Tonight I was reading to Christopher from one of my all-time favorite stories, The Velveteen Rabbit. Recently the subject of “real mother” has come up, as it almost inevitably does with adopted children. Something in one passage struck a chord, and comforted me. I hope it does the same for you.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they [he and the wise Skin Horse] were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder if Margery Williams was herself an adoptive parent. She certainly seems to understand the adoptive parent’s heart!
Image from Image Posters.