Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Next Chapter

So if I thought I was sidetracked before, that was nothing to life post adoption.  I just wanted to give an update.  Hopefully I will start posting on my blog again.  I love traveling with my kids, and I hope to update more soon.  I am starting to feel more like myself again. Since my last blog we have been more places and seen more things. But first I want to continue the Next Chapter, what happened after we adopted our daughter.

Adoption is done with love.  Adoption is usually a selfless act on the part of the parents.  We bond with a child who we want to be our own.  We use our limited resources and often surpass those to make this happen.  We feel similar feelings as when you are having a child biologically.  We hope, we cry, we pray.  We do all we possibly can do to make this child a part of our family.

What we fail at is realizing, especially with an older child, these children have their own freedom of choice.  Sometimes the bond we feel is so strong, we just assume the child has felt it too.  This is not always the case.  Sometimes it happens.  Sometimes these children are an answer to a questions we never even asked.  Sometimes, as parents we are answering a prayer of a child, who then when they realize what a family is, they realize they did not know what they were praying for.  As parents we often take classes on what it means to adopt a child.  We research RAD, we research PTSD, we research Institutional Autism, we RESEARCH EVERYTHING!  In the meantime our children are just going along trying to survive life.  No one tells them what a family is really like.  Some are told that we are buying them to sell into slavery, to harvest their organs, or to make them our personal slaves.  And adopting is often equated to buying in their minds.  We see it as making legal something we feel.  They see it as spending a LOT of money to make them our child by law.  This scenario is very common.  They are terrified of us.  They want their freedom.  They do not feel the bond as we do.  They often do not feel anything.  

There is another destructive thing these children are told.  They are often told that Americans have everything.  They will be given whatever they want.  Ipads, cellphones, cars, money, jobs, diplomas, or whatever they desire.  The mention of earning these things is foreign.  They either think they will be given these things or denied these things.  The part where they have to earn these things is never taught them.  And when they go into a family and realize there is something they are supposed to do, to contribute, to be a part of something, it freaks them out.  They have not been taught how.  They have lived a life where this is how it is for them, they are either denied or given things.  And when they have everything they have ever wanted, a family, and realize it involves work on their part it is scary.  They are not sure if they want to invest in this life.  Is it worth it?  They have been let down their entire lives by trying to do or be anything.  They have often tried to assimilate into a person who is who the people they are with want them to be.  They do not even know who they are anymore.  And we say we will love them no matter who or what they are.  So they go through these different identities they have created for themselves.  The bad child, the good child, the smart child, the strong child, the weak child.  They often crack under the pressure.  They don't know how to be anymore.  They don't know how to earn their way in the world.  They would probably do better with a step by step guide, but even that would seem like it was written in a foreign language.  Love is foreign to them.  Family is foreign.  Being able to live the "American dream" is foreign to them.  And all the learning and research we do, as parents, can not change this.  

All children have a period of adjustment.  Some kids learn to be in a family and adapt. I would say it takes about 2 years for any child to accomplish what it means to be in your family.  Some children will never learn.  They will fight it as hard as they can, because they do not trust.  They can not trust.  They never learned love.  And trying to help them is like telling them they have been wrong about everything they have ever experienced their entire lives.  

So understanding this helps when things go difficultly, but it does not make it any easier.  Adopting an older child is often like a marriage.  Both parties have to agree to the arrangement.  And there is things for both parties that make it impossible to live together.  Sometimes separation is the only way to continue safely for everyone.

I will let you, the reader, assume what kind of adoption we have experienced.  

I will highlight the good points.  Our daughter is beautiful, smart, and strong.  She has learned English very well, she is pretty fluent.  She just graduated high school.  When she got here she was a year behind her age level, but she did 2 years of high school in one year this last year and graduated with her age group.  She is in Job Corps and will graduate later this year in Culinary Arts.  She will be 18 later this summer and I have full confidence in her becoming independent and being able to support herself.  We love her and love seeing her achieve all that she sets her mind on.  

The hard points, we know some police officers because of how often they visited our house.  We have seen, fired, been fired by a LOT of therapists.  We know the staff at our local schools more then we ever thought we would.  We know the ins and outs of 504s and IEPs, we know how hard it is to fight for these things.  We know how awful it is to try to get your insurance to pay for mental health, only to find out that it is not covered AT ALL, and not only that, it has a stigma attached to it.  We know about and have tried just about every kind of therapy with mixed results.  We know what a safety plan is and how to enforce it.  I know what it is like to have panic attacks daily, what it is like to break out in hives from stress.  I know why children over 13 are special needs.  I know.

In saying all of this, that is why I have named this blog post, the next chapter.  It is not the final chapter.  It is just one chapter.  It is a chapter of our lives that I may want to talk about or not want to talk about.  It is not the end.  It is a chapter that one day I hope to close and open the next.  We are still family, we still have hope, we still are here.  It has been hard, but we have learned more about ourselves.  We are all healing. In the end we have chosen each other.