Part of the November series “30 Things I Know About Adoption.”
Those two words are peppered through any adoption book you read. And trust me, I read plenty before we brought the kids home.
Adopted kids have trust issues. Duh.
Adopted kids have control issues. Makes sense.
These can play out in a ton of different ways and granted, we have been extremely blessed. Nobody peed where they shouldn’t. No one has stolen stuff or hid stuff under their mattress.
What I do have is a child who needs to know EVERYTHING.
Within minutes of school pickup she wants to know what’s for dinner. On Friday afternoon she’s asking what we’re doing that weekend. She’s already asking what our summer plans are.
A child who still, 4.5 years after coming home, doesn’t seem to trust me to remember to turn the field trip permission slip in on time. She’ll remind me every evening, even though the permission slip clearly says I have two weeks left to turn it in.
It defies logic. I asked her, “Have you ever missed a field trip because I didn’t turn in a permission slip.”
“I guess not.”
Guess? She’s gone on 15 field trips and missed only one due to illness. Yet that doesn’t instill confidence.
Last year she fretted about having a costume for their Living Wax Museum. I promised her I’d have something, I just hadn’t gotten to it until a couple days before when I went to thrift store and came up with what I needed to rig a cost-effective costume. I’ve been doing this Wax Museum for 4 years now and never once have I sent a kid without the appropriate costume.
But she was still worried. Still felt like things were out of control.
If you want to get under my skin quick, all you need do is accuse me of not doing my job or not knowing what I’m doing (when I do). It’s my trigger button. I know it. Mark knows it.
I once had an employer try to blame me for a series of technical issues with our website, calling it “a perfect storm of failure”. I think steam actually came out of my ears like a cartoon character.
When she says “Mom, I still need my permission slip signed” I hear “Mom, you’re not doing your job.”
And my defenses go up. I gently (usually) remind her that I will, indeed, have it turned in on time but it’s hard not to be irritated. I’m working on that one too.
She and I had a lengthy conversation once about trust.
“But how do I trust you?” she asked.
There’s not an easy answer to that. I explained that hopefully her experiences would help her to trust us. On a basic level we’ve always made sure she’s fed, has a place to sleep, and has clothes. Beyond that we’ve made sure she had what she needed for school, we go to all their concerts, sports games etc. Simply put, we are there, always there.
But what I’m learning is that there is no magic time. You can’t say “Well it’s been almost 5 years, she should trust us.”
We have to continue to prove it every day. Will there be a day when suddenly that fear is gone? I don’t know. I hope so, I pray for that for her.
In the meantime I’m doing my best to remember that it’s not about me – at least not in the sense that I seem to take it. This is about continuing to show her that she is safe, she is loved, she is cherished.
How do you see your kids trust issues play out?