Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Secrets of Adoption

I hesitate to share about how difficult adoption truly is.  I don't want to run off future parents.  On the other hand, if anyone had told me how awful the whole process would be, I doubt I'd have believed him.

I didn't know there was such a thing as Post-Adoption Depression.  Everyone knows about Postpartum Depression; there are hormonal reasons for that.  But did you know that PAD is also common?  And not only when you've just taken in the newly-minted member(s) of your family; I have experienced PAD after both adoptions were finalized -- years after the children came to live with me.

I didn't understand that I will never be "enough" for my kids.  There will always be a hunger in them for their first parents.  Not only do I have to be okay with them longing for moms who are no longer in the picture, I also have to learn to be okay with the fact that I can never "fix" this for them.  I cannot heal this pain.  Barring a miraculous healing, there will always be an ache in them, similar to the constant, unwavering homesickness I feel as an adult missionary kid.

I didn't realize that I could love my child without feeling loving toward her.  The first one came so tiny and sweet, sleeping well, eating well, snuggling up on my lap to drink his milk cup, I fell in love immediately.  (Well, immediately after the first day when I formally apologized to him for having to change his diaper and wipe "down there".)  Then my heart was ripped to shreds when he went back to his bio mom.  So when the next one came along, I guarded my heart a little more.  And she was tough!  Loud shrieking all hours of day and night.  The only word she deigned to speak was "NO!".  She did not want to cuddle or be comforted.  It's like raising a miniature version of my big sister.  When she went back, it was a relief for a few weeks.

Now she's mine officially and permanently, and I find I have to deliberately give myself permission to feel loving towards her.  I've come to realize that although I don't feel the warm fuzzies toward her as often, I do love her, and those feelings will come in time.  I think the best analogy of this is of an arranged marriage: you get into the marriage and then work toward building love and trust.

I didn't believe that after working so hard and long to adopt these little cherubs, there would be days when I would wish I could call their case workers and send them back!  Come to find out, every mother thinks that at some point.  Maybe we are a normal family.

Monday, December 24, 2012

I Hate Christmas as an Adoptive Family

Here's why:

One child has doting grandparents on both sides who spoil the child rotten with toys and with clothing beyond what one child can possibly wear in a year.  (Three brand-new coats within two months.)

The other child has... no one.

So I end up taking back the presents I bought for one child in order to buy more for the other to balance things out.  And I spend the week after Christmas taking things away from the first child who has turned into a raging brat.

Then, with myriads of extended families (my own, as well as theirs) I cannot keep everyone connected and happy during the holidays.  My school break ends up getting so carved up that I never get to spend time with my own small children building our own traditions.  I love all the extended families.  And I love all the half-siblings my children have.  But I can't please any of them.  I'm seriously considering going abroad for the holidays next year -- and not telling anyone!

Plus also (as Junie B. Jones would say), Christmas is all about family, and babies, and perfection.  And my little family is cobbled together from odds and ends.  Some very odd bits.  And loose, ragged ends.  And the complete inequality between the two children only emphasizes again that these children -- in spite of paperwork -- are not really mine.  And I am not really their real mom.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reasons NOT to do foster care

I keep hearing these from people who know I do foster care:
  1. We're a really busy family right now.  Maybe later...  Later, after these kids age out of the system and produce more kids into the system.
  2. I don't think I could ever give them up again!  So let's deny them that love now in order to protect ourselves from the pain.
  3. Don't they come with a lot of problems?  Yes.  Some do.  Some don't.
  4. I don't think we can afford another child.  They mostly are self-supporting, for one thing.  For another, what is a child's soul worth?
  5. Our family is complete now.  We don't need another one.  But a child may need you.
  6. We don't have a big enough house or car for another child.  This is tricky.  A car can only hold so many car seats.  But children can share rooms.
  7. I have to consider my own children.  I agree; protect your own children.  But taking in children carefully might build your children's compassion and character.
  8. I knew someone who took in foster kids when I was a kid.  She did it just for the money.  The system is corrupt.  The "system" stinks.  Wouldn't it be great to have a bunch of foster kids, foster parents, and low-level workers revamp the whole thing!  But the children inside this system can't wait for a perfect system.
  9. I don't think I could do foster care.  Not everyone can.  But could you be a CASA?  Or a grandparent/aunt/uncle to a foster kid?  Or provide dufflebags for a foster kid so he doesn't have to carry his stuff around in trash bags?  Or teach money management to foster kids who are about to age out?  Or pray for the case workers who are overloaded with cases?
  10. Bless you for taking in those poor kids!  Hmm... thanks?  I like taking in kids.  It must be my ADHD.  I don't think of mine as being "poor kids" -- unless I'm trying to get something more for them from the system! :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

There is no backing out now!

Happy 4 year old at her birthday breakfast
 I had a dream last night that I was in labor -- for weeks and weeks -- with no sign of any progress.  Hmmm... was that a reflection of how this adoption is going?

I met with B's case worker today.  (I'll confess that I forgot her name -- it's only our third worker in less than six months!)  Apparently, even though I see no signs of progress, my case worker and Brooklynn's case worker have both been checking off their lists.  Yay! I'm now designated as B's adoptive placement, which means birthmom can't change her mind about the relinquishment, and no other distant relatives can show up to claim the child.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not that this post has anything to do with frogs (or more accurately: toads), but I think my little guy is so cute, and I needed a reason to smile about him.

Today I finally lost my patience with being compared to the "real mom", the mom he wants to go live with again, the mom he wants to see every day, the mom I "stole" him from... and so on.  And I told him the whole story:  about the baby left alone in a bathtub, about the toddler who clung to me rather than go to his "real mom", about the child who turned gray from lack of oxygen because the "real mom" forgot his medicine when she left him with random people, about the night I tried to peel his little arms from around my neck to return him to the "real mom", about the months -- years -- that he didn't want me out of his sight because he'd already lost me once...  And you know what?  None of it meant a thing to him.  Until I mentioned that if he went back to the "real mom", he'd have no more Papa and no more cousins!

Finally over dinner he commented that his birth mom made one good decision about him: she gave him to me.  (Truthfully, she made many good decisions about him, which I have told him.)

Now he's in bed asleep, looking angelic, and I'm wrung out from having a discussion (punctuated by screams from the other child who had to [gasp] clean up her dollies) that I had hoped to put off until he was at least 12.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Red Metal Roof

a blurry shot, taken at dusk, in a windy rainstorm...
I had a total meltdown this weekend.  At our church small group, we decided to watch Courageous, a terrific movie encouraging men to step up and be dads.  Throughout the movie is presented the difficulties that boys growing up without dads face.  Well, that didn't do much to encourage me!  The movie ended, and I fled into another room to bawl.  I ended up crying off and on until 3 a.m. because of not being able to be ALL for my children, not being able to get all the "shoulds" done at home, not even being able to get all the "musts" done every day.  Finally, I lay there in my bed, worn-out and sleepless, and the Lord gave me a picture of me, struggling up this dirt path near my best friend's house, dragging each child by the hand, balancing a huge burden on my shoulders.  In that burden were all the titles I carry ("Mom", "Teacher", "Homemaker", "Counselor") as well as all the tasks I have to accomplish (car maintenance, home repair, cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework...) and the emotions that go along with never getting everything done (fear, failure, grief, worry...).  Then I saw in my picture, the Lord's hands reaching down to me, saying "Let me take that burden from you."  So I gave it to Him, and how light I felt!  (Unfortunately, the scales did not agree.)

The next morning I had to teach toddler church, so I dragged us all to early service, yawning.  We drove past this tiny green house with a red metal roof that I have always loved.  The doors have fallen off, the windows are gone, and the paint is peeling, but it's a beautiful little house!  That morning as I passed it, I wondered why the house was still standing; it's probably 70 years old.  Then I thought, "Oh yes, the metal roof protects the walls -- duh!"  And instantly the Lord said to me, "Let Me be your Roof, your Protector."  Wow!  I have often prayed for Him to be the Father to my fatherless children, but never asked Him to be my Protector.  I accepted the offer (of course!), and have had such a sense of safety and security since.