Chapter 10: Grieve losses to attain wholehearted parenting
This is something you hear a lot about in pre-adoption counseling. Grieve your losses. I just hadn't thought about those losses becoming apparent after our child was home. And I have felt them.
I've been sad that there are things I won't be able to share with LM about when he was a younger infant. Hurt that he'll have to deal with adoption and race issues. I struggle a bit with the changes to our lifestyle. And definitely find it painful to see him struggle to make sense of our new family and accept us as people who will love him for the rest of his days.
I was surprised to have these emotions after the long wait to bring LM home. I mean, shouldn't I be happy now that he was finally here? I was as prepared for his arrival as I could be. We knew of the challenges ahead of us. But none of them were really something we could fathom until LM was home and we were actually experiencing those challenges we had only read about. And of course, this all happened when we were completely exhausted and shell shocked at being new parents. I'm still sorting some of these emotions (and likely will do so for years to come), so it's hard to grieve something that isn't over yet. But it is helpful in at least acknowledging that these are things that hurt.
I absolutely love the grief box project idea on pg. 130. I think it's great to identify feelings and give them some tangible representation. This gives you a way to be with them and understand them, and would be especially helpful in discussing them with your child. LM is too young to do this with now, but maybe in a year?? Has anyone out there done this?
Chapter 11: Give the gift of "what is so"
Love this. I'm a big believer in it. But it's hard to put into practice because you just want to make things better for people when they are hurting, and especially for your child. Things are what they are, and that's not always how you want them to be. A life-long lesson for everyone, really. Adoption isn't something you fix or make better for your child. It's part of the story of their life, good and bad. Helping them to learn that there are things in life that are the way they are is a powerful lesson.
I particularly loved this:
"This parent doesn't define the child or family by the wound [adoption], but sees it as a single thread in the tapestry, a thread that will add depth to the family's design."
Chapter 12: Learn about and link to your child's basic emotions
Developing intimacy with our children is something I know most biological parents don't really contemplate. I recently talked about this with my mother-in-law, who parented three biological children. She said she had never thought about this before. She just had her children and they responded to her. They did not know another way.
But adoptive children do. They knew other caregivers and know the pain of losing them. So I think they really choose whether or not to be intimate with you. And building that trust to lay a foundation for intimacy is a struggle. Especially with older children who have such a strong memory of loss. And this memory does not fade quickly.
Eldridge cites from the book Learning the Dance of Attachment by Holly van Gulden and Charlotte Vick,
"The shared experience of brief, positive interaction is the cement that emotionally binds the caregiver and child. Like the intimate eye gazing of this stage and of adults in loving relationships, positive interactions are brief, lasting seconds, not minutes."
This is true for us. Some days, I have just mere seconds when this curious and active boy slows down enough to look me in the eyes and make a real connection. This relationship is being built one glance at a time, one hug at a time. LM deserves to take things slow and on his terms. These things take time.
On to chapters 13, 14 & 15 for next week!