Adoption = Heartbreak, Part 1
High stress situations trigger our little guy’s PTSD.
In the beginning, high stress was pretty much anything other than staying home with Mama. I spent hours at the elementary school, trying to convince the administration not to cut his day in half. Many days, I sat directly behind him in class, ready for intervention, until social services finally gave approval for a behavioral aide. In a constant state of alert, I watched for any possible cause for concern at home, at school, at church and in public.
Three and a half years later, he is a fully functional member of third grade. Last semester, the Special Education (SPED) staff felt he might be ready for full classroom inclusion. *Side note: the SPED staff have been an incredible addition to the team of people working to support his success. We are so thankful for them.* They allowed him to choose whether he’d rather head to the small group room for part of the school day or remain in the mainstream class the entire time. He decided he was ready for full-time inclusion. Putting it in his hands was the most empowering thing they could have done–and it worked wonders.
He’s asking and answering questions, interacting with others and starting to care what others think.
Of course, now “peer pressure” conversations have come into play, which I didn’t expect. He’s done his own thing, off by himself, for so long—the necessity of this talk didn’t immediately strike me. A few weeks ago, I realized my mistake.
Climbing into the truck, he announced, “Mama, I ate a worm today. J dared me to do it, so I had to. But don’t worry. I made sure it was alive, so it’s okay.”
Right. Because it was alive.
After questioning, I found out he was under the impression that bacteria only lives in dead things, so it’s okay to eat live critters. We nixed that idea super quick. One of my favorite childhood books was How to Eat Fried Worms. Never thought I’d be living it.
End-of-year testing began a couple weeks ago, and I noticed he’s been a little…off…for the last week. We also spent almost 10 hours playing hard at a friend’s house this weekend, so I thought he was just over-tired. Tonight, as I leaned in to pull covers around him and get my goodnight kiss, he squirmed away. I had a momentary flashback to the days when we couldn’t touch him, when he refused to look us in the eye. “You okay?” I tugged on the blanket, now pulled over his head.
From the depths of his fluffy cave, he said, “Come back after you tuck Sis into bed. Please.” When he requests space, he’s usually about to drop some kind of emotional bomb. Prodding him doesn’t help. A few minutes later, we both sat on his bed. He leaned back and put his head on my knee, a good sign. If he’s really upset, he doesn’t want to be touched.
I tried to be nonchalant. “So, what’s going on? Want to tell me?”
“I want to go hoooooooooome!” he sobbed against me. I was stunned. He hasn’t mentioned his biological family in months. Discussing them is always a difficult conversation. On one hand, although they were pretty horrible, we don’t want to demonize the bio family to the children. On the other, we can’t create a fantasy that everything is hunky-dory and they will have a beautiful reunion when he turns 18.
I mean, it could happen. People change. I’m not incredibly optimistic, though.
We talked through what going back to “that place” would mean. Leaving me, leaving Daddy. Leaving the dogs, the cats. Leaving the cool bedroom, the backyard playground and the trails through the woods. And unless the bios had a recent meeting with Jesus, it might mean getting locked in a room all over again.
He admitted to feeling sad and mad and wishing he could see his birth family. “It’s why I don’t smile, not even for pictures.” This is the hardest part of adoption for me. Family is always family, especially for an older adopted child. Seeing them deal with the conflicting emotions of love and hate, as well as the loss, is so difficult. In our case, safety comes first and there’s absolutely no possibility of contact.
Hubby walked in and our guy scooted over to make room on the bed. We sat, the three of us, all tangled. My legs draped over Hubby’s, our guy snuggled between us. We talked about going through hard times, and how God sometimes takes us through difficulty so we can be strong or help someone else in a similar situation.
Finally, the conversation drifted to helicopters, a signal that he felt better and was done talking about deep, dark feelings.
Before we tucked him into bed for the night, we took turns praying; Hubby and I included his birth family in our prayers. To my surprise, our guy did not. However, he prayed for all the children who do not have clean water, and the ones who do not get to go to school because they have to work, and the ones who live in war zones. For all the children who—in his view—got an even worse deal than he did.
He’s going to be okay.
PTSD is awful; I would not wish it on my worst enemy (well…maybe my worst…). However, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to see healing take place. If you’re dealing with PTSD, please know you’re not alone. If you’d like some information about coping, start here.
Have experience with PTSD (yourself or someone you know)? Share here. You never know who you might help.
Posted on May 26, 2015, in Adoption, Blogging101 and tagged adopt, adopted, adopting, adoption, adoptive, ate a worm, behavior, home, How to Eat a Fried Worm, inclusion, PTSD, Special Education, third grade. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.