A recent weekend trip to my parents was experienced by my adoptive son. It was his first full weekend sleeping away from the house, in a different room, different surroundings, and with different people around. So how did he cope? Did the new surroundings affect him, or was he oblivious to the change?
Hopefully this post will demonstrate why adoptive children, like my son, need a little special attention on trips away.
The weekend got off to a decent enough start. We were wary of travelling times and as My wife was working, I drove down with only the boy for company.
We arrived, and the boy was met by the rambunctious hound my folks keep. That would have been distraction enough, but the new surroundings meant he had his work cut out for him for a good few hours.
I could see the wonder in his eyes…
“Wow, Dad look, new stuff for me to play with, annoy you with, and break … waaahoooo!”
It wasn’t long before he got to work. Before my wife was picked up by her father in law, the boy had already bent the towel rail, and sat on a clay ornament.
Day one was all about exploring, which my young son executed perfectly. By bed time, he was shattered and slept through.
The dawn of day two, and the boy awoke in his usual manner.
As the book landed on my head, my wife heard the crack, and scooped the lad up for his milk.
The day wore on, and I could see the cogs in the wee man’s head starting to turn. I knew he was having fun, but my wife was first to recognise the signs of slight confusion. He didn’t understand why he wasn’t at home, and perhaps he was starting to miss it.
His boisterous manner meant that even with four adults, we were all still kept on our toes; a mad dog and toddler is a concoction enough to make you feel like you are doing hard labour.
That is until you witness things like this:
He had made a new friend, and as he was exhausted, found it fitting to try to sleep in his new friend’s bed. My mother couldn’t resist the shot.
The following day I awoke, this time to see a little boy in his cot, standing up. Instead of the wide smile, I saw him concentrating, and I knew he was confused. The little boy’s brain, try as it might, couldn’t conjure an answer as to why he was not in his own bed, in his own room.
It was a desperate vision, and I was jarred by the sadness.
This day was a Sunday, and we had made a conscious decision to travel back in the evening, so the boy could sleep in the car.
It was a difficult day; almost entirely spent reassuring him, distracting him and cuddling him. I wanted to get inside his head, and tell him in a language he understood that we would soon be going home.
He slept on his way home – as we had hoped. When he awoke, he was greeted by his familiar surroundings. I thought his sleep pattern would be disturbed and a night of doom was in store, but instead, I think he was so pleased to be home, he simply just drifted off.
It was a tough weekend for him, but a necessary one.
My adoptive son continues to learn a valuable lesson:
There is no place like home, but he has a home.