Isn’t that the way it always works? Once you think you’re really making progress, there’s a flare-up that lets you know you’re not out of the woods yet.
Just yesterday, I bragged on how well Caden is adjusting. I’ve been seeing it time after time again. And, last night, he blew me away with his increasing vocabulary…not only by identifying Yoda as “Tar War” but by repeating the majority of the alphabet after Chloe.
Then, today it happened. For the first time in months, Caden took his fighting stance. Along with tantrums, eating nonstop and his separation anxiety issues…all of which are GREATLY improving…it’s the only negative result of his orphanage upbringing that we’ve seen. It’s hard to know exactly what will set him off, but it almost always happens if you take a toy away from him. Therefore, I’ve trained the kids not to do that. But, this afternoon, I promised them the treat of an “On Demand” movie if they cleaned up the tornado aftermath mess upstairs. They’ve had a very “creative” morning, and I wanted it taken care of prior to dinner.
I had assigned Eva the task of collecting the Barbies (and their accessories) and putting them back in their plastic tote. So, in the clean-up process, she tried to take the plastic Barbie horse away from Caden…and then it happened. I was in their room helping Chloe pick up, and I saw it. But, I wasn’t fast enough. Caden rocked back on his legs, raised his hand, and swung the horse right across Eva’s face. He reminded me of a spider about to attack its predator…as he always does when he takes his fighting stance. I grabbed his arm immediately after he made contact and said in a firm loud voice, “No. You cannot hit your sister!” I continued holding onto his arm while I took away the horse and put it where it belonged. As soon as I let go, Caden ran off crying. I took a quick look at Eva’s face and gave her a kiss on her “boo boo,” then I took off after him.
I found Caden in my closet, sobbing a heartbreaking sob that always takes me back to Gotcha Day. I grabbed him up and snuggled him close. Through his sobs, I gave him gentle kisses that created another scenario very reminiscent of Gotcha Day. Finally, I got him calmed down, and I switched him from “snuggling position” to “cradling position”. Then, I looked down into those brown eyes I fell in love with in a referral picture over a year ago and said, “Mommy loves you.” He shook his head no. So I told him over and over and over again…kissing and snuggling more as I progressed.
I know this is perfectly normal for adoptive families. And I’ve had that point reiterated through the 12 hours of online Hague training I finished this morning…in addition to the 10 hours that I took for Caden’s adoption. I know. It’s been drilled into my brain.
My baby boy fell asleep in my arms sitting on the floor of my dark walk-in closet. And, the tears began to flow. I was crying because he doubted my love…even for a second. I cried because a 2-year-old should not even know how to defend themselves like a wild animal under attack. I cried because I can’t make the damage done during his 21 months in the orphanage go away. I cried because there was a time when he wouldn’t fall asleep in my arms. And, I cried because soon I’ll have another wounded soul calling me Mama.
We stayed true to our original plan…GOD’s original plan, rather…and are pursuing a little girl with a congenital heart defect. Her heart will be broken in ways that the cardiologists won’t be able to fix…or even stabilize with medication. Her heart will be broken in ways that Mama can’t make go away no matter how hard she tries. And that scares me as much as the complications that can arise from complex CHD.
When you adopt a child, their pain becomes your pain. It’s no different than your biological children…but the relationship is. The bonds are harder to form…and easier to damage. It’s a battle establishing a good, solid relationship with them. And it’s a battle helping them overcome the baggage from their past. You can’t be a bystander…you have to be proactive. It takes hard work to get through the issues adoptive families face. It’s not easy meeting the needs of a child who has been hurt emotionally.
As an adoptive parent, you have to develop your own fighting stance.
Tara Anderson began a journey of grace over 20 years ago when she walked the aisle of a little country church and gave her heart to Jesus. She is a stay-at-home mother of four, the youngest of whom was adopted through the China Waiting Child Program in November 2010. Not too long ago, Tara knew exactly who she was and exactly what she wanted out of life…but now she’s just trying to figure out who God intends her to be, and what He wants from her. You can get better acquainted with Tara on her personal blog, Following Our Leader.