I was a rascal kid to Retha, my Mom through adoption. Not all adoptees are rascals like me, though. Some love their moms. The only way I can describe how it felt is that when I was in her presence, it felt like I was scraping my fingernails over a blackboard. Immediately, I got hyper andI reacted with anger, which manifested in such behaviors as punching my fist through the freezer section of the frig, stealing clothes from a neighbor, and scratching loving messages on Retha’s dressing table. My question is about intentionality. Do adoptees know what we’re doing? Some say “yes.” Without a doubt, many friends and family in my growing up years may have concluded that I hated and hurt mom because I was adopted. “You know…she’s an adopted child.” Others may have believed it was a character problem. “You know what adopted kids are like. I always see their names in the paper.”
If you would have pulled me aside at the age of eight and asked me why I was mean to Retha, I’d run away, thinking maybe you were saying something funny. If you’d pulled me aside at age twenty asking why I wouldn’t let Retha fasten the string of lovely pearls around my neck for my wedding, I would’ve been deeply insulted. If you’d interviewed me at 36 and asked why I didn’t shed a tear at her snowy grave, I would rush away from the grave to get away from you. With every instance of non-awareness, the pain inside me mounted, but I wasn’t aware of that either.
Help Create Self-Awareness In Your Child’s Brain
How I wish Retha would have helped me understand why I scratched love messages in their fine furniture. How I wish she would have shed light on why I stole clothes from a neighbor’s closet. “Sweetheart, I wonder if you scratched “I love you, mommy” on my dresser because you maybe wanted me to know how much you love and miss your First Mother?” Or, “Maybe you stole clothes from so-and-so’s closet because deep down you believe something was stolen from you? Perhaps you were thinking of your First Mother?”
Yes, children of trauma have reduced capacity for being self-aware, but can’t we just be given an opportunity? Is there not somewhat of a chance that we can get unstuck from fight/flight and chronic shut down? You bet there is. Moms, don’t fall into the silent mode that once was dealt to you by misled professionals prior to adoption. Speak! Your child needs to hear your empathic voice. That is your incredible gift.
Validate Your Child’s Anger
When I was interviewing adoptees for my upcoming book, I spent a lot of time asking them about their anger. I believe there is a thought that opens the gateway to open discussions with your child. The thought is: You have a right to be angry. For sure, it seems counterintuitive to say such a thing, but what you’re really doing is validating your child’s cry print. Use it often and let me know how it goes?