adoption disruption, family, grief, parenting

Switching Shampoo: Grief in Distupted Adoption

So, Luke is pissed. Pissed. Mad, steaming, angry, seeing red, blow-a-gasket, pissed. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my husband this mad in nearly a decade. Today just happens to be one of those days. He is typically calm and steady. He is always the voice of reason. Just, not so much today. His exact words were, “Of course I’m pissed! I’m sick of them! They did this to you on purpose and I am pissed at them! All I hear about is them and look what they’ve done to you! Do you see me calling them? I won’t do a thing to help them. I’m not going to play their games.” He is, of course, right. They were trying to hurt me as deeply as possible, thus making it easier for them to walk away. The “they” he is referring to are Marcus and Sean. Our 17 and 14-year-old boys who recently disrupted out of our home.

It worked. I am but a shadow of myself these days. This day, in particular, has been difficult for me. A friend’s 14-year-old son attended a social function with her recently. He obligingly took pictures of us grown women acting like silly children. He held his baby cousin most of the time. Sure, he rolled his eyes at his mother and poked fun at her, but he was there.  He was right there with her. I went home and cried for hours. Today I’m mad and prickly. I’m snapping at everyone for no reason and I can’t seem to get back on track. I feel like there’s a cartoon storm cloud brewing over my head and I’m just spoiling for a fight.

I sometimes feel that my intense level a grief over these teens is a huge inconvenience to him and to the rest of the family.It can hit me so hard over the smallest things. I look at the door knob on our basement door and remember Marcus installing it. I stumble across Sean’s favorite chicken salad sandwich in a picture at Dunkin’ Donuts.  There are times that it consumes me so much that I cry. I spend time alone. I go into our room and shut the door to be alone. I can tell that I am not myself. In our family I am usually laughing and baking brownies and singing crazy songs. I always find the bright side, the half-full glass, the silver lining. Lately I can’t seem to find my own smile.

It occurs to me that I can switch back to my old shampoo again.  Sean was so hyper-sensitive to smells that I had to switch hair products. This was to keep him from gagging on long car rides with me. I still buy the Sean-approved brands of shampoo and conditioner, out of habit. Why am I doing this? Why am I holding out hope? Why can’t I let go? My therapist tells me that I don’t need to let go. Grief is a process. I am grieving the loss of a child. But, wouldn’t it be easier to let it all go? Wouldn’t it be easier if they just weren’t my problem anymore? Sometimes, in my deepest, darkest places, I admit this is true. It would be so much easier. If we had never become this entangled with them, if I had never fallen in love with parenting these chickens, wouldn’t things be better right now? They would be, but that isn’t the point.

All anger is born of fear. I admit that I am angry at the teens. It comes and goes. I am angry because I fear that they never really loved me, even a little bit. I am angry because when I am in my darkest place, I fear that I didn’t actually make any impact on them. I am afraid that I wasn’t a good parent.

Luke is afraid, too. He is afraid for me. He is afraid that the fun-loving, optimistic wife is MIA and he wants me to come back. I am precious to him and he wants to protect me. Of course he is mad.

If I am being honest, the hardest part was losing Sean. When Marcus left, I wasn’t all that surprised. He has struggled back and forth with loyalty to his biological mother for a long time. He went through a phase before where he got incredibly close to me and then just completely cut off contact. He always seemed to have one foot out the door, in case things didn’t work out. Not so with Sean. Sean was my cuddle buddy, my cooking buddy, my constant companion. Now he is my yesterday, my memory, my once-upon-a-time.

It’s not as if they are dead. They simply don’t wish to be in our family. They can’t handle being in any family. The question is, how do I move on? How do I come back from this? And then my fear creeps in. Do I ever come back from this? Can I?

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

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9 thoughts on “Switching Shampoo: Grief in Distupted Adoption

  1. our loving mother says:

    This, my dear, is called reactive depression. The only good thing about it isthat it doesn’t last forever- take it from one who knows. But in order to get there you have to completely experience the pain. So keep doing what you’re doing, and remember it doesn’t last forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Julie says:

    Hi. I don’t know much of your story but I relate to your feelings of grief. I too was wrecked for love and grief by a teenager. We were his 27th home. We loved him fiercely and wanted to offer him the life he deserved. It was supposed to be forever. He too had such a hard time receiving that love and in fear he rejected family. The day he left changed me. I cried solid for 3 days and didn’t leave my couch. After that I had to leave the couch but I still held this thought if I cried tears over him maybe that would change things for him. Years of tears. He will be 21 in 2 weeks. I want to give you hope. Forever doesn’t look like I had hoped but I never stopped pursuing him. Even with the ups and downs of his birth mom. Ups and downs of jail and drugs and homelessness. He knows he is my runaway bunny and I will always pursue him. At dinner the other night he shared he knows his birth mom can never be the mother he needs but he is so thankful God gave him 2 moms. He said he knows I am the Mom that he can always turn to in trust and love, that my motives are always for his best interest and not out of selfishness and I will always tell him the truth. More tears. This time out of love and gratitude instead of grief. I am so thankful God prompted me to pursue him. He says no one ever did that for him. After he sabotaged a placement he never saw them again. I still grieve over the years he lost and I wish my tears could take him back to a 3 year old that arrived at my door and was able to have the chance of a different life but I am so blessed to still be walking with him in love through his life forever. I hope this helps you where you are tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pam says:

    Your post reminds me of a mom mourning the death of her child. The mourning over the loss is so consuming that the rest of the family (who might be mourning in their own ways) are left to deal with their own emotions and now this “new” mama (and wife) who is no longer the mama they knew. I will pray for you that while you mourn you can also find bits of joy and laughter to replenish your nest.

    You are a strong woman, you can get through this. Praying for peace that passes understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We said good bye to our son on Friday. He hasn’t lived at home full time for 2.5 years so we were able to process some grief before hand but I am grieving just the same. All those hours of therapy together, the bonding exercises, the appointments, the talks about trust, the break through’s they are all gone. All I have are memories and pain. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Suzanne says:

    Sending you love and understanding, Sandra. I too have been down this road. Right before her 17th birthday our daughter ran away. We adopted her at 5 and she told me that she felt loving me meant betraying her birth mom. Our attachment was ambivalent, but we made progress. After 7 years of some really bad choices and almost no contact, we seem to be reconnecting. I have to guard my heart, something I would never have to consider normally. Her younger sister, at 23, has been in residential care since 13. Having her there has probably saved our relationship as she could not handle the intimacy of daily family life. She has told us many times in the last couple of years that she appreciates us sticking by her.

    There are no guarantees and I have had to grieve hard and step back emotionally in order to handle the pain of rejection and loss. I have to remind myself not to get sucked back in to the drama or manipulation. However, we are making progress. So, my thought is to grieve as much as you need, let go of any expectations, heal, get on with life when you are ready and keep the door to possibility cracked open. It isn’t over until it’s over. Also, I recommend finding yourself a rad support group. They were my life savers!

    Meanwhile, thanks for sharing your story and know that your pain is heard and you are in my heart today.

    Like

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