I think that one of the things I wish that I could pass along to anyone who is thinking of adopting is that they need to make sure they understand why so many of these children are in the system. I find that so many of the families who are struggling with issues associated with adopted children truly did not have any idea about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), or so many of the other associated physical and mental health concerns. The facts are that for most of the children who are coming into foster care the reasons are due to addictions, chaotic life and behaviors, mental illness, etc. So many of these things are not issues that you can just “love” them through. I know that so many families get told to “take the child home and love them” you can get past it all. Well sorry that is a lie. Yes these children need families to love them but they also need families who understand you may love them forever and they may never be able to reciprocate fully. They may love you but in a way that is forever changed or damaged. Can you accept this different type of love and an insecure attachment? For some people yes they can but for some this will be a life of pain to them while they continue to try to “fix” what may be unable to be fixed.
The fact is that with all children you have to look at them, bumps, bruises and all, and be able to just accept them. What if this is the best you can ever get? Can you just love them through it? There will be days when it may feel like it is not possible to keep going with some of the behaviors and anger. The thing is to remember that this is a brain change. They (the people affected) cannot help how they react, etc. We can still work on the behaviors but have to realize that we literally have to do coaching, redirect, redirect, redirect. Practice the outcomes you want from them. What do you need for them to do in a particular instance? Is it a certain behavior or reaction? This is where you “fake it until you make it”. It may be practicing empathy… or practicing when it is okay to laugh. The issues are we expect the child to learn this and for them it may not come automatically the way we think it should. The stages we expect them to grow out of or into may not happen or at least not when we expect them to. It may be something that we have to practice with them to get it all to work out for them. Stop assuming that the child/person understands what they are doing wrong or that society feels they are doing incorrectly. If you are looking at adoption…EDUCATE yourself. This is not to talk anyone out of adopting. I love my children but you do end up walking a path you may not have expected quite often. Make sure you are prepared with all of the necessary supplies for along the way. Talk to other people who have been there and have the experiences you are wanting. They can help you with honest stories and advice.