Addison has an imaginary friend that she calls “my sister”. Most days her “sister” is living in Texas but her “sister” also enjoys road trips and airplane rides and sometimes ends up in Oregon, Maine or any of the other fabulous 50 that Addison has taken to memorizing. Her “sister” varies in age, anywhere between 0-30, sometimes changes into “my brother”, and usually finds a way to accomplish all of the things Addison is either fearful of doing or has dreams of doing. Her “sister” does some serious exploring and has quite the schedule for an imaginary friend! Although it seems her “sister” has taken to an independent and adventurous lifestyle, I am reassured by the fact that her “sister” usually makes it back to our dinner table in the evening.
Yes...the fact that my daughter has created an imaginary sibling absolutely tugs on my heart-strings. But even though my heart sinks a little every time I hear her say “my sister”, I have to say that I am really proud of my little girl. She made a change. She decided that she wanted a sibling and so she created one. She saw that all of her friends had siblings, so she thought she should have one too. And so she does. When people ask her if she has a brother or sister, she and I always glance at each other knowing that “my sister” exists, but wondering if the person asking will understand. Sometimes she or I tell the inquiring person about “my sister” and sometimes we don’t. :)
It has been a common question(s) among our friends and family since losing the babies and embarking upon the adoption journey…How is Addison doing? What does she know about the babies? What does she know about the adoption?
She knows just about everything. Although she was quite young when we lost both babies, and still is quite young, she is, and always has been, a very perceptive and observant little girl. She knows about each of the babies and has grieved their losses in her own way. We talked with professionals to help us guide her through the process, not wanting to expect too little or too much from her. She has grieved normally. She asks a lot of questions, less now than before and sometimes she has days when it is obvious that her heart is heavy. When we lost Connor, the hospital gave Addison a special book (We Were Gonna have a Baby, But We Had an Angel Instead) and an angel teddy bear with wings. She gets the book out periodically and sleeps with the bear as she needs to. She mostly just asks the same questions over and over… questions the adults have yet to find the answers to. The largest part of Addison’s grief was dealing with two grieving parents. She lost the babies and, in so many ways, she temporarily lost her parents too. At no point is it lost on us the effect this journey has also had on Addison.
The only thing that Addison does not know is that Connor had a heart defect. We do not feel that she is ready to know that information, and the last thing we want is for her to worry about her own heart and health. We have had Addison looked at by a pediatric cardiologist, and thankfully, her heart is perfect.
Addison knows that we are trying to adopt a baby and seems to really “get” the concept of open adoption. She seems most interested in wanting to know more about the birth mom that we will (hypothetically) be matched with (What is her name? Where does she live? etc.). We simply explain that we don’t know who that mom is yet and we are waiting to meet that person. She very clearly understands that another mom will be pregnant with the baby and then that mom will make a decision if the baby should live with us or not. Addison knows that if the mom decides that the baby should live with us, then we will be that child’s forever family and at that point she will be a big sister.
Now that she has a better idea of the whole adoption concept, and now that we are further along in the process, we have started talking more about the logistics. Where will the baby sleep? Where will the baby sit in the car? Where will the baby be when we eat dinner? Addison’s latest interest has been the baby’s name. She knows that we may name the baby, or the baby may already have a name, or that we may name the baby together with the birth parents. She has a few suggestions but I don’t think Baby Gooseberry is going to make it to the top of the list!
So, that is what has been going on with our little sweetheart. We will continue to talk, continue to encourage her questions, and continue to help her navigate her own path through this process. Someday there will no longer be a need for an imaginary sister, although “my sister” and the stories of her amazing adventures will always hold a special place in my heart. And, my little girl’s strength and perseverance during these challenging times will forever make me proud.