We do our best to respect C’s birth culture and birth family, incorporating aspects of Korean culture and language into our lives. We acknowledge that he loved people before loving us; a picture of him with his foster-mother hangs with other family photos in our hallway. And we are not in denial that he joined our family through a different process than his brothers. Nevertheless, it is difficult to think back to when he came forever home.
It was a tough time. The adoption agency had prepared us for a grieving child, not an angry one. But that is not why it is difficult. What is difficult is…that I am C’s Mommy and he is my son and thinking back to a time when we were strangers is painful. He was old enough, at 11 months, to be bonded to his foster family but not old enough to understand what was happening. He kicked me, bit me, vomited on me…and for weeks he didn’t want Mr. Coffee to put him down. M, who had been psyched about meeting his little brother, was blind-sided by an angry baby.
In retrospect, I am proud of C for fighting like crazy when things didn’t seem right. But at the time it was terrifying. I cried daily. I told Mr. Coffee that we were the meanest people in the world. He reminded me that C was all ready in the system and that some family was going to adopt him, whether it was us or not. Coming from Mr. Coffee, who knows what it feels like to be adopted, it meant a lot. That simple statement kept me going. He was our son.
I would hold C nightly, doing my best to shield my head and growing belly (surprise baby K) from the blows. I would sing to C and recite a story I’d memorized. Now, 2 years later, he loves for me to hold him as he’s falling asleep and sing these same songs and tell this same story. But only the songs and the story are the same. The bond, a bond I once feared might not form, is palpable. I am his Mom.
We celebrated 2 years forever home this Spring. We don’t dine out much, but for this day, we went to Kaya, our favorite Korean restaurant. Mr. Coffee asked C what he’d like to call this day, the anniversary of the day Mr. Coffee brought him home to us. And because we allowed C to decide, the day is currently called “Train Day.”
Baby K ate a plate of bulgogi all by himself. M ate sweet-potato noodles and tried everything else. C picked at the food (as usual) and though we will keep going to Kaya, I have a feeling that when C is old enough to select the restaurant, we may not be celebrating with Korean food. *sigh* That will have to be okay, because it’s his day, and as he gets older, it’s his day to choose what we do (or do not) do.
Last month, we celebrated C’s third birthday. We had a small family birthday on the actual day and a party the following Saturday. C told us who to invite, what kind of cake he wanted, and he periodically invited me, his brothers, and Daddy (just to be sure). He had me call my Mom in South Carolina so he could invite her as well (poor Grandmama, it broke her heart but she loved it too). This – being able to tell us what he wanted – was huge.
Six months ago, his English was mostly indecipherable. He is a firecracker with a temper and residual trauma from his transition. Add it all together and you get the tantrum master. Language difficulties on top of that were not helpful! So, I took him to be evaluated. He qualified for speech therapy through the county and his speech therapist came to our house for an hour four times each month. She was amazing (and he loved her).
The speech therapist told us that she often saw the same articulation issues with internationally adopted kids. She hypothesized that it was related to early language development. And…he did amazingly well. We understand him now. When I get to cuddle up with him at nap time or bedtime now, he can tell me what he wants me to know. After his party, he quite plainly demanded “more presents!”
The birthday party was a hit, though he chose to spend much of it fiddling with the IPOD. And when he talks about it, he throws his arms in the air and shouts “My big pahty!” Every time I hear this joyful expression, my heart expands a little. How lovely it is to be able to understand him. How lovely it is to be able to cuddle up with him. How lovely it is to be his Mom.
And If you ever you read this Bug, remember how I much I will always love you: infinity times infinity to the infinity power…plus a butterfly. I am honored to be your Mom.