Sunday, January 6, 2013
As you know I'm a huge advocate for adoption. Although there is the other side that excited new potential adoptive parents can be unaware of. I've been on the side of excitement, I've also been on the side where I believed with enough love, patience, understanding and compassion that a hurt child will change. Sometimes children do progress within their stable environment. There is many success stories. I thought I'd write about the other side - the side that no one believes that it would happen to them with their perfectly adopted child. Adoption is exciting. Adoption means permanency, and having a family but it also means there has been losses, grief, and if a child moves from foster home to foster home, they develop attachment disorders. Many children that are adoptable have special needs either diagnosed or suspected. If they don't have either, I think you still have to continue with caution because with age, special needs can surface. There is no perfect child. If you're thinking about adoption, and you're at that stage where there is a proposal, I would take seriously what's written inside. The proposal package underlines the child/children's history, medical, behaviours and any diagnoses. If there is suspected FASD (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) Read and educate yourself. Once you adopt, you're not just adopting a child with "FASD" You're adopting "FASD" that will change your life and how you'll parent. You might think you will parent a certain way, that perhaps your love alone will be enough - it's not and your parenting will shift accordingly to deal with all the behaviors for years. If you're someone reading my posts and I'm making it sound easy.......it's not easy. It's a constant dedication 24/7 consisting of routines, organization, structure, consistent rules, patience, and even when I write having understanding - that is an understatement because sometimes I just "sigh" because I am not comprehending what just happened! Prospective adoptive parents really need to know what they're getting themselves into. A lifetime of arguments, frustration and embarrassment to say the least. My husband and I are forever cleaning and working just so our home remains in one piece. We usually laugh it off later but during the cleanup of over flowing toilets and finding used tampons secretly hidden after being shoved up a bleeding nose can be disgusting, not to mention vomit, urine and feces on a daily basis. Just recently we just "sighed" with no answers after finding our children's clothes thrown six feet into the bush, hanging from the trees for weeks. At first we thought a homeless person was living on our property but to find out later, it's our children's clothing just thrown away like garbage. Was there any answers onto whom and why? Nope. So many times we're just cleaning up the aftermath "sighing" while moving onto the next day. Going beyond bizarre....there is the constant lying and stealing. In our home we try to prevent. So we have a locked pantry, some of us have locked bedroom doors, we've installed a security system with alarms and cameras. Our once very cute innocent little child is stealing out of my purse, gorging food while hiding the evidence behind dressers and underneath their beds. (Like we won't find it) Raising children with needs is full time and can be very exhausting. I understand the lying, the stealing, the hoarding is a survival skill from their past and also directly stemmed from FASD but even us understanding it, we don't like it. This is why I also understand why the general public with families that don't have this in their life, don't want it either......which isolates us. When we first started adopting, I never thought we would loose friendships, have family members distance themselves and making new friendships are far and few between unless they're other adoptive families that understand us. For example, our one daughter doesn't transition well. So she screams, she can throw herself and flail like a wild boar......most peoples eyes become BIG wondering what on earth is wrong with her!? Our friends that know us; that perhaps have the same issues know it's a normal occurrence, and to ignore the situation without judgments. We just attended a friends dinner where we had a flying fork come across their kitchen table.......my only thought was, "Thank you for missing the other opponent!" Our one daughter with severe needs can become uncontrollable, she won't be consoled and the only answer is down time. (Laying on a bed somewhere) While our children age, new behaviors and special needs arise. From about fourteen on......we've noticed their attachment shifts. If you're adopting children with attachment disorders, don't be fooled. They have attachment disorders. If you're not specifically seeing signs now at a younger age, you will during teenage hood. It makes the teen years more challenging then just the teen challenges. While they're seeking their independence, they're also literally moving on. As they superficially attached for survival during their childhood, they no longer need to do so during the adolescent years. So if you end up loosing your child - meaning they don't want or need you as their family. It's pretty 99% correct. My motto now is, "We can only do the best we can" We all get so excited to have a baby, to adopt a child that becomes ours, I know now that they're not ours at all. We raise them as best as we can.....but ultimately regardless on what we do, or how we raise....it's only a piece of their life puzzle. Eventually they make their own choices, they define their life and they move on either wanting to remain in our lives or not is up to them. Don't forget that there will be police involvement, the ministry and different professionals in and out of your life. For us, we've dealt with it all. Besides behaviors throughout the childhood years, adoption also means possible openness agreements with birth family and foster parents. The first few years might look excellent although who knows what the future holds, how the openness can shift. As the adoptive parent your parenting isn't just for your children, it's for everyone......birth members are judging, speculating and making assumptions. (Your child will turn to their birth family regardless if the birth family lost them for alcohol, drugs and very abusive situations) There is a belief that the birth parents are angels. Us adoptive parents are horrible for adopting and trying to provide a better life. During your decision to adopt......these are "some" significant factors to consider for your future. I'm definitely not trying to paint an ugly picture, nor change any ones mind on adopting (of course) we're completely for adoption but I truly think prospective adoptive parents need to know what forever can look like. I've stated several times that the adoption education course should provide more "negative" scenarios (for a lack of better words) so the adoptive parents can go home and really decide whether this is the life for them because it's not a perfect one. If the adoptive parents have other children at home........they need to know "every ones" life changes. Everyone is affected by behavioral children. Children without any issues, (usually your birth children) also don't understand your new child/children's actions. How could they? They weren't traumatized by neglect, moved around, having different needs and adopted. I can't imagine myself. I do know as an adoptive mother, the future must move on........to somehow and hopefully heal from the past, and to continue to live for the future. For theirs. During the journey, to remember it's not about us (as the adoptive parents) We came into our children's lives to provide a stable family, to hopefully teach some fundamental skills before they start making choices of their own - we did not start their life, we did not loose them and have them placed into care....we chose as strangers (in our cases) to be their mother and father. To provide a home, where their new story begins. So I've highlighted some challenges that some might face. I do believe parents need to know that it's not just an exciting path, it's a dedication with many unknowns, lots of "sighs" trying to understand and it's a life changing decision for everyone. With all this being written, and you're feeling strong enough with allowing your skin to thicken with time - I do advocate to adopt. Children don't need a perfect family but they need a good stable permanent family. For us.....we move onward with children that need and want a family. A mission not impossible but a dedication nonetheless with a hopeful light in the end.