10 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know

I found this list, an adoptee’s perspective, and I think it’s a great reminder for us as well as helpful information for those who are supporting our family. List courtesy of Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee, found here: http://diaryofanotsoangryasianadoptee.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/an-adoptees-perspective-10-things-adoptive-parents-should-know/

1. Adoption is not possible without loss. Losing one’s birth parents is the most traumatic form of loss a child can experience. That loss will always be a part of me. It will shape who I am and will have an effect on my relationships—especially my relationship with you.

2. Love isn’t enough in adoption, but it certainly makes a difference. Tell me every day that I am loved—especially on the days when I am not particularly lovable.

3. Show me—through your words and your actions—that you are willing to weather any storm with me. I have a difficult time trusting people, due to the losses I have experienced in my life. Show me that I can trust you. Keep your word. I need to know that you are a safe person in my life, and that you will be there when I need you and when I don’t need you.

4. I will always worry that you will abandon me, no matter how often you tell me or show me otherwise. The mindset that “people who love me will leave me” has been instilled in me and will forever be a part of me. I may push you away to protect myself from the pain of loss. No matter what I say or do to push you away, I need you to fight like crazy to show me that you aren’t going anywhere and will never give up on me.

5. Even though society says it is PC to be color-blind, I need you to know that race matters. My race will always be a part of me, and society will always see me by the color of my skin (no matter how hard they try to convince me otherwise). I need you to help me learn about my race and culture of origin, because it’s important to me. Members of my race and culture of origin may reject me because I’m not “black enough” or “Asian enough”, but if you help arm me with pride in who I am and the tools to cope, it will be okay. I don’t look like you, but you are my parent and I need you to tell me—through your words and your actions—that it’s okay to be different. I have experienced many losses in my life. Please don’t allow the losses of my race and culture of origin to be among them.

6. I need you to be my advocate. There will be people in our family, our school, our church, our community, our medical clinic, etc. who don’t understand adoption and my special needs. I need you to help educate them about adoption and special needs, and I need to know that you have my back. Ask me questions in front of them to show them that my voice matters.

7. At some point during our adoption journey, I may ask about or want to search for my birth family. You may tell me that being blood related doesn’t matter, but not having that kind of connection to someone has left a void in my life. You will always be my family and you will always be my parent. If I ask about or search for my birth family, it doesn’t mean I love you any less. I need you to know that living my life without knowledge of my birth family has been like working on a puzzle with missing pieces. Knowing about my birth family may help me feel more complete.

8. Please don’t expect me to be grateful for having been adopted. I endured a tremendous loss before becoming a part of your family. I don’t want to live with the message that “you saved me and I should be grateful” hanging over my head. Adoption is about forming forever families—it shouldn’t be about “saving” children.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I may need help in coping with the losses I have experienced and other issues related to adoption. It’s okay and completely normal. If the adoption journey becomes overwhelming for you, it’s important for you to seek help, as well. Join support groups and meet other families who have adopted. This may require you to go out of your comfort zone, but it will be worth it. Make the time and effort to search for and be in the company of parents and children/youth who understand adoption and understand the issues. These opportunities will help normalize and validate what we are going through.

10. Adoption is different for everyone. Please don’t compare me to other adoptees. Rather, listen to their experiences and develop ways in which you can better support me and my needs. Please respect me as an individual and honor my adoption journey as my own. I need you to always keep an open mind and an open heart with regard to adoption. Our adoption journey will never end, and no matter how bumpy the road may be and regardless of where it may lead, the fact that we traveled this road together, will make all the difference.

Big News!

After my brief pity party yesterday, we got a call from our social worker today that we have been selected for the sibling set of three!  We actually get to meet them in two days…they are coming for the weekend!  We feel very blessed to have this very very rare opportunity to spend some time with them prior to making a formal decision. The kids do not know we are a permanency option at this time, so the meeting will be a little strange.  It’s a little (a lot) terrifying, and this will help us through the process we think. 

So many emotions going on, that seem to be cycling: excited, nervous, terrified,etc.  One second we are so excited, the next we start freaking out about the logistics of parenting four kids, the next we are sad about Jax’s “loss” as an only child, then back to excited for awhile, and I could go on and on! We are assuming that a lot of these same emotions are present when someone gets pregnant with a second child…(right?)

The 5th bedroom is currently my office…since two days isn’t enough anyway, and it’s not “official” yet, we are going to improvise on sleeping arrangements for the weekend and worry about the rest later.  We are trying to decide what to do for the weekend that is entertaining to all ages yet manageable and not overstimulating – open to suggestions!!

Thank you to everyone who has supported us thus far, and thanks in advance for the ongoing support as we move into “crisis mode” for awhile 🙂

Feeling Discouraged

Maybe it’s the weather!?  I am trying to post a balance of our ups and downs, because that is the reality of this.  I am feeling a little like, “Is this ever going to happen?” today.  We have now been “homestudy approved” for seven months.  We didn’t expect to wait this long, though I understand it’s “normal.”  I am reminding myself that we aren’t waiting for any children, we are waiting for our children today.  We needed to say “no” to several opportunities because we weren’t the right family for them, therefore we need to be okay with waiting.  (That doesn’t make it a whole lot easier most days!)

The sibling set of three’s foster family has expressed interest in adopting them and a third family was interviewed on Friday, which the “team” also really liked.  A good problem to have, for these children’s sakes, that there are multiple matches that seem like good fits!  We should know more by the end of the week, but I’m generally feeling a little pessimistic right now (which I fully realize is a little selfish).  I know the matching process is so important…but sometimes I feel angry that there are so many kids waiting for forever families out there, and here we are just WAITING!

I know that the longer we wait the more grad school I will have behind me, which will be nice. This will leave more time to bond with the kids and less time Charlie attempts to single parent all of the kids when I am at school on the weekends 🙂  Summer seems like a good time to transition school-aged kids, which I think is why we are suddenly getting really antsy about it all. 

I have heard “trust the process” 479 times for professors, classmates, etc at school, and I think this is pretty applicable with adoption as well.  Trusting the process is HARD.

Hurry Up and Wait!

Due to a variety of circumstances that can’t really be made public at this time, we have decided to take more time to learn specifics about the sibling set of 3.  This is kind of a rare opportunity, and we are excited to have time to get some peace about a decision either way.  We should have a good idea of the direction we are heading with these kids two weeks from now.  For now, we will enjoy our last days/weeks/months as a family of three! 

Post Interview

We had our first in-home interview today, for the sibling set of three.  Our social worker, the Guardian Ad Litem for the kids, and the adoption/CPS worker were all there.  They disclosed the child protection history of the kids, family history, and current diagnoses/behaviors.  They also asked us some questions, such as what our biggest fears are, deal-breakers for us, discipline/parenting strategies, etc.  For both of us, our biggest fears are A) not being able to attach to the kids or the kids to us and B) Jeopardizing Jax’s childhood in some way.  Our only real “deal-breaker” is not feeling like we can keep any of the kids (bio or adoptive) safe physically, sexually, or emotionally. 

The next step is for us to review diagnostic assessments as well as talk with providers (therapist, foster parents, school, etc) and make a decision about whether or not we are able and willing to parent the kids given their needs.  They are interviewing one more family a week from Friday, and the final decision should be shortly after that.

We were kind of hoping for some kind of burning bush…which doesn’t appear to be happening!  Plan B is to ask our friends and family for prayers and positive vibes in regards to making the right decision for all involved.