Adoption difficulties

With all the news about the international adoption gone bad, I have been re-living the first few weeks with Alan. Adoption is not always the "warm fuzzy" that is portrayed in movies or on television, nor by some adoption agencies.

When we adopted Alan, we had several months of adjustments. We did not know each other, and were trying to create a family while having no shared history. Alan did not speak, so we could not know what he was thinking, and even if he had been able to talk to us, I am not sure he would have been able to give voice to his feelings. I remember waking up in the middle of the night the first night to check on him. He was sitting up in his bed, silent tears falling down his cheeks. Of course he was frightened. Two near strangers had taken him somewhere he had never been, and it was very frightening.

We had adjustments to make as well, learning to watch out for a little one when it had been just my husband and I for nearly 6 years. We had to learn what Alan liked/didn't like to do. We felt a deep commitment to Alan, but the deep love we have now was not yet in place. There were moments when we lost our tempers, or felt overwhelmed and sad. Alan tried to run to a neighbor's house, and I believe he did not feel safe for quite a number of weeks.

There's lots of talk about attachment disorders, etc. My feeling is, those labels are not necessary. The fact is, when you adopt an older child (Alan was three) you have to expect that it will take them twice as many years as they are old to believe you have made a commitment and will stick with them through thick and thin. That's what helped me, not a diagnosis of "attachment/reactive disorder."

Alan really began to trust us and feel that he was in a permanent place when he was about 9 years old. There was a change in his demeanor, and it was obvious he felt he had a forever home. We worked through the tough times - and there were LOTS of them - and are still working through them. Our commitment is strong. We are a family.

To all the adoptive parents out there - give yourself time. It's okay to feel overwhelmed. Seek counseling, help of any kind. The problems you face are not unique to you, and others can help.

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