Friday, April 3, 2009

Pictures of Thailand can make him sad

We have framed pics of T's mother and foster family were he sees them every day.  He can identify them, and acts excited to point to the people in the pictures.  We discuss his adoption with him often although at his age (2 in May), I don't think he really gets much of it at all.

What is sad is when we show him additional pictures (the ones he doesn't see every day) he can get visibly upset.  I was giving a talk about our trip to Thailand and I practiced the presentation at dinner one night for Kyle.  T was there and saw the power point slides, which included many pictures of his foster family's home / yard, and additional pictures of his foster family.  He started to get sad, and we told him it was OK if he missed them.  He also started to focus on Mo (our Thai social worker - one of the sweetest women on the planet!).  He kept saying "Mo cry!  Mo cry!".  Mo is, indeed, an emotional person.  We saw her with watery eyes more than once, so, although she isn't crying in the photographs, I am not totally surprised he remembers her sadness during the bittersweet time he spent with her.

The night after seeing these pictures, his sleeping was abnormally fitful.  He woke with really agitated crying more than once, and required me to hold him to fall back asleep.  (Abnormal for him.)  The next several days, he kept telling us "Mo cry," which made him really unhappy (bless his empathetic little heart).

I am not surprised at his reaction or behavior, just unsure of how to help him.  I wonder - does seeing pictures help him process his grief?  Does it do more harm than good at this point?  Should we try to show him pictures less often?  Or more often so it's not as much of a shock to him?  Would showing them more often be more traumatizing?  Would showing them less until he's a bit older and can understand be helpful?

Oh yes, and a Lifebook for T is half-completed.  My goal is to have it finished for his birthday.  That'll have a lot of pics of his foster family also.  Perhaps it will help to hear us tell his story while he see's the pictures?

Do any adoptive parents out there have a similar experience?  Thoughts?



Hannah said...

Hey guys! Jesse used to have the same reaction to seeing the pictures from our trip. He has a framed picture of himself and his birth mother and we talk about it a lot as well. When we used to show him the album with all the TRC workers and such, he would get very sad. We just kept showing him and reassuring him that they loved him, and we love him, and they make it possible for us to bring him home. I think his memories have faded and he looks at them with a different perspective now. And enjoys looking at them.
I think it's all part of the process. I would say to just reassure him and make sure he knows it's okay to be sad but happy things came out of it too.

Melissa May said...

I don't have any answers either, but ask all the same questions. I wonder and wonder how much he remembers and if remembering more is helpful or just painful. Just another question we'll never fully know the answer to I suppose!