Somedays

I get so mad at the world. At God. At the agency in Ethiopia. At whoever is around, really.

A few of my boys have issues that were so clear to us even when we picked them up in Ethiopia it angers me that they were never brought up in their reports. Nothing, not a word or a hint to any of it.

It wouldn’t have changed the outcome, we would still have brought these little rays of sunshine home, but it would’ve helped the transition I think. I could’ve gathered the necessary troops and had them prepared for battle upon my little ones gaining their American visas. Instead, years in, we are still playing catch up.

I told Zach today that it would almost be easier if the boys were diagnosed with something. I think for a lot of us in the adoption world people look at us funny when we say, “Well they are different. They’ve been through too much, it changes people.” Or we look like we are making excuses for behavior that is not “normal” for a kid their age. I always feel a little bit crazy saying things like, “I know he looks x age but please understand that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”

When I told Tariku’s teacher that he needs to eat every few hours or he’s practically incapable of making good decisions she patted me on the shoulder and shook her head. She made sure he ate every few hours but I couldn’t help but feel like I looked slightly off my rocker (perhaps I was projecting, the teacher was actually fabulous).

When I say I think it would be easier if they were diagnosed with something please don’t misunderstand…I know having children diagnosed with anything is many things but rarely easy. I just meant that if there’s no diagnosis, if there’s nothing we can point to and say, “My kid has this, please treat them delicately” then we end up feeling really overwhelmed and lonely.

My precious Bean is struggling a bit at camp. For a kid who is developmentally on target in a lot of ways, he struggles in social settings. If a child picks a different “swim buddy” over him he automatically assumes it’s because he’s not loved. If a counselor tries to redirect a misbehavior (which that counselor has every right to do!) he assumes-and will tell you-that it’s because he/she doesn’t like him. If he trips on accident, he assumes people are laughing at him. If he is overwhelmed-he shuts down, if he is over stimulated-he shuts down. Though camp is rife with all of these situations, I really believe it’s a safe place for him to grow and learn new and better ways of coping socially with his peers.

And you know what? He was like this in Ethiopia. He never played with anyone while we were there. He never talked to anyone when we were there. We never saw him interact with any child or caregiver during our time there. It was so obvious to us even after a few days, and yet no mention in any of his reports.

I know I’m shifting blame here, I get that. But sometimes I feel so hamstringed in raising kids who have such painful pasts because there isn’t the same kind of support that there is for kids with say, diabetes. There are no “Walks to Cure Trauma”. We parents in the trenches have no color that people would identify with what we’re going through, no slogans for which to paint on signs and march the capital streets.

The closest thing we have is this, blogs, and so here I am.

I get that it doesn’t have anything to do with me, but sometimes I feel like screaming my head off and saying, “Someone help them! Fix it for them!” Because I’ve spent so much of my time as their mommy wishing I could take it from them.

I broke down today because I just don’t understand how we live in a world in which boys like mine feel, even for a second, like they are unloved. That we live in a world that in many ways is full of various ways of connection but can sometimes feel so very isolating.

I don’t know, I’ve never wanted a life for my kids that was easy, I just wish it wasn’t this hard sometimes. I just wish one time I could look up during a moment of stress for my kids and see a look of determination and not fear or shame.

Probably all I’m wanting now is to know I’m not alone because my kids are everything to me. I won’t stop helping them until there are t shirts and walks to help kids like them, if that would actually help.

And I’ll keep relying on all of you to support me and guide me along this often blind path of raising these truly remarkable children.

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10 thoughts on “Somedays

  1. yep. yep yep. The diagnosis of PTSD is a every hour reality for one of my children. What about the one that is just “young” “delicate” “different” “lost?” There is no diagnosis for “my life really sucked when I was little.” And no one cares. Except for you, us. In it with ya, Mama.

  2. Oh Tesi. You are writing our story here. The lack of information, the “aha” hindsight, the shutting down, etc. etc. You are NOT alone. We are probably on the road to a diagnosis because one of my sweet friends cannot do school well without more help than he can get in a regular classroom. Bright as the stars, that one, but social stuff is just HARD. I just love you and your family. That’s all.

  3. Yep. Right there too. I’ve actually been writing my own post in my head over the past few very difficult weeks about essentially the same thing. The only problem is I’m so darn exhausted by parenting it that at the end of the day I don’t have it in me to write it out. We’re there and we will fight for them. If that’s all they got…I sure as heck hope its enough.

  4. Hear you loud and clear. Fighting/struggling with a few of the same things you are. Keep up the good work Mama! It takes a village…

  5. We are all in it with you. If my daughter doesn’t have food in her every few hours, her blood sugar drops and it’s not good for her or anyone. The thing that gets me is that strangers sometimes seem to get and understand that she comes from a hard place more than family who only see her in sunshine and light, they think I’m cray cray when I pull out of things or choose a different path than I did with my bio son in raising her. I’m tired of explaining things, I just say this is the way it is and it is in the best interest of my daughter. And if you don’t get it, I need to move on to someone who will.

  6. I just found your blog recently, and love our honest, open words. Our small community just had some women start a support group for adoptive moms, and it has been WONDERFUL to sit in a room full of women (had no idea there were so many of us), and be able to speak the words that others would never understand and see all of the heads nodding. This journey of parenting our “trauma kids” is one that is not easily understood by those who are not on the same road. And totally get what you are saying about agencies not being completely forthcoming about the issues our kids have. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I’m right there with you. I had a recent experience with a hospital in New York in which my older daughter’s needs were discounted because they were not medical. They chose to stick to their policy of “no siblings overnight” instead of recognizing that being away from me unexpectedly would be a disaster. Everyone keeps saying, “Oh, she’ll bounce back. This will teach her (fill in the blank with what a typical child would learn).” No, what it teaches her is that she might have to stay with someone she’s only known for two days without any warning at all, and it sends her into a panic that lurks beneath the surface constantly. And I’m so angry about it lately, that we don’t have walks and t-shirts and recognition. That my oldest daughter in particular hurts so deeply and it is minimized, as if it’s not real. That what we heard from the agency staff was that she was their favorite because she was quiet and so sweet. She was shut down is what she was, wouldn’t touch a bite of food on her own, tells me now that the other kids cried, but she just dropped things out of her crib because she didn’t want to make noise so she could always hear what was happening so she would know what would happen next. And it is heartbreaking and horrible, and I am getting desperate. This morning I took a course on how to get more traffic to my blog, even though I HATE the idea of anything akin to marketing for what is a personal endeavor, because people need to hear our voices. They need to see our kids’ needs and respond to them. It’s time. Thank you for writing this. I will be linking to it in the future.

  8. Hey there ROCKSTAR!!! I found myself reading through your blog and stumbled upon this post. I’m a “fixer” by nature, analytical and persistent, so in my worst nightmares I cannot imagine what it’s like as a mother to sit back and watch your child suffering and struggling without any idea at all what to do to “fix it”, or even try to!!! To not have a name/diagnosis to start with would be like knowing you needed to get to Mars but weren’t even aware the wheel existed…let alone a spacecraft!! It would be so overwhelming so quickly and infinitely more frustrating. To say I am in awe of you all is a massive understatement!! In my profession I’ve seen SO MANY adopted children and their families in total crisis because the family is ABSOLUTELY IN NO WAY prepared for the issues their new addition has because they have ABSOLUTELY NO WAY of being prepared!!!! They’re not told anything about that child’s history that really matters, the files most of them come with are complete utter and total jokes (I am aware I’m certainly not telling any of you ANY groundbreaking new information). On top of that, though I am eternally grateful that this is true, even if they were fully informed–most people have no frame of understanding or ability to process the reality of what they were being told!! If you told me “your child has seen their parents/family/siblings/friends slaughtered in front of them/die of starvation/die of disease/raped/tortured/etc” I would stare at you like you’d grown a tail!! Would my heart break in half from the purely clinical understandings of the horror of those sentences–YES!!–but would I have any sort of chance at coming close to empathizing, understanding, or truly processing that reality and the life-altering implications of it—NO EFING WAY!!!!! There’s just no way I could, there’s no way that the vast majority of us could because (again thank God) we will never experience anything remotely close to this to even have the basic tools of building an understanding. This is where everything you all are saying comes in to play—though it’s true most of us will never be able to empathize with their situation, AWARENESS is a key component to having a shot at dealing with it, helping, developing a starting point, etc. That’s where the walks, tshirts, parades, and fundraisers are so desperately needed. Again, I have no illusions that I’m telling anyone anytthing they don’t know, but being an analytical person I can’t help but think that maybe a huge chunk (and MAYBE is the key phrase because I could be completely wrong–i’m way out of my depth here) of the problem starts at the source? By the “source” I mean the agencies. Now again, I have absolutely no experience with dealing directly with these people, I have never been to an orphanage, you are all by FAR the experts on this, but I’m trying to consider the problem from a different angle. I have seen the files of these kids a few times, enough to know they’re a joke, and what occurs to me when I’m trying so desperately to find a frame of understanding that I can process this issue through, is that the files are made by the people there. These people who live in the same environments, come from much of the same pasts, and have also seen/experienced their own versions of fresh hell I would imagine. So could it be that so much is not documented or even recognized because to most of these people, this is simply how it is? It may not occur to them to even notice that a baby never cries, a child never eats unless they’re fed, a child never ever plays with their peers or maybe just doesn’t speak, and on and on and on because that just simply is how it is. Much the same as the child coming from an alcoholic, abusive, or in any other way toxic home just simply does not understand (nor does it occur to them to even think about or mention) that everyone doesn’t learn to walk on their tip toes past 8PM and before noon lest someones wrath be awakened at the slightest sound, or that parents ask about their child’s day, or that other children have birthday parties, and on and on and on. So while I have no doubt there these agencies and orphanages are wrought with corruption and cover-ups (and they’re hideous places), I can’t help but wonder if a significant chunk of the problem is that you don’t think to mention what to you is just status quo; it doesn’t occur to you that a child’s behavior is abnormal when in those areas/environments it ISN’T actually abnormal….which is why so many of you can sympathize with each other because your kiddos all have similar things that come up. I wonder if the biggest part of the problem isn’t treating it but recognizing that there IS a problem—much like mental illness being recognized as real and valid and significant even though it’s not something we see on an xray or blood test. Learning to recognize the signs, symptoms, and effects of mental illness has served to legitimize it (YES we have a long way to go!! But we’ve come a long way too) and being legitimized has allowed treatments, medications, awareness, and answers to come very quickly from many areas when before there was NONE of this because the aware ess and recognition just didn’t exist!!! I guess I said all of that to say, keep fighting, you all are angels on Earth, and creating awareness of any problem has only served to find it’s answer that much more quickly! So PREACH ON!!!!!

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