I haven’t posted enough about adoption realities/struggles/trials after the child is home. Realities such as behavioral issues, bonding/attachment issues, and the list goes on. At this point, we haven’t experienced any of these in our adoption with Justice, which is why I haven’t really blogged about it. His transition into our family and lifestyle has been extremely smooth. From the things I’ve read, I think this is somewhat rare with international adoption.
I remember back when we shared with our families that we would be adopting from Africa. One of the responses that we got was ‘Have you really thought through this? It sounds like you are just on some sort of emotional high with adoption. What if the child comes and ruins your family?’ This family member wasn’t trying to talk us out of adoption, rather I think he was trying to give us a reality check. The funny thing was that this family member was right! We were completely unprepared for anything that we could potentially face. We were simply moving forward in faith. Mostly heart, not much brains…..which could definitely translate into an emotional high to some. I will be the first to admit that we really had no idea what we were getting into. We just felt it was clear that God was asking us to start an adoption. So we did.
Enter the 10 hours of adoption literature reading that was required as part of our homestudy. And actually 10 hours is a considerably small amount compared to what some other agencies require. The first book that I read was this one:
(Adoption Parenting: Creating a toolbox, building connections. Edited by Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae, PhD)
And my goodness. If we didn’t know what we getting into at the start, we certainly were brought back down to earth after reading this book. This book is close to 500 pages detailing every single scenario that you could ever imagine that comes along with adoption….most of the accounts are written first-hand by adoptive parents and professionals regarding real-life scenarios and stories. My favorite chapter has an excerpt titled ‘The One Thing I Wish’ which is a collection of notes written from adult adoptees sharing their thoughts with adoptive parents on things they hope we consider as we raise our adoptive kids. Some of the hardcore topics in the book include night terrors, attachment problems, food aversions and obsessions, post-adoption depression, issues regarding the subject of race and transracial adoption, parenting children who’ve experienced fetal alcohol syndrome, addiction, sexual abuse, trauma, precocious puberty, loss and grief, transitions and behavior problems, introducing the adoptive child to siblings, making plans to visit a birthmother or birthcountry, self-harm, sensory issues, lying, hoarding, scarring of shame & abandonment….really anything you ever wanted to know (or didn’t want to know) about adoption is in this book! And most of this book shares strategies for preventing failure, and tools for overcoming failure when things have gone completely wrong.
And that’s the great thing about the adoption process. Your agency should completely and fully prepare you to experience almost every single adoption reality that could ever happen….good, bad, or awful. That is part of their job! So, even if you feel like you are flying by the seat of your pants heading into adoption, take note, you will be
At the event on Sunday, one of the parents on the adoption panel noted that oftentimes the horrible possibilities with adoption are worst case scenarios that your agency must share with you to be sure that you are prepared for anything. Hearing bad adoption stories can really stir up fear in your heart (it did mine) with the ‘what if’ scenarios. However, sometimes the ‘what ifs’ do become realities. I am sure we can all think of at least one example in which a family we know has experienced really rough situations after their adopted child has come home. And I can think of a few examples in which the word ‘rough’ is an understatement. Some families have gone through some really heart-breaking things and have had to make very hard decisions for the best interest of their adopted child. As with anything you embark on, things could go terribly wrong. But in my opinion, reputable adoption agencies do a good job of being your ‘reality check’ in adoption. If you start an adoption off some sort of ‘emotional high’ you won’t be able to stay there for long if your agency is doing their job. Hopefully in the long run you will find yourself adequately prepared for the issues and realities that often accompany adoption. This is also one service to make sure that your adoption agency offers: post-placement guidance/support/help. Some agencies do not do a good job in being there to help you through things after your child is home. So, just another thing to be thinking of if you are reviewing agencies.
If you’ve adopted or been in a family who has adopted, I would love it if you would weigh in on this topic in the comments section. How did your agency prepare you to face ‘adoption realities’? Do you have any reputable resources to recommend for those considering adoption? Or, maybe you weren’t fully prepared for a hardship or failure that you faced with your adopted child post-placement. What would you say in this regard to those considering adoption? How did you overcome a trial/hardship post-placement? Or maybe you would like to post on this topic. If so, leave your blog in the comments section and let us know when you will be posting. :)