Saturday, April 16, 2011

One of the things I didn't know 5yrs ago

When we started the adoption process for the first time almost 5 years ago, I thought if we did our research (and BOY did I!), picked a great agency, flew through the adoption process,picked the right flights, had plenty of hairbows (LOL), and showered Kemry with love, life for her would be no different than if she had been born into our family. Sure I knew some kids had scars and problems bonding, but that was OLDER kids, right? Not babies. And kids from orphanages, not kids from loving foster homes! So or baby would come home at just a few months old and not even notice anything had changed. BOY WERE WE NAIVE!!!!!! I had heard of attachment issues and RAD, but knew that most kids with those issues were severely abused before adoption and older. I skimmed a few online articles and websites on the subject, but that was the extent of my "adopted kid issues" training and basically all of those backed up what I thought- babies don't remember the loss of their first mother and adjust without any problems. Kemry came home to us at 7mo old and we immediately knew these people were all quacks!!!! She grieved and grieved HARD. Only, the experts, including pediatricians, refused to believe her issues were adoption related because she came to us at such an early age. She didn't like that her perfect little world had been turned upside down. She wasn't waiting on us to come get her like we were on our side. Adoption was very much more about US at that point than her. I feel God used Kemry to show us that we didn't have to adopt one of those "older harder kids" to get a child with deep scars from "just" loosing a mom. So for 2 years, she continued to protest us being her new mommy and daddy. She wanted us to hold her but then didn't want us. We weren't what she wanted but she knew she wanted and needed someone. At this point I started reading everything I could get myhands on about attachment and bonding. most books were written about the older child because, well ya know, "babies don't have those issues". The more I learned and talked to other parents the more I realized they do, but they are often ignored as being related to adoption. There's a saying that it takes a child being in their new family the same amount of time they were without their family to get past the grieving and to bond. I myself have said this 100 times at least without putting a lot of thought into it until now. Suddenly it occurred to me it's such an incredibly OVER simplified way of thinking of the lifelong journey many adoptees take to accept and deal with their story. For some they may not need to put a lot of thought into it and may adjust well from day one. For others, that deep sense of loss will stick with them forever.

She finally came to trust us and deeply bond with us, but it's obvious the scars from the "miracle of adoption" are still there and may always be. Today she is a very happy little girl for the most part and adores us as we do her. It's so easy to forget she is adopted because she is so deeply a part of our family. I sometimes "forget" that I didn't birth her. Even though she is a well adjusted little girl who loves her family smiles all the time, and doesn't seem to have a single need in the world, she still hurts because loosing what she lost in her first 7mo of life (her birth mother she was DEEPLY bonded to from conception as well as a foster mother who had loved her for 7mo) is traumatic.

The other night she woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible night terror. Instead of being afraid (terror), it was deep intense sadness. She cried so super hard and I couldn't console her. Finally she woke up from it and I asked her what was making her sad. She said with huge tears rolling down her cheeks, "I miss my mommy." I knew she didn't mean me even though she and I are very close and bonded. I knew it was something much deeper than I could fulfill. The bond between a mother and her baby already at BIRTH is DEEP. Loosing that is a huge deal, even if the baby goes straight home from the hospital with the adoptive parents, they know. They know they aren't with the same person they were with for 9 mo. Even in the perfect adoption situation, something terrible had to happen for adoption to be needed. Going into this I thought love was all these children needed, but while they of course NEED love, that's by far not going to erase what they have been through. Of course we don't spend every day talking about everything that happened to our children for them to become orphans, but we don't pretend it hasn't affected them either. Almost 5yrs later, we are still learning and growing on this journey to provide all we can for our children. There's SO much to know and even the experts still have so much to learn. Most of what I am learning about my children I have had to get from little bits of information from naturapaths, neurologists, psychiatrists, other parents, child development experts, etc. Not one person has all the answers and not one book can cover all the dynamics of what they are dealing with. And to think I once thought LOVE IS ALL THEY NEED.

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