Emotional healing is in my experience, sometimes trickier than healing from an obvious injury. When you break a leg for instance, people see the cast. They watch you use the crutches. They know you are going through PT when the cast comes off , celebrate the fact that the limp disappears a bit each day as the limb regains strength.
It isn't so visible with our psyches. And especially when it is our children. It is hard to pick up what is a normal stage of development and what is something that is a result of a traumatic past. One overlays the other oftentimes, confusing the heck out of well meaning adults and concerned parents. (read that: me!)
But I have learned over the journey of the past 11 years that for us, healing looks like:
Fiona calling me Mom in front of her biological cousins and aunts
Fiona being able to share her pain in both words and tears instead of rages and destruction.
Fiona being able to call home to us after visiting with us.
Fiona wanting to give gifts to us instead of only receiving them.
Rob talking on the phone at night with friends so long the phone needs to re-charge.
Rob sharing a movie with me or debating the merits of a music artist that we both listen to.
Rob putting down his coffee on Sunday to go do the weird jump and chest bump thing that guys do with one of the guys from church.
Rob making a reservation on the phone for he and his girlfriend at a popular local restaurant.
Fiona making plans to share Christmas Eve day with us at home.
Fiona wanting both her adoptive family and her biological family to be in relationship with each other.
Fiona starting to make plans for her future as an adult and wanting to share those dreams with me.
Rob teasing me in front of his friends, respectfully, but teasing.
People who have not parented children who have suffered trauma may not see how huge each of these things are to me. For us, they are true causes of gratitude and celebration. I remember vividly wondering if Rob would ever be at ease. Anywhere. He always could make friends easily. I think that is a combination of his personality and a survival mechanism. But he was not at ease. He was guarded always. Waiting for an angry adult. Waiting for me to say there was no food. Waiting for the disappointment of a broken promise. And more.
Fiona was also guarded but our relationship was (and to some extent still is) complicated by her disabilities and the fact that her loss and trauma history is even greater than her brothers.
There are always bumps in the road. Unlike a broken leg, progress is often uneven.
Yet they are healing. They grow, they shine and that is all anyone ever wants for their kids.