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Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Adoption is survival for all"

This morning I was reflecting back over the span of the last ten years of our adoption journey. At the beginning or our journey we thought, "What a wonderful path we've chosen" However our path raised concerns and questions from our friends and family. We quickly realized we weren't receiving the positive and "congratulation" comments that we initially thought we'd receive. From there adoption wasn't so positive anymore. We stopped telling people that we were in the adoption process. Eventually our life path became hazed over with a blanket of fog. Something that we wanted to celebrate with others became a quieter transition. With time, and every adoption, our journey became an explanation. We lost friends, some family became distant and what we thought was a celebration wasn't anything at all. Only other adoptive parents know the feeling of waiting for their new child/children. It's a roller coaster of emotions and as an adoptive parent, you hope that your new child/children are accepted as if they were birthed with the nine months notice. I've personally experienced this not to be the case. Mostly I understand; hence why we transitioned quietly. As our family grew larger we noticed more distancing from individuals. We even received phone calls from other parents stating they didn't want their children playing with ours. Again, I understand. We are not like the general population. Adoption? Some people don't know the difference between adopting and fostering. A large family? What!? Why!? How could most people understand our journey? How could they understand our children's behaviors? Most people haven't heard of attachment disorders and FASD. What is that!? Why doesn't some of our children understand the simple concepts of cause and effect? Why have we had teenage runaways? Why are we so overly involved? Of course other parents don't want to associate with our children, - with our family. It is a risk. It must be the adoptive parents? Perhaps the home life with so many children is understandingly chaotic. However people need to understand that before we adopted our children, our children were already damaged. If it's not from brain damage, trauma, it's from continuous loss causing other disorders. We are left trying to pick up all the pieces, and honestly like a puzzle, some pieces are just lost. Adoption is a loss for every child being adopted. It might be an exciting time for us adoptive parents growing our family, it might be very exciting for the adoptive child however with time, that raw loss from their past resurfaces. So I get why some friends and family don't celebrate adoption. I get why other parents don't want our children to play with theirs. Why we don't get many invites but it doesn't change the fact that it's very sad sometimes to witness. I've written this before and even after ten years, with as much experience and knowledge that I have, it is sad how adoption can be so isolating in many different levels. If you're interested in adopting, you need to educate yourself not only through the adoption education course but through other adoptive families experiences, so you know without a doubt what you're getting yourself in for. 
-Loss of friends.
-Possible loss of your own family
-Behaviors you've never dreamed from your children
-Understanding time doesn't cure all. Adolescents is when attachment issues become present, if you haven't already experienced it at a younger age. 
-Understanding love doesn't cure all either.
-There is no such thing is a closed adoption anymore. We have had some closed adoptions for several different reasons, however the internet (social media) has changed this. As soon as your child becomes independent and searching for answers, regardless what you do - they will find their birth family. If you're told you're going to have a closed adoption with no access to birth family.....that isn't 100% correct.  
With our experiences I can tell you that love isn't enough. You can not change your adoptive child. There is no perfect child. If your proposed child/children have no special needs that doesn't mean there isn't a risk within their future.
Mmmm.....I guess this concludes onto why some friends and family aren't celebrating, and can't understand onto why we would choose this life path anyways!? How does a family like us succeed? Prevention. Patience. Understanding. Education. Forgiveness. Most importantly an open mind and heart. Perseverance. Recently I was speaking with this other experienced adoptive mother with a large family and she agreed that the adoption world is still a foreign identity. Our supports come from other experienced adoptive parents, and not all adoptive parents are experienced like we are. I recently read an article about raising a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, called, "I didn't start the fire" by Shelly Calissendorff, another adoptive mother. (From the Institute for Attachment and Child Development) Her article touched my heart, feeling the same while understanding that us too won't give up trying. As written above, maybe adoption isn't something to celebrate, it's a dedication to hold on too with the people that are willing to accept that it isn't as simple as a birth, it's a fragile path with rocky unknowns making us adoptive families unique, unique because we are surviving regardless if you support us or not. Please read below.......Shelly Calissendorff  "I didn't start the fire"

I was out walking in my forest one day and discovered a fire. I was the first one there and was all alone. I started throwing water on it as fast as I could. I called in for help – lots of help. The help would come and go and some of the helpers worked hard and did a great job. Some of them tried to help and although well-intentioned, used the wrong techniques and actually made the fire worse.
I put on fire-retardant gear, studied books and websites about fire, and talked to experts on forest fires. I got better at fighting the fire and made some progress. But then a big gust of wind would come along and feed the flames. I called fire jumpers—experts–and begged them to help. They told me no. Finally I walked around to the other side of the fire and found some other fire jumpers who said they would help. I rejoiced and we all got to work.We may have all come in on different-1 I stayed with the fire every single solitary day and fought it day and night for seven years. I got singed. I inhaled smoke and got ash in my eyes. I fought it and fought it until I was physically exhausted and it nearly killed me. I was forced to take a break from fighting the fire to literally save my own life. So, I stepped back and let some of the other people I had called in “take over.” I went back to the fire a few times each week to help out as best I could. Yet, I was still trying to recover from the injuries I sustained when I was there every day. I was still weak and couldn’t help out with the same fervor and dedication that I once had. The fire jumpers started asking me questions about why the fire had grown larger and hotter. I told them that as hard as we were all working, the fire still continued to burn. It kept finding more fuel. This was a fire like most of us had never seen before. We could only make educated guesses about how to fight it. The very first helper I enlisted stayed by my side for six years and finally just couldn’t take the heat anymore. He felt he had no choice but to abandon the fire. He was strong and dedicated for six years. He took several other helpers with him when he left. That hurt our efforts but he had to do it. He couldn’t take the heat and felt he had no choice. The heat bothered me too but I said to myself, “Too bad – suffer. This is important.” There are a limited number of fire fighters. There’s a limit to how much funding we can get to pay the fire jumpers. They don’t work for free for the most part.
Whatever affects one directly, affects-3Some of the help I brought in found more help and brought them to help too. One of their helpers started asking me questions and accused me of making the fire worse because I took a break to save my own life. She said I was making the fire worse because I wasn’t there every day fighting it with the fervor and dedication she thought I should. She didn’t know the whole story.
Before long, the fire jumpers who came in to help told me they wanted me to leave the fire fighting and never come back. I was upset. After all, I had made lots of progress. I brought in cutting-edge fire fighting equipment and was more dedicated to fighting the fire than anyone. I stayed with the fire far longer than anyone else. Yet, they wanted me to throw in the towel and let them figure it out without my help. They actually insisted I leave! They said they had a plan for putting out the fire—or at least for maintaining it, but they said they had seen me fan the flames! They said I was making the fire worse!
Yes, there was a new lead firefighter who was dedicated to putting it out and she had done a great job for a year and a half. But she wasn’t there in the beginning. She didn’t find the fire or nearly die trying to put it out. If it wasn’t for me, none of them would be there working to put out this fire—all of them were there and dedicated to this fire being extinguished because of me.
I spent thousands of dollars of my own money trying to get help to the fire. I even neglected my friendships and my marriage and lost my house to fighting this fire. I gave until I had nothing left to give but kept going back to help. Some days I had to crawl or limp to get there, but I did it. Some days I had planned to be there and had to apologize and opt out because I was just too ill from the long-term injuries I had sustained fighting the fire. I knew I was too weak to be of any help and figured the effort would be better off without me in the way. And yet, I was criticized mercilessly for being late some days or for not being there at all some days. The helpers blamed me that the fire continued to grow and get hotter, even with all the help I brought to fight it.The time is always right
Some people said that I knew about the fire and took responsibility for it.  They said I should be ashamed of myself for not staying with it every single day. Yet, I had no idea what kind of a fire I had found. I had no prior experience putting out fires. But I learned as I went and became a great fire fighter. And still the fire was bigger than me!
I DID accept responsibility for this fire. I could not have known how big or how hot it would get. I would never have guessed that some of my recruited helpers would actually accuse me of making the fire worse and ask me to walk away from it. I am still dedicated to putting out this fire!
I love the trees and the plants and the flowers and the rivers and the animals that live beautifully right where the fire burns! I can’t walk away! I won’t walk away. I never fanned the flames. After seven years of full-time, unrelenting dedication to fighting this fire, how could I possibly even think about making it worse? I haven’t the slightest idea of doing so. I felt horribly guilty about having to take a break!
Even though I didn’t plant the forest where the fire was started, it was given to me. The forest entrusted me for its care for as long as I live. It’s the most beautiful forest I have ever seen. I love everything about that forest. I worry everyday about how the fire damages the beautiful forest. I refuse to let the fire totally destroy it. I will keep recruiting,  bringing resources, and proving my dedication. I will not stop until every single fire jumper knows that I am this forest’s number one advocate. I will not waiver even though it hurts to be judged, to have assumptions be made about me, and to be told to leave. One way or the other, I will persevere. No matter what.
It’s as if they think I started the fire. They know I didn’t, but I get treated like an arsonist anyway—I guess because most of the forest fires they’ve come in contact with are started by arsonists. That may be true, but it doesn’t make me one. I’m innocent. I found the fire that somebody else started. I wish they’d stop treating me like an arsonist—I haven’t yet figured out how to convince them that I’m not to blame for this fire. I will not give up trying.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your faithfulness and for so clearly saying it as it is for us all. Sending love and a hug from one firefighter to another!