Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Much Is Because of Adoption?

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. . . .


Anonymous said...

I'm glad that your dad is out of the hospital. I think that the thought of someone you love dying must be hard for any kid (or adult for that matter). When my mom was in the ICU (multiple times) several years ago, there were times when I trembled and felt like my blood had turned to ice. Adoption loss may add another layer to that for some kids. Having a single parent might also add another layer, as kids begin to think about other people dying as well. The truth is, we're all going to die eventually and that's a scary/sad thought for many people of all ages. How would knowing whether illness brings up adoption issues help your kids cope? Would counseling help? Art therapy? What about religion? Does that offer any comfort? There are also agencies such as The Warm Place, that help children cope with grief and loss.
Sue (aka anonymous)

Von said...

I don't think you need to wonder too much, the girls have given you clear indictions that their initial loss and trauma has been reactivated by this difficult event.You've obviously got a shutter-upper and a acter-outer there!
All adoptees at some point/s in their lives need help with surviving adoption - I know you'll make sure it's the best help when the time comes.

awareness said...

my son that i lost to adoption and have been reunited with for 4 years, says that he has a hard time with goodbyes, deaths, losses... etc, it all brings him right back to rejection issues from being adoped. even when his adoptive parents gave his dog away to a farmer that had more room for the dog to roam, he says he looks back and can vividly remember how painful it was at 10 years of age to let this dog go. it is refreshing to hear that you understand your childrens loss of their birth parents... a loss that will never go away or be able to be counseled. the closest thing that could give them closure and help them feel less rejected is having their birth mother be able to show them first hand by having a relationship with them, that they are loveable and they werent placed out of abandonment or rejection... they were most likely placed out of insecurity that they, the birth mother, could not provide a good life for them.

a Tonggu Momma said...

I know that the two deaths we faced last year really hit the Tongginator hard. And yes, it brought up lots of adoption loss conversations.

So glad to hear your dad is out of the hospital right now.

Diane said...

I am fresh on the heels of losing my Dad. Praying that your father is on the road to recovery and he will be around for many beautiful decades to come.
I want to write/blog about how losing my Dad has brought up adoption loss in my children but it is still too fresh- just less than 5 months out.
I start writing and I stop. Someday I will find the strength to write about it because this topic is very real and very important for our children.
I am still struggling with the weight of this issue in my girls. Very hard.

Myst said...

Wow! I read this and was left breathless. My (lost) daughter's adoptive grandfather just died and apparently it is affecting her alot. Like, heaps. She has been having a bit of trouble at school and now the teacher has passed it over to the school counsellor as she has been crying alot in school.

I saw her on Sunday and we had one of the worst visits we had ever had and at that time I didn't know about her grandfather. Once I knew, it was like a ton of bricks hitting me as seeing me would have been just too much for her and it was. She just couldn't cope and I had no idea what she was going through.

I think given this was her first loss since her adoption, it has raised isues within her but she is not allowed to talk about her adoption so it is coming out as intense grief about her grandfather.

Thank you for this post. I just wish my girl had the understanding your daughters have from you. Apparently as her adoptive parents have said, her adoption doesn't affect her AT ALL and she has been told not to talk about it with me so she has nowhere to go with it except internally which I worry about.