Over the past several days since writing my post on our families attachment with one of our daughters I’ve done a lot of thinking. Mostly if I posted too much information, if I was too honest about our situation. I’ve had some good comments on it which made me feel like I was doing something good but i’ve had others that left me thinking maybe I’m just imagining all of her behaviors or maybe I’m just doing something wrong and it really upset me. Like consumed my thoughts all day upset me. Could i be the reason she is the way she is? Is it all my fault ? And you know what I’m decided NO it’s not and damn those who think it is. This is why i have no friends outside a few in the adoption community, because none of you get it. With your “perfect” little families and your “perfect” little kids. How dare you criticize my parenting when u haven’t lived a day like I have, when you haven’t walked even a step in my shoes.

Of course my child is charming, polite and well behaved around you, she’s manipulating you, it’s what she does. trust me as much as you think she likes you she totally doesn’t, it’s just part of her routine. I could go n and on about this but I’m too angry to at the moment, but take a second and decide if you really want to judge my parenting practices and criticize me. My kids have faced more trauma in their short lives then most people do in a whole life time, and that requires me to parent much much differently than you. Maybe you should pick up a book or open a webpage and read about RAD before you start throwing your stones my way.

On another note, I read something the other day that literally left me with tears in my eyes and my mouth hanging open. I’m going to post it here and link back to her, hope she won’t mind.

Layers of loss.

For many adoptive moms, the first loss comes from infertility. Then you pick yourself up and resolve to parent anyway. You adopt.

Layer two: the process of adoption is tough. There are no secrets you can hide, it is like being interrogated by the CIA. For international adoptions, the wait is impossibly long with ever-changing bureaucratic red tape to wrestle with. In foster adoptions parents are rarely given an accurate social history, sometimes intentionally so a particularly troubled child can be pawned off on unsuspecting souls.

Layer three: dying to yourself, the pollyanna part of you that believed, even remotely, that adoption was everything lifetime movies say it is. Dying to your naivety. Dying to your pretty home and your pretty life. Dying to being soft-hearted on the outside. dying to the truth that to survive, you have to wear an ugly, scaly alligator skin every day.

Layer four: the loss of the love from your child. This one has been particularly hard for me. verbally I can say without emotion that Sissy will likely never attach but it is damning and compounding when other moms tell me how their children are attaching. I am glad for them but on the inside I want to scream. I’m doing everything they are doing and still, Sissy figuratively flips me the finger (give it time. I’ll eventually get the actual gesticulation.)

Layer five: the loss of the roll you intended to play as a mother. Therapeutic parenting is a horse of a very different color. In no way does it resemble the mother figure you imagined yourself to be. It requires skill, preplanning, chess strategies, dying to self, stuffing personal emotion for the best interest of the child. It looks very strange to the public world and in a nutshell can be summed up as “caregiving” as opposed to “mothering”.

Layer six: the loss of friendships because they don’t understand therapeutic parenting. and for some, the loss of family relationships for the same reason.

Layer seven: for some, the loss of a marital relationship because daily trauma stresses the entire family unit, often irrevocably.

Layer eight: loss of self. Another one that is fiendishly evil in my personal life. It is a struggle to remember who I am, and who I am allowed to be regardless of what is going on in Sissy’s world.

Layer nine: loss of dreams. I’d love to adopt again. With Sissy like she is, we’d never pass a home study. I’m also terrified that another child will come with equally damning history.

Layer ten: loss of the right to blame. what good would it do me or my daughter if I take out my anger and grief on her because EVERYTHING, every loss so far, is because of her issues? Similarly, what good does it do me to blame the first parents? no one wins when you blame. It feels good to raise a fist and holler expletives but only for the twenty seconds of time it takes to do that.

Layer eleven: the loss of financial stability. I can’t imagine working while parenting medically disabled children. I have no savings, no retirement, i live in a tiny home that is as old as I am and is falling apart. The Dad drives a truck without AC and our summers are ungodly hot. It scares me that we have no financial cushion. Some people start out their adoption circumstances financially stable but it’s a double entendre: if you are wealthy enough to support your family, you are wealthy enough to pay out of pocket for the hours and hours of therapy your child needs (and in some cases, residential treatment or foster placements). At some point, your ill child will bleed you dry financially.

Layer twelve: loss of community. I’ve been blasted by my community several times because I like to have a voice and advocate for impaired children. It’s not fun to be called ‘that mom of the retard kid” on syndicated radio. It’s even less fun when the editorial columnist that blasted you in the paper on wednesday is sitting two rows ahead of you in church on Sunday.

Layer thirteen: loss of religion. This one still hurts too bad to talk about. I got into adoption because I thought it was what God wanted. I’ve got nothing but spit in my mouth to say about that now.

Layer fourteen: loss of hope. for some moms, their children just have to be removed by whatever capacity available. and when those children actually do well in their new environments, it jabs again because the question lingers what didn’t I do right? What could I have done differently? and for the moms that hang on despite train wreck after train wreck the hopelessness crumbles into I’m doing everything everyone else has done and more. why isn’t it working? why is it unendingly hard?

Layer fifteen: loss of photos. I’ve talked to a few other women that have the same photoless years as I do. I think it’s a common phenomenon for cancer patients too. The last thing I want to do is memorialize this time in our family’s life in a photo. So I don’t take many. And we certainly haven’t done a family photo in years – we won’t even discuss the trauma of trying to get Sissy to cooperate. I also don’t look through old photos. I don’t want to remember. All of the pictures of Sissy bring back memories of that moment in which she was making it miserable. Instead of it just being a picture, it’s a historical document of rage, pain, anger, anguish, grief, despair, sorrow, loss. I didn’t even take pictures in Orlando. Too hard. It’s just too hard.

Layer sixteen: loss of connection. There is a psychological ideation in alcoholics anonymous called terminal uniqueness. Newbies to a meeting often leave believing that they are nothing like the other alcoholics, that there is nothing the group can do for them because they are “different” than everyone else. This ideation can translate to other addictions and life traumas. 68 women gathered to hug, laugh, love, learn, cry, live, breathe and connect. I’ll wager that 68 women went home by themselves and still had a part of them feeling alone. We were given rocks engraved with “you are not alone” and we’re not. But none of our stories were exactly like the others. None of our therapy plans will exactly work for the others like it has for us. The danger of terminal uniqueness is that it is terminal. We must force ourselves to stay connected or we will wither and die and that means, we must accept that we are all in different places and in the same place simultaneously.

Adoption of traumatized children is isolating and debilitating, it requires that we grieve much and in little bits every day, it steals thousands more than it gives, it alters our perception of humanity, it forces us to think outside of the box and then accept that outside of the box is the safer place to dwell, it demands that we surrender self-will for the greater good, it expects perfection every day, it strangles, chokes, punches, bites, kicks, hits and screams:

it is layer upon unrelenting layer of loss.

pretty damn amazing no?

You can read more here


3 responses to “Amazing

  1. That is a lot of loss. The grieving has to be fierce. I found another article i wanted to give you that made so much sense to me about our children who have experienced trauma especially very early…..when I find it, I send it to you (though you’ve probably read it already). Not a damn bit of it is your fault.
    I think often of all the kids at the orphanages. How sweet and charming and lovely they all were for all of us “ferenge” showering them with affection and candy and goodies. How we would have loved to take them all home. What happened after we left? That front our kids put on; amazing.

  2. Most people don’t even care if they are being good parents, most people don’t have to work at being a parent, and most people just can’t understand what it is like to have a “difficult” child if they haven’t experienced it. Self doubt and guilt are common feelings for parents of “difficult” children. Be confident that you are doing everything and trying everything and don’t lose hope. No one can see the light at the end of the tunnel at night. Because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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