I suppose it says a lot about how far TM and I have come that the anniversary of his adoption (July 3) passed without my notice. (I feel I need to add here that unlike many adoptive families, we do not celebrate our children's adoption days. That was the day that in TM's mind his world ended and it has been a slow and painful process to put his world back together again. Hardly a day to celebrate.) In the past, I was slightly obsessed with keeping track of how long TM had been our son. Each passing month and year was one more month and year that we had all survived. It was a way to look back and measure how far, if at all, we had come.
But somewhere in the past couple of years, the need to mark whatever progress there was, even if it was just time served, disappeared. Somewhere in the past couple of years TM ceased to be my son whom we adopted and were working on attaching to, and instead became just my son.
Now, admittedly, my son, as all my other children, has some quirks. A good number of these quirks are a direct result of the trauma he suffered as a young child. But over the past five years, we have learned better how to manage them. We know what triggers anxiety and fear. We know what we need to do to keep him on an even keel. We know, all too well I might add, how parental responses and reactions can either help calm or exacerbate a situation. We know our son.
This year has not been without success. TM had his first sleep over and weathered extremely well J. being gone for a week. We were able to celebrate birthdays and holidays in a relatively relaxed fashion. For a child whose trauma is triggered by parental absence and breaks in routines, these milestones are quite impressive.
We sometimes talk about the early days with TM and about how scared and angry he was. TM is agog that he spent his first plane ride across the Pacific trying to bite me. While we still sometimes deal with fear, the anger, for the most part, is gone.
I was right to cling to the idea during those dark first months that because his foster parents loved him so much that there must be a lovable child in there somewhere. There was... and is.