He’s Adopted?

Yesterday at the Y that’s what someone said to me about Tariku. They just couldn’t believe he hadn’t been in our family the whole time and/or that he didn’t have any “normal” orphan behaviors, whatever that means.

It got me thinking that, for the most part, she was absolutely right, in that he does feel like he’s been in our family forever. And for the most part, he doesn’t show a lot of behaviors that some people attribute to orphans. We’ve been very lucky.

The one behavior he definitely still does have that I relate to what’s happened to him in his 4 short years is how hard he is on himself. There are still many times throughout the day that he has kind of an “I’m not worthy” attitude. For instance, I’ll be giving Dailah a snack and preparing ones for him and Trysten. Before I can give him one he’ll say, “Oh, I don’t get one.” As if to say, of course I don’t get one, I don’t deserve it.

When he was at camp the counselor related the story that Tariku dove into the pool. Tripper (the counselor) said, “Tariku, you know you’re not supposed to dive in,” and turned around. When Tripper turned back around, Tariku had taken himself out of the pool and put himself in time out. Tripper was impressed that he put himself in time out but of course I was worried.

It’s a hard behavior to correct. Honestly, at times, it’s thoroughly annoying. I find myself asking, “Why would you think you didn’t get a snack, why are you going in time out?” But when I’m fully aware of what’s happening I know he’s still hurting. That inside he is still feeling the effects of what, to him, feels like being left. He remembers a lot about Ethiopia which is a blessing in some instances but can be really hard in times like this.

I’m really not sure how to help this situation, if you have ideas I’d love to hear them. All we’ve been doing is reassuring him that he is a fantastic boy and deserves all the best things in life. I’ve started to give him his meals and snacks first. But whenever he gets in trouble he is devastated. Cries, mumbles, the works. He has the same reaction whether he’s actually getting in trouble (taking a toy) or not (accidentally stepping on a toe). I’m at a loss as to how to be proactive about his reaction during discipline.

This is where adoption is hard. I just wish he could feel the intense emotions I have inside me for him. I wish that he knew that I would give him the stars if I were able. He is so, so precious I just can’t wait until he knows it himself.

God, I love this guy. Off to snuggle him, I see an opening.

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8 thoughts on “He’s Adopted?

  1. Wow, that really breaks my heart. He is the sweetest thing ever. I am sad that he doesn't feely worthy yet, but it sounds like you are doing the right things to reassure him that he is special and loved. My little brother was adopted at the same age as T and it was hard for him too. He was devastated when he got in trouble. I think what helped is a lot of one on one time with mom or dad. Just really feeling special and assuring that no matter what he does, you won't "give him back". Praying for him. Glad I know a specific thing to pray for him about.

  2. what a sweet post. there is one friend in my life who cannot get over the fact that Z was adopted at age 3.5 and had this "WHOLE LIFE" before he came to our family. it drives her crazy. personally, i want her to just get over it but that doesn't look like it will happen any time soon. z feels like he's been with us forever, and there are times when i "forget" that i didn't have those baby years with him. he's got a few orphan issues still as well, but they're few and far between.

  3. I know very little about these things in detail. But what may (stressed MAY because maybe it's just his personality) help- is some confidence building excercises. I don't have any for kids. But I bet you can find some. Good luck! It's hard to watch them beat up on themselves.

  4. It sounds like you're doing "all the right things" to reassure him of your love and his forever place in the family. Deep healing takes a long time.Also, it's impossible to know how much of this is because of his past experiences and how much is inborn personality trait. I know kids who grew up in their bio families and never got comfortable in their own skin. Anxious, hard on themselves, quick to cry, etc. As APs, we have a tendency to connect things to adoption or our children's former lives… sometimes the connection is right on and other times it's just our kids being who they are.Not that it matters, but he is absolutely adorable!

  5. Love that kid. He is a survivor and is an incredibly resilient child. I got to see you in action, trust me, he KNOWS he is special to you and is worthy of a beautiful life. Teshe seems to go through periods where he is lacking confidence (for lack of a better term) too. I try to "catch" him doing awesome things and in general being fantastic, and then I gush about it to him. And then later I re-tell Matthew so I can gush again – or I call my mom when he can hear it. I can almost see his chest puff up.

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