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From rejection to acceptance: Pain out, love in

When our son first arrived at our house we entered immediately into the so-called honeymoon period.

That is the sweet and beautiful initial phase, when the child behaves like a saint, and life is a dream.

The days are full of smiles and hugs and carefree games; the nights are quiet and everybody sleeps tight. This is the best time to recover from the emotions of the arrival, often sudden, of the child and take a breather.

After a couple of months of this unexpected magic I started to believe that we had got away with it, and that all the warnings and dramatic scenarios depicted by the social workers were only cruel inventions. How wrong I was!

Overnight, my little Everet completely changed, turning into a little fury. During the day he cried over nothing, at meal time he spat his food on me which I’d earlier prepared so lovingly. And at night...Ah! Nights were a true nightmare: tears and desperation that went on for hours. Nothing could calm him down: lullabies, cuddles, bedtime stories, light on or light off, it seemed that for him the most important thing was screaming. And kicking and punching those who approached to console him.

Luckily, being only little, he would not hurt me, but a kick in the face, given by a little foot, can leave a deep mark on a mother's heart.

I could not believe the change that had happened. Where had I gone wrong? Had I done too much or too little? I was sure that my child was rejecting me and did not want me as his mum.

Then, after talking to everybody and anybody (this is very important, never hold inside these problems), an acquaintance of mine, a child psychologist, explained to me what was happening: In the beginning Everet had behaved like an angel for fear of being sent away, of being transferred again to another family; After the biological and the foster parents we were already the third set of parents that were looking after him within a few months and therefore his behaviour was totally understandable.

Another thing I was unable to understand was Everet’s transformation into an emotional bomb, constantly on the verge of going off. Yet, according to the psychologist, it was rather obvious: Everet finally felt safe with my husband and me and therefore showed his true colours, letting out all the pains and traumas that he had already accumulated in his short life, without fear of being rejected or abandoned again. What I had taken for a refusal was instead a testimony of his trust and love for us. Our son had accepted us and was sharing with us the sad secrets of his heart.

So we braced ourselves, we even spent the best part of one night or three on the floor of his room while he was crying inconsolably in his bed, allowing him to let go in a safe environment without being in his face, until after a few months enough pain had come out of his heart to allow our love to get in instead.

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