I recently read one of the blogs that I follow and she was talking about how she and her husband were going to talk at a conference about transitioning when you come home with your older child. It reminded me that, for about the last10 months I have wanted to apologize to you. I have wanted to tell you that I know that I haven’t returned emails, phone calls, or rescheduled lunch or dinner dates. I know that I haven’t returned your texts or voice mails for weeks at a time. I know that I forgot your birthday and anniversary. I know that I have forgotten your kid’s birthday and special something that we were invited to. I know that you are willing to watch K for me. I know that you have “tried” to be there for me! Believe me, I know.
While most of us think that K was so tiny when I came home with him, let’s review—he was two y’all! Many doctors say that by 2 years old, kids know who cares for them and who doesn’t. By two years old, kids know who their parents are. By two years old, they can rely on (hopefully) who will feed them, clothe them, play with them, love them, hold them, and kiss them. My son didn’t have that. So…by two years old, he was weary of my kisses. By two years old, he didn’t trust that I would feed him and NEVER asked to be fed. By two years old, he would scream bloody murder when I changed his diaper for fear that I wouldn’t give him those clothes back. By two years old, he wandered around the house frantically looking for me if he couldn’t see me; afraid I had left him. By two years old, he would cling to me one minute and push me away another; and I can’t take it personally. I don’t have the entire back story as to what my son lived through, so I don’t know the scars or wounds that I am dealing with. I just don’t have all the answers. And neither does he. We are figuring it out together!
I don’t know why K clings to me when we go to culture class. I don’t know why K gets scared when there is a room full of brown kids who look like him. I don’t know why K is (sometimes) afraid of Ethiopian adults and won’t go near them. It’s not like he isn’t around people of color—our life is full of them. He knows where he comes from and can point to it on our globe, but again, I don’t know what memories he has of his former life! And I will just continue to love him through it!
Yes, we have now been a family for almost two years— ½ of his life has been spent with me and the other ½ wasn’t. You might be thinking, “When will K get over it!?” He might never get over his feelings of abandonment. He may never get over “it”. He may never get over who he was for the first two years of his life. But I am going to do my best to love him until he does.
And let’s just go there—I am a new mom. I haven’t tackled this gig before. I was learning to be a mom to a kid who could walk and talk (but not speak in English). I was learning to be a mom at the toddler phase—and that’s a tough friggin’ gig. I walked right into tantrums. I walked right into sassiness. And let’s add attachment issues into that? That’s a Bermuda triangle right there y’all!!!
I’d like to also add, and yes, I chose this path, but I am doing it alone. I know that you complain about how your husband doesn’t help you or that your ex- is a no good for nothing Dad, but…I am doing this STRAIT UP SOLO!!!! I don’t have an ex who can, at least, take him on the weekends so that I can sleep. I don’t have a husband who, even if he isn’t “helping” me, could watch him so that I could go grocery shopping or sleep. I don’t have anyone who, when K has been crying for a hour and there isn’t really anything wrong, I can just hand him off to so that I can take a 5 minute break. I don’t have a scum-bag ex who I can call and say, “I know you are a jerk, but your son needs to hang out with you for 2 hours, so come get him!”
So yeah, I have had to, at times, isolate myself just to make it through the weekends and LONG days. I had to adapt my life to him for a time. I spoke as much Amharic as I could to him in those first few months, just to let him know he could trust me and that my words were filled with love! I had to get him on a schedule, but I also didn’t want to traumatize him even more by forcing him to eat new foods at every meal or only speak English. C’mon people, I went to Ethiopia and within 7 days took him away from the language, love from nannies who had cared for him for a year, familiar people, comfort food, reassuring smells and the only life he had ever known. He was probably pretty traumatized just from that alone!
And no, when you ask me how K is, I am not lying. He is perfect—for me. I am not lying when I say how blessed we are to have found each other—we are. I am not lying when I tell you how much I love him and that he’s adjusting so well—he is. I would adopt him again, all over again—no doubt about it. But it’s been a hard and frequently lonely road.
Some people walk this earth and are awesome at being a parent—it’s just “in” them. I wouldn’t say that I am one of those people. So… since you were a parent before me, I really coulda used your insight, love, kind words, help, understanding and friendship instead of, well… instead of judgment for adopting as a single woman. Instead of getting a lecture about how I NEVER have time for you anymore when I am doing the best that I can. Instead of sarcasm when I really need a hug. Instead of… well…it doesn’t matter.
I know this may not sound like the best apology, and it probably isn’t. Just know that I am working 2 jobs, raising a 3.5 year old amazing boy and trying to stay up on the laundry and dishes. The last thing I need from you is a nasty email or voice mail letting me know that I let you down! The last thing I need is to think that you will be in my corner and you aren’t! Thanks for that!!!
So, like I said in the beginning of this letter, I apologize. I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me. And I promise to forgive you!