This story is one of a series written by a mom who placed her children here at the Institute for Attachment and Child Development many years ago. She has endured the feelings of love and loss after adopting children with reactive attachment disorder. Her boys are now grown men. These are her reflections and memories from life experiences and the wisdom that time bestows.
As summer comes to an end and the trees show signs of the changing season, I reflect upon changes in my life. I remember feeling that things would never change as a younger mother raising children with reactive attachment disorder. I felt trapped for many years in an endless cycle of worry and confusion. No one understood what my family was experiencing. I felt tremendous guilt as a mother and frustration with all the people who wouldn’t or couldn’t help us. It seemed as though my boys were doomed for a life of disappointment and so was I. It felt like my family was standing still.
I couldn’t wait until my boys turned 18-years-old. At least the legal responsibility for their poor choices would not be mine anymore. It was a sad way to live.
With time, things did change. The first occurred when we finally found the right help we needed. I felt validated for the first time as a mother. As years went on, our family experienced lots of positive changes as a result. Today, the changes keep coming. My oldest son became the father of a second baby girl yesterday. He and the mother wanted this child. Although they are young and financially shaky, they love their daughters. My son is a responsible and loving dad. He tells me that he feels like he has a real purpose for the first time. He is now able to stay on track and set positive goals. Becoming a father has changed him.
I must admit that parenting wouldn’t have been the path of change that I wished for my son years ago. I learned, however, to get out of the way and give him space to figure things out for himself. That change of heart has been transformative for both of us.
Indeed I have had to change. I have had to let go of my expectations, my hopes, and my dreams of and for my children. I have learned how to filter and interpret the meaning of success. I have learned true empathy and affirmation for my boys. Even when I worry, I have learned to focus more on what could go right rather than on what might go wrong.
I’ve spent hundreds of nights worrying and hoping and praying that my kids would change over the years. It was only when I changed my own perspective that my heart and mind could feel open and free. I began to work on my own healing and growth to navigate the turbulent times.
As I watch the leaves turn today, I understand the changes in my life more clearly. I made so many changes myself, for myself. Though painful at times, what an amazing gift that has been.
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