After reading this post by Donna at Our Heart’s Journey, I knew I had to share it with you. Thank you, Donna, for giving me permission to do so! And for sharing your heart.
Yes, I admit it.
I love my adopted children “differently.”
I can’t help it.
They didn’t “come from” my body.
We do not share the same DNA.
Or the same skin tone or the same hair color.
In the adoption community, these are not things we try to ignore.
Overlook or down play.
We are “different” from each other.
My children and I,
And these things need to be acknowledged.
Last month, I went away to NYC with my mom and some dear family friends.
It was a much-needed, rejuvenating “break” from my life and responsibilities.
It also just happened to be the first time I had been away from the boys.
Or more importantly, the first time they had been without their Mommy.
Later that same week, our other dear friends left for China to bring home their son, Zak.
In the last 5 – 6 weeks since these two “trigger” events occurred,
Austin and Logan have been “acting out” their worries and concerns.
Yes, a lot of it is typical 4-year-old worries.
But in our family – “typical” is always laced over with
“adoption” issues and on top of that, “twin” issues.
Case in point:
On the way to a Preschool Singing Performance, Austin and Logan were talking about all of the kids in their class.
Hearing the usual very Middle Eastern-sounding names, I was hoping to readdress Logan’s earlier concern from that morning, that his skin was “different.”
“Logan, don’t a lot of kids in your class have brown skin like you?”
Before he could answer, Austin quickly and with great shock cuts into the conversation,
“What!?! I’ve got BROWN skin?”
(Logan thought this was hysterical!)
And while Austin moved on from this newsflash with no additional questions,
I was reminded again to make sure that I address the boys’ concerns separately as they EACH reach them.
Anyway, while the boys have been going through this little spell of uncertainty and unease.
They have done a lot of regressing – going back to being little “babies.”
They want to be held and rocked and they practice taking their first steps
…and falling…and having Mommy/Daddy and Nonnie pick them back up.
Which is actually pretty smart when you think about it.
They are going back in time to the moment(s) when they were the most vulnerable.
When their needs were not being met.
And at a time, when, for them, their little hearts were getting “broken.”
Lucky for us, this time we get to be there for them and reassure and nurture them.
But it is also very scary, very worrisome.
The term “attachment issue” FREAKS me out!
It’s hard not to go down that path of rejection and fear –
“My child is not attached to me!’
Despite being very outgoing, fun-loving, like to play 24 hours a day little boys,
Austin and Logan have not wanted to “go anywhere”
When they are dropped off at school or at a playland area,
they scream and scream and cling and beg you not to leave them.
Insert another twin issue here, when ONE child sounds the alarm,
the other child does not wait to access the situation and make his own determination.
He simply hits his own panic button, trusting the fact that
if brother is scared, there’s probably a pretty good reason for me to be scared, too.
At first, I thought their behavior was mostly Mommy-separation issues.
And for Austin, I think it mostly was.
But then I started noticing all the focus and attention Logan was putting on Baby Zak and the adoption.
And Logan really, really started loosing his mind when it came time to be “separated” from Mommy or Daddy or Nonnie.
You could see and feel the fear that riveted through his body.
For Logan. For an adopted child. They don’t have that same “right” to their mommy.
That “I came from you” type of security that non-adopted children have.
Deep within Logan’s growth and development, his mind, his body knows
that at any given moment
anything and everything
familiar to him
No, he doesn’t have real “memories” of these “clearing house” events.
But his mind. His heart. His body.
Logan describes the fear as “There are monsters in my belly, Mommy.”
That anxiety, that nervousness that starts to work its way up through him on the ride to school in the mornings.
He doesn’t know why and he can’t explain it.
And I use every “mommy phrase” in my arsenal to try and help him and walk him through this.
But my heart breaks.
Watching his heart hurt.
Knowing the pain that he suffers,
That he doesn’t have a sense of “belonging” to me.
He tells me he just wants his WHOLE family
(Mason, Lory, Evan, Amanda, Mommy, Daddy and Austin)
With him. In the house.
Logan looked at the adoption of Zak like this,
“That little boy was adopted like ME.
That little boy is coming FROM somewhere.
Who’s to say
Someone can’t swoop in
And adopt me again
(read: take me AWAY from somewhere…this time that “somewhere” being HERE.)
Last week, it got to be too much.
Austin had recovered for the most part. But Logan was getting worse.
Like I said, I could “see” the fear in him.
And I couldn’t do it anymore.
This child who has had everything taken from him 3 times in life
(first 3 weeks in the hospital, alone or maybe not, and then through two different foster families)
was not going to have to go through any more anxiety and pain.
I pulled him from school. He came to work with me. He went to Nonnie’s.
We made sure he felt safe.
We made sure he felt like he was in charge
and that we were gong to move forward on his word.
I see a lot of posts on facebook about
“giving birth to a child is like watching your heart walk around outside of your body.”
And I think loving an adopted child is like that, too
it’s like having to watch their little hearts walk around outside of their bodies.
That little invisible thread that connects us isn’t the same.
Security is not a given.
It must be earned.
It must be built.
And then, Reiterated.
Over and over and over again.
I could really associate to Logan’s pain because also last week,
there was a little newsstory going around about a court case
where it was to be determined if a little 4 year old boy
was going to stay with his adopted parents
or be returned to be raised by his birthmother.
Now, there are many, many circumstances involved in this case, but still
that because my child did not COME FROM me,
he could be TAKEN FROM me
is an overwhelming heaviness.
The depth of the pain is immobilizing.
When Logan flung his arms around me
And his body was convulsing with fear.
I scooped him up.
I held on.
And I didn’t let go.
Daddy, Nonnie and I have all very quietly reassured him.
Let him take life at his own pace.
Eventaully, I would drop Austin off at school.
And Logan’s “monsters” didn’t act up.
Little by little,
And this morning
He went to school.
And I bawled.
Such a big, brave little boy
To overcome an innate fear.
To put himself out there
Despite that life has shown him several times now that things can be taken away and can change in a blink.
He still chose to live
With one little step.
One little step,
He is CHOOSING to step away from the fear.
He chooses to embrace life
He feels safe enough
To walk away from me
To trust that I and his whole family will be there waiting for him.
Do I love my adopted child differently?
I didn’t spend the next five minutes bawling in my car just because
he went to school
That for now, we had done a “good enough” job reassuring him
I bawled, swelling up with pride
Because at that moment I had never seen a bigger, stronger or fiercer HERO!
Being an adoptive parent, you don’t try and dodge a bullet
The bullets are coming
It’s a part of the program.
We don’t try to be “normal”
To glaze over the issues
And pretend that being adopted isn’t different.
It is different.
And so, my love is different.
My love is fierce.
And each time my child’s little heart
is raw and exposed
I will stop the world.
And quietly quelch the demons that are attacking him.
I will make sure I am giving him the tools that he needs in life
to make that invinsible thread stronger.
LEGACY OF AN ADOPTED CHILD
Once there were two women who never knew each other
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother
Two different lives shaped to make you one
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it
The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name
One gave you a talent, the other gave you aim
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried you tears
One made an adoption plan, that was all that she could do
The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.
Now, which of these two women, Are you the product of?
Both, my darling, Both, Just two different types of love.