Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Adoption - an altruistic act? This is not about charity.

Edited to add, as this post seems to have stirred some controversy that this is not aimed at my friends and family who have given so much love and encouragement - this is about well meaning strangers who have managed to day the wrong thing at the wrong time. Also this blog is about me and my little family and the ups and downs of our adoption story. There will be good and bad times and I will write about both. And if you do take it personally, please read this post twice, because honestly it's about Poppet and not you! :o)

Let's get this straight. We did not decide on adoption because we want to be admired or need self validation. We chose adoption because we want a family and it was a choice we made because we couldn't do it any other way. I find it really patronising when people tell me what an amazing thing we're doing because we are doing it for our family. Not because we want to HELP someone as an act of charity. We want our child/ren to reach their potential just like any other parents, we want Poppet to grow up enjoying life and to be able to explore the world with options for her future.

At the same time I also get frustrated with people, albeit well meaning, telling us that certain things are normal. Fact is there are some behaviours that are totally normal and age appropriate and certain things that are not. It does not help to tell me that when she hits the terrible twos it will get worse - it probably will do. Not because we've hit the terrible twos but because the honeymoon period ends. Ironically that will be during the terrible twos, so it will be age appropriate, but the fact is ALL adoptive children have this time. Many of them are stuck at the age they were removed and many regress to babyhood even when they are 8!

We have a child that has gone through so much in such a short time. She's lived in several different places, has had multiple carers and it is obvious that BM did not give her much attention when they were together - she hates me being on the phone or sending a text or Matt being on the computer when in the same room as us. She tantrums if I go out of the room, or don't pick her up, but completely ignores and avoids me when in a room full of people, preferring to go to anyone else. But this is what we expected because we've been through the workshops and read books and articles and so although it's hard we know that with hard work we can all get through it. But many adoptions fail and so we are mindful that we do need to work hard at this - and try and do the best for her, encourage and nurture her but without pushing her.

This is useful in explaining a little about how it is different with adopted children and this is a very helpful article (abridged) about how children reject affection

Things that I am doing to encourage attachment at the moment are using baby lotion and rubbing it into her skin after her bath; dancing with her on my hip and when she will let me holding her close and rocking her. This is also so new to the three of us - she has to do a lot more adjustment than us. Although our world is changed, she has to cope with new carers, new family, a new environment and her little mind has to adapt to all of it.

I don't want to be a neurotic mum - I'm happy for her to climb and play in the garden and explore, but at the same time I also have to manage her needs and I am learning to do that. She needs to learn that Matt and I are permanent fixture and that she is not going to be moved again and that it is us that will look after her and not other random people.

So this is the path we've taken and it's exciting and scary. And while things can go wrong with any child, we know that adopted children need a little extra to beat the odds. But we're in it for the long haul - we're a family and don't expect plaudits, just support and love and understanding.