We adopted our GG when she was a year and a half. We didn’t know if she would walk or talk. Fortunately she doesn’t stop doing either one! For years, we learned all we could about autism and immersed her and ourselves into that world. She had so many physical, emotional and medical needs when she was younger, I have to admit, adoption stuff got put on the back burner. We had read all we could before she came to us but once she was here…nada. The year she turned 8 years old we were at our wits end. My husband and I didn’t get any sleep for about 8 months. In the past, if one of us were too exhausted, the other one was full of energy ready to take over. Not the summer she turned 8! We were both sleep deprived, frustrated and had lost our patience. Gracie was screaming every night and would give us one look and turn around and go back to sleep once we went to her room to check on her. She was our alarm clock every morning once we did finally fall asleep. She was waking up her brother and sister most nights too because she was so loud! We couldn’t figure out what was going on. She also had to be with us All. The. Time. One day I was going to get something out of our van. I ran out without announcing it to anyone because I was just going to be a few seconds. As soon as I ran out the door, I heard GG yelling out her window! “Don’t leave me! Come back! Don’t leave!” All of a sudden, it all made sense! She was worried we were going to leave her. That is when the adoption stuff came more in to play. I came inside, held her and we talked about how we were never going to leave her. We spoke about our forever family. We also realized that every night when she would scream until we went in her room, she was just making sure we were still there.
So, we role played. If she wanted to make sure mom and dad were still there, she could get out of bed, tiptoe to our room and peek inside, then go right back to sleep. She’s done it every night since! That lasted a few years and now she doesn’t need to check on us anymore. Most of the time.
If your child is adopted AND has special needs, don’t forget the trauma they have gone through. Even if your child was in a loving foster home or came directly to you from birth. Losing the sounds and feeling of their birth mom’s heartbeat that they’ve only known for 10 months is traumatic.
For some tips and resources on adoption, please click here.