The Need to Connect

A tough week. Many tears. Time in the school counselor’s office. Phone calls. Unfounded and quick angry outbursts from Greyson.

Within a matter of days I watched my son spiral out of control. We had sent him to his room for the evening and he had finally fallen asleep, exhausted from his screaming and crying. This was the third day out of four that he had gone into a fit of rage. I had cuts on my wrists from being scratched as I had tried to calm him. My emotive son had never been physical before and I was concerned.

Greyson woke the next morning, quiet and hungry. He was silent during the ride to school. I was sure there’d be another call from school that day, but there wasn’t. Upon picking him up that afternoon he was still quiet.

I pulled over to a side street and said, “Come here.”

Greyson unfastened his seat belt and came up to me. I could see that he was felt badly about his behavior and that he was confused, “I’m sorry Mommy. I was so mad.”

He needed a big hug and so did I.

“Why were you so mad? What’s going on?” I asked, “Greyson; is this about being adopted?”

Jeez… Tears started running down his cheeks, “I miss Guatemala. I want to know Guatemala. What does it smell like?”

We were going to be a little late picking up the girls, but this was important. I pulled him into my arms and onto my lap, “Guatemala smells green and wet and good. Guatemala is beautiful and vibrates with life.”

And, as he sat there on my lap, I told him more of his birth country and I felt him relax and engage. We moved from there to adoption and how important it was that we talk, especially because there will be times when he is angry, sad, unsure, or can’t find the words to express how he feels.

Greyson’s need to connect with his birth country is becoming stronger as he moves into his tween years. We will travel there soon. Until then, I hope that looking at pictures from his baby books, reading and talking about Guatemala, and discussing adoption will answer a lot of questions and give him some sense of connection.



Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Guatemala, Identity, International Adoption, Racial Identity, The International Mom

8 responses to “The Need to Connect

  1. I love your son’s longing for an embodiment of his memories…”What does it smell like?” It is so easy to forget how the whole child experiences the loss of family, of environment, of culture. I’m grateful that they remind us, even in their less-than-articulate ways, what it is to be fully human.

    Your post reminds me of one I wrote last year, shortly after the 1-year anniversary of taking in my two grandchildren. One day my then-7-year-old granddaughter was having unexplained extreme meltdowns, all day long. It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized that her meltdown-day had been a year–to the day–of losing mom and life as she knew it. Our bodies remember everything, no?

    Thank you for a lovely and touching piece.

    Beki Sciacca

    • theinternationalmom

      Hi Beki,
      Thanks for commenting and sharing. I agree with you, that our bodies remember. I believe that memories of feelings and sensory experiences are stored within our cells.

  2. Ericka

    I hope you will visit soon and that he will find peace in visiting…

    Nice blog

  3. Marsha

    Hi Jude,

    It is your long lost friend. I am on your email list and I love reading about your family. I just want to hug you both.


  4. Sounds familiar! Our son quite often flies into a rage & at times can’t contain his emotions – this can spill into aggression/wrecking things etc. Usually confusion, hurt at the heart of it all…

    Good luck with plans for Guatemala…

  5. This February, my almost 8-year-old daughter and I visited her birth family in Guatemala for the second time. Both my husband and I notice a new calmness in her, dating from our first visit 2 years ago. The trip seemed to close a circle for my daughter and make her feel more secure. She is now interested in learning Spanish, too. Every family is different, but for us, the experience was positive.

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