I don’t recall the last time I have been so excited about visiting Italy. We visited our families there after almost a year and this was E.’s first trip to Italy. All four grandparents came to Finland to meet him a couple of months after he joined our family, but this time he got to know our dearest friends and the rest of the family. The first time my daughter visited Italy, she was a two month old baby. Maybe the fact of having two aware and curious toddlers gave me an extra boost, as I found myself proud of showing them my hometown around.
Luckily, as experienced expat parents, we didn’t make the classic mistake of overbooking our schedule. We asked relatives to come visit us and not the other way round. We tried to combine visits together and thus had enough free time to enjoy as a family. I was moved to see how our families welcomed E.. I know it’s 2017, but not everyone accepts interracial adoption so naturally. I was also expecting invasive questions, which didn’t come. Adoption is still a niche topic and some people may lack the proper sensitivity, even with armed with good intentions. Everyone fell in love with E., then later asked me, shocked, is he always this lively? – LOL, yes he is.
We tried to build up new family memories. We ate a lot. We ate gelato almost every day. E. tried tigelle and piadina for the first time. Food is a big part of Italian culture. We link our best memories to meals together, we use cooking to show others we care for them. My mother spent most of the time in the kitchen preparing all the dishes we missed while in Finland.
I brought the kids to the parks I used to go as a child. It was exciting to see what was still the same and what had changed. We enjoyed the last sun before entering Finnish winter, and all the hot weather we missed last summer. E. speaks only Italian for now, which is a small obstacle in his play in Finland. He got to interact with Italian kids at the park and I was very happy to see him actively taking part to all games. And after several months, my husband and I got to go to a couple of dates!
It was a great experience, but no cake walk. Both kids were upset with the changes. R. got “rebel” and whining, which is not like her. She even threw the worst tantrum I ever witnessed her in. E. was difficult most of the days. He slept poorly in the night – we even changed location half way, just when he had gotten used to the new bed – and protested almost at every meal. He wanted to stick with me for most of the time and sometime cried for home. On the good side, he was excited to see the grandparents and showed them great affection. He loved to jump from hug to hug, and played with all the old toys we found at our parents’ houses. I am happy I got to show E. our family roots, but it made me aware how he’s still not ready for changes, even small ones. The more I get to know him, the more I understand how upsetting the past months have been for him. Next Monday I’ll go back to working full-time and E. will be home with his daddy for several months. Will he accept this change easily? I will write more about it in few weeks.