When you adopt a toddler, you adopt their past
I’ve spent a while digesting the story of the adoptive mother who returned her adopted son to Russia. She had him placed, alone, on a flight to Russia with a note explaining why she could no longer parent him. She claimed he was a danger to her and her family, and that the baby home lied to her about his emotional status.
I originally hesitated posting because there are so many variables, and we really don’t have enough details to evaluate the adoptive mother’s behavior. It is sad that she didn’t examine other options. However, I can also understand her anguish and the enormous amount of stress she must have been under.
Often, people think that adopting a child will be just like giving birth to a baby, except you get to skip the early years. It doesn’t work that way. Adoptive parent have to remedy each and every one of those early years that the child lived in a coercive and cold environment. Remedy is much harder than raising the child properly in the first place.
There seems to be a myth, among people unfamiliar with adoption issues, that adopted children will be so happy to finally have a home, that they will be grateful and loving. Nothing could be further from my own experience. Actually, with Matan, at least in the beginning, he did seem grateful and relieved to have “found” his family.
However, to say that our first year with Karen was difficult would be an understatement. She is a very bright and challenging little girl today. When we brought her home, she was angry, rebellious and violent. She hit, kicked and bit us, especially me. She never allowed me to hold or cuddle her in the beginning. It wasn’t until over a year that I really began to feel love and affection towards her. That is a hard thing to write, but I think it’s important that new adoptive parents and potential adoptive parents are aware that they are not alone if they are feeling beyond challenged in the first year or beyond.
Shortly after we brought Karen home, I was on various lists of adoptive parents. At the time, it seemed to me that the adoptive mothers where thrilled and that except for some developmental issues, all the mothers seemed positive and didn’t seem to be suffering through emotional issues. I find it hard to believe, based on the real life adopted children I know, that so many of the posters were totally content during the first year. Were they in denial, or did they really feel that emotionally, the family was doing well? Of course, it is possible that they really did have no issues, and their children attached to them quickly, and that their homes were full of love and light.
I just felt it was important to let anyone considering international adoption know what they are getting into. It isn’t all love and light, but it does offer the potential for a deep and loving family, even if you do need to work on emotional issues as they arise with age and development.