I pride myself on this blog being an honest resource for those who have adopted or are considering adoption. In a recent post, I used the words “always beautiful” when describing adoption. I chose not to publish any of the comments that came through on that post, because some of them mentioned the specifics of families and children who had entered adoption and didn’t feel their end result is beautiful. If you are an adult, and choose to share your child’s story in the comments on this blog, I won’t publish the comment if it in any way, shape or form breaches their privacy. Because of those comments, I published none of the comments, just in the interest of being fair.
The point of the comments made about these situations is that adoption isn’t always beautiful. This person was right, it isn’t. It always has been for me, and this is my forum to record my experience, but yes, I shouldn’t speak for everyone. That is never my intention. I know experiences vary.
I do want to share something that I learned as we walked through our many adoptions, when we were, occasionally, in the middle of an attachment nightmare. I don’t go into the specifics of any of our children’s struggles, but we have one who does do weekly Neurofeedback related to PTSD. To get her to the point of even being able to do this sort of therapy, and benefit from it took YEARS. We have had our share of hardship. There were moments when I doubted I had what it took to parent this child. Would she be better supported in a different home? I wondered.
Then, I decided I needed to love her. Even if her behaviors were so unlovable that I could hardly stand it. It was a conscious choice to show a love to a child who had never had it before, who resisted it at every turn. Yes, had she posed a danger to our other children (which she never has), her story might have involved finding a safe place for her to get residential treatment, but that didn’t occur. Instead, we worked on trust, then relationships and how to even have one, and now, relationship repair. She abused me for a long time. Now that she knows how to show love, she is consciously working on showing me love the same way her siblings do. She wants me to love her the same way I love them. She knows I love her, but that because of past history, that love is expressed differently. She doesn’t want it to be. We have talked endlessly about giving love to get love. This is where we are at. After almost six years of her being in our home, we are finally working on loving like a typically attached child.
My God. This is a process.
This girl, the same little girl who came to us so broken, with no idea how to have a mama at all, came to me just now, her dolly in hand and said “I chose the doll with blond hair and green eyes to remind me of you mom. I made her an adoption certificate and I gave her your birthday. I did that to show you how much I do love you.”
I swear I heard the angels sing.
Had I not made the conscious choice to love her, to model love even when I didn’t feel it, I don’t know where we would be. I’m not stronger than anyone else. I’m not saying I did this better. I’m just saying that it’s okay not to feel it. I didn’t for a VERY long time. Instead, I decided to be purposeful, and intentional, in my interactions. I decided to get help to model love. I went to therapy too. I cried there. I used the therapist as an outlet for my frustration, to admit that I had a child that I wasn’t sure I could love.
These kids come through adoption broken in ways most of us can’t fathom. If you’re reading this to hear my experience as an adoptive parent, this is my experience. My experience is that love is a choice, and that anyone can choose to love any child, even the most unlovable ones. I want us all to consider this, to be empowered by it, and to choose love.
If you’re reading this and you are here after an adoption that didn’t work, I am truly sorry. I won’t give you a forum for discouraging other adoptive parents though. You can feel free to share your experience on your own blog. I have spoken about the hardship that adoption brings. I have been honest about our story. I haven’t sugar coated anything, I have merely respected my daughter enough not to share all the specifics publicly. I have privately though, in cases where I thought it might help a family. I will continue to do that for people who are struggling. Are you? Please email me. I would love to tell you what helped us.
I choose to see the beautiful and broken of adoption. I acknowledge it, and then, I can only do my best to find a way to help my child heal. I am sorry for families that can’t. I truly am. That just isn’t our story.
–FullPlateMom, who believes in all aspects of advocacy: empowerment, encouragement and education.