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Monday, October 12, 2015

Have You Counted The Cost Of Adoption?

I recently read a post on, Counting The Cost In Adoption and Foster Care. Did you count the cost? I know we didn't. We didn't know there was a cost involved. We thought there would be mutual happiness on both sides of the equation, our side and the child's side. Naive, yes but in a way I am glad we were. Sometimes I like the naive me that I used to be better than the cynical me I am tempted to be sometimes.

   We paid a huge price, loss of trust, our eye's were opened to how untrustworthy "the system" is. We learned that one child can easily ruin a family, we learned how painful it is to nurture and love a child then hold that same child while he or she weeps for their birth parents. Seeing them missing the people who hurt them and refusing our nurturing was and is tough. 

BUT what about the cost your child paid to be a member of your family?

  That thought was hard for us to wrap our minds around. Think about it with me, they lost their birth parents and that is huge. It creates a wound a vacuum that soaks up an adoptive parents energy and empathy like a dry sponge. That wound can heal but the scar will remain for life.

What about the price of "knowing/thinking" you were not wanted by your birth parents. Imagine how hard it would be to love a new set of parents with that thought in mind? Is it any wonder that many of the children who come into our home's have what we call behavior issue's?

Can the price of knowing you are different than your peers be counted? I know that children who are adopted are no different than any other child but the fact remains, they have a past most of us cannot fathom, and that past will affect them. We as parents can build good memories over the bad memories, we can help them work through their emotional pain until it is no longer something that plagues them but it is still there. The scar remains.

  So who pays the highest price? The child who lost everything or the adoptive family who lost everything because they were unprepared for the depth of loss and pain their new child experienced?

  Maybe counting the cost isn't even something that should be discussed since both sides pay a high cost, both sides receive blessings, both sides experience pain but surely something can be done to help pre-adoptive parents prepare for the child who will be coming into their home.

  I know we were totally unprepared. We discussed RAD very briefly in our foster care training but not enough for us to be able to recognize it when it was staring us in the face. Poor Braden suffered more than he would have had to, if only we would have known how to help him. There were so many therapeutic interventions that we could have used if we had known about them. I remember asking his caseworker for advice and she brushed me off saying he was a typical toddler. Our instinct told us differently.

  My heart cries out that there has to be a better way to go into foster care or adoption. Not all but many, parents and children are set up to fail because they do not know enough about the world they are entering to know how to count the cost. They are like we once were, naive and out to "save the world." 
   Adoption is portrayed as a wonderful, joyful thing and it is, but people need to be aware that it is also painful. So they have training to fall back on when the going gets tough. Training that will help them understand that it is perfectly normal to experience bumps and hard times as you adjust as a new family but also to know that when your instinct tells you something is wrong, you need to act. Don't wait until the child is another year older or until you know for sure what is wrong. You owe it to your child, yourself and your family to get the help you need. 

Mom's find a good therapist for yourself. There will be times when you will question everything about yourself and your parenting, especially if your child suffers from an attachment disorder. You need an outside source, someone who isn't intimately involved with your family to give you advice and guidance.

   Research, read and inform yourself about the challenges of raising children with a history of trauma. Even if your child comes to you as a newborn, they have experienced the trauma of being separated from their birth mom. Besides you do not know what your beautiful new baby experienced while in the womb. Violence, maternal stress, fear, depression and substance abuse are all possibilities. Don't wait until you know what your child faced as you may likely never know. Instead care for them like you would if you knew your child endured pre birth trauma. Swaddle him, hold him skin to skin, keep him with you All. The. Time. In fact, wearing your baby in a sling is one of the best things you can do to encourage attachment and build a strong foundation.

  Having said all that, is adoption a blessing? Absolutely!! Our children have taught us lesson's we wouldn't have learned any other way. They filled our empty arms and call us mom and dad, they give me handfuls of weed's picked, "Just for you mom, cause your the bestest mom in the world!" Who can put a price tag on such an experience? All the money in the world wouldn't be enough to buy the honor and joy I feel when I hear those words, especially since I now know the cost that comes with this gift.
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