Kerri brought home a book from the school library called "The Dog Who Found Christmas", by Linda Jennings. Without even looking at the contents of the book, I started reading it to her. My heart dropped when I realized the book starts off with an irresponsible family that adopts a puppy and then drops it off in the middle of nowhere on a cold snowy day because it misbehaved (as all puppies do).
Before I even had a chance to say anything, Kerri angrily stated: "You mean, they abandoned him?". And before I could even say yes, she furiously added: "Like I was abandoned, because they did not want me?".
Did you hear me inhale sharply? I felt like I was punched in the gut. I paused for a second or two to catch myself, and then proceeded to tell her how very wrong it was for this family to even adopt the puppy if they were not willing to love it and train it. And that if they could not keep it, they had options, like a shelter or finding it a new home instead of just leaving it out all alone, scared in the cold.
And then Kerri added: "I was left all alone too - I was scared and cold". I reassured her it was not the same, because she was not left out in the cold snow but in a warm, busy train station where she would be found very soon. And that although we did not know why she was left, it most certainly was not because she misbehaved. Kerri took this all in, and then went and hugged Pookie and told him that, although sometimes she got angry with him, she would never abandon him. And then she apologized to Pookie for telling him in the past that she did not want him (she usually would say this after he would steal one of her toys). It was an awesome moment.
Although we have had these conversations before, I was taken aback by her reaction this time. Not because she identified with the puppy, but because this time was different. Instead of being sad, hurt, or depressed; Kerri was angry. She was mad at the puppy's family for their actions, and she was mad at her birth family for abandoning her. This is the first time I see Kerri react this way. She would usually cry, or tear up, or get sad. She would blame herself. This time she blamed her birth family and was furious.
I am no psychologist, but I think this is a turning point for Kerri. I hope it actually is a good thing, because to me, it feels like she is secure in her place in our family and knows she is loved and wanted. And she is finally not blaming herself. Until recently, Kerri would fantasize about all the different ways she could find her "real" family and convince them to love and want her, and then go back to live with them. Now, it seems she wants to confront them instead - and she does not want to go to China to live with her birth family anymore.
I don't know what brought about this change, because it is not something we really talk about unless she brings it up, and she has not done so in a very long time. And I am reminded that sometimes, without even meaning to, things happen in her life that remind her of that wound we have not been able to heal, no matter how hard we try.
Life with Kerri can hurt sometimes.