Although we are in a very exciting staging through our adoption journey, it is not always easy. In fact some days, even weeks are extremely hard physically and emotionally. This week has been one of those weeks.
We started off the week on such a high. S has been making profound strides in his improvements behaviorally, socially and academically. Monday was probably our best day to date. As Tuesday came I braced myself as I knew what was planned and the impact that it would create on all the progress that had been made since Friday.
Tuesday came as expected. It started out great but as I had prepared and braced myself, S had the reaction I thought he might have that day. An agency employee had to come in our home to work with S which caused anxiety and stress within S. This anxiety and stress caused the five day streak of amazing behavior to abruptly come to an end.
Since I know this is a pattern of S, I was very proactive in my approach for the day, prepped him for what was going to come and created scenarios that would distract him from the inner turmoil he was experiencing. Although the day went better than weeks prior, there was a storm still brewing within that would soon come to light and is still lingering.
The next day as we got ready, the morning seemed to be going much better that the day previous…. until S asked what was in store for the day. S knew what was going to happen that day but as I reminded him of the schedule, I could visually see anxiety fill his face. Since I know he does not react well to people from the agency or the building itself due to previous experience I always try to be proactive in my planning and avoid as much contact S has as possible. On this particular day I had a 3 hour training session at the agency that morning. Since S did not handle going to the agency well two weeks prior during my training I thought I was doing the right thing and planned for him to go to the park with his ABA technician while I had the training and would pick him up when I was done.
S seemed to be excited at first but as the minutes passed he was making more and more poor choices….. squirting lotion all over his room and floor, chucking his dirty pull-up down the stairs, stepping on the dog, flinging tooth paste off his toothbrush onto the floor…. and this list goes on. As I stood in the bathroom getting ready, he came in doing another thing he knew he shouldn’t to get my attention…. yet again. Something in me stopped myself from redirecting him back to getting ready or finally getting upset and I asked “Dude, whats going on? Are you ok? Why are you making poor choices?” I honestly wasn’t expecting an answer that was substantial but as the words left my mouth he stopped, you could see his face relax and his shoulders loosen. His lip stuck out, his eyes softened and his head bowed down and he responded with “I just want Baxter (our dog) to come to the park with me too.”
As the words left his mouth it clicked, I now knew exactly why he was acting out. He didn’t want Baxter to come to the park with him because he wanted to play with him or because he would miss him, he wanted Baxter to come with him because if Baxter was there he would know I was coming back. My gut turned and I was sick to my stomach but I wanted him to tell me.
We have been working very hard on being able to express with our words, I didn’t know if he would but I wanted to give him that opportunity. “Honey, Baxter can’t go with Steve, you can see him after I pick you up.” There it was, before I could finish my sentence, out came the answer I knew he had but never expected or was prepared to hear. “but I don’t trust you. I don’t trust what you say. What if you don’t come back?” I found myself there in the bathroom dropping everything to kneel down. As I dropped down to hug him he threw himself in my arms and we sat there rocking back and forth as I told him that I promised I would pick him up. He clung on and wouldn’t let go. As I stopped rocking he moved to rock me, non verbally letting me know he wasn’t ready for me to stop.
As things seemed to get better, they got worse again two more times within the hour before it was time to leave. Each time it ended in “I can’t trust you” and followed up with him wanting to rock in my arms for comfort. As hard as it is for me to hear these words, I praised him for using his words to express himself. It may seem disrespectful for of the norm for some but it is HUGE for him to be able to tell us exactly why he is feelings something and use his words. For any parent these words are earth shattering although I stayed strong for him, the second I got in the car I broke down and wept the whole way to training and part way through the beginning of the training.
My tears are not because he does’t trust me. Although I have given him no reason not to trust me, his life has given him EVERY reason not to trust me. I wept that he has had a life where he has learned not to trust. Every single care giver that he has had left or the agency has had to remove him from, why would he think anything other wise?
Days later this is still heavy on his mind and in his heart. Waking up he crawled into my bed this morning and the first words that came out of his mouth were “Do you remember when I went to the park? I was scared. I didn’t think you were going to come back. I don’t know if I trust you” I know that this thought has nothing to do with me or my actions and it has everything to do with the agency and how he perceives the agency. Today, while in timeout we discussed his actions, why he did them and what he could do instead. What would seem completely unrelated came up yet again as he said “what if the agency takes you? You could say you’re coming back but what if they take you from daddy, Baxter and S? Then I wont have a mommy.” And again tonight he brought it up again with Brandon after he had to pull over the car to talk to him about his choices “Why does mommy need to go to the agency so much?” and they proceeded to talk about it for most of the 20 minute ride home.
No trust…….although we remind him daily that we are his forever home……. there is no trust that it will actually happen. To be honest, I don’t blame him. If I were in his position with his history. I wouldn’t trust it either. However, as we pray and guide him we are reminded of our faith and gods love. We can not see it but we have to have faith and put our trust in him, just as we are asking for S to have faith and trust in us. Please keep S in your thoughts and prayers that his anxiety and worry will subside and be replaced with trust. Trust in our word, trust in our love, trust in the agency and most of all trust in gods path for him.