Disclaimer: This is not an easy subject for me to talk about. I have daily emotional struggles with this. I hope this helps someone else.
As you may know we are a blended family. I have raised Gavin since he was 15 months. I’m the only father he has ever really known. I never really looked at Gavin any different then my own kids. The unpleasant truth for me is that it is different. I love Gavin, I always have and I always will. However, there is something different on a very basic human level. I was there from the beginning with Elliott Richard and Emmett John. I heard their heart beat for the first time and I cried. When I saw them for the first time during the ultrasounds I cried again.
I have felt a deep sense of guilt because my wife was adopted and has very strong feelings on the issue (and understandably so). Some day maybe I’ll get into some of the things my wife has been through. Or if you can’t wait till then you can always read for yourself at her blog.
I have found that as time goes on that difference becomes bigger and bigger. I first realized this when Elliott Richard was about 6 months old and Gavin literally kicked him across the floor for touching his foot. It’s that paternal instinct to protect my own, regardless of where the threat comes from. I have found myself having to protect Elliott Richard, Emmett John and Lizze from Gavin on countless occasions. I really can’t explain how it feels to realize this.
I have admitted this to all his doctors and they all insist that this is normal because there is no biological connection. If I really break it down even more is it because the Gavin I used to know died a long time ago. I know that sounds really bad but Gavin has the regressive form of autism. He wasn’t always like this. I can’t remember the exact day that it happened but I swear he went to bed fine and then woke up different. What is left of Gavin is a shell of who he was. Between the bipolar, autism and the almost dozen other diagnoses he just isn’t there anymore. So maybe I feel like I’m living with an aggressive and often violent stranger.
Everyday I watch Elliott Richard try to connect with his “big brother” and get rebuffed. It’s so painful to watch Elliott Richard walk away crying because Gavin just tunes him out. Really, it’s not Gavin’s fault either but that doesn’t lessen the impact it has. Elliott Richard certainly doesn’t understand that. So I guess the truth is that our blended family really struggles with this issue. We all love Gavin very much but at the same time we all struggle everyday to live with him.
admitting this isn’t an easy thing to do. My hope is that my truth will help others to talk about and share their feelings and personal experience with this issue.