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May 5, 2015
bitsofthepast

6 comments

Adoption: The Hard Truth for Some

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Many people have said to me, “Oh my goodness, you adopted!  What an amazing thing!  Your daughter must be so happy that you saved her!”

When I hear this statement and ones similar, about us saving her, or how amazing this must be for us, I cringe just a little, and realize that before we picked her up and brought her home, I too had this romantic version of adoption in my head.  I had my thoughts focused to how happy she will be that we took her from the awful situation she knew.  That she would love and hug us everyday.  That she would quickly and seamlessly integrate into our family, and never look back or have thoughts of the horrible place she came from.

Oh how reality hits, and hits like a brick sometimes.

On the day we swooped her up in our arms, we quickly realized that our story would be quite different than the others that were with us.  First, she was older, second she was more vocal.  None of which are negative, but when adopting can be difficult.  She would scream from the top of her lungs in public place that she hated us.  Because it was in Chinese, we did not know what she was saying at first, but learned from our guide.

When we brought her home, all her anger and frustrations was directed on me, which makes it difficult for the bonding to occur. I will admit to distancing myself, and diving right into work, which looking back, I have realized that was the worst decision I could have made.  Hindsight, is a wonderful thing.

But, lets fast forward five years later, to today.  You would think that all of the hate and negative behavior would be unlearned, and the statement of, “She must be so happy”, would be true on some level.  I guess maybe on some level it might be, but she is still angry.  She tells me she hates me and wishes for a different mother at least once a week.  She tells me she only loves her dad.  She tells me she is an orphan and the orphanage nannies were so much better than I could be.  This always makes me shocked, because she came from an orphanage with 2,000 kids, the pictures told of no bathing, lice, and filthy conditions.  When we got her, we quickly discovered the bruises on her body, where a cane would strike her.  She has mental bruises from sexual abuse.  She went through PTSD therapy for two years, and is going back again, since the relapse seems to be causing her little mind so much anguish.  She tries to gain control so she will not be hurt, like she has been so terribly hurt  before.  Her tantrums are not the screaming and stomping feet kind.  They are kick holes in the wall kind, they are the kind of tantrums in which she tries to let out all the hurt she feels from feeling strange and alone.  She is not happy we took her from all of her pain, because now she has to think about it, which can be worse for a little girl who fights so hard.

The comments above make me laugh loudly, because she is the one who has opened our eyes to the hard reality trauma can cause.  She is the brave one, that keeps going even when she does not want to.  She is the one that faces all her demons, and wants to love, but just cannot bring herself too.  I recently talked with a gentleman from our church who adopted a little girl from Korea in 1971.  He is now 80 years old, and his daughter is estranged.  He tries on a daily basis to get into contact with her, but she will not talk to anyone in her family.  He said looking back there were warning signs, and in the 1970s it was still taboo to talk of such things.  He looks back and thinks of all the ways he failed, but has also realized he raised a little girl who must be a good citizen because she has never needed money, which he still tries to send, he has never received a call from the police etc.  This is the way he consoles himself, and gives himself comfort that he believes she is safe.  My husband asked what his thoughts were on helping our child feel loved, and this gentlemen said something that has changed my world forever, “It is not about feeling loved, it is about helping her understand that she is secure.  The love will come after that.”

Oh, security, isn’t that what we all need?  I need to be secure as a mother, my husband needs to be secure as a father, she needs to feel secure as our daughter.  She needs to be secure in herself.  She does not even feel safe in her own mind, constantly on the verge of feeling like she will lose this “good thing” forever.  Must hurt us before she gets hurt.  You know , self preservation.

So how have I changed, that should be the real question.  I now give her baths, rock her to sleep in the rocking chair.  Rub her head, feed her food.  I know this sounds ridiculous for a nine year old, but what would you do for your baby?  How would you help your baby feel safe?  These are things, I should have done years ago.  Again with that hindsight business.  I take her to therapy, I pray with her when she gets angry, because I need that to.  I need to be just as secure that I can parent her, as she needs to be she is our daughter.

I am thankful for this older gentleman who was willing to share his story with me, but my heart breaks for him and his daughter.  His story is now the story that he tells to help others heal, even though he cannot heal.  We still have time to change our stories.  He feels like he is out of time.  He looks at me and says the next time we come over, he wants to show us pictures of his daughter.  Says he takes them out and looks at them every so often, wondering how she is.  A tear comes to his eye, and he hugs me.

What do I want to tell others who have adopted and are struggling?  What is my story?  I do not know yet.  But the man above told me his so that I would have a different one.  So that I can remember that it is so much bigger than me feeling sorry for myself.  It is about a little girl desperate for security.  Grasping for it, and it slipping from her fingers.

She is my baby, and I am her mother.

Thank you for reading this long post.

Have a wonderful day everyone,

Suzy

April 29, 2015
bitsofthepast

1 comment

Thirteen

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Thirteen has always been considered an unlucky number, but I find it very lucky.  I was born on the 13th, and even on a Friday.  I share a birthday with a beloved grandfather who was also born on a Friday.  I have worn the number 13 on a jersey, stayed on the thirteenth floor, and now, I have a thirteen year old!

He is an amazing young man.  The most giving heart, he will make sure no one feels left out.  He can be frustrated with his brothers and sisters, but when one gets hurt, he makes sure all their needs are met.  He is not afraid to be himself.  I find him taking on more and more leadership roles in Boy Scouts and at church.  He can be shy, but will announce from the rooftops that his favorite singer is Johnny Cash, and his favorite instrument is the banjo, which he plays.  When so many kids want to be like the super stars, singers and sports stars of today, he want to be like his grandpas and dad.  He wants to be tough like them, gentlemen who have seen many things and have been strong enough to live through them mentally and physically. Courageous and loving like his grandfathers. He does like basketball, and his favorite player is Kevin Durant, who is giving and courageous.  He is taller than me, can reach things on shelves without using a step stool, but still knows that I am his mother.  He gives me hugs every morning, and I love this more than anything.

I cannot believe that I get to be this young mans mother!  And I think thirteen is going to continue to be a very lucky number indeed.

I love you son, and Happy 13th Birthday!

Love,

Suzy, Mom

April 27, 2015
bitsofthepast

2 comments

Happy Monday

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What’s on the agenda this week?

Being a mom-the best most frustrating job in the world.

Celebrating the 13th year of my oldest!  Oh my goodness, I cannot believe he will be 13!

Planting flowers, and plenty of sunshine.

Cooking.

School.

Baseball.

Busy, full and so much fun.

Hope you all are looking forward to your week!

Happy Monday!

Love,

Suzy

April 23, 2015
bitsofthepast

no comments

The Cat vs. The Boy

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This is our cat.  She is an outdoor cat through and through.  I got her 7 years ago when we moved in to our home, and the reason was to mouse.  Our acre is backed up to a big field that has mice, snakes etc. And since those mice like to find their way towards our house, she has had great eating.  She is the perfect cat.  She stays outside, and when anyone is outside she sits next to us. does not really want to be pet, but instead just wants to hang out.  These pictures are during our Easter egg hunt in which she perched her tail on this Burberry bush and left it there for a long time.  At first I thought it was stuck, but it wasn’t, the tail was just plain old comfortable.

She is full of personality, and yesterday, proved that she is scarier than a big dog, and a whole lot tougher.

It was time for my kids to go feed all the animals, and my Oldest Bit decided he would go outside via the garage.  As he opened the door, he noticed Ms. Kitty (that is her name) was in the garage, and bent over to pet her.  As teenagers seem to do, he did not think to let her out of the garage before going in our backyard.  The backyard is where Happy and Ruffo, our two big dogs, live.  These dogs must have sensed a cat presence through the door and were waiting eagerly on the other side.  Oldest Bit and Ms Kitty were not aware of the dogs knowledge, and so Oldest Bit opened to the door to the backyard.  The dogs come tearing in to the garage, and Ms Kitty proceeded to freak out.

In the words of Oldest Bit, “She turned into Godzilla and Bruce Lee and began running through the garage.  The next thing I knew she was running towards me, and I got really scared, so I started running, that is when I ran into the door at full speed!”  And let me tell you it was at full speed, because Oldest Bit does not make a big deal of getting hurt.  Sometimes I am unsure how bad it is, he simply does not want to make a big deal.  He came running through the door, partly crying and part yelling, thankfully no profanity, and exclaimed as I came for him, “Leave me alone!!  I hurt really bad!!!”  Okay, this is different, I thought to myself.  He must really hurt.  As he calmed down and let me look at his side, I noticed a huge bruise had formed on the side of his pelvis bone.  It was big, and it was swollen.  He could not even bend without crying.  I gave him ice and said to let me know if he wants me to take him anywhere.  He immediately said no, he did not want to make a scene.

Fast forward thirty minutes later, he comes to me still in tears and said that maybe a quick trip to urgent care would be good.  So, I took him, knowing that he must hurt if he said he needed to go.  The poor kid had to repeat his experience five times, but through every explanation, he laughed at himself.  He could not believe he ran from cat, especially one named Ms.  Kitty.  Thankfully nothing was broken.  The doctor said that particular bone is extremely hard to break.  But it is a deep tissue bruise and he will just feel like he was in a boxing match for a week or so until it heals.

All the way home he was embarrassed that he went in.  I told him not to be embarrassed at all.  We have all had these kind of moments, and it is better to be cautious.  I told him a few of my embarrassing moments, and he began to feel better that I could trump him in this area. You see I embarrass myself a  lot!  That boy actually agreed with me!  So to console myself and to remind him of his embarrassing moment, I told him that if he were to retell this story, it might be best for him to change the name of the cat.  Running from Godzilla sounds much more terrifying than running from Ms. Kitty.  That’s the kind of mother I am.

The cats name is now Godzilla!

Have a great day everyone!

April 22, 2015
bitsofthepast

no comments

Did I Mention we Celebrated Easter?

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Oh, by the way, Easter happened!  That day, and then the weeks proceeding were a bit crazy, so I thought I would share pictures now.  It was actually a very low key Easter.  We went to mass on Saturday for Easter vigil.  This way, my mom and dad could go with us, since they were leaving Easter day.  I do love Easter vigil.  Much of the mass is held in candlelight, and reading Old Testament verses, then, Easter is proclaimed, the lights come on and we say Hallelujah!  It is a magical service, and so symbolic.

So, because mass happened on Saturday, our Sunday was free for relaxation, which was much needed after a week in San Francisco, a car drive to and from, and then the airport to send my parents off.  I knew the kids would be sad after dropping off grandma and grandpa, so we had some activities planned.   First, we colored eggs.  Then we painted crosses, the reason we are celebrating Easter.  Then we hunted eggs.

Have I told you how I handle the egg hunt?  Each child has a theme assigned to them.  For instance one year it was a color, the next year was their initials.  This year it was a sport.  Oldest Bit was basketball eggs, Middle Bit was baseball, and Little Bit was soccer.  They are only allowed to find their themed eggs!  That way, they all have the same amount, and there is no candy contamination since there are allergies. If they find another’s theme, they are not allowed to pick it up or tell the person, until the last five minutes when we are done with hunting.  Egg hunts have been more fun and actually take longer than usual this way.  And usually, a parent steps in and has to help.  We even found one of the hard boiled eggs from last year!

Finally, we hunkered down and watched the movie Babe.  I absolutely love this movie, so amazing.

For dinner we had traditional Easter Nachos.  Doesn’t everyone have that tradition?

This year I realized how quickly time with the kids is going.  I spend all my time rushing them out of the house, but now I do not want to rush at all.  I want to savor these few fleeting moments we have together, and enjoy each and every age as it comes.  Right now, I feel the stage they are in is the best one yet, and I hope I feel the same next stage.

I hope you all enjoyed your Easter, I am sure you did since it was three weeks ago.  Oh well, behind the curve again!

Take care!

Love,

Suzy

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