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There Is A Light Side

There Is A Light Side - Rainbow

There’s been a thing going on, as there often is. The kid has decided that he’d like to use the opportunity of the topic ‘Who Am I?’ at school to discuss and display things from his birth family.

Even before said topic came up, he jumped into a discussion about bravery to tell the class about his adoption and how he’d had to move to a foster family, then move to London. He cried copiously and it was a bit of a drama. I should add that they all knew this already – it is not something we’ve chosen to hide. That would not have been an option; he is determined that the world should know.

Let me just clarify – he doesn’t want people to celebrate with him. He wants to tell the miserable story of how he ended up with us.

On the face of it you might think that sounds OK and normal and natural for a child to share their history and feelings. As usual, I have very strong instincts and doubts all at the same time.

My instinct is that it is an absolute no-no for him to take things like that into school. The kid is so vulnerable, he just puts everything out there for the world to see. He likes to elicit sympathy. Ahhs and hugs about how unfortunate he is feed his idea that his life is completely awful and unfair.

I don’t like that, and I don’t think it is doing him any good at all. But I have doubts about the motivations behind my thoughts. Am I just hurt and rejected and trying to get control?

I told him categorically that he was not to share that information in front of the whole class and that no, he could not take in his life story book or the teddy from his foster family.

I made suggestions about what was OK to share. I reminded him who his trusted adults are, about his therapist and about his best friend. I told him that, like most things, adoption has two sides. One is painful and dark. The other is joyful and light. Both sides are important. I reminded him that he had a big forever family of cousins, aunts, friends, pets and even us dastardly parents who loved and cared for him properly.

“There is only dark, when you’re adopted,” he sobbed. “There’s no room for any light.”

I shared what I’d said and done guiltily with the CAHMS lady the following day, and said I suspected that my low tolerance was something to do with my feelings of rejection. However, she thought I’d done the right thing. I was very surprised. People saying ‘cheer up, it might not happen’ or ‘look on the bright side’ have always annoyed the hell out of me. And here I am doing to my own traumatised child.

It’s another thing I’ll never unpick. But her message was, rely upon your instincts.

I can feel the kid heading toward the kind of depression that the adoptee blogger so bravely shared with WAF readers last week. It scares me. I feel like I’m madly hammering in the posts of our boundary fences, trying to hem him into sanity, trying to keep the bullies and gossips away. Painting the fences and ceilings with rainbows.

I know there’s a light side, but I also know how hard it is to see any light at all when you are depressed. And, actually, I realise that there’s almost nothing that anyone else can do about it.

But I won’t be defeated by that kind of logic. I’m feeling all Jerusalem about it... I will not cease from mental fight. This child is going to find the light side in the end.

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  • Kate

    What a moving piece! At the risk of sounding a bit pompous this is what it brings to my mind. This is the reason you got through the adoption assessment, which, I like to inform people, is not automatic. You advocate for your child, think about all the complexities and pick your way through with care. You balance honesty and openness with protectiveness and appropriate boundaries. It’s really bloody difficult and complicated and you’re doing it, and so, it seems, is he. What more can any of us do?

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