For years he would crawl in bed with me. I was too tired (and too big of a fan of co-sleeping) to kick him out of bed. However, he's seven years old now and we only have a queen-sized bed. If anyone is going to get sleep, he can't be in bed with us. So, we put a mattress on the floor of our room right next to our bed. TT knows that he can climb in bed right "next" to me any time he wants. 99% of the time the mattress isn't used. But heaven help me if I put it away...I'll have a visitor in my bed the very next night!
When my husband travels, I do make an exception for TT. Since there's room in the bed, and since he's usually fighting stress due to Daddy being gone, he's allowed to actually climb in bed with me. Needless to say, with all the added stress our family has been feeling, TT has joined me the last couple days.
As I was cuddling TT this morning, I asked him what his dream was about. His last round of bad dreams always involved me leaving him when we were out in public. After discussing the dreams, we made several suggestions. One of them was that he could try to remember to always hold my hand in his dreams. This did the trick and we didn't have a nighttime visitor for a couple weeks. Anyway, last night's dream was about TT being left in an empty school. The doors were locked and the only person there was the janitor who spoke a different language. TT whimpered to me, "I couldn't even ask him to unlock the door." He told me the school had an afterschool program - but when he got there everyone was gone.
I asked TT if he wanted to talk about a "big feeling". TT has learned that big feeling conversations don't always feel good right away. He knows that most of our big feeling conversations are about adoption. I try to let him stay in control of any kinds of conversations like this. He said yes.
I went on to tell him that, "some kids who don't live with their biological families have deep, deep feelings of abandonment". I asked him if he knew what that meant because I'm not sure if I had introduced that word to him before. He thought for a second and said that abandonment means being alone. That was good enough for me so I told him he was right.
He pulled away from me just a bit and said, "So, I'm normal." I said yes but I wanted to go on with this conversation to end it with a positive feeling. I wanted to remind him that we will love him forever and ever...no matter what.
Instead, he turned and looked at me and said, "Can I ride the bus this morning?" When I answered yes he jumped out of bed and raced through his morning routine so he could get to school way earlier than he needs to be. No more talking was necessary for him. It was like a giant weight had been lifted.
I think abandonment issues are so overlooked with healthy infants who are adopted at birth. When that beautiful baby was placed in my arms, I never would have believed how much he could hurt just because he was adopted. But so much happens during those nine months of pregnancy. I do believe a connection - and a strong one at that - is made. And he was abandoned by his biological family. They made a choice to not parent him. I believe it was a choice deeply rooted in love because they wanted the best for their baby. But Wesley still has to spend his entire life wondering if WE are going to continue to parent him or if we will abandon him too.
The bad dreams aren't going to go away just because he knows he's "normal" now. I will continue to keep the lines of communication open at all times.
I don't have an answer for this. I just think it's important to talk about.
Not everyone is familiar with Cherub 2's adoption story. Here's the VERY brief rundown.
- We were a licensed foster family in Iowa when the call came to foster/adopt a newborn.
- We said YES!!!
- We met TT in the hospital when he was not quite 24 hours old and brought him home as soon as the hospital would let us the next day.
- They were from Minnesota and wanted to take advantage of Iowa's Safe Haven law. However, when labor became too difficult for TT's first mom, they chose to deliver in a hospital in Iowa (as opposed to a home birth).
- Upon delivery, they discussed things with a social worker and decided that "formally" relinquishing their parental rights would be better for their baby as opposed to actually just leaving him at the hospital under the Safe Haven law. (The process would go faster and would leave less of a chance of something going wrong and complicating things for the baby.)
- So...we had something of a private adoption but it wasn't through an agency. His first parents didn't want an open adoption so we know very little other than the medical forms they filled out.