Y'all know that when we take a ginormous step forward, we then have two steps back. In many ways, this pattern is a blessing just because we can brace ourselves for the RAD behavior that follows. Really, who can blame a child that didn't know touch, comfort or love for so long? It is a dance, this embracing, than pushing away.
Yesterday E shared his family poster with his class. He said he was afraid until he looked at his teacher. He told them about his birth mom and how God got him to us. His version of the presentation was unremarkable (which is normal, we love normal) and according to him, his classmates think being from Africa is "interesting!"
Early this morning there had been enough lying and defiance for me to know that we needed to cancel any plans I may have had for today. I found Etienne lying on my bathroom floor, lethargic. He insisted he felt fine and that he wasn't tired. I knelt down next to him and he started crying really hard. I tried saying, "I'm sorry that you are sad. Is there something you are afraid or worried about?" He did his over exaggerated head shake at me. Then he let me pick him up and rock him. For several hours, my big tough bear needed carried all around the house. However, by lunch time Etienne was pushing me away. My gut instinct was that I just needed to let him cry and not force the attachment parenting in that moment. Words weren't needed, just a presence.
Is this what grief looks like for a little boy? It feels like he is suffering a loss today. I have heard and read that most adopted children need to grieve their birth parents at some point; that it is healthy. Five feels too soon. Too young to have to experience such sadness and loss. Every mom knows how heart wrenching it is to watch your child hurt. It's awful. This grief in him is like a sinking rock in my stomach. In a little corner of my brain, I know that this isn't anything I can take away, replace or fix. It just has to happen.
When I first became mother of four, I prayed for the day that I could say that I would throw myself in front of a car for all four of my children. Reality is that that kind of love isn't immediate. They don't tell you that in parenting classes. But that day is here now. It is bittersweet.
As I write this, Etienne is curled up, his thumb in his mouth, sleeping next to me. He wouldn't let me hold him, but he did let me rub his feet until he fell asleep. And I will be here rubbing his feet when he wakes back up.