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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How Adoption Changed My Views--Part 2

When we had Mr. C, he was perfect. Or at least, perfect in our sight. He was a typical first, early walker, constantly stimulated. We had nothing else to do but shower our boy with love and attention, read to him constantly, do puzzles with him, and help him grow his brain. Being that Superman is a teacher, he had half the year off to spend with our firstborn. I think we crammed more stimulation into that first year than in all the ensuing years combined.

Right before Mr. C turned one year old, J-Man was placed with us. Suddenly, spending unending amounts of time interacting with Mr. C became close to impossible. And I felt pretty guilty for it.

I realized when we got J-Man that he didn't get that same running start that Mr. C did. He had already been in 3 foster homes in his near-six months of life. He had been hospitalized for pneumonia and RSV and had never had anyone sit down and read to him or wrestle with him. And there was an obvious difference between where he was developmentally at 6 months, and where Mr. C had been at 6 months.

And when M-Dog and N came to us, it was even more apparent. They had been removed from their birth parents when M-Dog was 2 years, and N was 5 weeks. They went on to three foster homes before the Lord planted us on their front step. And as I've said before, M-Dog was three by that time. And he didn't speak. So much vital time had passed, and those so-important first few years were thrown by the wayside, never to be had again. N was 13 months when we got her, and was still crawling, only saying "mama" and just behind in general.

Thankfully, we got G at six weeks. She was still young, and had only been in one foster home, so her transition to our home was simple.

So this is what I've learned:

1. It's nearly impossible (or maybe even impossible) to give all our children the same level of undivided attention that our firstborn received.

2. Children adopted out of foster care almost always come with baggage. But, the baggage is so worth carrying. Because seeing your child blossom from the child he or she was into the child he or she is becoming is one of the most rewarding experiences. Ever.

3. I can't expect the same responses and growth out of each of our children. Of course, this would apply if we only had biological children as well, but I believe it's more pronounced in adopted children. These kids each have their own story, their own challenges, their own pains, and their own triumphs. Their pasts have shaped who they are, and I have to flexibly work around those nuances and parent them individually instead of as a group.

It's hard to admit, but there have been times (usually the challenging times), when I have thought to myself, "Man, it would have been so much easier to just have our own biological kids." I know that sounds really bad. I know that every child is unique, and who knows what future children of ours would have turned out like. But, at least I would know where they come from, you know? At least I would know that they were provided for, loved, and given the best I could give them. I won't lie, it's hard to be an adoptive parent. But as I've said before, it's also one of the most amazing adventures.

And it's a perfect illustration of the way our Lord "adopts" us, despite our histories. Despite our shortcomings and failures, He loves us perfectly. And I am so confident that when He sees us blossom, it makes Him giddy with excitement.


Annie said...

Interesting! I think you are probably right....most of the time. Though I do know a number of people (I work with families, so meet a lot of them) whose bio kids are more burdened with interesting challenges than any of my adopted ones.

Do you find that some children really manage to get more than their share of attention? Our foster child did. He sucked it up...and not necessarily in bad ways....but time and again I'd find he got much more than my other boys the same age.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you're very honest. I don't think a lot of people would be willing to share as candidly as you. As my husband and I are pursuing adoption for the first time, it's really encouraging and refreshing to hear someone tell how they TRULY feel, not just what they think people want to hear. Kudos to you, and I can't wait to read more!

Shanti said...

Hi, Annie, thanks for the comment! Yes, I think *most* of the time is the key phrase here. I think any child (adopted or not) can have challenges, and do.
I know what you mean about some children getting more than their share of attention. Some kids just seem to need more attention, while others seem to be fine just chilling in the background. We have one of each of those, and we have to be careful to make sure we are drawing out our quiet one so he doesn't get lost in the shuffle.
Sarah--thanks for your encouragement! It's always nice to know there are people out there reading!

Sally said...


That is great to read your honesty. My husband and I also adopted 4 through foster care (2 sets of siblings). Although they all came relatively young, there is big differences in their challenges. We definitley have moments where we think this is so hard and what have we done? But, as with all parenting, it is sometimes tough, but it is so worth it. Also, I was completely anti-medicating before adoption, and now I have an open mind for when that discussion comes up later. Thanks for your blog and your honesty.

cherrie said...

I too appreciate you being so open. I am a foster adopt mama in AZ. We got two baby boys who are 8 weeks apart, only to find out that we were preggers. Three boys in one year. They are now 2 years old and 18 months. I have never admitted it, but I have imagined how easy it would be if we just had our little "homemade" baby. Our older boys were both born addicted and their issues can be so exhausting some days. But they are so worth it and I love them.

Cherrie in Arizona

Shanti said...

Thanks for your comments, girls! Cherrie, welcome to my blog! Your story sounds just as crazy, if not more, than ours! =)

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