happy little boyAt least that’s what my ten-year-old says. He has been having such a hard time lately with being adopted because he feels like it makes him stand out from the other kids. He thinks all his problems are because he is adopted and he doesn’t think other kids have those problems. It doesn’t help that the only other adopted kid (that we know of) in his class at school is a bully. So Justin is convinced that he’s different from the other kids and not in a good way.

It breaks my heart that he feels different because he is the cutest, nicest, funniest boy and well-liked by other kids. I know it doesn’t matter what I think. The only thing that matters to Justin is how he feels about himself. All of a sudden, I understand and have so much more compassion for his obsession with his appearance. I thought I was just raising a rather vain child, but now I realize that it’s of paramount importance to him to look cool- to fit in. It explains why he burst into ferocious tears the day I told him to wear one glove from one pair and one glove from another pair because he had lost their mates. “I can’t Mom!” He was almost hysterical. “They don’t match!!” At the time I thought he was silly but now I think I understand it on a deeper level.

I used one of our precious therapy sessions with Justin to try to help him. It’s usually the older two that alternate with the therapist, but I felt so bad for Justin that I decided he needed a turn. It was poignant to hear him tell the therapist that he’s different from all the other kids. She asked him different how and he said because he didn’t come out of my tummy. I thought she handled it really well. She acknowledged his feelings that it was very sad his birth mom hadn’t been able to take care of him. Then she told him there were two ways to look at it. We could focus on how sad it is, or we could focus on how special he is to be adopted.

She asked me to tell him how hard we worked to adopt him and his siblings, so I told him about the classes, the home study, the waiting. I didn’t think it necessary to contradict her in front of him when she said, “and lots of money.” We adopted through our local County so it was free, but Justin liked that we had spent money. He brightened right up. “So I’m valuable? Like $7,000?” The therapist laughed and said, “Oh so much more.”

He’s only ten and I’m not naive enough to think his issues with adoption are over. But he left the therapist’s office a happier little boy than he walked in, all because she helped him feel valuable.

The truth is that it’s usually much harder to adopt than to bear children biologically. If our kids only knew how badly we wanted them, how hard we worked to get them and how grateful we are to have them. They would feel worth $7 gazillion dollars.

Photo credit: 3ted.blogspot.com/happy_little_boy_cartoon 0015-0013-3016-3350 SMU.jpg