It has been two weeks now. Two weeks of meltdowns, shouting, kicking, very little sleep, anger, throwing, punching, and being difficult for no obvious reason.

It feels like every incident is part of the same long argument. One that, after weeks, we haven’t manage to resolve yet.

On taking it easy on each other

All this gloom invariably spills on our relationship. A well-meaning suggestion given at the wrong time can result in a full-out confrontation. There’s never been any major discussion–we’re all aware of the situation–but it makes it difficult to help each other.

Ben is particularly set on avoiding any kind of civilised conversation between us two. As soon as we utter more than two words, and those are not directed at him, he starts making loud noises or being otherwise naughty.

When that happens, we remind him that behaviour is not unacceptable. He takes no notice to what I have to say when I reproach him anyway. Unless I raise my voice, that is. I hate that have to resort to authority, but when exhausted it’s all I’m left with. Only a few minutes later, when the guilt kicks in, I come up with a vast array of alternative solutions.

On focusing on the child

We try to give him all the attentions he needs, and focus exclusively on him when we do. I’ve even made a habit of intentionally forgetting where I leave my mobile phone around the house, so not to be tempted by emails and social media updates. That goes to prove that, being a parent, one needs to be ready to sacrifice. But dealing with a dysregulated child makes it hard to stick to it.

When an argument kicks in, and that could be sparked by literally anything, he does his best to refuse us, and so theatrically too, that it becomes embarrassing when in public. Better yet, it forcefully refuses the one of us he’s arguing with, while openly asking for help from the other. The other cannot come to the rescue, since it’s a plain attempt of emotional blackmail, but surely enough it makes us both look as completely heartless parents to any passer-by.

I cannot help thinking at times that the more attention we give him the more he will claim for himself, and he’s a full absorbing deal already.

On understanding the causes

Our son is showing all sort of new troubling behaviours. I want to convince myself there’s nothing to be worried about, but my inexperience and the potential complications of adoption produce a very uncomfortable mix.

Lately, he started chewing on his fingers, incessantly. A part of me thinks he’s just an attempt to self-soothing, perfectly normal at this age (he’s 2 and a half now), the other part of me is terrified the reason might be deeply rooted, and the list of possible causes grows the more you look for them.

If it wasn’t for the adoption, I wouldn’t have heard most of the syndromes I know about today, and all their weird acronyms that I’ve committed to memory. I’m learning to cope with the additional load of anxiety, because adoption makes everything all the more uncertain.

On emotional awareness

His inability to describe his internal state of mind is not helpful either. I try to accept all he tells me without judgement, but it’s difficult to believe that he threw and hit me with a toy car simply because he was “sad”. He’s sad every time he wants more attentions. Lately, it became his explanation for most things, particularly when they resolved in violence.

I try explaining to him there are other emotions too, and that often people react violently out of fear, or frustration. Now he claims he’s constantly scared, but I do wonder if, to him, these aren’t just interchangeable words, good to avoid consequences or the usual reminder about the rule he decided to break.

Where from here

We have just received the official approval of our application as foster carers, and tomorrow we will meet our appointed social worker for the very first time. We could be asked to look after a foster child at any time now, and that will mark another significant change in our son’s life. I hope this dark period will be over by then, but I’m aware that we might be running out of time.

I’m afraid we don’t have a Plan B either. We never looked for a Plan B, because Plan A has always been doing the best we can.

We’ll keep asking ourselves the same question many adoptive parents have struggled with, “Do all children do that?” The trouble is, we don’t have any real meter of comparison.

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  1. Sandra Zimmerman 4th November 2016 Reply
    • Diego Boccaleone 5th November 2016 Reply
  2. Lucinda 21st February 2017 Reply
    • Diego Boccaleone 21st February 2017 Reply

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