I wanted to walk away from my foster-adopted son. I wanted to send him away. Our therapist said this was good. What?!?!
Silent One came to us as a traumatized six-year-old. A lot of the hurt, anger, grief, sadness, and shame was wadded into a tight ball and thrown directly at me. Not because of me personally, but because traumatized kids often take their difficult feelings about others and their situation and transfer it onto the new mother figure. So I was the target for being hit, punched, kicked, bit, having my hair pulled, etc. This was on top of Silent One’s challenging behaviors, like running away or hours-long tantrums. There were no soft moments where he turned to me for a hug or said he loved me.
[Please don’t freak out if you are thinking of fostering or adopting. A therapist said Silent One’s case was one of the most difficult, complex ones she had seen working within the foster care system. And he’s a wonderful, loving kid now. See my earlier post Worst Case…or Best Thing Ever.]
I was sick of trying to love him when he constantly rejected and tried to hurt me. I had done everything I knew how for over two years. I was ready to walk away.
“Good,” said our family therapist.
Good? Good? What kind of adoptive mom walks away?
“Good,” said the therapist. “Because you deserve a break. Because you deserve to be cherished. Because Silent One will miss your attention.”
So I went away for a long weekend without the family. And when I came back I ignored Silent One. I didn’t do anything nice for him. Not one single thing.
At first, Silent One was happy and did whatever he wanted, more or less. Then he decided he didn’t like being shut out. He tried more meanness and tantrums and fits to see if he could force me to pay attention. But that strengthened my resolve to ignore him.
Then, something came over Silent One. After two years of purposely being mean to me, Silent One began to seek me out. He tried to make eye contact. He reached out to touch me for a millisecond. He tried being a “good boy” by copying some of his sister’s actions like putting away his toys.
I went to the therapist. Please, please, I said. He’s melting my heart. I can’t ignore him any more. I love him, I love him, I love him.
“Yes,” said the therapist. “You love him. He loves you. And now he knows relationships are reciprocal and he needs to do his part to get and give love.”
That was the beginning of our true healing. And now Silent One and I have a beautiful relationship that is the envy of many of our friends.
This post is part of Adoption Talk Link Up. Check it out to find more great bloggers chatting about their adoption experiences.