want her. Just throw a cement mixing truck at my head, I'll eventually catch on.
"If you're waiting to hear something logical, there isn't anything. If you're trying to understand what the good reason they had was, there isn't one. It was the wrong thing to do and they shouldn't have done it. What they did was bad for you, it hurt you".
And so she understood, in her 11 year old Genea way, that it was not going to made sense. I'm certain it will all come up again and again, and I'm not sure why she doesn't remember. My suspicion is that she struggles so much daily just to hold the usual stuff together, that hard stuff gets pushed to the side and eventually forgotten.