I am a firm believer that loss is inherent in adoption, even infant adoption. I also believe that children, even from the earliest moments, grieve and mourn these losses, not because they understand them, but because they feel them. I do think that all children have different levels of resilience and feel these losses and cope with them very differently, not just at the time of the loss, but throughout different parts of their lives.
As a first time parent, only three years into this gig, I also know that I can read things into a situation that aren’t there from time to time. But I don’t think this is one of those times. My gut tells me that Woob is dealing with grief related to his adoption.
- He doesn’t like to be left behind. Example: we went out on a rare date Saturday night, and took Woob to the grandparents’ house. He knew where we were going, he knew he’d be staying with the GPs, he knew we’d be back in a few hours and he’d be sleeping in his own bed. But when it was time for me to leave him there, he freaked a little. Then, when I was gone, he apparently parked at the front door looking out the window for awhile, and repeated many times, “Mommy is coming back.” That is a common reassurance at our house, “Mommy will always come back…” The following morning, he was all over us both and told us time and again that he missed us. “You came back! You went dancing and you came back!” As if it was this miraculous surprise that we did so. Makes total sense to me–he has another mom that didn’t come back…why should this one?
- His feelings run VERY deep. There are times when his anger, usually starting with something small, turns into something very…intense and focused. I’m not talking a regular tantrum–we have those too. We handle the two things very differently. And after the intense anger episodes, he crashes and get SOOOO sad, as if he has said or done something shameful or unforgiveable. He will sob and need a million hugs. When we reflect on our feelings during or after these times, he denies he’s been angry…always identifies himself as sad.
- Also, regarding his feelings, he seems to really identify with characters in his little movies that experience loss. Seems every child’s movie out there has a theme of something happening to the mom or dad, whether the character is a child or a dog or something. His little voice always pops up with a “what happened to his mommy?” or “she’s so sad her daddy is gone!” and he says it with such sadness in his voice. I don’t know.
I do agree that pre-schoolers have a tendency to be clingy and emotional. Their little emotional systems haven’t leveled out yet and they don’t know how to work their own wiring to keep things on an even keel. I get that. I also get that I might be more sensitive to issues of grief and loss as I carry on in my own role with the adoption. But. I can’t help but believe that he’s expressing things that are very real to him, very scary at times to him, and are over and above what the usual three year old is feeling.
So, tell me Adopto-mom friends…what’s been your experience with this? AM I over the top here? Do you have similar experiences?