Being a child from the hard places is difficult. So is being that child’s sibling. Adopting a child from the hard places is a marathon. Separating your life from someone else’s after 35 years is difficult. Divorce is hard on all kids. On adopted kids that have already experienced great losses, it is beyond hard.
Hard. Difficult. Today those seem like inadequate words to me. As always, there are better days and days that never seem to end. In recent weeks, I have had enough better days to keep me going. I hit the wall yesterday and it felt like I couldn’t take another step. I woke up this morning and the wall was still there. It is still there. Hope is struggling. Not new struggles, I know. After 55 months, the broken places are still broken. The pain she feels inside is still there. Sometimes her ear hurts, sometimes her throat hurts. Sometimes it is a rash that burns all over. You can’t see the rash or treat it, but the pain is real. Reality.
The Dad and I are miles apart on most things. There are fleeting moments when our bond pops back, but they burn, a lot like Hope’s rash yesterday. He went to send an honest, if unpleasant, message to one of his women friends. Only he sent it to me. He realized he sent it to me at the same time I read it and laughed. But information he assumed was driving events was information I didn’t even have until I read it in his text. When my brain caught up with it the laughter turned to tears. These days I just let the tears fall. There is nothing gained by fighting them or really even fighting him anymore. What broke will never be whole again. I feel a little more of what Hope feels. It doesn’t make me any better at meeting Hope’s needs.
I am torn between what I want and what I think is best. I truly decided to divorce over a 48 hour span of time back in November. My plans were to take full custody of GB and let The Dad take full custody of Hope and try to figure out how to maintain ties with the other parent. GB so needs the routine without Hope’s frequent meltdowns. I am tempted by the call of the quiet. Each rage Hope has brings flashbacks of MK during adolescence. As Hope grows older and stronger the resemblance between now and then increases. I do not physically restrain Hope. I can’t keep either of us safe. She still kicks, hits, and throws and occasionally bites. A few weeks ago Hope threatened me with a knife. Trying to talk to her about it triggered a three hour rage. Trying to address it with her therapist present the next day just triggered her again.
I reread the last paragraph and I know most people reading it would wonder why I would even contemplate the possibility of raising Hope by myself. The Dad loves her beyond words and can still keep her physically safe. If I knew that would be enough it would be a done deal. But I don’t. The Dad wants so much for Hope to heal that reality gets lost. If GB gets physical- and these days she does- The Dad not only notices it but makes note of it. He noticed Hope was physical this morning, but that doesn’t mean Hope’s therapist will hear about it during tomorrow’s appointment. And the fact that Hope was physical with him after school yesterday, before she somewhat regulated, was never even noticed. And that scares me. Hope is entering puberty even though she is not ten yet. The world no longer sees a little girl. When she rages, it carries a physical threat that wasn’t so blatant when she was 42 lbs. Up until this point the school has been focused on approaching Hope successfully by avoiding her triggers, such as the word “no” or asking her to redo work correctly. She has spent an extra year in the primary program to solidify her feelings of success. She will be in the intermediate class next year and the focus changes to her being able to meet the demands of school. She still loses it 2 or 3 times a week in the primary class. I can’t imagine what the intermediate class will bring. Stealing is an issue that has not had effort focused on it because the rages are still so significant. All of which begs the question “What makes you think you can do any better?” Honestly, I don’t know that I can.
What I can do is see what is happening and accurately report it. Since we first adopted Hope, The Dad has seen saving Hope as one of his primary missons in life. Since he retired 2 years ago, successfully parenting Hope is how he identifies his worth. I don’t know what successfully parenting Hope looks like. I am sure that my experiences with MK color my fears of the challenges Hope will have in the coming years. But after 35 years of parenting children from the hard places, I know that neither wishing things better nor denying what is happening does the child any good. I know I want more for Hope, no matter how hard or difficult. I just wish I had more answers.