I consciously try not to label every little idiosyncrasy that the kids have as an adoption issue. I love to see and hear of the challenges that kids of seemingly together and emotionally stable parents are facing. Not, because I wish those tantrums or outbursts on anyone, but it helps to shed light on the never ending question “Is that a kid thing? Or an adoption thing?”
I have discussed this with both adoptive parents and biological parents. It’s pretty easy for biological parents, they have one category…kid thing. Unless, of course the challenges turn into problems, and they need to discern if there is an actual issue at hand, and need to have professional help brought in. As adoptive parents, when our children act out we wonder, oh is that a result of any unknown trauma’s they faced before coming home (being adopted), or is it just a kid thing, or a serious kid thing or a serious adoption thing. Yes, I know I have been told I over-think things. But in my defense, I believe in giving kids all the tools we can to help them succeed in life. The first step to helping them with emotional issues, is to figure out where the problem is coming from. You wouldn’t go see a dentist for a broken leg.
I was told by our therapist that the most difficult situations when trying to help our children are the children that have experienced trauma pre-verbally. Something happened, but the children can not tell us exactly what it was. So we become ‘trauma detectives’, but always trying to remember, at heart they are all just kids!
I have been thinking about this for awhile and I am finally ready to put my thoughts into words.
I watch the TV show Parenthood occasionally, when I remember it’s on and I actually have time to watch. There has been a story-line lately that has touched a nerve. Not so much in a bad way, but it is still unfolding. The story-line describes a young couple that ends up adopting a a school-aged boy from fostercare. The mother struggles with bonding with this child. At one point the Mother even questions their decision to adopt the child, as she finally admits her frustration “He doesn’t love me”.
Now…for my 2cents. I think many (not all) bonding issues arise when there are unrealistic expectations. Every adoption story is different as is every parent and child. Many prospective adoptive parents have expressed fear that they may not bond, or even be able to love a child that they are not biologically connected to. The good news is…yes you can, BUT,…it may take time.
Many Mothers express how it was ‘love at first site’ when their newborn was first placed in their arms. If you follow this idea, then it can lead to frustration as an adoptive parent. Most biological parents have 9 months to dream, nest, bond and yes fall in love with this child. Most have names chosen, rooms decorated, celebrations had and with the miracle of science most even know the sex of their child, as well as having detailed photos of the child snug in the womb.
Adoption can be very different. Our experience with L&D enabled us to create a bond and fall in love over the 10 months it took to bring them home. Our agency sent monthly DVD’s, photos and allowed us to send care packages. We watched each DVD over and over, memorizing every smile, every gurgle and every coo. We felt we knew L&D before we ever held them in our arms.
Think back to when you met your partner/spouse was it love at first sight (don’t confuse love with lust here 🙂 ). How much more do you love this person today compared to the day you met them? How much more do you love your child today than the first time you held them? Love is a journey…it comes softly.