24
Sep
09

Being TransPARENT

Anyone who follows this blog knows that it’s not been an easy year for us. It’s been a year of discovering that our son, in many ways, is still fragile in how he views his place in our family. And all of it has led to what I’m starting to believe is post adoption despression for me.

Some, maybe lots, of adoptive mommies experience these blues when their children first come home. Months or years of waiting and anticipating this child are hard, but still joyful. Then the child comes home and it’s not all joy and love. The child rejects you; you discover you don’t have the bond with the child that you thought you already had.

That’s not how it was for me. I had read the books. I’d paid attention to the stories of other adoptive families. I expected the first few months to be hard. (Although I did completely underestimate how much of a role sleep deprivation would play in those early days.) I was fully prepared for the struggle I had educated myself about. And our first six days together were rough. Not a lot of sleep. A grieving baby. No help from family or friends. At one point I didn’t know if we would make it through.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that three years later there would still be struggles. I don’t remember anyone talking about struggles years down the road. I wish I’d had Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen while we were in process. It gives such a realistic view of the issues that may come up throughout the life of your adopted child. And The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis, which also helps you see how early trauma can affect a child. These books, I believe, would have helped prepare me for what might be a lifetime of adoption struggles.

From the outside everything must have looked rosy because we got lots of comments on what an “easy” transition our son had. I really don’t know what to say to that. It’s true that he didn’t have the struggles that some kids have in those first few months. I attribute that to God preparing him for his new family in a way that only God could. And, the fact that God prepared us to not make those first few months about us. Yes, we were experiencing a transition too but nothing like the transition our 9-month-old son was experiencing. We met all his needs; we slept with him; we used a carrier to keep him close in strange situations; we didn’t allow anyone to hold him for eight weeks; when he started to push us away, we held him closer. We put in a lot of work to help him feel secure.

And three years later, he knows that he’s loved and cherished. But I believe that sometimes he doesn’t feel completely secure in our family. I think there are times when he’s wondering when the next change will come. As a parent, that’s hard to swallow. We certainly haven’t done everything perfectly, but we know that likely this insecurity, this fragile nature, isn’t about anything we’ve done or haven’t done. It’s just how he’s reacting to the early losses and trauma he’s experienced.

I believe one of the biggest problems with motherhood today is a lack of transparency. We all want the world to think that our families are going wonderfully; our kids are excelling; and we’re the greatest parents of all time. No one wants to admit that they are struggling. That at times they dislike being a mother. That their children might have some “issues.” But at almost 40 years old, I’m tired of putting on my “rosy” face. Sometimes life isn’t always rosy. And often times adoption isn’t rosy.

Being an adoptive parent is hard because for many being an adoptee is hard and not just for the first few months home. Many adoptees struggle with issues throughout their lives. Hard as it is, I want to be prepared so my son doesn’t have to feel alone in those struggles. And maybe my transparency will help prepare another family for the journey to come.


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My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

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