“Biology is powerful. It choreographs an invisible, important, tightly-stepped mother-baby dance. There is an extra base-level of connection inherent in a biological mother-infant relationship, a connection knit by nature, and that connection is perfect trust.

Adoption is different. Not in what we feel for our children, but in parenting around loss, both our children’s and our own. A securely attached biological child who hasn’t been abandoned by a birth parent would never believe that his mother would permanently leave him, for any reason. Primal loss will always be a deep, dark possibility for our adopted children, because the unthinkable did happen to them. It happened to them, it severed their connection, and it spun them halfway across the world.

….We can work to replicate the natural dance of attunement…..the music is there, we just need to teach our children to trust our lead, hold on tight and to follow our steps.”

-“A Different Dance” by Jean MacLeod, from Adoption Parenting, Creating a toolbox, building connections


Little Man had a good first day of school yesterday. He has never been in school before so it was a big deal. He did very well and had a blast. When I arrived to pick him up, however, he had a blank stare on his face. Little Man never has a blank stare on his face, never. When I walked in, he looked straight through me and not at me. This is very unusual behavior for him. Usually he jumps up and screams Mommmy!!!! when I return after being gone. But not today….today was different. He was quiet and stoic and it scared me.

He was worn out when we got home and he asked to snuggle with me on the couch. We talked a lot about his day and then he said something that shocked me.

“Mommy, I was afraid you weren’t going to come back and get me.”

He said it almost in a whisper with tears about to fill his eyes. The look on my face must have been one of pure horror and shock because he quickly added in “I’m just teasing you, Mommy.” And then he grabbed me tight and didn’t let go.

This is the point where my heart physically hurt. We had talked for months about every detail of school, especially emphasizing the fact that Mommy will pick Little Man up exactly at three o’clock each day…that mommy always comes back…..that mommy always will be the one to pick Little Man up…..that school is just during the day, etc. He knew the schedule and he knew I would come back. When I worked, he stayed with the nanny and he knew that mommy always came back. It was no big deal. That work was just during the day and that it was a part of life.

I know he knows. But at a deeper level, it is evident what he fears.

I had intended to write about something different entirely in this post, but I find that it’s not important right now. Maybe later.

School is good. Little Man did a good job and I’m proud of him. Yes, he banged his head and his teachers are perfectly ok with it. But because I know his fears, it’s so SO hard for me to let him go just yet. So when I anxiously fret over my son’s first day of school to the point where I make myself sick with worry, it’s because of that fear….because I know it lurks within…..because although Little Man deals with his own pain, I have mine, too. Letting him go is so scary for both of us, not because it’s merely a big transistion, but because it seems we are still both healing from the past.

5 thoughts on “Because

  1. Rhoda

    I’m crying just reading this–oh so familiar tune of our lives. One day it seems that maybe, just maybe we are past all of this, only the next to be right back on that path. Sometimes I have to remind myself that a mountain is only as tall as it is because of the steepness of the way and the depth of the valley beneath it. Both are tough to get through. Yet, because of them, that mountain is majestic, tall, strong. Our children know the valleys, the steep, dark places. I can’t wait for them to break through the clouds and finding themselves strong, majestic, tall. That day will come. And you and I had a part in that for them! Praying the adjustments go well as school continues–for all of you.

  2. Barb

    That would have broken my heart hearing him say that. So sad what these little ones have to go through. I see little things like that with Mia and have a hard time leaving her at all too. I can’t imagine how she knows i won’t leave her when so many people she cared about has in the past. It is tough stuff to deal with and when they run around like happy kids most of the time people can’t comprehend how deep some of this goes.

  3. Melissa

    That was so sad to read. Poor River. That had to be a horrible feeling for him all day. It will get better and he will learn that you will always be there for him. It is probably difficult for him too wondering why his brother gets to stay at home. These are typical fears for any child, but the pain does run deeper for an adopted child. ((HUGS))

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