We spend a lot of time in crisis, CHT and me.
Whatever we do, and wherever we go, we find ourselves teetering on the edge of the San Andreas Fault and playing chicken with Mount Etna, tucked in our beds at night with grenades under the pillows. Adoptive families are either in crisis, or have it waiting cocked and loaded just a hair trigger away.
Crisis is simply part of the deal, because adoption is a state of crisis – be that overt and expressed in explosions of rage, or locked down and silenced inside Pandora’s Box. For us, sat silent in an empty white room with no additional stimulus, our baseline emotional state is still set at ‘fight or flight’; our ‘normal’ is other people’s ‘extraordinary’ on the Richter Scale. And the only way is up, because life isn’t a sterile white room; life is full of challenge and surprise and drama.
In the six years we have been together, the world outside our control has thrown everything at us. There have been suicides, letterbox letters filled with remorse, bullying, snubbed reunions, diagnosis of brain damage, major surgery, redundancy threats, and school changes.
And then there are events that to the unknowing eye may not earn the label ‘crisis’, but to us represent Armageddon: a lost hair band, a new type of food, a bike puncture, the appearance of a suitcase. Charging us, like the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Each and every event is reacted to with equal velocity; CHT is explosive. Fuelled with trauma, and FASD, and the regular frustrations of being a kid. Like a tornado she tears at walls, doors, toys, herself. She screams and rages, leaving further whirlpools of crisis in her wake; remembering nothing once the fury is past.
And then there are the times when I slip the calm blue leash of my Therapeutic Parenting skills; times when my own boiling frustrations come spilling out of the seams. I take my place among the rubble; notching up the intensity, and tearing down the trust we work so hard to build.
But together we are learning to spot the signs and fight back. More often now we recognize the onrush of our dysfunction and heightened crisis responses. Noticing the signs means we can use the right tools to avert the earthquakes and the eruptions. But then there are those times when noticing the signs is like a red rag to Godzilla “I am NOT getting angry” – and we are lost to the fire and the red mist once again.
But little by little we inch forwards, our combined emergency response team fighting the flames and taming them; winning. Sure, we get pushed back again as more lava flows and buildings fall.
But we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and inch forward; step by step.