I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about adoption and attachment. Two things tonight really got me thinking– one was a great blog post by my friend Kelly and the other is a fantastic Facebook group for parents of hurting children by Courtney.
I’ve gotten plenty of advice on parenting over the last few months. I’ve heard comments about how my kids are doing very well considering, they’re just great children with all that they’ve been through, etc. On the flip side, I’ve also been warned that they have a lot of baggage and pretending it’s easy won’t do any of us any good.
Those first few months home were so hard. Harder than I let on to most people– really anyone but Aaron. I didn’t want to go to sleep at night, because getting up meant doing it all over again. Is that post-adoption depression? Perhaps. Is it adjusting to the new experience of parenting? Partly. But I think that there were a lot of experiences and emotions I didn’t fully understand or share that also came into play. It’s easy to tell you how my child wets his pants and that is frustrating. It’s hard to tell you how my child picks any adult over me and how painful and difficult that is. Not just as a parent trying to move forward from the past and resolve an issue, but as a human being choosing to love somebody and feeling pushed away.
In many ways, we have had it easy. I know their are families who struggle with far more difficult than we do. But the truth is, that we do struggle.
A large part of my own thinking was that it was all in my head. Feeling jealous, feeling upset that my child picked another adult over me, that was me being controlling and insecure. I didn’t generally want me and the kids to spend time with other people, because of the sort of behavior and emotions I’d get out of the kids and myself. Manipulation, triangulation and a tantrum thrown in for good measure once everyone leaves. Those are awfully big words to throw around– we’re talking about preschoolers here, right? But, for a child who spends their young life needing such survival skills, it’s not far fetched at all. Dealing with those sorts of emotions and behaviors always leaves me feeling frustrated and inadequate.
I don’t want to make our situation out to be worse than it is. But, the truth is, parenting a hurting child is different and in some ways more difficult than your typical parenting. The truth is, it’s not all in my head. I am acknowledging this, because I know I must not be the only parent who doubts themselves and thinks perhaps it is normal or just age-related, like other parents say. I also don’t want to give you the impression that our life is all cute kids and fun outings. It’s not. We are slowly making progress and it’s really only in retrospect that I can see how hard I’ve been on myself over the past few months.
“Why can’t I love my adopted child?