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My daughter can list all of the Kardashians, but somehow never noticed Angelina Jolie until Maleficent. She’d heard of Brad Pitt. She didn’t really know who he was, but knew he was very famous. She was very impressed when I told her he was Angelina’s partner. "Wow! She’s with him? I’ve heard of him!” She was even more interested in the story when she heard about Brad and Angelina Jolie’s adopted kids.
She wanted to know the ages of all of the kids, where they were adopted from and how old they were when they came to them. We looked at pictures of the kids and of the family together. She liked seeing all the kids together—bio and adopted. “They look like a good family of lots of brothers and sisters.”
She's 13-years-old, but has only been my baby for four years. We adopted her from the foster care system when she was nine.She had a dozen homes before us. She suffers significantly from the trauma she endured before us. She has just about every form of anxiety, including PTSD, as well as insane insomnia and sensory issues.
Then she asked if the kids from orphanages have hurt parts. “Are they like me, Momma? Do they have tantrums and get mad? I’d be embarrassed if a paparazzi taped my tantrum.”
I told her adoption is always filled with loss. First, they lost their birth parents. Then they had to leave the orphanages, which were their homes, everything they knew. They had to leave behind their surroundings and country to fly to a new country with strangers who would be their parents. Just like she did when we took her from Texas to Florida.
So, yeah, I’m pretty sure they have hurt parts, I told her. I don’t see how they couldn’t.
Adoption is complicated. It is full of grief, pain, and confusion. Love and care can't wipe that out. Therapy can’t erase it. It’s there.
I told her a story I read about Pax Jolie-Pitt who Brad and Angelina adopted from Vietnam when he was three-years-old. He’s now ten. Jolie told a group of bloggers (of which I was NOT invited) that he freaked out when the kids came to see her on the set of Maleficent. He took one look at her and ran for it. He cried and hid in fear because the woman in the makeup, high cheek bones and horns was not the mother he knows.
She coaxed him into the makeup trailer to watch as they took it all off her. She brought him to work with her the next morning so he could see them put it all on her. She realized he needed to watch the transformation to know she was still his same mom.
“Yup, sounds like hurt parts,” my sweet girl concluded. "She sounds like a good mom to try to think of what he needed to feel better. That’s what you do, too.”
Angelina Jolie’s adopted kids potentially have hurt parts and that brought my daughter so much comfort. Sometimes she feels like she’s damaged and unworthy, but hearing about other adopted and foster kids dealing with the impact of trauma makes her feel stronger. There’s so much power in knowing you aren’t alone.