Friday, August 6, 2010

Traumatic bewilderment

I've been teaching a couple of afternoon classes for the last two weeks. The session only lasts a month, so I'm halfway through already. It's been an interesting experiment in going back to work (outside our home, of course). The classes require a lot of outside prep time, so it's almost felt like a full-time job. I have started to really miss Abe, not just when I'm in my classes, but when I have to send him away so I can grade and prep. I admit to being a really big crybaby (literally) about the whole experience.

One afternoon this week, Abe stayed at a friend's house during my classes. We first met these friends the first week we were home with Abe, and they've been a regular part of his life since then. One of his favorite places on this planet is their house.

I hope these two never stop holding hands. Autumn caught this moment before naptime.

So it was interesting to me when the following thing happened. All the kids were still sleeping when I got back from class to pick Abe up. My friend and I sat on the couch and talked, amazed at how wonderful it is to chat in such a quiet space, only the soothing voice of Sufjan Stevens singing quietly in the background. We eventually got up to wake the kids and were continuing our conversation as we walked to their rooms.

As I got to the room where Abe was sleeping, I heard him whimpering in the dark. I turned on the light and found him laying on his tummy, starting to lift his head, eyes puffy and squinty, huge frown, slow tears. He was completely bewildered. His cry was slow and mournful, with little whimpers and caught breath scattered throughout. Tears covered his face and kept coming.

Don't you remember that feeling as a kid of waking up in a place different from your own bed and being completely dumbfounded about how you got there or what would happen next? This was perhaps Abe's first time to experience this, and he did not like it. I picked him up, and he draped himself across my chest, still crying, still very confused. I rocked him back and forth, and his crying eventually stopped. He told me that he didn't know where he was when he woke up. Once he remembered and knew his friends were right down the hall, the happy-button was pushed, and all was well again. Sweet boy.


I quickly began to think about a little girl who will become the next Rooney. Abe has been with us for as long as he can remember, yet his reaction to waking up a new place even this one time was slightly traumatic. What is it going to be like for his sister? I can hardly even begin to imagine how disoriented she will be as she wakes up every day with us in her sight, on new pillows with new smells and sounds at every turn. All that was once familiar to her will be turned upside down, and I can only hope that the sight of our faces when she wakes up every day will eventually switch from being a source of bewilderment and fear to one of comfort and home.

(We've been waiting for referral for a little over four months. According to all we've heard, the call could come now at any point.)

19 comments:

Julie said...

Sigh. It will switch Lori. I promise. I hate to hear about Abe crying.

Autumn and Dan's family said...

Oh, we can't wait for the call! I was so sad Abe was sad. Maybe if he and Mez DID share a crib he wouldn't have been so sad. We love you guys.

Amy said...

Hi Lori - We are home from Ethiopia with our almost 4 year old for almost 2 weeks. Hard to believe. While we are not exactly ready to enter the world at large, I would still love to meet you and Abe some time and hear more about your PDX Ethiopian connections. I have a new email. amye700@gmail.com. Hope to talk with you soon. Amy Elder

casey said...

This is really touching

Evelyn said...

Our kids. These everyday occurrences filled with memories and meaning. Sad that he cried, but how beautiful that you have become his anchor. So you will for the next one. Referral anytime? So exciting!

Cindy said...

It does switch. It just takes time as you know. Very sweet post.

Meg said...

Lovely post, thanks for sharing. It's unbelievable all that these little people have been though in such a short time.

Ms. Fricknfrack said...

Wow. I hadn't thought about that feeling in forever. Poor Abe.

I'm so glad she will be a Rooney and you'll all be there for her.

The Redman's said...

Been thinking of you and your referral. I noticed that you're requesting the exact same age as we are-- but we're asking for a boy! Our wait has been way too long.... but for some crazy situations- definitely not the norm!! Hoping your call comes SOON!!!

Christine said...

I am so glad you were there when he woke up, makes me sad to think of his crying so mournfully.

I saw the photo of Abe, and I was like, hey, that's Mezmur! How wonderful that you live so near one another. That's an awful lot of cute in one house.

Chantelle said...

Sweet Abe. I relate to your situation. Beautiful family.

Claudia said...

oh wow, really? ANYTIME???? Like, ANYTIME??? That's incredibly exciting!

coffeemom said...

Ah Lori, This is the complexity. And you have the heart to hold them through it. That's about all there is. But then again, it's everything.

Eryn said...

Sweet Abe! I was just reflecting yesterday as I rocked Lucy to sleep. It was her first birthday, which brings a flood of emotions for me...but one was how amazed I continue to be at her resilience and courage to embrace her environment. It really stops me in my tracks when i think about how willing she has been to go out of her normal and try out our world. Sweet amazing babes!

Shannon- said...

That still happens to my guy just switching from one bed to the other in the same room. He gets disoriented and scared- trying to keep his eyes closed. It takes a few minutes .. but like you said- it's like flipping the switch and all it right with the world again. Will it ever end?

Rebecca said...

I hate that for poor Abe. But, I'm so glad that your kids have a mom who's sensitive to their needs - whatever they may be.

Renee said...

Lori,
We brought Maryn home at 4 and I will say night time was the hardest time for her, if I could go back I would do things so differently based on our experience. Although I'm not an advocate for co-sleeping I think it would have helped her tremendously, we were so focused on building a routine/structre that I failed to recognize that although during the day she was perfectly fine and transitioning, at night she was grieving and needed to be close to me. After reading the Connected Child (for Brady's adoption) I felt like crap..thinking that we just totally missed the ball on this one, but alas we were first time new parents and you learn. Maryn still struggles with being along at night but we've loosened things up so that she knows now that she can come get me whenever she feels sad or scared and we work through it. Bottom line, it's awesome that you recognize now that night might be a difficult time for your little one and you'll be ready to provide her comfort and security! Hoping your referral call comes soon! We're getting ready to start our third adoption for a sibling group as soon as we get settled in Chicago! We can't wait! I feel so much more prepared this time around for a preschooler!

wildflowers said...

i just wanted to say hi. our first time commenting here. and that the picture is Adorable !!

we have you linked on our sidebar via our adopt blog to follow.

we too will be adopting from ETH.

Courtney Holder said...

thanks for sharing your stories with us. I can only imagine how confusing adoption is for young children, and waking up in foreign places. My husband and I are in process to adopt from Ethiopia -- and it's helpful to read about your experience. Best,
Courtney