I wanted the girls to take their time and create pretty bracelets rather than just quickly stringing random beads together. My sister Nancy gave me this great idea to draw a little paper template to help each girl select her beads and plan how they'd look together. After they chose their main beads, I helped them choose spacers or tiny beads to flesh out their design.
There was cake with lavender frosting flowers, curled hair, jewelry, dolls, craft kits, wrapping paper, candles, singing, pink bows--the whole bit. But the hard-to-speak truth is this: When it was all over, Mark and I could remember only one real smile, one moment of genuine joy from Haley.
People never like it when I talk about the damage Haley sustained in her first few years of life. They are right to point out all the ways she is lovely, sweet, strong, thriving, and normal. And all of that is true. But it's also true that my love for Haley has never been the same easy-as-breathing variety I have for my other children. Not less, but certainly different. And her love for me is much more fraught as well.
I feel I've learned a lot about true love from being Haley's mother. Our Haley is a holey bucket. The love and attention we pour into her often seems to flow right out the bottom, leaving her no more full than she was before.
But in some ways, the more imperfect is my relationship with Haley, the more dented our love, the more fiercely I love her. No matter if she idealizes her birth mother and fantasizes about her "real" home and remembers only my failings and rails against me as a mean mom. I will love her and try to fill her and teach her and throw her pretty parties over and over and over again. And I hope that one day she will see that the love we gave her was enough.