My (now) 16 year old adopted daughter was 4 years old when her loving mother died. "The cancer monster ate her." My daughter vaguely remembers placing a white rose in the casket next to her mom at her memorial service.
The following 22 months was a living nightmare. She was placed in the custody of her estranged mentally ill father who physically and sexually abused her. She was locked in closets while her father binged, sometimes for as much as a day or two. With no permanent address, they moved every 3-4 weeks. Approx 10 months after her mother died, her father literally abandoned her on the steps of the county courthouse when the death benefit funds dried up.
Another 12 months in foster care and one disrupted adoptive placement later, we met our daughter for the first time on August 6, 1998.
Fast forward 10+ years. In the next 2-4 weeks, my daughter and I will be traveling 750 miles (1200 km) to visit her mother's grave for the first time. It's what she wants and needs. There are few known living relatives, one uncle that we know of who still lives in the Illinois town where her mother grew up and is buried.
In the next day or two, I will make a phone call in hopes that he will be open to meeting with us while we are there. She wants to know more about her mother, what she was like, where she grew up, etc. I am hoping he will be receptive to my call and will be willing to spend some time with his niece. With any luck, we'll come back with some answers and (hopefully) some pictures and other family momentos for her to keep and cherish.
Wish me luck - this is uncharted waters for me as I try to set this up. My daughter does not know that I'm planning to call ahead. I want to protect her in the event her uncle does not wish to meet her.
For those who have been there, done that, any words of advice would be very welcome. Thanks!