I had to load up five of my six kids to go to the visit that didn't happen this afternoon. (My largest cherub is volunteering two days a week at the wildlife refuge Mr. Amazing works at.)
I had been smart enough to know not to tell Dolly and Dude what we were doing. No need to let them down if it's not necessary. Of course they will figure things out eventually. But for today, that seemed like the best plan.
My two cherubs knew what was up though. They were wonderful and actually kept their mouths shut. (And if you know Bart you know that's a difficult thing for him to do!)
Anyway...the visit came...and went. After waiting in the lobby for about 15 minutes, a worker came out and let me know that Mom had canceled. I packed up the five kids (ie. herded the cats) back into the van and we headed towards home.
On the way, Bart and TT really got into it in the back of the van. I didn't think too much of it at the time. They are only one year apart in age and they were sitting right next to each other. Of course they're going to hit each other. Bite each other. Yell and scream.
Once home though, after a thorough chewing out, Bart seemed to settle down. (Again, if you know Bart, this is a difficult thing for him to do! LOL) TT seemed to still be having problems. In fact, it was almost like he was seeking out conflict.
Then...it hit me.
Their mom didn't show up.
I did a quick once over in my brain of what to say. I decided to go ahead and give him the words for what I thought he was feeling. This is a little too complex and I wasn't sure he would be able to figure out the trigger himself.
Me: "Hey TT, I think I know why you're so upset."
Me: "Yeah. It involves some really big feelings. Come over here. Let me see your beautiful eyes and we can talk about it." I walked closer to him and he came over to me. I knelt down to his level.
Me: "I bet you're upset about the fact that Dolly and Dude's mom didn't show up. I bet you're pretty mad. I bet it makes you think about your mom and how she 'doesn't show up' either."
We don't have an open adoption with TT's first family. They relinquished him at birth voluntarily. It was something of an unconventional adoption plan. So, it's not like TT ever expects his mom to "show up". But I knew that the feelings were connected and he would get it if I worded things this way.
TT burst into tears. It seems I hit the nail on the head. I asked him if he wanted to go somewhere private. He said yes so we went to the guest room, our Big Feelings Room, just off the kitchen.
I wrapped my arms around TT and we talked for a bit. I wanted to make sure that he knew I wasn't trying to put words into his mouth or tell him how he feels. I always walk a fine line between just giving him an open forum to tell me what's going on and guiding him if the feelings are a little more complex. However, every time I guide him I make sure to tell him that he is supposed to let me know if I'm wrong. He is in control of his feelings. I usually phrase it like, "some kids might feel this way if such and such happened". That way I'm giving him different possibilities and he can let me know how HE feels about what's going on.
Through the tears we talked about how his mom chose not to parent him. That's a scary feeling to have to process over and over. (Adoption feelings never go away. He will continue to process this loss for the rest of his life!!) He looked up at me and said, "But their mom could parent them if she does what she's supposed to." His heart was broken both for himself and for Dolly and Dude.
It was a profound conversation. I wish I could remember more of it in better detail. My kid is amazing!! We talked about how this fostering stuff brings up lots and lots of big feelings for him. And, like always, once we put words to the big feelings that were festering below the surface, he snapped out of the funk. We hugged. He got up and we went about the rest of the evening.
I will be intentional about keeping TT close to me for awhile. He will need the extra attention. Especially if their mom doesn't step up to the plate. This is going to be really difficult for TT to process. However, we talked about the fact that even though it's hard to deal with now, it will get a little easier. At least I hope it does. I know the feelings he has about adoption aren't going to go away. But I do hope that by giving him freedom to feel whatever he wants to about it all will make it easier for him in the long run.