Saturday, June 7, 2008

Adoption #3

I am going to wrap up my adoption posts with this one and one more. One of the things that has surprised us the most with our adoption is the reaction of other people when the adoptive child is struggling a little. First, Bruce and I are not parents who make excuses for our children. I hope this is as true as we think it is and please feel free to tell me if it isn't. We do not want to do that. We also realize that although there is true grief in our lives, there comes a point when you have to come to terms with the life God has given you, heal in a healthy way, and move on. There is this thought out there which says all the child needs is a loving home and everything will work out. I have to admit as young parents when first going through all of the decisions and such of adopting we held strong to that view. In a sense it is very true. But, sometimes it is very difficult road for these children. We adopted through an agency who only dealt with newborns. It was new to this particular office to have a two year old. We would ask questions and more often than not the answer was, "I do not know." They did the best they could, but they really did not know. Because they were not used to toddlers, there was also no support after the adoption was final. This agency has seen the error in this and have improved greatly in this area. After years of sleepless nights, much anger, and depression we were finally told, "Oh, yes. This can be very normal." Man, would I have liked to have known that from the beginning. I was thinking something was seriously wrong and we were doomed for a life of trouble. When we decided to adopt Micah we had to go through more classes. As much as we complained they came at a great time.This adoption brought back a lot of memories for Isaac.In the end we have made much progress, and it has been good for him, but there were some pretty tearful nights. They talked a lot about the grieving process that happens in adoption. They said it was like dealing with a death. Once the child realizes what it means to be adopted, then they have to grieve what is missing. Just like with a death, you can grieve, lean on God, and move on. The difference is it is a never ending cycle. They know this person is not dead, therefore at ever holiday, special occasion, or life changing event there is the potential to desire to find the birth parents and become depressed or angry because they can not. I say potential because I do not believe this is a given with every adopted child. Yes, we have this with our oldest, but I know a lot of adopted families who do not. I know just as many who do. I do not want to share a lot on this because I want to protect my son's privacy, but it is something I think people should be aware of. I have been told things like, "I can't believe he would still want her. After all he has been with you longer than he was with her." Or, "I do not think you should let him talk about it. That just let's him wallow in it." I just want to say that I hope no one would ever say these things to a child who has lost a parent. I do not believe they would. They are just failing to see that it is the same kind of grief. Again, you may be reading this and think, "I have adopted a child and we have never struggled with this." That may be true. I just want everyone to realize the next time you see a child who seems to be seeking a little attention, remember there may be more to the story. I can only pray that we can successfully walk the thin line of holding our children accountable, while giving grace in the midst of grief.


Possum said...

Thank you for your voice.
I'm a 39 yr old adoptee - and some days I still hurt - I'm still waiting to hopefully one day meet my first mother.
I was adopted within 2 weeks of my birth. (so being adopted as an infant - does NOT make a difference)
I wish that more adoptive parents would get this.
Sadly - too many adoption agencies don't educate prospective adoptive parents the way in which they should.
Keep believing that you are doing what is best for your child - allowing them the space to grieve - whenever they please.
There should be no time limit - it is an ongoing thing - and certain life events will trigger things - forever and a day.
Adoptees NEED to be understood on this stuff - not told to shut up and just get over it.
Those adoptive parents that believe that their adoptees have no issues - need to know - that adoptees learn very quickly - to say only that which their adoptive parents want to hear.
Ie - if adoptive parents give even a hint of being uninterested in the grief in adoption - the adoptee will close up shop - and not say a thing.
Adoptees HATE rejection - so they learn how to please.
Again - I thank you for this post.
I wish you and your fam all the very best.
Aussie adoptee.

Anne said...

Julie, thanks again for these posts. I just read something interesting on adoption here and thought I'd pass along that link.

sms said...

Dear Julie,
as an adopted child, as a mom, as one in need of much grace and one needful of giving much grace, I say 'bless you!' love, sharon

Julie said...


Thank you for your comments. As I read through my post again, I do think I implied everything is all great if you are adopted as an infant. I DO NOT believe that. My husband and I often discuss how adopted children always start their life with rejection. Though, I believe that, I think I have been amiss with understanding that in my own son. Your quote about adoptees hating rejection really struck a cord and explains a lot. Thank you.

Anne, Thanks for the link. It is a beautiful story. Looking forward to seeing you.

Sharon, you will never know the testimony you have been to me. I truly wish it were for a different reason, but thank you.

Momathon said...

You and Bruce are amazing parents. The thoughtfulness you have toward all of your children is so very warm and sweet, for lack of a better word. Thanks for enlightening the rest of us, and for allowing adoptees to enlighten us, too.

Julie said...

Thanks, Mom-a-Thon. You are kind.