You’ll Never Guess What Today’s Topic Is

Adoption!

How long has it been since I’ve really blogged about that?  Huh?  Like, forever?

I suppose that is because, once Quinn’s adoption was done, there wasn’t much to talk about.

But now?  Now, Tank Boy is getting older, becoming more Aware, having a greater Understanding, and suddenly we find ourselves once again actually living with adoption issues (as opposed to just passively being aware of them, thinking about them, hypothesizing about what may or may not be adoption related, telling random strangers we don’t run a day care, blah, blah, blah).

First let me say this:  I understand the concerns about keeping our children’s adoption details and experiences private, not sharing things without their permission, etc.  And while I get that and I respect that, I’m going to talk about what’s been going on here anyway.  Because?  A). I don’t think what has been going on is some kind of mortifying big deal; B).  This is the closest thing I have to a journal; C).  Most of you never have met, nor ever will meet, Tank Boy in real life, so it’s not like you’re going to inadvertently say something to him that would devastate him; D).  Blogging has been a great, great support system for me through the process of completing our last adoption, and I hope it remains such as we go through the process of raising our kids who may or may not (but really, what are the chances they won’t?) face adoption issues; and finally, F).  Just as your experiences and comments help me, I hope our experiences can help someone else.

Anyway, with that all said . . .

Lately I have noticed (how could I not, since my ears work) (and even if they didn’t I’m sure I could sense some kind of vibration, or disturbance in The Force) that the ungodly screaming which Tank Boy used to do on a very daily, almost constant, basis has come back.

It isn’t daily, and it isn’t as prolonged (because apparently God really does want this child to live), but it has come back.  The anger is re-emerging.

Last week Tank Boy and Midge were playing a game of Othello (do you know this game?  love this game; but I’m a boring person) and Tank Boy lost.  So he took the (hard plastic) Othello board and heaved it in the general direction of his sister, who caught it with her face.

Much screaming ensued.

Midge was screaming because she was hurt; Tank Boy was screaming because he lost and was angry, and because he knew he was in trouble; and I, actually, was not screaming, though I did have to ratchet up the volume just to be heard.

Anyway, through the process of trying to discuss what happened and what the consequences would be, Tank Boy just really lost it in a way I haven’t seen him lose it in about a year.  It really made me realize how much progress he’s made, and how much happier we all are because of it. 

I sent him to his room to calm down, where he screamed it out while banging things around for some time.  At least there were no holes in the walls when it was all over (unlike the past).  As he was up there screaming and throwing things, I was down here trying to puzzle out why he was suddenly acting this way.  Maybe he was coming down with the cold I had?  Maybe he just hasn’t been getting outside enough to burn off energy after a long winter?  What?

Then I realized he had been asking more questions about Korea and his foster mom lately.  As in just that morning, even.  And I remembered that during one of those conversations Midge blithely said, “But your foster mom wasn’t your real mom.  First you were with your real mom and then she put you in the orphanage, and then your foster mom took you home to take care of you until you could come home with us.”

Lovely.

Tank Boy has known about his foster mom for quite some time because we have pictures of him with her.  He has easy access to those pictures whenever he wants to look at them, and he’s been looking at them more lately.  However, we have nothing but a name for his birth mom, so the whole birth mom thing has been a little more difficult to address.  Midge just blurting it all out like that, well, I think it was more than he realized.  Not that we hadn’t brought up the birth mom thing, but, I don’t know.  I guess we never explained it that much because his curiosity has mostly been about the foster mom; and that, I’m sure, is because we have pictures of her.

I explained to him that he came out of his birth mom’s tummy, and she loved him very much, but she wasn’t ready to be a mom, didn’t think she could be the mom he needed to have, so she did what she needed to do to make sure he got his mom and dad who were ready to be a mom and dad.

At a different time, prior to that conversation but still recently, he asked me out of the blue one day if I thought his step-mom missed him.  He frequently confuses step-mom with foster mom, and I’ve explained it enough times now that he knows step-mom isn’t the right term, but for whatever reason has a hard time remembering “foster.”  I told him I was sure she missed him, and he said, “I miss her, too.”

Hmmm.  “Do you remember her?” I asked.

“Yes,” he told me.

“Not the pictures of her.  Do you remember her?  Do you remember when you were a baby and you lived with her?”

“Umm . . . no.”

So I suggested that maybe he doesn’t really miss her, since he can’t even remember her, but maybe he’s curious about her, and interested in her, and wishes he could know more about and even meet her.

Well, back to the screaming incident (I’m just all over the place – heaven forbid I write in some kind of linear fashion).  While he was up there screaming, I was in my kitchen having my little adoption issues epiphany, but I didn’t want to hand it to him on a silver platter as an excuse for his behavior because what if I was wrong?

Once he calmed down, I went upstairs, sat on his floor, and held him in my lap like a baby.  We had a long talk about winning and losing, not throwing game boards or other objects, not yelling and screaming, and how much I love him.  Once that was wrapped up I continued to cradle him and I asked,

“Do you have any questions about anything else?”

See?  That was me giving him the opportunity to talk about anything that might be on his mind without actually dragging him down a path I may have incorrectly chosen.  As it turns out?  I wasn’t incorrect.

“Does my birth mom miss me?” he asked.

“I’m sure she does.  Do you know who your birth mom is?”

“She is someone who loves me very, very, very, very, very, very much.”

I let him ask as many questions as he wanted, and I told him as much as I knew (keeping it age appropriate, of course).  That whole conversation helped immeasurably.  He is still a little angrier, but not like he was that day.

My little guy is dealing with his increased understanding of the fact that he had another mom and she gave him away (very simplistic version of things, I know; but he’s four, so that’s probably how he’s seeing it).  How unsettling that must be for a child.  My mother questioned the wisdom of telling them so much at such a young age, when it must be the scariest concept in the world, that idea that a mom could give you away.  I understand her point, but, as I told her, I’d rather he start processing it and dealing with it now while he is still young and can do less damage to himself and the family overall.  I can’t imagine that kind of rage in a 16-year-old body that grabs the car keys.

Plus?  He’s Korean and we’re very NOT, so it’s not like he isn’t going to notice and wonder how that all happened.

I have always wondered when this day would come, when he’d start to understand it all, and what would happen then.   It’s here and now, and obviously there is some regression in behavior, but it’s not the end of the world by any stretch.  I’m sure there will be more as the years go by, as he matures and is more fully able to comprehend things.

Yesterday, as he was eating . . . breakfast?  lunch?  maybe just playing at the table?  I don’t remember.  Anyway, yesterday, out of the blue, he said, “Mom, I have a lot of people who love me.  I have you and Daddy, and my foster mom and dad, and my birth mom, and Grandma and Grandpa, and A~ and L~ and Midge and Quinn . . .” and he continued on, listing aunts and uncles and cousins and everybody who came to mind.

I hope he can really internalize that love we all have for him.  I hope he comes to fully trust it and believe it.  I hope when all is said and done the love that sticks with him, overshadows the uncertainties, and guides him in all he does.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about My Day with Quinn and how it freaked him out to the point that he wouldn’t even let grandpa hold him.  Yep, more adoption stuff . . . I think.

7 thoughts on “You’ll Never Guess What Today’s Topic Is

  1. Wow, that’s a perfect description of what happens with my two older children. Just a guess – is it around the anniversary of something that happened? A major move or something that threw him off his game?

    I’m asking because my two oldest kids have PTSD (they are 5 and 9) and every year around October they melt down and regress to earlier behaviors. The first time it happened with our daughter, it scared the living snot out of us. She regressed to screaming for 4 hours at a time, would not sleep by herself, and went back to taking a pacifier. For almost a month, the only time she’d rest is when she sat cuddled in my lap in the rocking chair. October is when she moved out of her bio-family’s home and she moved from her longest foster placement a few days after Halloween. She unconsciously saw the series of events leading up to her having to find a new family.

    We’ve spent quite a lot of time with family therapists who specialize in childhood trauma and they let us know that every October, she will probably go through this. It will lessen in severity as time goes on but she’ll still have the flashbacks and pattern recognition that send her into her shell.

    We just follow her lead now when she’s in an “attack” and if she needs cuddles, we give cuddles. We limit her interactions with the outside world. If she needs her security blanket and a paci, then we let her hold on to them. If she needs to be told 10 times a day that she’s not leaving us EVER, then we tell her that… and after a while she comes out of it and is back to normal.

    You’ll make it, mama, and so will he! It just takes LOTS of patience and remember to take care of yourself. *hugs*

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  2. Wow! Big stuff for such a little guy. I’m so glad he has you as his mom to help him work through it. Its coming earlier for him than it did for my older three…in fact I’m not sure how much of that they’ve worked through. While we talk about Russia and Ukraine quite frequently and they know we are open to any question they want to ask…we don’t get very many questions.
    Every so often they’ll pepper us with a few, over a few days…and then the subject will close again.
    I really need to sit down and have a talk with Alek at some point soon. He knows the story…knows about a ‘birthmom’ but we haven’t filled in the details because he hasn’t asked. But since he’s quickly approaching his teen years, I think its time we gently guide him a bit on filling in some of the gaps in his knowledge…and remind him, again, that its okay to ask.
    We’ll be praying for Tank Boy…and for you. 😉

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  3. metaphase

    I appreciate this story, along with Cindi’s. I’m still early on (Binh is Quinn’s age) but you all have been through this and I hope there’s something I can learn for our own situation. Binh has some anger, like when he doesn’t get his way sometimes his reaction doesn’t fit the situation. I try to have my eyes open for the future. Thanks again!

    Oh, and I missed Tantrum Tuesday, but I’ll get in on it next time. (I always can find something to complain about 🙂

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  4. We are totally walking a parallel life right now with the adoption stuff. I blogged about this very thing yesterday. And you know, Noah talks very openly and matter-of-factly about Addison’s birth mother to her, too. That’s the complicated thing about adoptive parenting with siblings – you don’t always get to control how and when info is disseminated. And once its out there, all you can do is damage control. You can’t take it back. You just have to deal.

    So after my own little adoption crisis yesterday I started doing some research on how other people handle this and what is normal, etc. Probably I should have done this sooner, eh? Anyway what I learned was twofold: 1) I think people far underestimate how even very young children think about this stuff which means there aren’t a lot of resources to help that are age-appropriate other than fictional books and 2) it did help to read about some of the milestones being related to development – like how kids don’t tend to ask about birth*fathers* until much later (when they begin to understand reproduction) for example. Good to know. Although I take that fwiw considering point #1!! Anyway everything I’ve read says to be as honest as possible, as young as possible, so that all this news doesn’t come as a shock but that’s easy to say and not so easy to do when you THINK you’ve done just that only to be totally thrown off guard by a question you didn’t expect for years or behavior that indicates far far more thinking and understanding and need for processing than you would have ever expected from such a little kid.

    This is really hard stuff. I’m glad you are blogging about it.

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  5. Thanks for sharing, Elaine. I obviously have nothing to offer (’cause I know you can read, and all I have it what I’ve read), but I’m very appreciative of what you share. You’re an amazing mom.

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  6. It sounds like you’re handling the situation(s) beautifully! Tank Boy (and all your kids) are lucky to have such an insightful, caring and intelligent mom! Keep up the good work!

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