This sweet boy is FIVE today. Well, maybe six, but we’re calling it five.
Mighty is your stereotypical American five-year-old. He loves all things transportation. For his birthday, he wanted trains. He got them. He loves riding his scooter, counting busses and running with his older brothers and sisters. He will attend Kindergarten in the fall and is more than a little excited about it.
Mighty isn’t mighty because he is small. While that’s part of it, because he never lets this define him, he is also mighty because he came from rough beginnings. Mighty’s story is Mighty’s, so the details are his, but I will share that we weren’t Mighty’s first adoptive family. This wasn’t disclosed in his official file that was prepared by his country of birth. Instead, we learned this mid-way through our adoption of Mighty via a third party update. When we learned about Mighty’s disruption, we were stunned, and slightly frightened.
He had a birth family and that family had left him. He then had an adoptive family, and that family had left him, through no fault of his own. How would all of that effect his ability to believe our family is forever? Would he ever trust us? His orphanage did an excellent job of recognizing the first disruption wasn’t his fault and re-listing him quickly for adoption to the U.S. They prepared him for our arrival as if the first adoption had never occurred. While in country with FPD, Mighty acted as if it hadn’t. He loved traveling around with FPD, eating more than he ever had before and, generally, being doted on.
Here’s the thing though, I’m not sure Mighty believes, even now, that this is forever. These kinds of marks, the ones left by that kind of enormous breach of promise, have taken their toll in ways that are incredibly subtle. Mighty is wonderful, but he is sneaky. He has developed coping mechanisms that tell me he thinks he has to lie to survive. A lot of our kids began this way. I actually consider it normal in a child that lived through what he did. I think there are adoptive parents that don’t understand this though, and when it first occurs, they’re scared. I don’t blame you. It is scary.
It is not hopeless though. Just like that behavior was learned, it can be unlearned. But, one has to consider how much time he spent in that environment trying to cope with the hand he had been dealt, how long it took to develop those survival skills. I think it will take just as long in an environment that is truly giving him ALL he needs to unlearn them, to learn that this is forever, to learn that he doesn’t need to lie to get the basic necessities.
He’s getting there. In fact, I think he’s doing amazingly well. But, I set the bar of expectations for his behavior where he could reach it. I set it so low, in fact, that I expected a lot more ‘undesirable’ behaviors. He hasn’t exhibited half the emotional trauma sequela that I expected. He is a good friend. He is a wonderful brother. He is a loving son.
He just came to me and asked me “Hey, do you know about birthday spankings? I get them?” FPD had put him up to this. I explained to him what a ‘spanking’ is, because he has never heard that term in english and he shouted ‘I DON’T WANT THAT!!!’ kissed me, and headed for the hills. He keeps me laughing all the time. He is such an amazing addition to our family.
I have so many birthday wishes for my baby boy, too many to share here. He knows them though, because I talk about his limitless potential to him every single day. I have birthday wishes for the kids out there like my Mighty too, ones who have endured loss, broken promises, and the ultimate disappointment in adoption. I pray every night they find the family that will love them unconditionally, not for who we want them to be, but for who they are.
–FullPlateMom, who is so very proud of her mighty boy.