It is the hardest thing for a mom to see her children in pain, whether that pain be internal or external. Perhaps, though, internal is worse, because you can't put a bandaid and ointment on it, give them a kiss, and make it all better. And when you have NO IDEA of the inner turmoil an adopted child is experiencing, it is heartwrenching. As NingNing works through some grieving issues (to protect his privacy, I won't go into intimate details), we struggle to understand and sympathize with him.
NingNing has the hardest time letting his emotions show. For the first 4 and a half months, he did everything he could to NOT rock the boat. He let us make all the choices for him, haul him hither and yon, put him in school, and generally didn't make waves. And around Thanksgiving time, the "maintaining" started to crack a little, then a little more, and then a little more, until some real emotions finally pushed their way to the surface last Friday night.
It was a quiet breakthrough, but a breakthrough nonetheless. No tantruming, no raging; his way is to shut the world and everyone in it...out. We attempted to help him say how he was feeling, but I imagine that type of overwhelming emotion that is so strong you can't hold it in, simply cannot be put into simple words. We let him know we loved him, and were sorry he was sad, but that it was ok to have those feelings and miss parts of his China life. So many new things for him, new experiences, new everything. And while we think it is all good and so much better than he had in China, to him it may not be. People sometimes say these kids, especially the older ones, should be grateful. Why?? Even if it is their decision to sign those papers, it is still a choice they make because they HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE. So is that really a choice at all then? And they don't get to choose their family; they have no say in who adopts them. They have the ability to refuse to sign the adoptions papers in China, but when you've known someone for less than 24 hours, that's not exactly the basis for an "informed" decision.
We think he's done a remarkable job at finding his place in our family and figuring out all the dynamics involving a large family, navigating school, dealing with more rules than he's ever had in his whole life, and learning a whole new culture and language. In the meantime, we'll just keep on loving him and have the "bandaids" handy.