Many adoptive parents get a bad bad bad case of "It won't happen to me." Or " I Have been a parent I don't need your training." When given training or books to read, or new ideas to accept, they balk because "Adoption Should NOT be this HARD!" Which I have said many many times.
A child is placed and after its "official" the child difficulties grow exponentially.
I'm just going to tell it like it is, overall the church in America is judgemental and un-supportive. When faced with a adoptive parent in crises they judge or drift away. When an adoptive parent tries all the "tried an true" methods of acceptable parenting... they don't work. When they reach out for help, they are viewed as odd, over protective, or to harsh, and weird. We are often rejected not only by the outside world but also by friends and family. Thank God above not my family. As the support for their family, their person, their faith crumbles about them... they feel like total and abject failures, and they look like failures from the outside too! They are failing and they have no idea why!
The more they try to love or correct the child the harder it gets. Social workers are limited, they are often overwhelmed with other cases and leave adoptive parents hanging in the wind. Your done, your on your own, once the child is placed and officially adopted the support for the family is often just no longer available. Not to mention the shame factor in all of this. Think about how much gumption it takes to reach out and seek help in the first place. Sacrificing pride and having to say this is a mess and I need help. When you often hear... "What you have problems?? but I thought the child should be grateful to have a family!"
Finding a therapist that can help and see the issues from the perspective of "This is a traumatized child", NOT "This a parenting/family issue" is also extremely difficult. Especially when the parents may not even realize that Trauma is what is truly the underlying issue. So even those that seek therapy just dig the hole deeper the more they try to help the worse it gets.
Can you hear the anguish in my voice? I have been in those places where life is so hard, nothing works. I have cried out for help and heard crickets from the church, and watched my friends drift away or become uncomfortable. My family on the other hand was super supportive and kept telling me to stick with it, find an answer, keep pursuing the best for your family. I remember Karen S. coming to me in a day of need because God told her to. That support gave me hope and the desire to continue. But what about families that hear "That child is pulling apart your family." "The child is the problem." "What have you gotten yourself into?" "I could never do what you are doing, I have no idea how you manage. I would have given up." "Don't you worry about the safety of your other/birth children." "Why are your bothering?" "Maybe they should be in an institution, since you can't handle them." Or my personal favorite "You know how hard this adoption stuff is and your doing it again?" And yes some of these have been spoken to me directly, some have been spoken to dear friends of mine.
Having found Tapestry, Karen Purvis, TBRI Parenting and learned way more than I ever wanted to learn about sensory processing and the brain. We found hope and began to succeed, to connect with our "trauma" child. To see her heal and grow and thrive. Thank the Lord for supportive family, GFA, and the friends who listened and supported instead of running away because the situation looked awful.
Lately each week I'm with a set of like minded adoptive parents that...
- Realize the tool box for disciplining a adoptive child is much much smaller than a birth child.
- A group that realizes "normal" family life for your birth family is not "normal" in our adoptive family.
- A group that realizes that what looks like defiance and rebellion may be a sensory issue creating a fear response.
- A group that realizes a child's trauma and history may defines that child's reaction in any interaction. If you fail to remember it or are unaware of it chaos ensues.
Having this support helps me stick with techniques that look like I'm rewarding bad behavior, and thus am I judged... When in reality I'm having compassion on my child or just feeding a need that causes the fear (and the bad behavior) to disappear. Personally I'd rather be judged by the world/church on my weird odd parenting and have a kidlet that connects to me. Than loose my child when they turn 18 because I cared more about how the world sees me, than I did about my relationship with my child.
Lets also think for a moment and realize it is more than just the parents, the traumatized children, or the system. Your reaction as the body of Christ does matter. Take some time to pray also for:
- Families in crises, parents and children that are swamped, overwhelmed, hurting.
- Parents that do not want to return their dream, their child but are so lost and hurt they see no other option for their life.
- Children who have been disrupted and have lost hope.
- Pray for those parents who are hanging on, as their world crumbles and support drifts away.
- The OT, PT, Speech Therapists and Pediatricians that spot and identify sensory processing issues and help these children to heal.
- For Karyn Purvis and David Cross as they chart the course of these new techniques that work!!
- Pray for parents sticking it out, that they can bring their children to a place of felt safety and true healing.