Guest blog by Theresa Rosenberg, mother of two biological children and two adopted teenagers.
Our 15-year-old son Seth had been with us for about four months, but he was still living a life completely apart from the rest of our family. If we were shopping for new clothes at the mall he would walk 20 feet ahead of us. We would go to his baseball games (sitting through hot and cold and enduring ever-present mosquitoes), but when the game was over he would get his stuff and walk to the car without us. He had no clue what it meant to be part of a family.
But as hard as it felt to see him being so distant, it is also what drew me to him. I knew he needed to learn to be part of a family and learn how to love.
Well, one weekend he was severely grounded. I made him stay in his room with nothing in there but his bed and clothes. He could come out to eat and for the bathroom, but that was it. We had been called to the school the Friday before and found out that for months he had been intensely bullying kids around school. I wanted him to know that was NOT going to fly. We talked a lot that weekend and I could actually see that I was getting through to him. I could see I was reaching and making a connection, and it was awesome. I felt like a superhero.
After that weekend we got very close and Seth started doing something I thought was very strange for a 15 year old (especially one who was 6 feet tall at the time): He started lying next to me on the couch at night while watching TV.
He would lay his head on my lap and just cuddle with me. If he was little, then he probably would have been snuggled up in my lap. It reminded me of the times I had with my kids when I was holding them as infants and swaddling them. He would lay there and stare into my eyes as if he was looking for something. I would think to myself, “What is he looking for?”
I think he was trying to see if I was real, if I could be trusted. If I was someone who would always be there or if I was one who would leave. Could he let down his guard long enough to actually trust someone, could he really believe me? This went on for about two months. It was as if he needed an infant-like bonding time. He just needed so much love that the hugs or kisses he got at night couldn’t make up for what he needed. After those few months it stopped, but it was a very precious time for both of us.
I really felt that awesome accomplishment we all long for. It’s also why I love that boy so much; he showed me his need, and now when things are so hard I can’t walk away. I am not the kind of person who walks away when things get tough, but believe me, it is something that creeps in your mind sometimes. Now, all I can do is show him that what he was looking for in my eyes so long ago was real.
I always share that story when I talk to people who want infants. I tell them that teenagers also need that cuddling and love just as much.
Theresa recently told more beautiful stories about her family at a DCF Summit, which can be viewed on this video. Her part starts at the 38:00 mark.
For more information about the 750 children available for adoption in Florida without an identified family, visit www.adoptflorida.org