I had thought about keeping this on the quiet side, but I think it might be good to put this out there for other families who might be dealing with something similar. I know we are not the only adoptive family that has a parent with health issues and the way the kids react can be very.... interesting...
BB has been a puddle of sadness. From the moment he got dropped off at the hospital, she was upset. She remembered the building from last year (1 year and 3 months ago, when she had been home less than 5 months... clearly huge impact on her) and was very upset: "I don't want Daddy to sleep there!" While he was gone, she was very quiet and kind of sad all the time, but she would light up during visits to see him. She's very talkative and expresses her feelings very well, so she asked A LOT of questions. "Why Daddy go to hospital? Why Daddy need special medicine? Why Daddy cough all the time?" The 20 min ride back from the hospital to the house was just one Why after the other. But at least she was able to say things like "I miss Daddy. I don't want Daddy to be sick. I'll be very nice and Daddy will get better"
When he came home, she was overjoyed. Couldn't get enough hugs and kisses. But now, she won't leave his side. I noticed yesterday morning she was very reluctant to go to school, but since it was the first day, he actually rode in the car with us and waited while I brought the girls inside. Today he stayed home to rest. BB was NOT happy. On the way there she complained about which streets I took ("this is NOT Daddy's way! I wanna go Daddy's way!") and she refused to get out of the car. On any other day, there would have been plenty of Dumpling's schoolmates arriving at the same time and I could have sent her in with a friend, but of course, this had to be the day where everyone arrived very early or very late and no one was there to walk her in. So I literally dragged a screaming-crying-kicking BB into the school and dropped Dumpling off.
Foolishly, I attempted to bring BB to her class. (permission to laugh at me now) She was having none of it. "I wanna go home to DADDY!" The teachers, who are all aware of the situation, offered to give it a try, so I left her (again, permission to laugh at me granted). I didn't make it to the front door. You could hear her from outside the building. It was the scariest screaming I have heard since the day we met her in China and the day she tried to rip my nose off after coming home. I was not leaving her.
So I ran back in, picked up a puddle of tears from the ground and rushed her home to Daddy's arms. We were in dire need of some essentials like toilet paper, so I quickly ran some errands and returned home to find her drawing pictures for Daddy. But he looked very tired, so I asked her if maybe, just maybe, she wanted to go back to school. Surprisingly, she agreed as long as Daddy drove her. So he rode in the car again and waited outside, but this time she went in willingly. Hopefully she'll stay for the entire time and I won't get a call to rush back.
At then other end of the spectrum, you have Dumpling. Dumping is not good with expressing her feelings. She doesn't differentiate between anger and sadness and fear and frustration. It all comes out as anger. She was happy to see him home... for about 15 minutes. And then, she immediately became angry at me. Screaming, yelling, kicking, biting, anything you can imagine. Everything bothers her: the light isn't right, the food is too hot or too cold, I'm not holding the doll correctly, this is not the shirt she wants to wear. But she doesn't know what is "right". Everything is just "wrong". And if I try to guess how to do something, inevitably, I will do the wrong thing and set her off.
We placed a quick call to the therapist who recommended asking her to draw pictures of her feelings. We were able to get her to admit she was sad and scared about Daddy being sick and away, but in the end, it all came back to her being angry at me. About what, I'm not sure. Maybe she thinks it's my fault, or maybe she's mad that I can't fix it. We haven't gotten that far yet.... But man, she's pissed off. At least, she likes school and it acts as a big stabilizer for her, but the instant she sees me at pick up, the emotions well up and she has a fit. But the time we get home, she's out of control.
We are taking it very much one day at a time. But I'm frustrated. I don't really know how to make it better for them. And people seem to think that because he's home everything is fine. Trust me when I tell you, it's not.