So here I am, writing a blog post for an organization that I’ve loved for years, about a topic I never, in a million years thought I would write.
What happens if you don’t like your adopted child?
Here’s the deal, nobody goes into adoption thinking, ‘I’m not going to like my kid.’ Most people walk into adoption with heart eyes, determined spirits and a faith that cannot be shaken. But a very real side of adoption is that many adoptive parents struggle to attach and bond to their children.
How is your home serving your children in their identity as a person of color? If you are a white parent with a child who is not please intentionally and proactively pursue community that looks like your whole family, not just you. This is so important. This is a must. Does your child often wish they were white, like you? Your child will not believe you, that they matter and that their ethnicity is good and right, unless you show them how you value their skin color and history in your whole life.
If you are a transracial/transcultural family, understanding differences of race, class and culture authentically is just the beginning. Understanding must also be activated into behaviors and infused into your family, extended family and as much as possible into your community. Adding deep love to a deep reflection and understanding of identity, privilege and place in the world as adults and parents, gives children every opportunity to fully embrace their complete identity, to love all parts of themselves and to be prepared for the realities that will echo throughout their lives.
You’ve adopted your sweet kiddo(s) or you’re in the process of adopting, or your want to adopt in the future! Whatever your story is, you definitely want to be aware of these sensory red flags and participate in a variety of sensory based activities to reduce under or over-responsiveness to sensory input from a variety of environments. Every child is different, every story is unique, and this is my experience and research.
My children would never have come to heal and find their preciousness without a trauma-informed parenting approach. Our traditional understanding of parenting would never have reached them and helped them heal from their past experiences. In fact, I believe if we would have parented them with traditional strategies, we would have caused even more trauma. They are not perfect, but they are connected to us and they take our instruction. They were once orphans, and now, transformed as our sons and daughter, and our family will always be a place of rest, support, and hope for them.
As a therapist who specialized working with adoptive and foster families, the most consistent concern was how to help a child with behavioral issues. Parents would be confused and baffled by their child’s behavior. They would feel sad, angry, and scared. They wanted to help their precious kiddos, but they didn’t know what to do. If you find yourself in a similar place right now, you’re not alone.
Sometimes I believe ignorance can manifests itself into a form of hope that drives humans to do hard things. It’s when the road gets hard that our hope is broken and our ignorance becomes humble wisdom and we are left with 2 choices: Continue down the path we’ve chosen or follow our desire for comfort and peace and ultimately quit.
Adoption is more often than not, the harder path to chose. It can be uncomfortable, painful, and etch away at every part of your being.
The month of November is National Adoption Month in the United States. Most adoption related organizations are promoting adoption all month and desiring to further the movement. This year, November comes as a sobering month for our family. Because not only are we now adoptive parents, but we are also in the midst of the hardest season of our lives. We are daily fighting to keep peace and begging for endurance and steadfastness. So when it came time to plan for November I just couldn’t share beautiful story after beautiful story (which most people know TAP for), of families meeting their children.
Within an hour of finding out, my ‘church mom’ from college helped me make sense of my new reality. We both knew someone close to the family who had been struggling for years with infertility. I remember her saying, “Laura, you have two options. Knowing you, you could make a great mom. You’d figure out a way to give your child the best life possible and you’d sacrifice your own life if it came down to it. Or, you could turn your burden (of this unplanned pregnancy) into a blessing for a family desperately wanting to have a child.”
That phrase ‘burden to blessing’ really stuck with me.
The day I met Ibrahim, he was two months old, yet he weighed only 2 kilos, a kilo and a half less than he had weighed at birth. He was gasping for breath and it was clear he also had pneumonia.
As was the norm in these situations, Social Welfare had prepared the papers to admit Ibrahim to our care. I run a Baby Home called Forever Angels in Tanzania and since 2006 we have cared for hundreds of orphaned and abandoned babies. The work we were doing was undoubtedly essential in many cases - and hundreds of babies had been saved. There was simply nowhere else to care for a baby pulled out of a pit latrine or abandoned at the local graveyard – a Baby Home was needed. But as I watched Ibrahim's Aunt sob as she turned to leave the nephew she loved in our care, I just knew there had to be a better solution.
When we received the call to see if we had a bed for a little girl we did what we always do – ask questions and gather as much information as possible. This child, like many of the other emergency placements we have taken into our STCF (Short-Term Care Facility), has experienced more horror than I will ever experience in 10 lifetimes.
“She is HIV+ and living in Kampringisa. She was a street kid and we believe her parents are dead. We do not know where she came from, so we have no idea of the whereabouts of any extended family. Can you take her? Because of her HIV status no one will take her.”
“If my life circumstances were different, this could have been my story. In 1982 I had an injury that required 2 hospitalizations, and without the amazing care I received my future would have looked completely different. During my time at the hospital, I witnessed the incredible compassion of the nursing staff. I was so moved by their kindness and care, that I was inspired to become a nurse!”