I was going to carry on with my older child adoption post series and write something about the feelings and behaviours of older children when they come home.
I asked Rhea for her input. She started talking to me and we wound up discussing trust and her inability to trust anyone with the details of her past. How I tried to get her to open up to me. How I sensed that she was a closed book on some issues. How she had many traumatic and terrible memories she could not share with anyone
Now, over time Rhea became able to trust me and to share her memories with me, and also share her emotions and worries.
And some time after that (but quite a few years ago now) she drew for me and for her therapist, a picture to explain how she had been feeling.
She said to me “Hey Wren*, you should just put my picture up instead of trying to explain how I felt”
I said, “Are you sure?”
She said, “Yes. Maybe it will help another adoptive parent like you”
Rhea gives a couple of words of expalanation to go with it –
1. The outer circle (grass covered with flowers and a rainbow) is the front I wwould put on to deal with social workers and therapists and sometimes you too. It’s that ‘everything is completely fine, so no need to worry’.
2. The Middle circle (a strip covered in nails with a barbed fence and with warning signs), that was for when people like you Wren knew my sunshine and flowers wasn’t real and tried to get past it. And so I had lots of anger and I was aggressive and just trying to stop you getting under my skin.
Both the outer layers was me trying to keep control of everyone round me.
3. That’s me in the middle, and all my memories and all the feelings from them, are pushing on me and I’m using all my strength to stop them crushing me and keep up my defense layers.
And that’s Rhea’s picture
My girl is so strong
* Rhea has always called me by my first name “Wren”. She will say Mum to me sometimes nowadays, and describes me as her mother to people for clarity, but I have always been Wren to her, which is fine by me. It was more comfortable for her when she moved in because she associated Mums with abuse. On the other hand, no one named Wren ever abused her.