Still Not There.

I’m still waiting for the day when life just feels normal. Last night I dreamed that one of our neighbors covered the slopes of their yard with snow somehow, and I walked down the road with Rory, Wy, Lily and Sam and we just happened to stumble across it. It would be Rory’s first time playing in the snow, and I wanted to see her reaction, but she’d wandered off, and somehow we were surrounded by hundreds of families, all with Chinese daughters about Rory’s size and with her haircut, all happily playing in the show. I was reduced to searching for the shirt I knew Rory was wearing, but still, I couldn’t find her anywhere. I kept searching, trying to wathc Lily and Wyatt, who were looking for her too. Finally I found a silent child playing in the sand, wearing disheveled clothes–somehow I knew that they’d just been put on, traded with another kid. I thought it was her. I wasn’t sure, though, and she wouldn’t talk to me, and I just stood there, looking at her. Had I found her, or not?

Then I woke up.

I don’t think we need a professional to sort that dream out. Gosh, what could possibly be on my mind?

Two things struck me lately. One was on the blog of a net friend home just a couple of days (she’s password protected, so I won’t link). Her husband said something like “it doesn’t feel like home, with her here. It feels like we’re still at the hotel.” That resonated for me…i think some part of me feels like we’re on an extended playdate, and the kid just won’t go home. I like the kid fine, and she’s adjusting to us better every day, but she’s not set in our ways and I’m responsible for her.

When we’re with other people and I hug or kiss her, it feels so artificial–like I’m putting on a show, to say look, I love this one too! Really I hug and kiss her plenty at home, but I notice it more with an audience. And she just…bugs me. She’s not unobtrusive. If she’s running through the house, as she mostly is, she’s stomping madly. If she’s talking, she’s yelling. If she’s getting a drink of water, she’s slamming drawers and announcing it at the top of her lungs. ANd she’s omnipresent. If we have another family over, she can only play with the other kids for a very limited amount of time. Then it’s back to me, touching me, sitting near me, asking for the food off my plate and a drink of my drink. Or even just looking at a book (something only she could do loudly) on the couch–I have to think, why isn’t she with the others? Do I need to do something? Does she feel left out? Does this mean she won’t succeed at school or that no one will EVER ask her for a playdate and she will be forever glued to my side? (I know that it really means she wants to make sure I’m still there, and that she gets tired of the effort of interacting, especially with kids who come and go–something that never would have happened in her foster home).

I don’t hate either of us anymore. I’m rolling along with life, but I am tired of this half-way emotional state of mine, and the way it affects the way I am with the other kids. Will I do a workbook with Lily? No, because it means Rory will be right up there with a book of her own–or no, just because I’m so tired of them, of all of them, of putting them in the car and getting them out of the car and just plain talking to them. Read to Wyatt? No. Play cards with him? No. I’ve removed myself from them so much because I don’t want to interact with Rory any more than I already do–which really feels like quite a lot. I’m not happy about that, it’s not the way I want to be–but I don’t want to referee every spat, or insist that Rory take only her turn at cards, or play by the rules. I can’t interact with them easily anymore, and my temper is so short, that not doing it at all seems like the best course of action.

On the other hand, I was also struck by something our pediatrician said about another adoptive family. She has a graceful way of providing advice by describing it as something she’s seen others struggle with, or do, and she mentioned an adoptive parent with a few adopted kids, from a tougher background, and the way the parent felt she had to jump on every little thing, including things she’d probably let slide from her bio kids–because she didn’t know where they came from, or where it would lead. And I thought–yes! There’s a legitimate reason why every second word out of my mouth to Rory is no. If Lily gets her own pop tart one Saturday morning without asking, I know it won’t lead to her taking six pop tarts a day every time I’m not looking. If Wyatt pushes the dog out of the way a little roughly, I know it’s a one-off, not the start of a pattern of beating the dog with sticks. I don’t know that with Rory. So it’s actually fair to chastize her more than the others–more than fair, it’s the right thing to do–but it doesn’t feel fair. I think it makes it hard for me to bond, too, because it’s all I feel like I can say, and because everything could be a harbringer of something else, or a sign of a problem. Nothing’s just a cigar, so to speak.

So that helped, some.

Another net friend, about to travel to adopt in 8 days, asked me a day or so ago if I wished I hadn’t done this. What I mostly wish is that she–and I–wouldn’t ask that question. It seems so big, and it’s unnecessary. I have come to see that every moment of discouragement doesn’t mean things are horrible. Some days are good. Some days are not. Some days are in between. Asking myself–Do I love her yet? Do I wish we hadn’t done this? Is just keeping me in a tough place. Right now, Wyatt and Lily are systematically emptying some boxes of their art projects that have been sitting there for months, waiting for me to sort them and throw some away, or not. I’m angry at me, that they’re still there. I’m angry at them, for dumping them out and I know they won’t be able to clear it up by themselves. I’m cross that I’m sitting here writing instead of encouraging them to do something more productive, and that the fact that they’re now about to go outside to gather yet another “rock collection” fills me with a sense of doom. And none of that means that things aren’t ok.

7 Responses to “Still Not There.”

  1. Joy says:

    Thank you for your honesty about your feelings. You’ve said so many things that I could have written when we first got home with our newest daughter. And you know what? I could still write some of it, seven months later.

    I can especially relate to having the newest feel like a guest, always getting in the way, always following so close, etc. I also know how you feel when you had to stop doing stuff with your other kids to keep from having to do the same with the new one.

    It does get better. Hang in there!

  2. oh my gosh!!!!! this post is so amazing to me! yes, the poptart thing is an EXCELLENT example of why I say “no” to her and not always the others.

    i have said outloud that I wish we wouldn’t have done this. In fact, just 2 weeks ago I called my old agency broken. I told them that I didn’t know what to do. I secretly googled the word “disruption”:) Anyway, something miraculously changed for us…almost over night. For the past 2 weeks we have fallen in love with her. And it feels real. And it feels normal. Finally. I guess it only took 5 months:)

  3. erica says:

    I had similar feelings when we adopted our 2nd daughter from China. For months I went through the motions, every kiss and hug I gave her felt artificial. To be honest, the first year really sucked. My first daughter was a mild, happy child and #2, well, she was obstinate, opinionated, strong-willed and fussy as hell. Many, many times I questioned what my life, our family’s life, would be like without our 2nd daughter. Almost 3 years later I’m still ashamed to admit this.

    But, something happened after that first hellish year. I started to really feel like she was my child, I started to feel a genuine connection with her, and no longer felt like I was babysitting someone else’s child. And that was the best feeling in the world.

    It’s good that you’re being so honest. I never really shared my feelings without anyone except my DH and my mom because I felt embarassed for my feelings.

  4. G. Silva says:

    I just read the first chapter of the book “Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child” where it describes the different coping styles of newly adopted children. Rory sounds like a Dizzy Performer. She’s frantically trying, trying, trying, and she’s afraid to stop. She’s covering up her fears with action and noise. She’s desperate to get a reaction out of you, but she doesn’t know what reaction she’s looking for, nevermind the best way to get it. (Something about triggering the hormone oxytocin… I dunno exactly…)

    Didn’t somebody on the mailing list say that children need to attach to one person at a time? That might be why she isn’t paying much attention to the other kids. She’s still working on Bond #1, and that’s you.

    This book is a little bit horrifying. To each coping style, I think, I hope my baby isn’t that type! But he can’t be none of them; he’s going to have some issues and he’s going to deal with them somehow or other. I guess the Dizzy Performer is better than the Warm Rock, in which the kid responds to every interaction by slumping over and pretending to be asleep. I do not want a Warm Rock.

  5. Marie-Claude Gagnon says:

    I had my baby girl for a whole year in my arms, the first year! After, she needed to see me at all times. She was a baby, not at old as your daughter. Hang in there, it will be better, but remember she sees the other kids do something, she just wants to do the same (as my daughter does with her big bio sister) she is just too young and insecure to know how to dose her emotions. Vocabulary helps. Our daughter now is proud when she comes up to us and talk instead on doing a tantrum. She started kindergarten last friday and she is thrilled to be a big girl now. Us moms needing to patient is an understatement. We love those kids by sometimes I just wish I had a room in the house where I could hide. When my husband comes home from work, I often find myself going for a walk or need to do an errand at the drugstore. Now, she’s older and things are much much more mellow, actually things are pretty cool, but let just say I had what I wished for: A baby to take of, she was my baby for a long time.


  6. Amy says:

    We have been with our Sydney for 3 months now and I often feel the exact same way. I am scared to talk about this too much because I am afraid that people will think I am a horrible person and mother. I can honestly say that it has begun to get better, but ever so slightly. I long for the day that I completely fall in love with Sydney.

  7. Molly says:

    Adopting an older child can be a big challenge for sure. It sounds like you might need to reach out for some help. Is there anyone who can be a support for you right now?