We were so excited to adopt our first son when he was three and a half. He was a bundle of energy from that first day we met him. During the placement process we were spending more and more time with him but he would return to the foster home each evening. My husband and I would be exhausted after our visits but we just figured this was all new to him and things would settle soon.
How wrong we were. His energy level was extremely high and he compulsively would touch and do things we repeatedly told him not to. Back then time outs were all the rage so I would be constantly putting him in time out – it didn’t even register to him that he was in trouble. He would just go back to doing the same thing. If I put him in his room he would have a full blown meltdown.
During this time we were of course eager to introduce our son to our friends and family. That didn’t go very well. While visiting my brother and his family our son would randomly hit people and take things from them. When we tried to redirect him he would meltdown. He wanted so badly to play with his cousins but they didn’t know what to make of him. We were beginning to sort out that our son did indeed have some special needs and lack of impulse control was one of them.
Everyone had been so happy for us when we adopted. Shortly after bringing him home and seeing him in action, certain friends just disappeared from our lives. We were no longer invited to their house. There were no playdates as I had imagined being a new mom. The one that hurt the most was when one of my closest friends agreed to watch our son while the teachers were on strike. In hindsight I could see that dealing with our out of control son would not have been easy for anyone. That friend yelled at my son and then was mad at me for not doing more to punish his bad behavior. She cut off our friendship later that same day.
Being a new mom to a child with special needs was an extremely lonely time for me. I didn’t know any other people who had a child like mine. Whenever we went anywhere our kid was the one “acting out” the most. We were even shunned by people at the park and the Early Learning Centres. No one wants their kids to hang around the out of control kid who hits and swears.
In the end I am now surrounded by a group of people who accept who my son is and embrace our family. It’s unfortunate the other people didn’t stick around – they could see the amazing young man my son has become.