We talk often about forming positive relationships with birth families. But what do you do when you can’t get past the anger you feel toward them?
If you know us, you know we are strong advocates for open adoption. We often write and speak in favor of open relationships with a child’s birth family. In our own family we have regular contact with biological parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even brothers and sisters. We feel that if it is possible and safe to have an open relationship with a child’s birth family, you should.
We often talk about attachment disorder from the perspective of the long awaited real hug, or genuine “I love you.” But what do you do when your child attaches too quickly?
February in the Midwest is guaranteed to be bitter cold and filled with snow… well at least until this year. For the last three weeks we have had temperatures in the 70s and sunshine almost every day. Consequently, the grass is turning green and bulbs which should be dormant for another month are pushing through the soft earth and blooming just a bit too early. I have enjoyed these last few weeks of stolen Spring. My children hauled their bikes out of storage, we grilled out and even had a campfire. As I was driving to work the other day the sight of crocuses in bloom made my heart skip a beat. I felt myself begin to grin, then quickly remembered the weekend forecast. Snow. The beautiful crocuses had bloomed too early. I found myself wondering if they would survive the weekend.
Over the past several months, we’ve received many messages from folks who say, “I’m not called to be a foster parent, but I’m called to help in some way. How do I did that?”
According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, there are over 397,000 children in the foster care system right now. There are simply not enough qualified homes to care for all these children. Our hearts should be moved to compassion. We cannot sit idly by while even one child goes without a home. We know we must do something, but what? Should everyone be a foster family? The short answer is, no. Should everyone do something? Without a doubt, the answer is a resounding yes!
It’s a trial many parents find themselves in when their child ends up in residential treatment or juvenile detention. How do you continue to be a parent when your child lives somewhere other than home?
Twice a week, I visit my son. Twice a week, I sign myself out on a lined piece of paper. Twice a week, I retrieve my belongings from a locked box as a staff member walks me to the door. Twice a week, the door swings shut behind me and as I cross the parking lot. Twice a week, my eyes well up. Twice a week, I turn the key in the ignition and catch my breath as the tears are too much to hold back.
One of the biggest issues adoptive parents face, is helping typically-developing children cope with the struggles and behaviors of non-typically developing children. But there is a way to find balance.
When our first daughter was born, everything was just as it should be. She was full-term. Her birth-mom did not drink or smoke or use drugs. She took her pre-natal vitamins and ate a healthy diet. Our daughter was placed in our arms just minutes after birth. From the moment she entered the world, all was right. She developed appropriately. She walked and talked on time. She ate all the right foods and transitioned to a big girl bed with ease. We were absolutely certain there would never be a bump in the road with this child. We were convinced she would have smooth sailing as she developed and matured.
Over the years, we’ve been asked how our children feel about being a part of a multi-racial family, and how they’ve adjusted. Our conversation always points back to the importance of your community.
When we became a multi-racial family, we considered the toll it might take on our children and on us. We weighed the scenarios as did our children’s birth parents. In the end, we partnered with our children’s birth parents in making the best decision we could. Our children needed a family and we already deeply loved and cared for one another. We did not ignore the color of their skin but we also didn’t make skin color the ultimate identifier of our family.
Our society prides itself on titles, positions, rankings, and statistics. It’s how we identify pro-atheletes, leaders of major corporations, and our favorite sports teams. Often, it’s how we identify ourselves. But we have learned that, in our family, we are much more than a title.
Ok, Ok I understand our blog is called Confessions of an Adoptive Parent. It’s easy to think that we eat sleep and breathe adoption. Our title is a brand but it isn’t all that we are. Adoption, to us, is more like a surname. A last name is an identifier but it isn’t a person’s sole identity.
Gossip hurts. Gossip is no fun and it tears someone down quicker than the blink of an eye. My family has been through the ringer with this one. That’s why I’m asking politely…please mind your own business!
I see my children tense before I even know why. We’ve been snuggled up on the couch for the last hour enjoying a family movie night. My youngest has built a nest of blankets so cozy and warm I feel like I could stay snuggled up there forever. Without warning, his body becomes ridged. I notice that my older son has his fists clenched firmly. My daughter has pulled her blanket tighter around her. My hearing seems to be fading in this fourth decade of my life so it takes me a moment to hear the approaching sirens, I too feel my heart skip a beat.