Monday, May 27, 2013

Letters to My Daughter - I Wish


You've hit kind of a rough patch.  According to Jen Hatmaker, you're firmly in the Spaz-Out phase.  Here's how she describes it:

Stage 2: Spaz Out (4-6 Weeks – 3-4 Months)

Who knows what the straw on the camel’s back will be – maybe one more food he hates, maybe one final conversation he can’t decode, a moment of discipline, just a smell might trigger it – but something will happen, and your little one will finally lose it. Honeymoon is over. Once the damn has broken, it will flood for months.

There is screaming, kicking, hysterical hysterics. There is wailing and tantrums and full-out meltdowns. You may chase your beefy 8-year-old down the street where he ran screaming barefoot into traffic, throw him over your shoulder and lug him back home where the two of you hunker down for the next two hours, drenched in sweat, while you hold him tight and whisper love into his ears and he thrashes and yells and finally passes out. It is so helpful that your husband is out of town on this day.

Your sweet one is grieving. This is sorrow and loss and fear and trauma; it is visceral. It is devastating. You and your spouse are haunted, unshowered, unhinged, unmoored. You stare into each other’s eyes, begging the other one to fix this: What have we done? What are we doing? What are we going to do?

The house is a disaster. Your bios are huddled up in the corner, begging grandparents to come rescue them. You can’t talk to anyone. Everyone is still beaming at you, asking: “Isn’t this the best thing?? Is this just the happiest time of your life?” You are starving for truth-tellers in adoption.You scour blogs and Yahoo groups, desperate for one morsel of truth, one brave person to say how hard this in and give you a shred of hope. You only find adorable pictures and cute stories, and you despair. You feel so alone. You’ve ruined your life. You’ve ruined your kids’ lives. Your marriage is doomed. Your adopted child hates you. You want to go back to that person pining away in the Pre-Stage and punch her in the liver.

This pretty much describes our lives right now.  One minute, you're being sweet and cuddly and loving.  The next you are slapping me across the face or freaking out in Walgreens.  You'll get all excited to go somewhere (and so will I) and then  you just can't handle it.  I keep trying to remind myself that it isn't about me.  It's about you and your process.  

There are so many things that I wish in this phase:

*I wish you had more language.  

*I wish you could explain to me what you need or want.

*I wish I knew what you were thinking and feeling.  

*I wish I knew in that moment if you were feeling mad, sad, hurt, abandoned, scared, insecure.  

*I wish I could tell when you are genuinely upset about something and when you are just being defiant.

*I wish I didn't have to go to work every day so you could sleep until you were ready to get up.

*I wish I knew how much English you understand.  For that matter, I wish I knew Spanish you understand.

*I wish I knew what you really think about your new life.  (Or maybe sometimes I don't....)

*I wish you could tell me about your day at school.  Maybe that's playing into frustrations some days.  

*I wish I knew if you were grieving your old life.  

*I wish we could talk and reason through things.

*I wish you could understand why I set limits and correct you.

*I wish you would stop biting.  

*I wish you could feel secure in your new life.

*I wish I knew if you know how much I love you.  

Until the Spaz-Out phase ends, and until you get more language, I will continue to love you the best I know how.  I will strive to enjoy the sweet moments and seek to understand what you need in the rough moments. I will continue to remind us both that this phase won't last forever.  

I love you, Bug!

Tu Mama


  1. All you can keep doing is keep loving her. I know how hard it is when you're not sure your child really loves you or knows how much you love her. Maybe Bryon is going thru his "Spaz" phase.

  2. Thank you for writing about this. It is hard to find people willing to post the hard side of adoption. For those of us coming behind you, it is good to know that there are people out there who understand, even when our life gets difficult.

  3. What is interesting, too, is that not all of this is unique to adoption (though some definitely of it is). Both of my non-adopted kids went through their own "spaz out" phase... Clara when she was 3 & Noah when he was 4 (Clara's was far worse.... have I ever told you about it?). Some of it is that they just don't fully understand how to express themselves at those ages. And of course, that is compounded in your situation because of language barriers & language deficits. What my kids spazzed out about and what Sara is spazzing out about may be very different things, but just know you are not alone! We've all gone through so many similar situations, even though the triggers or reasons behind it may be different. Hang on, hang on tight... prayer and determination will get you through this! But I'm not going to lie, it is not easy! I'm sure there are some adoptive parents out there who can give you more specific encouragement & can relate on a different level... but I do know this, parenting isn't for the faint of heart & you are a strong woman! I am confident that you and Sara will come through this phase with flying colors, even if you come out with a few bumps & bruises. :) Love you!

    1. I do wonder how much of her meltdowns are a developmental/communication phase and not a result of the adoption.

    2. This is SO true. All children have a difficult age. Christopher is moving into one right now. He has always been so sweet and cute, but now we are seeing defiance - looking at us as we tell him 'no' and doing it anyway... right in front of us!

  4. Thank you for your frank honesty. Hugs for you both.