I have done a couple of posts about how the kids’ adoption impacts our lives on a day to day basis (not terrible much). I have spoken openly about the tough side (Minnie’s resentment of her birth mother, Mickey’s unending questions, etc). But, my kids are fairly well adjusted when it comes to their adoption. We are very open and honest on this subject (obviously at an age appropriate level). They were 4 & 6 when I adopted them, so they know and have always known – it just is for them. Mickey tells everyone he knows how cool it is to be adopted. Minnie talks about it infrequently.
This past week we had an extreme rough patch for Mickey. He hasn’t had an I.I. at school – this is the equivalent of being sent to the principal’s office) since the beginning of December and that was a minor bus incident (putting his feet on the seats). He won an award for best behavior for his whole school in January. So, while we have struggles somewhat with behavior at home, it has been all sunshine and roses at school….until last Tuesday. They have a newish student that is a “foster kid”, per Mickey. I am quite sure Mickey has told him his story. Something happened while new kid and Mickey were working on a project last Tuesday and it ended with Mickey overturning the desk they were working on and raging. He ran into the hall and away from his teacher, etc. When they finally calmed him down, he wouldn’t say what triggered it, but he was asking questions about his birth father. Lots of questions. He was insisting that he had to talk to him. He wanted to look him up on the computer, etc.
Mickey asking questions isn’t uncommon, what is odd though is that he has historically shown almost no interest in the birth father. He is all about the birth mother and even the maternal grandparents, but has shown almost no interest in his birth father. Now, I don’t know what triggered this – the new kid could have asked an innocent question, something in the project they were working on could have triggered a memory, etc. With children with trauma and/or Autism it isn’t always the logical trigger we might expect.
He calmed down, spent the rest of the day in the “happy room” (in school suspension) and he came home. He proceeded to attack his sister and me, screaming and yelling. When calm he informed me that he “needs his birth father to know he exists”. Now obviously he already knows that – he fathered both children and was in their life for at least 3 years, if not more. But, that isn’t what Mickey was trying to say. He doesn’t want to meet him – he wants me to talk to him and tell him that he exists. Tell him who he is. Find out what kind of things he is good at so that Mickey can see if he got any of his talents from him. Maybe most importantly, he does want to meet their half sister.
This situation came up again on Wed. and on Thursday. Wednesday, I had to go pick him up from school because he calmly walked to the bus, got to the door and took off running. This is some of the worst school behavior we have seen. His behavior at home was brutal as well. We talked on Thursday, when he was relatively calm, and the conversation went like this:
Me: Mickey, I know you have some questions about your birth father and your half sister. I have tried to answer those questions to the best of my ability. We have talked about my being supportive of you meeting your birth family someday – when you are old enough and I feel you can handle it. Do you think you are ready?
Mickey: No, but I need him to know I exist
Me: He does. He has run into Miss Jessie several times and he asks about you. She has told him how well you are doing. We talked about it, remember? I know you are very frustrated right now, but we can’t undo all the progress we are making over this and I don’t seem to be able to give you the answers you want. So, I would like to take a little break from birth parent discussions until we see your therapist again in two weeks. Can we do that?
Mickey: I guess. Why?
Me: Because I don’t know how to help you with this and I think he might be able to. But, that also means no talking about it at school. Your teacher and I agree that while we don’t mind you asking questions, we don’t have the answers that will satisfy what you are asking and it is ramping up behavior because you are frustrated with us. We need to get you back to where you were and get your behavior back under control. You will have spent 5 days in the “happy room” by the time this consequence is over. And you still aren’t satisfied, but you are also showing us that meeting/talking to your birth family isn’t something that you are ready for.
You have worked so hard over the last four years to get to a good place. Your curiosity is natural, but I want for you to be able to handle all the emotions that will come with a birth family meeting without destroying everything you have worked so hard for. We clearly aren’t there yet. Don’t you agree?
So, that is where we left it Thursday evening. He hasn’t brought it up since then. He had a great day Friday, a pretty good weekend and as of today is back in his classroom and he did well. He is working his way out of our home point system deficit that he worked himself into last week. It is so hard to predict what is going to stick in his head and become his latest perseveration, but the great news is that he told us – up front. Normally we see weeks of behavior before he can articulate what the issue is. This time he told us after one meltdown. That is huge. We were able to reset (at least temporarily) the thing in his brain that forbids him from moving on to something else, with a simple conversation (once he was in a place to have that conversation). We will discuss it with his therapist because all of my suggestions (write him a letter, draw a picture for your half sister, etc) fell on deaf ears. Maybe he will have some better suggestions to help him, because meeting him is not an option right now.
On an unrelated note – we added two new family members of the fishy variety. Baby betas – Jack (Minnie’s) and Mickey (Mickey’s – please remember that Mickey’s real name isn’t Mickey – the fish is named after the mouse too and Mickey knows I blog about him under that name, so he thought it was funny). So, welcome Mickey and Jack.