BEYOND Story One
When we started the adoption process I remember reading several books I thought would help me prepare for this new little guy and what life would be like. Very few of them talked about how hard the adjustment process could be when you brought your child home. The few I did read seemed so over the top to me anyway; no way was my child going to have any problems. We were expecting a smooth, easy process of course. I remember people asking what I thought it would be like and I naively just said it was just adding another kid to the family. I thought it would feel a little like doing childcare for another family for awhile as we got to know each other, but I had no fears or worries at all.
Our son came home and we had a brief honeymoon period and then life got busy and I remember also telling people that he should be happy and not feel any different than any of the other kids; I treated him just the same as I did the other ones. He loved hanging out with men but he wasn’t too interested in women, including me. We chalked that up to life in the orphanage, brief as it was. The men came to visit and play; it was the women/nannies who were the disciplinarians.
Things settled into routine, or so I thought. Then the periods of blank stares and defiance followed. I could not believe how ANGRY this little boy could make me. I tried to ask some questions on an online support group. I was met with silence, a call to pray and love him more, or sometimes, a not so nice admonition to be quiet. The guilt and shame were huge. I prayed for this child, worked to make it happen, and now it was hard. It must be all my fault.
I did seek support from a bible study group at church. I know they tried to help; looking back some of their advice was probably pretty good. But I felt like they just didn’t get it; they didn’t understand how I felt, why I did things differently, why it hurt so much. None of them were parenting children who came from hard places.
Soon I started blaming my son for everything he did, that it was connected to him wanting to “get back at us” or manipulate us, or get his own way. Sure, there was a level to that in the whole thing. But I just couldn’t see beyond my own hurt to see why he was doing it.
We struggled for over three years. I wanted out, I wanted to be done, I wanted an okay reason to disrupt. But I knew I couldn’t. I knew I hadn’t really tried. I didn’t know how to try; but I didn’t want to try anymore either.
We finally went to an adoption clinic and got some evaluations and some counseling. A long, hard year of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and play therapy for our son began. I went into counseling myself. My son went from an eight year old down to a two year old (behaviorally) and back up. It was hard, lonely work. I felt no one around me “got it” then either. “Boys will be boys” they would say, or “all kids do that”. There was a huge sense of relief when my son finally had an all-out rage in front of my family so they could see just a small glimpse of the things we were dealing with.
Eventually I learned that I loved my son-that I could be patient, kind, gentle. I learned that love can look different with different people, but it is still love. I learned that love doesn’t have to be a fuzzy feeling. I also finally learned that I wasn’t alone. I found some blogs of other women who parented children who had experienced early trauma. They weren’t afraid to say it was hard-that it downright sucked sometimes! But they also didn’t let it sit there as a weight. They were choosing to share their stories so that others might see and grow and experience healing.
I am a part of Beyond Trauma and Attachment because it helps fill my bucket, so I can heal me. I may not post my struggle or make a comment on someone else’s, but I can read it and say to myself, “yup, you are not alone! This is hard!” I take a few days away from my 24 hour a day/7 day a week family obligations so I might take a breath and recharge to come back home to life on the go. I go for myself, but also to encourage and support other women who go through things I can’t imagine.
I have learned that I am strong. I am finding healing for myself...which means healing for my kids. I am going Beyond Trauma and Attachment.
Today. Every day. I am going Beyond.