adoption, family

Mom Shopping

pancakes

Another football season begins again. Carl is an intrepid linebacker, even if he is in the 20th percentile for height.He never gives up.  Mary is cheerleading her heart out. Each night we parents sit for 2 hours watching our children practice. For the entire month of August they practice for all 5 weeknights. No exceptions. So here I sit, faithfully waiting for my children as they practice and learn.

But today I am reminded of Sean. It has been almost a year since he left our home. I miss him terribly. He never played a sport or joined a club. He only wanted to sit at home on the couch watching TV. He especially loved doing this when no one else was home. During those times he would rifle through our things, steal what he wanted, and gorge on food. When he left we found hidden stashes of molded frosting tubs, cream cheese, and half-eaten uncooked pasta with salsa. I imagine he also enjoyed the quiet of being alone, but I will never know.

As a family we attended sports games, awards ceremonies, or activities that we’re featuring any member. I would beg, cajole, plead, offer rewards or remove privileges to entice Sean to participate. Still he stiffly refused to support anyone by participating in their events. He attended his own field trips and  academic achievement ceremonies. For anyone else, he refused. Instead he would try to order fast food from us. “Pick it up on your way home. How hard could it be?” I always refused. If he wanted a treat then he’d have to come, too.

This brought on whining, crying, and general tantruming as though he were 4 and not 14. Not the run-of-the-mill angry teen stuff but a high pitched baby whine of “why? WHY! WHYWHYWHYWHYWHYYYYYY” that could last hours. He kicked his legs, banged on his bed, and rolled around on the floor. Eventually he wasn’t even making intelligible sounds anymore at all.

Other times he would snuggle and lean his head on my shoulder. I’d make him blue pancakes (his favorite color) with chocolate chips. “I love you, mom” he’d say. When he was scared of the shower I ran him baths instead. I got bubble bath and little bath toys and I waited outside. He cried the whole time. He didn’t want to wash unless I was in the hallway. I read out loud to him so that he’d know I was still outside the door, waiting faithfully.

He wanted me to stay with him at other times, too. He couldn’t fathom how I might leave him to go the gym. I had a high intensity interval class I really loved. When the kids came I cut down to once a week. Lifting heavy weights and killing it in class always made me feel like a total rockstar. I loved doing this as dearly as I loved the Christmas holiday. Sean didn’t love it. At all. He would cling to me and beg me not go. He would tear up and claim that it hurt him every time he was away from me. I tried to take him with me. I tried to go every other week. Eventually I quit. It was a simple choice. He was my son and he needed me.

We spent at least an hour each night together after the littles had gone to bed. I read him stories. I rubbed his back. I listened as he told me all about his day, his complex feelings, his fears. We brainstormed solutions for school conflicts. I listened to him talk about his biological family. I always empathized with his feelings rather than passing judgement. I listened. He was never ready to go to bed. I tucked him in and rubbed his back. He wouldn’t sleep. He was scared for me to leave the room. With my heavy eyelids slipping shut, I waited with him faithfully until he finally fell asleep.

Sean often told me that I was the only mom who ever cared for him. He was amazed at his birthday when he got things we wanted. He explained that no one had ever given him a birthday before. No mom had ever given him a cake. When I asked his former foster mom about this she laughed. “He always had a birthday here,” she told me, “Sean just makes up these stories.”

At times, my husband Luke thought Sean was being lazy, selfish, or even manipulative. I was baffled. I believed that Sean was just scared. All he really needed was a mom who would faithfully stick with him. He just needed the right mom.  He needed me.

Sean beamed with pride at his eighth grade dance. I chaperoned it (at his request) and he introduced his friends to me. They were all adoring girls. They all called him “Shay.” The other chaperones were so jealous that my son was happy to see me. Their sons hid in embarrassment on the other side of the dance floor. I smiled and glowed and secretly thanked my lucky stars. I was so naive.

Eventually I got Sean to come to a football game with me. I felt triumphant. He was leaving the house because he felt safe with me. I was a super-mom! He was making so much progress!

Surprisingly, he left my side the second we got there. He was 14 so I didn’t mind if he walked around. I was impressed. Sean had probably seen some friends from school. He was being so independent! He almost never left my side. Especially if I had money in my pocket…

Later on I found him  with one of the other moms. She had gotten him something at the concession stand and they were sitting on a blanket she had brought. She had a daughter his age who was nowhere to be seen.  I caught his eye and he jumped up as if he’d been caught at something. Confused, I glanced around for friends his age. There were none. He ran over to me and rapidly ushered me away from the other mom. I always thought it was odd he’d chosen to hang out with another adult than with one of his friends. Still, I felt, this must be progress. I didn’t speak to Other Mom until a different game. She approached me and very solemnly pulled me aside. She let me know that my foster son was “very special” and just needed someone to “listen to him and REALLY try to understand him.” I was astonished. Just what, exactly, had I been doing all of this time?!

Later that year I took the kids to visit a former foster family of Marcus’s. The littles ran around and played with the family goats while Luke and I let Marcus show us around his old stomping grounds. I noticed that Sean spent a great deal of time in deep conversation with the foster mother. Occasionally another child would seek her attention and Sean would urgently spirit her away to a more private area in the home. He was speaking earnestly and rapidly. He seemed distraught. She put her hand on his back as if to comfort him so I hurried over to check on my son. He met me somewhere in the middle and steered me away from the foster mom. It wasn’t until later that she pulled me aside to explain that foster kids need a lot of understanding. They need someone to “really listen to them.” She mentioned that she had offered Sean to come and stay with her any time he “needed someone to talk to.” Again, I was astonished.

It didn’t take long to learn that there were many other “moms” for Sean. They all listened. They all comforted and cajoled him. They listened to his stories about how I didn’t throw him birthday parties. I didn’t buy him clothes. I never supported him. I didn’t spend time with him and, of course, I didn’t listen to him.

They all advised me about supporting him. Appreciating him. Listening to him. I’d never heard of “parent shopping” before Sean. Now I know. Kids with trauma histories have learned to hedge their bets. Much like the hidden stash of food in his room, Sean was collecting mothers. He had a secret stash. Just in case.

I’ve worried about Sean ever since he left our home a year ago. Since then he’s run away from a foster home. He was eventually reunited with his biological father. The last I heard he had disrupted that placement as well. Sean wanted out.  His biological father wanted out. He said Sean needed therapy and he “couldn’t parent him” like this. Part of me worries for Sean still.

At football practice today I saw Other Mom walk by. It reminded me of Sean and his parent shopping. I’m not so worried anymore. If anything, I learned that Sean will always land on his feet. He will always find another woman to feel special about meeting his needs. If nothing else, Sean is a consummate survivor. Somewhere in his back pocket, I’m sure he has another mom.

But Carl and Mary have me. As I sit here faithfully waiting for practice to end, I cheer for them.  And I can say, without a doubt, that I’m a super mom for them.

 

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

 

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adoption disruption, family, grief, parenting

Switching Shampoo: Grief in Disrupted Adoption

So, Luke is pissed. Pissed. Mad, steaming, angry, seeing red, blow-a-gasket, pissed. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my husband this mad in nearly a decade. Today just happens to be one of those days. He is typically calm and steady. He is always the voice of reason. Just, not so much today. His exact words were, “Of course I’m pissed! I’m sick of them! They did this to you on purpose and I am pissed at them! All I hear about is them and look what they’ve done to you! Do you see me calling them? I won’t do a thing to help them. I’m not going to play their games.” He is, of course, right. They were trying to hurt me as deeply as possible, thus making it easier for them to walk away. The “they” he is referring to are Marcus and Sean. Our 17 and 14-year-old boys who recently disrupted out of our home.

It worked. I am but a shadow of myself these days. This day, in particular, has been difficult for me. A friend’s 14-year-old son attended a social function with her recently. He obligingly took pictures of us grown women acting like silly children. He held his baby cousin most of the time. Sure, he rolled his eyes at his mother and poked fun at her, but he was there.  He was right there with her. I went home and cried for hours. Today I’m mad and prickly. I’m snapping at everyone for no reason and I can’t seem to get back on track. I feel like there’s a cartoon storm cloud brewing over my head and I’m just spoiling for a fight.

I sometimes feel that my intense level a grief over these teens is a huge inconvenience to him and to the rest of the family.It can hit me so hard over the smallest things. I look at the door knob on our basement door and remember Marcus installing it. I stumble across Sean’s favorite chicken salad sandwich in a picture at Dunkin’ Donuts.  There are times that it consumes me so much that I cry. I spend time alone. I go into our room and shut the door to be alone. I can tell that I am not myself. In our family I am usually laughing and baking brownies and singing crazy songs. I always find the bright side, the half-full glass, the silver lining. Lately I can’t seem to find my own smile.

It occurs to me that I can switch back to my old shampoo again.  Sean was so hyper-sensitive to smells that I had to switch hair products. This was to keep him from gagging on long car rides with me. I still buy the Sean-approved brands of shampoo and conditioner, out of habit. Why am I doing this? Why am I holding out hope? Why can’t I let go? My therapist tells me that I don’t need to let go. Grief is a process. I am grieving the loss of a child. But, wouldn’t it be easier to let it all go? Wouldn’t it be easier if they just weren’t my problem anymore? Sometimes, in my deepest, darkest places, I admit this is true. It would be so much easier. If we had never become this entangled with them, if I had never fallen in love with parenting these chickens, wouldn’t things be better right now? They would be, but that isn’t the point.

All anger is born of fear. I admit that I am angry at the teens. It comes and goes. I am angry because I fear that they never really loved me, even a little bit. I am angry because when I am in my darkest place, I fear that I didn’t actually make any impact on them. I am afraid that I wasn’t a good parent.

Luke is afraid, too. He is afraid for me. He is afraid that the fun-loving, optimistic wife is MIA and he wants me to come back. I am precious to him and he wants to protect me. Of course he is mad.

If I am being honest, the hardest part was losing Sean. When Marcus left, I wasn’t all that surprised. He has struggled back and forth with loyalty to his biological mother for a long time. He went through a phase before where he got incredibly close to me and then just completely cut off contact. He always seemed to have one foot out the door, in case things didn’t work out. Not so with Sean. Sean was my cuddle buddy, my cooking buddy, my constant companion. Now he is my yesterday, my memory, my once-upon-a-time.

It’s not as if they are dead. They simply don’t wish to be in our family. They can’t handle being in any family. The question is, how do I move on? How do I come back from this? And then my fear creeps in. Do I ever come back from this? Can I?

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

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adoption, adoption disruption, Attachment, Attachment Disorders, family, parenting

The War Against RAD: An Open Letter to Rosie O’Donnell

Behind closed doors: Rosie O'Donnell's adopted daughter says her mom is a ' phony' in public who would put on a happy face, but then ignore her kids at home

Dear Rosie,

I am sorry for your loss. You have lost the most precious thing to any mother. You have lost a child. My hope for you is that Chelsea will eventually realize what her actions have done. In the meantime, be strong, Mama. From one adoptive mother to another, I feel for you. In the midst of everything I am sure that your biggest concern is for your child. Isn’t that always the way? We put them first. We are mothers.

I am sure I’m not the only Trauma Mama out there with a strong suspicion that your daughter may suffer from an attachment disorder of some sort. Of course it’s not my business, nor is it the public’s business. However, when it’s out in the media, I just hope people consider all sides. We never talk about RAD in public, do we? Mental illness is considered to be private, a family secret to be concealed. I wonder why? Adoption is wonderful, but adoption is also hard.

It’s curious to me that at 17, she had a 25-year-old boyfriend with a history of drug involvement. I can see where any parent would try to circumvent this kind of unhealthy relationship. I can also see where a mother might distance the family from a birth parent making public accusations. I believe that in this case the mother even admitted to being on heroin at the time of pregnancy and the birth of Chelsea. I am sorry for your daughter that the start of her life was so traumatic.

I have seen Reactive Attachment Disorder up close and it does terrible things to a child. An attachment challenged child will push away the very people they love the most. They will view love, affection, and nurturing as the enemy. Reactive Attachment Disorder is the driving force that causes our children to seek relationship after relationship with friends, family, and romantic partners, only to sabotage them purposefully. Reactive Attachment Disorder whispers in the ear of our children that they will never be safe, never be loved. It tells them to make claims to the rest of the world that they are happy and well-adjusted. Then it traps them in permanent loneliness, causing them to lash out against all who try to love them. it is a war we fight against the disorder.

There has been a lot of media around the “different side” of you that Chelsea saw at home. She has “exposed” the fact that you liked arts and crafts and that you presented a happier face to the world. Don’t all of us present a happy face to the general public? Especially in times of strife or turmoil at home? I know I do. I love all of my children and I wouldn’t change a thing. That is the truth and it is what I tell others who ask me about adoption. The truth that I don’t tell, that I hide from the public, is that sometimes it is really, really hard. I may blog about it, but I can’t share within my immediate circle. At home, we battle against RAD.

Sometimes, Reactive Attachment Disorder wins. Our children leave us either physically or emotionally. Then we are left wondering if they will be alright. I have to believe they will be. The hardest part is letting go and seeing where they land. Chelsea went to her birth mother and then back to her boyfriend. She is probably in the windstorm of Reactive Attachment DIsorder. I’m sure she will be tossed around from place to place, never finding enough to fill the void inside. Eventually, I believe she will come home. To you and to your family. I believe this because I want to believe I will see my boys again. I must believe that they can heal.  I wish only safety and healing for you and your family. Sometimes, Reactive Attachment Disorder wins. I hope it loses this time.

Love,

Another RAD Soldier

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adoption, family, fostercare, parenting

Seeking Sean: Understanding Why He Can’t

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The Mother’s Day gift Sean made me with a deck of cards.

Why? Why on earth would he despise being in our family?? I have compiled a list of the horrors our family inflicted upon our teenage son, Sean. The perils of family life he faced include, but are not limited to:

1. Having to shower on the daily. Yes, that’s correct, we do enforce proper hygiene particularly for those in the throes of puberty.

2. Family dinners. That’s it. We just sit down at the table as a family. You don’t have to eat but you have to show up.

3. Taking out the trash. His only chore.

4. Be respectful to your family members, at least decently so.

Before he left, these seemed to be his triggers. I feel like the real list of complaints he has boil down to one thing only. The revised (and I believe truthful) list is this:

1. Having a mom and dad who set limits and enforce boundaries.

He couldn’t get used to it. He complained about it all the time. Ever since Marcus left he began threatening to do the same. It was usually about how if he didn’t get what he wanted or do as he pleased, then he didn’t want the family.

We sat down that day and made a little book about what our family responsibilities and roles are. Mom, Dad, the littles, and Sean all had a page. We wrote it together. We talked about it and agreed to it. That was the last thing we did with Sean, as a family.

Now, his place is empty at the dinner table each night. The last I heard he actually went into the same foster home Marcus is in. At least, Marcus will be there until October 24th, when he turns 18. Then he is going to his older bio-sisters home for a “big party.” Part of me is happy they are together. Part of me is cringing inside because my 14-yr-old baby is back in “the system.”

I want to make sure he is going to therapy. Given the history of Marcus’ mental health care during foster placement, I doubt it. I wonder who goes to him at night when he has nightmares? Who watches the cooking channel with him in the evenings? Who will hang up his art work and buy him all of those expensive art supplies? Who will hug him and tell him he is a wonderful boy?

No one. That is what a mom does. That is what he did not want. Sean used to wait for me each night for almost 45 minutes while I put the littles to bed and sat there until they slept. I didn’t want them to be scared. He didn’t want to be scared, either.

We would watch a movie or HGTV. The last movie we saw was “A Monster in Paris.” It was an animated musical and Sean sang all of the songs while cuddled up. I didn’t make him snuggle up or hug me. I didn’t chase him around to watch TV. He craved that time with me. Sean used to make little art projects for me and he would just glow when I put them on the fridge. Being his mother is rewarding but also exhausting at times. I would tuck him in at bedtime and rub his back. I would try to leave 2 or 3 times and he would beg for me to stay a little longer because he was scared. Just like a small child.

Some nights (when he was especially anxious or triggered) I was so exhausted my eyes would close and I would nod off while standing up. It took so long to put him down for the night. Now I lie down early to read or write before bed. I have time in the evenings. I still wish I appreciated the times he needed me, no matter how exhausting.

Sean didn’t like limits and rules. He didn’t like that Mom and Dad set them. He didn’t like it that Mom and Dad had “off duty” time at night to be with just each other. Sean wanted to be our only child, soaking up all of our attention. That tells me that he does want to be loved. However, he wanted to be our equal. Having control and being separate from “the kids” was a big sticking point for him. That tells me that he absolutely does not understand love.

Having a mom and dad is hard for all of our kids. It’s a foreign concept to them.  That would be like someone dropping off an exotic elephant and expecting me to know what to do with it. Even though showering and taking out trash are not torture, it must feel like it to someone who just can’t understand. The care, the limits, the very oversight of us must have smothered him.

I saw him one last time when he was in-patient. I brought him his favorite sketch books. I said what I needed to say. He looked bored, indifferent even. But I know my Sean and I saw that he was holding back tears. I was a mess just crying and distraught.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: I really do love you, you know. Very much.

Sean: Yeah. (Eye roll) I love you, too.

Me: I want you to know that you are very, very wanted. It was never a question of that. We always wanted you.

Sean: Yeah. I know.

Me: I’m so sad that you didn’t want to be part of a family. That it was so hard for you. I’m sorry it worked out like this.

Sean: Okay.

Me: I want you to be happy. I really hope that you find what it is you’re looking for.

Sean: Okay.

Me: I don’t know what else to say to you. I promise we will take very good care of the littles.

Sean: I know.

Me: You’re a great kid, Sean.

(Long pause)

Me: Do you want me to go?

Sean: Yeah.

That was the last of it. I can accept that he doesn’t want parents right now. I can accept that he wants to be with Marcus or maybe be like Marcus. I can even accept that he doesn’t want contact with us. He didn’t need to say anything to me that day. I needed to say what I said to him. What I cannot accept is the facade that being in a family was so awful for him that he just doesn’t care. I know he cared. It must have been harder than I can imagine but I know that it was good for him to be with us.

I can’t say if he will ever be with us again. Who knows? I can say that this experience was the hardest. It taught me that what we are doing with these kids, for however log we have them, is worth it. My joy, my love, my memories? They are worth the soul-shattering grief I am feeling right now. That time was worth everything. Being “mom” is worth everything to me.

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

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adoption, family, parenting

And Then There Were 5: Aftermath of a Failed Adoption

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There are no more boxing gloves in the basement. His bedroom walls are bare and his bed is stripped down to nothing. All of his Rubik’s cubes and puzzles are gone. I can’t even find one bottle of Gatorade left in the refrigerator. It’s official. No more 17-year-old. Marcus is gone. We’ve only got 5 little chickens left.

He came by to get his things this weekend. He didn’t say a word to me. I greeted him and helped him and asked how he was. Marcus would only address my husband. He wouldn’t make eye contact with either of us. Although he claimed to be mad I sensed guilt and sadness. I can still see through his facade.

Afterwards I tried to send him a message via Facebook to let him know that he would always have a place in our home and in our hearts. I received a brief auto message from Facebook that read “This person is not accepting messages from you at this time.”

I don’t think social media has ever been more insightful. It’s true. Marcus cannot accept a message of love at this time. He won’t hear me right now because he simply can’t. But is there someone who can hear me? Someone who needs me? It would appear so. After all, there are still 5 chickens running around, needing a mama.

Since Marcus left I have been grieving the loss of a child. I try not to let it affect my day-to-day interactions but I have felt such a sense of failure. I’ve been just so sad and so heartbroken. It took me a few weeks to notice that Sean was different.

It started when he emerged from the basement (the Marcus lair) and began to interact with his younger siblings again. Gone was the jealousy he had been presenting about his older brother “getting more stuff” or even “getting away with more stuff.” Instead we saw him laughing and participating in family art time or movie night or game night again.

Not long after that he began hugging me again and seeking me out for comfort. He made me a beautiful carved heart with needlepoint stitching in the middle. He never would have done this while Marcus was around. It seems that he is once again finding his equilibrium after the tornado that hit our family. The Marcus tornado.

Sean started high school last week. Our boy is now a high school freshman! The most amazing thing started to happen. He had one friend over to the house. Then two. Then he began asking to go to do things with a group of friends 2 or 3 times a week. He never socialized beyond Marcus before. Sean loves to be at home making sure the family is all safe and together. We’ve been waiting for him to start some outside friendships. I’ve been recounting tales of high school fun and hi-jinx for months now. Is he finally taking my advice?

Last night he asked me to tuck him in before bed. I know he’s 14 now, but it’s nice to give him the kind of mothering he never had before. As I rubbed his back and listened to him talk to me about friends and high school classes I realized something. He wants to be close again. I think I’m getting through to Sean.

I am still grieving my lost son. A part of me will probably always hold this grief. That empty space in his room is like an empty void inside of me.

But maybe it’s time to shift my focus. Perhaps I’ve lost in the struggle to help heal one child. But I am a part of the healing for another. Sean is flourishing. This child is beginning to “accept messages from me at this time.” Maybe Facebook can tell me all about it someday. Until then, this is enough. Isn’t it?

mfish
**The names in this blog have been changed to protect those involved.
If you’ve ever considered fostering or adopting, I encourage you to start your adventure!

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adoption, family, fostercare

“But They Don’t Look Like You”: Adventures in Explaining our Mulitcolored Family

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I am a white mamma. I am blindingly, florescently, practically translucent in my white skin. I have to wear SPF all year round, and I apply 70 in the summer. There, I have told the truth. So now you know. But let’s face facts; I have a mirror. Therefore, I also happen to know that I am white.

I also happen to have eyes. Therefore, I can see my Hispanic husband and my Hispanic children. I can see them brown up and tan in the sun. This is something I have never been able to pull off, myself. I am either white, off white, or bright red and miserable. My sun-kissed family, however? They are blessed with the obvious favor of the sun. Lucky little chickens!

Being the only white member of the family comes with its fair share of oddities. For instance, if we eat at an outdoor restaurant they all scramble to get me under the shade of a table-umbrella. When I enjoy my iced coffee and listen to NPR, my teens tell me “that’s because you’re a white woman.” Once I lost my daughter, Mary, for about 15 minutes in a park. I panicked completely and squeezed her so tightly when I found her. She just shook her head at my “nervous white mama ways.” Sometimes they attribute my personal oddities with being white. They don’t always understand.

My kids aren’t the only ones who misunderstand. A surprising number of strangers don’t understand and they expect an explanation!

At grocery stores, the nail salon, doctor’s offices and even the pet store I am questioned. “Are they all yours?” ( not surprising given the sheer number of children.) “They don’t look like you.” And, of course, “What country did they all come from?” Ummm…yours. This country. One where presumably, you should have at least some manners.

Sometimes a stranger will ask, “Which ones are your real children?” I found a great response online once and I always use it. I simply say, “oh no. They’re not all real. One of them is imaginary. Guess which one???” Then I laugh.

The thing is, my kids don’t need to hear your ignorance. They are real actual human people standing in front of you. Ok, I’ll concede that they are all really my “chickens” but still.

I get it that we don’t look alike. But we like the same TV shows. We have the same corny jokes. We all believe in the power of love and the fun of Hibachi. We all give “Nana points” to each other for good vocabulary. We give “finger wiggles” in the car so everyone feels loved instead of ignored. We all have the same “boss walk” that Marcus taught us to use when we are feeling cool. Or slick. Or something like that.

I have this to say to the strangers out in public; it’s ok to be curious about adoption. In fact, I want you to think about it. I’d like for more people to know about it. But please be polite. Don’t gawk. Don’t comment in front of the children. Simply say, “You have a beautiful family.” Ask me in private if you have questions such as how did we get started? Where did our adoptions start (ie foster care, an agency etc) asking anything that involves the word, “real” is not OK.

In other words, we are all a family. A real family. If we look odd to you or if you don’t feel like you can understand our group then don’t worry about it. You probably couldn’t boss walk anyway.

** Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved

*If you’ve ever considered foster care or adoption I encourage you to get started on your adventure today!

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adoption, family, fostercare, parenting

Why I Wish We Hadn’t Adopted Our Children

dont

I wish we hadn’t adopted them. There, I’ve finally said it. I wish they’d never been adopted. It’s something adoptive parents think about often, but never say. The outside world expects us to be the happy smiling picture of family perfection. The outside world cannot understand that our greatest joy was their greatest grief. I wish we had never adopted our children because I wish they had never experienced that first loss. That primal wound. I wish they never had to experience the trauma that they carry to this day.

Creating our family has been the biggest joy in my life. It’s the most fulfilling and wonderful endeavor I’ve ever undertaken. It’s also the hardest. It’s hard to watch them suffer through their grief. Our greatest joy comes from their greatest pain.

No matter the level of abuse or neglect a child experiences, they are hard-wired to love and depend on their birth parents. Losing that relationship, regardless of how toxic it was, is the most painful loss a child can experience. I believe that all children love their birth parents. I believe that all birth parents love their children to the best of their abilities. Don’t we all love our children and do for them whatever we are able?

Unfortunately, for my kids, their birth parents truly were not able. It wasn’t a question of love it was a question of substance abuse and mental health concerns. It was physical abuse and neglect. It’s easy to look at all of the missed birthdays and visits and think their birth mother didn’t try. I think often she couldn’t try because she had too many problems of her own.

If I could wave a magic wand I would give them everything they have ever wanted. They would have never come into the foster care system. They would never have had to split up and move from place to place. They wouldn’t have experienced trauma and loss. They would have remained in a home that was stable with a stable birth mom that met their needs. Even if it meant I would never get to be “mom” to the best kids on earth, I would do it if I could.

Why? Because it isn’t about me. I’m a mom. It’s about my kids.

I would do it if I could, but I can’t. That is not something that I can give to them. I can give them a loving home. I can give them safety, permanancy, and love. Maybe it will never make up for what should have been or could have been in their lives.

However, it will make me whole and happy and fulfilled. They are everything I could have ever wanted. Therefore, I’m the lucky one. My husband and I got the best part of this deal.

We are the “lucky” ones.

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