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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Adoptive Birthday Bliss

Our third child, a daughter, became a teen in May and we are outnumbered:  three teens and one tween.  Folks, pray for us.

Two of the four tend to experience adoption-related angst preceding their birthdays.  They struggle over the lies of their past, and the fuzzy uncertainty of their future.  This time, with our reminders and encouragement, Mashenka was able to rise above these pre-birthday feelings for the most part.

…Only to have them hit with a vengeance and double-whammy wallop immediately after the small family celebration.  Ah, well.  Her crazed downward spiral reminded me of a manic-depressive episode.  Even with a scaled-back, simple affair of homemade cake and a handful of gifts, she deemed it necessary to descend into despair and distress within the week.

One day, sugar and spice and everything nice.  And then….

These episodes were few and far between, but enough to get our attention.  As with most parents, we had to take charge of our own minds lest we project and mold the molehills of today into the potential mountains of tomorrow.

There seemed to be some escalation of late.  Perhaps there was mental illness in the birth family?  After all, most alcoholics could be said to be self-medicating for underlying problems….  I knew that compared with other adoptees of the same age, we were escaping relatively unscathed.  Perhaps Benedetto and I were not 100% normal either, to think that we could adopt children of trauma and abuse and have no fall-out falling on our own heads?  Maybe our standards were too high?  Perhaps this was simply average teen behavior, that we were unwilling to accept?  Maybe it was a sugar overload from the cake itself?

No, that would probably kick in right away.

And just as soon as the storm whipped up… it was over.  All was well.  Or was it?  Placid waters could still harbor “Jaws” just beneath the surface.  Did I dream up the couple days of chaos?

I tried not to dread their birthdays and most holidays, nor create a self-fulfilling prophecy that it was going to be a bad day.  This time, it wasn’t.  With our intervention, she had learned to postpone the semi-inevitable, that may not be inevitable at all anymore, if she could control it to some extent.  For one day, she had her birthday, was able to enjoy it, and was princess of the castle.  Birthday bliss.

This fairy queen mother wished for a magic wand that I could wave and make every day so:  normal, lighthearted, lovely.



4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Ivanka says:

    I have some amount of Birthday stress the last few years, stemming from my past as well…that I have sooo much past.
    How often we act in a way contrary to the thing we want the most. We push people away that we want to love us and then wonder why they do not? Factor in trauma and heartbreak and the sabotage becomes overwhelming. Praise God that you are there to help her realize the better way. Some never figure out anything different.
    The past few weeks I have had the chance to celebrate birthdays with some of the Internat children. I was starting to wonder if they were all going to have a birthday before they left for camp. Lol. It was such a range of responses when I gave them a gift or a cake to share. Shock, questions, indifference, and even some gratefulness. But not the gratefulness one would expect from children that you have given a birthday gift. The only one that they received, even…
    Journey home begins today.

    • avatar admin says:

      We tend to think that kids will be happy when we try to do something nice for them. I believe in their hearts they are. But then the realization comes, “THIS is normal? All my life has passed and other children had this all along, while I didn’t?” There are so many layers of emotions we have to become like social archaeologists and dig through the layers. We stress over and over that our kids have a new life. It profits nothing if they are in a new setting… with all of the mindsets of the past. Like all the rest of us, we just keep pressing forward and change comes.

      Have a safe trip home, Ivanka!

  2. avatar Kathleen says:

    Birthdays are hard for my two as well. For my daughter particularly, having a great day can trigger a need to sabotage it all. Glad you were able to enjoy a good day together.

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Kathleen. I always heard other a-parents talk about triggers like birthdays, or anniversaries of adoption, or whatever. We never experienced it with our first son. Birthday? Oh yeah. Cake? Even better. He was Mr. Happy-go-lucky from the get go. But now we have some more sensitive souls, and that’s not bad, either.

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