It has been quite awhile since our last blog entry. From the title above you can probably guess this is not going to be a light hearted report. Let me do a little disclaimer before we begin. I am in no way saying my kids are bad, that the adoption was a mistake, that our lives are ruined or that everything has been a disaster. What I am saying is that this has been hard. The training we did before hand and books we read seem to have been cleared from our memory banks. Please know that I love and respect our children too much to name them individually and have them feel betrayed. What I will be writing about is the difficulty from our end as parents. One of our goals has always been to be honest and forthcoming with our experiences so that anyone who comes after us on the adoption journey will be a little better prepared then we were. We had so many wonderful families share with us that we feel it is only right that we share as well.
Let me begin. This is hard. The honeymoon is definitely over. We are exhausted. We have said all of those things over the last few months as everyone has become more comfortable in their new surroundings as a family of eight. Kim and I read a good many books on subjects that would deal with behaviors that our children might have which formed from their early life and the trauma involved. We did the mandatory (and some extra) Hague training through web videos that was required by our agency. I will look you in the eyes and swear we must have forgotten it all. We are a couple of blithering idiots! Nothing we tried in our parenting utility belts has seemed to work. It has been so frustrating. The emotional outbursts when trying to correct a behavior probably has the neighbors thinking we are barbarians who are beating our kids (for the record, we are not). How do you deal with a child who just can’t communicate other than uncontrolled screaming and crying? On the end how do you deal with one who becomes a stone cold statue and can go hours without saying a single word.
We always tell the children we love them and try to establish eye contact. We hold their hands and re-assure them that we are a family forever, that mommy and daddy are not going anywhere. All of this has not appeared to help matters, at least from an outward perspective. Please understand we are not here to complain. I wish someone had been this honest with us about some of these issues before we started. We could have prepared even more and been better equipped as parents. One of the first troubling behaviors that popped up was disobedience. Blatant disobedience. The kind where the child is looking at you in the eyes, with a smile on their face, as you tell them no and they continue to do what they are not supposed to. Not a big deal right? I mean we have twins who did this stuff at one, two and three. It is a big deal when it happens every day, multiple times of the day, and by someone old enough to know better. Or do they? It is as if we have no house rules at times. I personally feel I discipline on the same subject (ex. no throwing balls in the house) all the time.
Another thing we have been dealing with is lying. Flat out lying to our faces, sometimes even after we saw with our own eyes what happened. Both of us have a real problem with lying and have always told the kids (all of them) that if you tell us the truth there will be a little trouble, but if you lie, then there will be huge trouble. This happens almost everyday and a for awhile it was happening on multiple fronts. An example, one child will lie to get another in trouble, and then that child throws another child (innocent I might add) just so everyone gets in trouble. It is a huge web that we must go through and it is truly one of the most tiring things we deal with. I know lying is from their survival mode, so we are faced with trying to build a bond of trust. When one of them has come forward with the truth and they receive little punishment, like just a talk, I can sometimes see that they believe they can trust us.
This isn't all that we deal with. There are good days too, but dealing with behaviors like those above really start to wear on you physically and emotionally. We reached out to our super awesome adoption agency, Children’s House International, and asked them if they had any suggestions on what we might do.
Our Case Manager put is in contact with the social worker on staff immediately and we scheduled a call. It was such a relief to hear her say we were not alone in our feelings. She told us it is not uncommon for her to hear that we had forgotten everything we learned in our pre-adoption training. We basically had fallen back on the way we had parented our twins, it was easy. It was also wrong for our new family and we would need to learn new ways to parent. Remember when above I said the children should know better? They don’t. Their early life experiences have wired them differently. The social worker gave us some recommendations on books and sent a DVD that deals with some of these issues and how to handle them. She also sent a link to therapists in our area who specialize in dealing with adoptive children who have suffered from one form of trauma of or another.
Over time we can change that so they will be better equipped to handle their actions and emotions. With refocusing our parenting on the individual and not the behavior we have seen some improvements. With further counseling and training I think we will start to better understand our children and how to teach them in these moments. Our goal for our children is for them to become responsible and contributing members of our community.
There is help out there. Do not feel as if you are alone on a deserted island. Please do not be afraid to pick up a phone and ask for help. I specifically did not go into further details of behaviors or counseling to protect our kids. The behaviors that I listed are really things we deal with on too regular of a basis, but we love them SO much. We would not trade this adventure for anything in the world. It is hard. it is difficult at times. It is exhausting. It is frustrating. If all we focused on was the negative we would fail to see how awesome it is to be a family of eight. It is fun. There are a lot of laughs. There is a great deal of LOVE!