Many of us go into this adoption thing knowing adoption is hard, but the extent to that difficulty is often not grasped. It wasn't for me. I knew that both of our adopted kiddos had suffered trauma, I knew it was going to take patience and love, but a couple of weeks ago, if you asked me if you should adopt, I'd probably have told you "not in a million years".
Both of our kids come to us with differing traumas, but traumas none the less. I won't share their stories here because I believe those are theirs to tell, but adoption is born of loss so suffice it to say that even if you are in the delivery room to welcome your adopted child into the world, they've still suffered a trauma.
Our sweet two year olds are tough. We're dealing with language delays, sensory processing issues, impulse control, and a WHOLE heap of anger and aggression. I've been more than exhausted in learning how to deal with them as all of my tried and true parenting techniques just aren't working. Time outs make behavior worse and they feed completely on my level of stress. Stress has been high and to say life with these two precious ones has been tough, would be an understatement.
I hate to admit it but there have been times that I've wondered what on earth I've done to my family. I yearn for the old days of only three kids. ;) Then God gently reminds me that this is NOTHING I've done and that He is in control. I waver between thinking we've been reckless in our family growing and knowing we're following His call. I've been weary, and while my heart knows these sweet blessings have suffered a trauma and they are the victims here, I've struggled with viewing myself as the victim. What seems like willful disobedience has become more than I can handle. I needed help. My compassion for my babies was waning and I was beginning to wonder if they were just doomed to be "jerks" their whole life.
I was blessed to join some amazing friends who are also on the same foster/adopt journey and head to the Empowered to Connect Conference this past weekend. I've read Dr. Purvis' book "The Connected Child" and it was fantastic, but getting to sit in that room and see it in action was such an immense privilege and blessing that it is tough to put into words. I am still processing much of what I learned this weekend but I will tell you that I've come back with a new sense of hope and a renewed compassion for our kids...all of them.
If you have a child who has suffered any kind of trauma in life I highly recommend Dr. Purvis' resources. She is like the "Hurt Child Whisperer". She was unable to personally be at the conference as she is battling cancer at present but her staff was amazing and I will never be able to thank her enough for her help. Restoring hope to my weary heart is a gift I can't even describe.
I've learned so much about the biology and science behind the kids' behavior, and I am now continually reminding myself that "anger covers fear" so all of that anger is coming from a kid who just desperately wants to feel safe. He's coming from a place of such primal fear and he is doing what he knows to do to survive. Just in the last 48 hours I have implemented SOME of Dr. Purvis' suggestions into our home and I can tell you that there is more joy and peace than I would have imagined. It takes a lot of work and intentionality but I am so grateful to know that healing will come for these kids. We've taken a bit of a "step backwards" and are just working on making sure our kids FEEL safe. I am learning not to enter a battle for control with my children as it isn't worth the win. I hope to share in segments more of what I learned at the conference to show my fellow adoptive/foster moms out there that there IS hope and there ARE answers. We can do this!
So do not let my words discourage you if you are following the call to adopt...but please educate yourself on the needs your child WILL have. I was so naive. I really thought that MY adopted kids would be fine, my parenting of my older three has been relatively easy so CLEARLY I am a good parent, but the truth is...we all need work. Time for a shift in parenting. We need to be more real with pre adoptive parents so they are more prepared for what they will face and equip them with the resources to find the answers they will seek! I am feeling a strong call to help make this happen in my area, so stay tuned! :)