The back story -- TT's birthday is October 14. He is turning nine years old. Birthdays can be very, very difficult times for adopted kids. For children relinquished at birth, it's an exact reminder of the time they were rejected. For kids that were adopted when they were older, it's a reminder of years past and their first family. There is no denying that a birthday makes us think of family. At its very root our birthday is a celebration of the day we were welcomed into the world. And at every single birth a mother was there. We all think of our mothers on our birthdays.
My family is also on their way here for a visit. TT struggles with extreme anxiety. Disruptions in his typical routine are very difficult for him. As much as he desperately wants to see his extended family, he's nervous about it all.
Being a foster family adds to TT's personal struggles as well. Each time Dude and Dolly have contact with their bio family it reminds TT of his own story and his own lack of contact. Dude and Dolly had a visit yesterday. They are leaving for Dallas tomorrow. This is difficult for all of us to process and handle sometimes – but it's especially difficult for TT.
Today was a good day though. TT started off the morning by dusting the living room. He knew that our goal today, after school was done, was to clean the house. He didn't even look at the "to do" list. He simply saw the dust and started cleaning. Then, after breakfast, TT and Bart both got done with their school in a very timely fashion. TT did really well on a couple assessments too and was very proud of himself. As soon as school was done, TT got busy cleaning again. He was in a good mood and really seemed to go with the flow all day long.
After I got Dude and Dolly down for bed tonight I left to go grocery shopping. Typically this doesn't phase TT anymore. (He used to be stressed if I wasn't home at bedtime but he's past that level of separation anxiety now.)
However, when I got home, Mr. Amazing told me I should go up to see TT. He told me that TT had been downstairs twice already. I went upstairs to see what was bothering TT. The relief on his face when I walked in the room both made me feel good to see him and broke my heart all at the same time. It's never easy to see your kid suffering.
I crawled in bed with TT to cuddle with him and talk to him. I jumped in with both feet and asked him what was wrong.
TT just shook his head. He was so visibly upset though.
I scooped him up and reminded him that he can talk to me. I reminded him that he can tell me anything. I told him, "You won't hurt my feelings. What's bothering you TT?"
He timidly said, "Granny and Papa coming."
Somehow I just knew this wasn't exactly it. I pushed. I said, "Are you sure? Is there anything else bothering you?"
He broke down sobbing and managed to mutter out, "My mom isn't coming."
Here he is trying to reconcile so many big emotions. People that claim him as family are willing to drive 1255 miles to see him on his birthday. Yet, his own mother, who IS his family, has no contact with him whatsoever.
Being adopted is hard!!
As soon as he started crying, he immediately tried to stop. I hugged him close. I told him to let it out. I asked him if he wanted to talk. He shook his head no. I then asked him if he wanted me to do the talking. He said yes.
Snippets of my monolog included things like this:
Of course you miss your first mom TT. It's normal. You have so many conflicting emotions. You love me. You love Daddy. You want us in your life. But you miss your first mom and first dad. Even though you never got to know them, you are drawn to them. You want them in your life. And as you feel both of those emotions you know that you can never go back to just your first mom and dad. And even though you're part of our family forever, you still miss your first mom and dad. More than anything I bet you want all of us together and it's so hard knowing that right now, that's not possible.TT just snuggled in and nodded in agreement. He cried softly in my arms. I prayed for his first mom and for him. I prayed that she would come to know Jesus if she doesn't already. I prayed that TT's pain would be taken away. I prayed for peace and rest in his spirit.
I talked "for" TT some more. He struggles so much to say what he's feeling concerning all of this. He's scared that he's going to hurt my feelings. I think he's scared of what he's feeling sometimes. I remind him over and over that his feelings are normal. It's OK if he's angry. It's OK if he's sad. It's OK if he wants to be with his first mom.
I asked TT if he's still afraid I'm not going to come back sometimes. All he could do was nod yes. All I could do was remind him that I will never ever leave him no matter what. I'm quite confident TT will struggle with separation anxiety for the rest of his life. The first person he knew and trusted left him. It made a permanent scar on his brain. He doesn't fully trust anyone else to stick around either.
We talked about my feelings too. (OK...I talked, he listened.) I told him, as much as I can't imagine my life without him, I know that he had to suffer in order to become part of our family. I wish he could have grown in my tummy. But that's not possible. And I wish he could be with his first mom and first dad so he wouldn't have the emotional pain he does. But then he wouldn't be in my life. I'm just as conflicted. We cried together.
By now we had been cuddling for quite awhile. He had completely relaxed and was ready to go to sleep. Just hearing his feelings being validated, and seeing me in person, was enough to help him finally settle in and go to sleep. I prayed for him once more and I came downstairs to put away groceries.
Mr. Amazing looked up at me and got a puzzled look on his face. Then he asked if I was OK. All I could do was smile and answer yes. I'm just fine. Like any mother, I just wish I could take the pain away.