I've mentioned before that my dad has been in the hospital. Thank goodness, he came home on Monday, after 12 days in the hospital. He has COPD (emphysema & chronic bronchitis), and the hospitalization was because of his fragile lungs. It started out as a one-day-check-if-he-has-pneumonia visit, but ended up with a lung episode (which the doctors are still puzzled by) that lowered his oxygen levels to 54% (normally in the 90s), sent him to intensive care for several days and then back to a regular room for more days, then a lung infection impervious to antibiotics, and so a few more days. Naturally, we've all been worried, my girls most of all. They've asked frequently, "Is Grandpa going to die?" I have to tell them I don't know: "I can't promise you Grandpa won't die. But I can promise to tell you the truth. And the truth is that Grandpa's lungs are very sick, but the doctors say he is getting better right now."
During all of this, the girls were so obviously upset. Maya decided to become a baby again, and at every hospital visit would curl up in my lap and say, "I'm puny. You have to hold me." Zoe cried at the drop of a hat, visible reason or not. And as the girls faced this potential loss, I was left wondering how much, if any, their reactions were influenced by their previous adoption losses.
It's always a little easier to figure out Zoe in this regard -- she is much more willing to talk about her feelings than Maya is. As she blogged, Zoe admitted that worrying about Grandpa raised feelings about the loss of her birth parents. There were many, many more mentions of her birth parents in the last two weeks than normally occurs. Maya, on the other hand, was determined NOT to think of her birth parents, it seems. Several times when Zoe would mention her birth parents, Maya would put her hands over her ears. But of course, working so hard NOT to think of something shows how much energy you are expending on the subject (DON'T think about that elephant in the middle of the living room!).
Perhaps there's no way of knowing how much feelings of loss and abandonment from adoption play into emotions arising from other potential losses. Perhaps it doesn't matter where the feelings are coming from. But this is certainly another way that parenting an adopted child is different -- we always have to wonder. . . .