Dear Daughter, I Choose You

Dear Daughter,

I’ve never lied to you but I haven’t figured out how to explain this to you, so I’m glad you haven’t asked questions yet. I’ve been cranky lately and I want you to know that I’m trying really hard to put it behind me and get back to normal.

I had to make a really hard decision to end a friendship, and I’m feeling really sad and hurt about it. I want you to know first and foremost that it’s not your fault. I was warned when I started the adoption process that people would drop out of my life, and so I expected it. I was warned that even close family and friends will question my future child’s behaviour and the parenting decisions that I make. I didn’t expect it would be one of my best friends, but I knew it would be someone.

I’m really struggling with losing my friend, but I don’t regret my choice. You are the most important person in my world, and everyone that surrounds us should be supportive. There just isn’t room in our lives for anyone who isn’t. I want you to know that I chose to adopt you and I will continue to choose you as my number one priority for the rest of my life. I will never regret those choices.

Dear Daughter, I Don’t Enjoy This

Dear Daughter,

They told me that children with trauma and attachment issues would do everything they could to push a parent away and to test boundaries… but this sh!t you put me through; Kid, there ain’t enough vodka in the world. I don’t know why you take it to such extremes. I have always been good at following through on the consequences that I lay out for you, but it’s like you have to keep upping the ante. You keep pushing past my consequences like they don’t mean a thing to you, and I have to make the consequences harsher and harsher to match your escalating behaviour. And when you’ve been warned a thousand times of what will happen if you continue, you do it one more time just to see if I’ll follow through… and so I must, and now you sob uncontrollably because I’m such a mean mom.

The parenting techniques I used to preach to clients, have no effect on you.  Natural or logical consequences are out the window. So much for discipline vs. punishment. So much for getting down to your level. That does not work with you. You don’t need a friend, you need a parent. A strong one.

I want you to know that I don’t enjoy this. I do not want you to think that I am mean. I want to be warm and loving and let you bend the rules and have exceptions sometimes, but I can not. When I do, you are out of control. You do not feel safe, though you have begged for the flexibility. I must be firm with you, and when your behaviour is not appropriate then I must be more firm, and when it escalates then so must I.

This does not come naturally for me. I am spontaneous. I am care-free. I don’t enjoy following a routine or having every part of my life mapped out for me. But I do it for you, so that you feel safe within that structure.

So when you are older and you have memories of those times when “mom was mean”, know that I was doing it for you. Know that I didn’t enjoy it but that it was the only way to keep you from spiralling into an anxious mess. Most importantly, know that I was doing it because I love you.

Love,

Mom

The Young Boy I Met

In May I met a 14yr old boy at an adoption party. He was awesome, but I was holding out for a sibling group. I decided to look into him again recently and just today discovered that he’s been placed with a family. It is always bittersweet to hear about placements of kids you’re interested in – but I’m so glad he has a home now.

I’ve inquired about lots of kids over the past several months. Most of them from the public website. None have panned out yet. The trouble is that the kids on the website are the “hard to place” ones, who’ve been resorted to marketing tactics to find them homes. We don’t get to see files for the majority of the kids in care. We as adoptive parents have to leave our lives in the hands of a social worker – a stranger – and hope that they’re doing everything they can to match us with a child and expand our families.

It’s hard not to feel like you’re just another file sitting on someone’s desk. Usually, you are. I contact my social worker once every couple of weeks to ask questions and make sure we’re making strides in the direction of our end goal. What is that saying… the squeakiest wheel gets the grease.

In the meantime, I sit and I wait and I hope for a child to bring noise and laughter and life into my home and into my heart.

It’s Almost Go-Time!

I’m really quite excited to start my life as a mom. It’s taken a long time to get to this point (my best friend calls it “the most overdue pregnancy ever”). I first applied to adopt in April of last year (2013), but I had spent my whole life thinking about it first. It took six months to receive the first phone call saying that they had finally reviewed my application. After that things thankfully seemed to go faster (though they really didn’t). I’ve been through two very long weekends of training, filled out massive amounts of paperwork (repeatedly), I’m now onto my third social worker (intake worker, home study writer, and now the permanent adoption worker), and last month I was finally approved to adopt!

In between all of the appointments and paperwork, I’ve painted both of the kids rooms, the laundry room and the basement. I’ve torn down and re-built a fence and a deck, I’ve attended several meet-ups with other adoptive or prospective parents, and I’m managing the blog for a new non-profit organization started by one of my new friends. Things have been really busy preparing for my new family; I guess you could say I’m nesting (and drinking more coffee).

My social worker said that my file has been getting a lot of attention due to my wide age-range, so I don’t think it will be very long before I’ve found a “match” and will get to bring them home. I’m spending the interim period saving up for my parental leave and trying to finish off a few projects around the house. I also have a couple of weekends planned at the lake for good measure.

Wish me luck, and keep your eyes open for big news coming soon!

Confidence as a Parent and Expectations of Traumatized Children

As I inch my way closer to becoming a parent, I find myself struggling with feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self confidence. For years, I’ve been listening to my friends talk about raising their children. They’re so far ahead in the game that I’m not sure how I’ll ever stack up as a new parent. I know it’s not about comparing my successes (or my children’s) to theirs, but I feel as though I’ll struggle with the unsolicited advice and explaining to those around me how raising a child who has been neglected or abused is so much different than raising a child born to you.

I will likely have lower expectations of my children then I would a biological child. For a traumatized child, even the basic acts in life can be a challenge. My expectations need to be reasonable and achievable. There simply isn’t any comparison between a child who has been adopted and one who has not. For an adopted and/or traumatized child, feeling secure in a family, managing emotions and trying to understand why “this” happened to them take up the majority of their plates. At the end of the day, there isn’t much time left over to be the star basketball player or humanitarian of the year. Making it through each day without a meltdown is a success.

I will need to learn to trust my gut. To keep my confidence as a parent high, expectations of my children reasonable, and to shut out the voices of the people around me who think they know how it should be.