Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What Is It Really Like To Be An Adoptive Parent?

What is it like to be an adoptive parent, you ask. Well, sometimes you feel very blessed and other times you wonder why you were chosen to walk the tangled pathway of adoption.

I like to think that adoption is "typical parenting" on steroids and when you add special needs into the mix, you get way more than you ever bargained for. You become super blessed and super stressed!

  When Tristan was placed in my arms, I was already bonded with him. He was mine. My mother heart was ready to protect him at all costs. When a foster/adoptive child is placed in your arms, it isn't the same. I loved each of my children but it took awhile for me to feel like their mom. Part of that was because they already had an opinion about life. They had experienced life without me and they didn't think they needed me. No one knows your biological child better than you do. When he cries, he is automatically handed to mom. You can comfort him because you are familiar, you represent security. When a foster/adoptive child comes into your home, you do not represent security. When he cries, he is crying for someone else. You are a stranger. It takes awhile to learn the necessary dance that happens between a mother and child.

Your newborn has always had his needs met. He has never experienced life separate from you. Your adopted child has quite possibly witnessed and experienced horrors you know nothing about. I remember longing to comfort my children when they were placed with us but some of them wanted nothing to do with me, how were they to know I wasn't going to hurt them? 

Your biological child soon recognizes mom and gives smiles freely but you have to earn your adopted child's smile. When my children gave me their first true smiles, my heart beat with joy. They were responding to me, we were building good memories on top of the ashes of their past! Knowing their back grounds made their smiles that much more precious..

Complete strangers will come up to you and praise you for adopting children. You will hear things like, "I could never do what you do!" On the flip side are the people who say, "Lucky you, you are just handed a baby. No pregnancy or labor to go through. It must be nice!"

As an adoptive parent your heart will cry a little when you hear people saying their child has his daddy's eyes or his grandpa's personality. You will also smile inside when a stranger comes up to you and say's, "This little boy looks just like his daddy." You quickly learn to say something like, "We think so too."

   You will find yourself in doctor's offices explaining why your child needs an evaluation. The doctor may look at you and say, "Didn't you know that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy?" When you quietly point out that your child is adopted you are lifted from criminal status to sainthood. Neither position feels comfortable.

  As an adoptive mom you will learn about different nationalities. We are continually amazed at the amount of hot sauce and spices our daughter enjoys. Our mouths are burning and she is shoveling in the food, exclaiming how good it tastes. You may need to learn about skin and hair care, if your child is older, you will have cultural issue's to work through. 

   As an adoptive parent you will have to accept that your child's heart is never fully yours. Typically they reserve a small - sometimes large -  portion of their loyalty for their birth parents. 

  You, especially mom, will receive all the anger and rage your child feels towards his parents and whatever he has experienced in life. He will shout that he hates you and wishes you weren't his mom. She will break things she knows are precious to you because she wants you to know how badly she is hurting inside. There will be days when you wonder why your heart still beats.

You will receive love notes, hugs and kisses and feel guilty that you have this privilege instead of your child's birth parents. 

As an adoptive parent you will grieve the time you didn't have with your child. When your child asks, "Why didn't you keep me safe?" When referring to the years in his bio home, your heart will break a little more. You will also grieve for your child's birth parents, they are losing the years you are now enjoying with their/your child. Adoption is all about balancing joy and sadness, grief and relief.

Your child will beg you to take him back to his biological home because he is sure that life would be easier than the one he has now. You will once again be the "bad guy" when you tell him you can't do that.

You will find little love notes to birth parents alongside the "I love you" papers your child gives you and you will be reminded that even though you have sacrificed, cried, begged, pleaded and pounded pillows because of this child, you still come in second in your child's heart. As an adoptive parent you have to be okay with that.

When you hear your child belting out Jesus Loves Me, while playing with her dolls you will fall to your knees and thank God for rescuing one more child from the cycle of abuse and poverty that is so often a part of our children's pasts. You will praise the Father for choosing you to have a part in helping one more child. You will find yourself praying, "Thank you for being patient with me when I fought against this path you have chosen for me. Thank you for blessing me with this child, give us the wisdom we need to help our children feel loved and be able to give love in return. Thank you, Jesus for this priceless privilege."

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