I’m Just Sad

October 28, 2014 adoption realities, Kam 2 Comments

September is always a big month for our family. Both of our sons came home in September {2009, 2012} and our 8 year old, Joel’s, birthday is on the 4th. So we generally just have lots of good talks and eat tons of yummy food in celebration all month.

One evening, after having celebrated Gabe’s forever family day, Joel casually asked me when his was. I explained that his would be very soon. He smiled, gave me a quick hug, and shot off to the living room to build yet another Star Wars ship out of Lego.

I didn’t think much of it.

Joel’s day came and went. It was pretty normal as days around here go. He has never liked a lot of fanfare. He’s not comfortable being the center of attention {though he craves praise and attention individually}. He was pretty melancholy but Joel can be a grumpy Gus anyway. Bedtime came and he put up an argument for why he should be allowed to finish a movie with his dad. He lost though and reluctantly went to brush his teeth.

I went into he and Gabe’s room, like we do every night, to pray and tuck them in. Only Joel’s face was buried in his pillow and he would not look up. I rubbed his back, leaned over and prayed and said goodnight. I figured that he was just mad about the movie. And he was.

But there was more.

Joel is a kid plagued by triggers. Are your kids that way? Several things can just set him off. He has historically had a bit of a temper {mostly when he came home and for the six months after, but is sooooo much better now.} and sometimes events or circumstances just trigger either bad behavior or emotional breakdowns.

I guess that can be said of any of us really.

Sitting on his bed, waiting to see if he would respond to my request for a goodnight kiss, I heard a whimper. So I scooped up my big Thai Tornado and looked at his face. He stared deep into my eyes and tears began to fall from his.

“Baby, what’s wrong? Are you made about the movie? I promise, you can finish it tomorrow, but it’s bedtime, okay?”

He’s sobbing now and having trouble speaking at all.

I put him in my arms, hold him like an infant and rub his face.

“You can tell me, baby. Are you just upset with Daddy?”


And then, “Mom, I’m just sad.”

“You are? Why? Is something bothering you?”

He nods, takes a deep breath and manages to say one word.


We talk for a couple of minutes and sweet boy begins to just unload all of these feelings while laying in my arms sobbing.

I ask several questions and let him do the answering. He misses Thailand. He misses his friends. He wonders if they are okay. What they are doing.

Raising his voice, “But I can even remember their names or what they look like, Mom!”

I decide then to bring him to his daddy in the living room. We sit and hold him close, rub his sweet face and just let him talk. We show him his Thailand coffee table book with pictures of his favorite caregiver and his two best friends. We explain that one of them was adopted right after he was by a family in Germany and the other went to France. We assure him that we believe they have families who love them and take care of them just like we do.

And we tell him that it’s okay. Okay to feel confused and upset and sad that he doesn’t remember. Okay that he doesn’t know things that he used to know. We reassure him over and over and over. We take deep breaths and hope that our words seep and settle into his heart.

I’ve read blogs and books and listened to adult adoptees speak at conferences. I’ve tried to glean from them and as best as I can, walk a step or two in their shoes. It’s impossible. I will never know what they know or feel what they feel or experience the loss they have known.

And in moments like these, it’s just gut wrenching. I want to take this from my son. I want to relate to him in a real way. To take on his hurt and trade my beginning for his.

Adoption is beautiful and lovely and redemptive. It’s continuing to place value on those for which Christ values. It’s an answer to prayers and longings both by children and adults.

Adoption is also ugly and scary and tragic. It’s losing and forgoing and forgetting.

Prosperity and calamity are married here. They are intertwined into the story of our Thai Tornado and our Little Prince…and your children too.


The good news is that, the next morning, our Joel was his happy go lucky self. Most days, most moments of each day, he looks just like this. A huge smile. A loud laugh and a heart that wants to please. But that night, he was just sad.

Maybe your children are sad sometimes too. And I’m learning to trust that that’s okay.

2 responses to “I’m Just Sad”

  1. Kris Bell says:

    How true – Our sons are adopted from the US foster care system and they occasionally struggle wanting to remember and afraid they are forgetting – both very much wanting to remember their birth mamma. The oldest has told me he longs for her touch and really misses that. We hold and cry and cuddle and grieve and yes, the next day, the sunshine and sillness returns.

  2. This post times perfectly for us right now as our 8 year old daughter from China is struggling with a lot of triggers. It’s nice to be reminded we’re not alone.

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