The One Legged Woman: First Night

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A photo of my mother, my grandmother, and me at four years old.

For many older adoptive individuals, the transition from one life to another is not easy. It potentially could be scary for both the adoptive parents and adopted child(s) for the first few nights in their new home. I mention both because it is not only a new environment for the adoptee but for the parents as well.  My own experience was that of one that I will never forget.

Back in the states, when the time came to separate our small group consisting of my grandmother, mother and myself, I cried. I did not want to be separated from the familiar face of my grandmother. She was the closest resemblance of home that I had left with her white hair and slightly wrinkled face. But the time had come, my first night with my new mother had arrived. Seeing my grandmother leave the vehicle without me devastated me at first . As the car ride sped on I eventually stopped crying and watched the scenery race past us. Once we arrived at the new home, the woman, not yet my mother to me, showed me around the house, eventually leading us to what would be my new room. The room stayed vacant for some nights even though it waited for me.

As night approached, the women took off her leg, as she had once done before, but there was no one else to cling on to this time. It hurt her to see the expression on my face, but I did not want to see it.  I became fearful again. She sat in a chair with wheels which I had never seen before. I ran to the small bathroom and hid from my new mother. She knew my location and followed me. As soon as I saw her, I grabbed a porcelain decorative flower basket and threw it at her foot. I reached up for another flower ornament to through at her when she suddenly started to cry. I did not understand what was going on, but I knew for some reason that I would not be harmed. I even started to feel sad for the lady as she continued to weep. Eventually I was able to walk up to her and hand her the porcelain ornament. In a few months, I would try to fix those same ornaments with glue.

China DollIt was late and bed time had arrived. I did not want to sleep in the room alone, so I followed the women. She allowed me to follow her into her room. The lady had a dog, and I was scared of it. At fist she placed the small dog, a shih tzu, onto the bed. But I cringed away and whined as that was my only way of communication to her. I let her know my discomfort towards the dog, so she place the dog on the floor. My mother was sad again, but my fear won out this time, no dog on the bed tonight. The following night, this would change when I learned that the dog was nice.

My grandmother always tells me of how my mother called her crying that night, because she did not understand why I had not bonded with her and what she needed to do. My grandmother understood that the separation was vital to both my mother and me. To have given into my crying would have sabotaged my mother’s efforts in having a child of her own. There are still times that I remember those moments, and I know it was not my fault, but I can not help feeling bad for what I did. It is something that I regret even to this day. I would never want to hurt my mother but when fear hits you and you do not understand, somethings you hurt those nearest to you. 

The best advice I can give to try to alleviate any kind of stress during the first night requires parents of the adoptee to do some homework. Communication is key; take the time to learn their language. I know if my mother had learned some Chinese, that I might not have reacted as I did towards her. Also, do not give in. My mother did not give in as she wanted to and as a result we had a close bond.

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