Adoption Isn’t Pretty
I get a little sick when I read articles about pretty families adopting a bunch of kids from difference sources (international, domestic, foster, birthmom, etc.).
The adoption isn’t what makes me ill.
Nor the number of children (usually very high, in these articles).
Not even how they acquired the kids.
The thing that really bugs me is how happy everyone seems.
Unsuspecting, good-hearted people read these articles and think, “Wow, they just adopted enough kids to have their own sports team. Look how happy they are. Everyone gets along. So cool!”
And then they find a real-life adoptive family and tell them how amazing they must be.
And then they sign up to be foster parents and can’t figure out why things aren’t hunky-dory.
What happened to amazing???
And then they think,
“If that family could take in fourteen and a half kids who now succeed in school and have fabulous manners,
WHY DO I HATE BEING A FOSTER (or Adoptive) PARENT RIGHT NOW?
Preparation and expectations.
I know, I know, I keep going back to this like a monkey with a crack habit.
First of all, if you are in the middle of all the
many adoption (or foster) situations entail, please don’t give up. And also, when you read these joyous articles of how their children are together creating a solution to world peace, don’t be fooled.
Don’t get me wrong, there are probably a few really happy families out there who have created Shangri-La in their living rooms.
Let’s just look at the facts, though.
EVERY adopted child has experienced loss, or they wouldn’t be available for adoption.
EVERY adopted child has (or will have) feelings they can’t fully comprehend. These might include anger, grief, denial, abandonment and low self-esteem.
It’s almost impossible for a child to emerge unscathed from a situation that makes them available for adoption.
Traumatized kids need help learning to understand their emotions—and eventually, how to deal with them.
Let’s frame this in perspective.
Put the following adults in a house and make them live together with no prior contact:
- Two divorced adults whose partner cheated on them. Non-cheaters were still 100% in love.
- Two adults whose parents abused them.
- Two adults who had a great life and relationship with parents; both parents just passed away.
- Three adults whose spouses died.
- An adult who experienced physical harm at the hands of a stranger.
- A rape victim.
At first, they’ll all be civil and get along. After a while, it won’t be all sunshine and lollipops.
If you don’t believe me, watch any of the ridiculous (we all know they’re scripted) reality TV shows. Even adults without apparent trauma can’t get along for more than a couple weeks.
- We expect children with similar losses and abuses to move in with people they barely know (sometimes just parents; other times, with other kids) and surf along. No problem. Hakuna Matata.
- We allow the fairy tale stories touted by the media to make us feel bad about how things go at our house.
Here’s the honest truth:
1. ADOPTION is the absolute toughest thing we’ve ever done.
2. There’s no such thing as an adoption fairy tale. Or if there is, I don’t know about it.
3. Adoption will not be anything like you expected.
4. Adoption will be MORE than you expected. More angst. More tears. More trauma. More grief. More celebrations. More relief. More joy. More “I’d do it all again for this kid.”
5. Adoption requires support. Asking for help does not equal weakness.
6. Adoption isn’t (did I mention?) pretty.
7. Adoption is HARD.
8. ADOPTION IS WORTH IT.
Yes, it’s tough. If you’re in a rough spot, trust me, I get it. Some days, sinking under the bathwater and just…staying…can seem enticing.
I want to be the best mom I can be, so recently signed up to chat with a counselor. Parenting kids of trauma is no joke. Like I told the counselor, we’re in a really good spot right now, but I can’t fully enjoy it, because I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Because it always does.
We get to a point in which we can relax a little, breathe a little deeper, and then BOOM there goes the shoe. (Sometimes it’s more like a steel-toed boot, and instead of just dropping, it drop-kicks us in the Aston Martin…)
But I have to live in the moment, because we DO have “those moments.” The breakthrough. The understanding. The forgiveness. The clarity. The diagnosis.
If you’re in the same situation, I hope you’ll find a little peace here. Know that you’re not alone. We all teeter on the edge sometimes.
And if, like me, you’re waiting for that “next big problem,” let’s learn to forget about the other shoe.
“Tomorrow has enough troubles.” Right?
Focus on today, and breathe. God will take care of tomorrow (or for that matter, the next five minutes).
*Although I write from my adoption-related experience, one of my blogging buddies pointed out that much of this applies to biological children, as well. What are your thoughts?
How about you? Feeling overwhelmed? Tell us about it below. We all feel better knowing it’s not “just us.” (Hey, even me…) 🙂
Posted on May 23, 2016, in Adoption, parenting, relationships, Resources and tagged adopt, adopted, adopting, adoption, adoptive, behavior, children, family, foster, kids, parenting. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.