Little Miss (im) Perfect

 April 17, 2011

I’m not gonna lie, Macy is like the perfect kid.

To quote her teacher (also a China adoptive parent) at our last parent conference, “wow you hit the lottery when you adopted her”.

Certainly we agree, we are very lucky parents and on the surface I think most would see a perfectly lovely and VERY well behaved child.

What they wouldn’t see is an adopted child who has only been home for 10 months.  Who was adopted at almost 4 years old. Who remembers her other family.

And who remembers leaving them.

A friend of mine recently told me that her son was terrified to sit on the toilet. When she asked him why he was afraid he said “I don’t want to lose you”.  It took her weeks to figure out why.  Apparently he had watched the movie Finding Nemo ( a hundred times in a row the way kids do) and had gotten in his head that HE might fall into the toilet, be sucked out to sea and get lost.

Kids do that. 

Apply immature kid logic to their world.  One they can’t possibly understand and certainly do not control.

Macy moments after her foster mother left.
Now imagine you are four years old and one day your mama (the ONLY mama you’ve ever known) takes you to a strange government office, gives you to another woman and you never see her again.

What if that morning you didn’t finish your breakfast or you knocked over a glass or broke something?

What distortions of cause and effect are possible in the mind of a young child?

You see where I’m going here right?

We don’t know that any of those things happened during her last days with her foster mother but we do know Macy, bless her heart, works way to hard to be perfect.  (wow that’s something only an adoptive mom would say!)

Back when we were still in China, Dart said something to the effect that we were going to have to watch Macy very closely for attachment issues because it would be easy to miss the signs with a child so easy going, so pleasant natured, so...perfect. He got that one right.

Yesterday I got confirmation of what I’ve been suspecting for a while.

The girls were playing, got a little rough and, Macy ended up hurting Nina.  Not a lot, really more upset feelings than anything. But since Macy “hurt” Nina I asked Macy to apologize.

Suddenly Macy got upset. She hung her head down, crossed her arms, refused to apologize and left the room crying.

Macy buried her face in her bed and whimpered for a while.  Long enough for Nina to get over her “pain” and move on to playing in another room.

I called Macy over to me.  Slowly, still softly crying she carefully, almost tentatively, she climbed onto my lap.

I asked her over and over to tell me why she was crying.  I reminded her to use her words to tell me how she felt.  She couldn’t.

So I took a chance.

“Macy you know that sometimes you will make mistakes and you will have to say you are sorry. But even if you do make a mistake mommy still loves you.  I will always love you.  You are my daughter forever.”

That’s when my sweet fragile daughter started sobbing uncontrollably in my arms.

My heart sunk. I had all the confirmation Macy could give.

Somewhere in my little girl’s mind she was worried that she could do something wrong and be sent away.


(sigh...poor sweet Macy how I wish I could spare you the pain of adoption.)

So we will be working with our perfect Macy on this. (And really I have no doubt she/we will be fine.)

Macy did calm down and all on her own apologized to Nina, (perhaps this time with sincerity) and was great the rest of the day.

I know most of this will simply take time.  WE need to prove to Macy that she is here, loved, ours.


Perfection not required.

(I’ve never been a big fan of “perfect” anyway.  Perfectly imperfect is more our family's style.)

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