World Adoption Day is November 15th this year, and in honour of the day, I thought I would do a little recap/update on our adoption!
If you recall (or if you want to take a quick trip back through my blog, you will see) The Hubs and I decided to adopt after years of fertility issues. We had a (then) 6 year old daughter and I was suffering from secondary infertility due to PCOS. We had always wanted to adopt, because The Hubs, himself, is adopted, but like most people, we intended to have a few biological children first. It dawned on us that adoption didn’t have to be an ‘after our own kids’ decision, and it even made me sad to think that I hadn’t considered it earlier. I now tell people, all the time, DON’T WAIT! If you think adoption is in your future, just go for it. There is no right way to shape your family, and you don’t have to follow the same old prescription handed down to us of have your own, then adopt. You can have a mix of adopted and biological children, in whatever order works for you, so just go for it!
After a little more than two years of waiting, several matches, too many bumps in the road to count, a lot of anger, frustration, and heartbreak, we were finally presented with a match that ended with us bringing home our two amazing boys! (See previous posts for more details on the journey) Fox and Bear have now been with us for two and a half years, and what a whirlwind it has been. Our official journey is not over, as we are still, PATIENTLY, waiting for a judge to sign the official paperwork approving the adoption. It has been a two year wait, so far, but that’s a whole other story. Our journey, on a whole, will probably never be over, though. Two years with our boys has taught us that there are just some wounds that can’t be healed, no matter how young the child was when he got that wound. They have settled right into our family. Due to their young age, the memories of life in a foster home are slowly drifting away, but the damage left from a traumatic start to their life will always be there. We can work with it, and find ways to cope, but it will never go away.
Another thing we learned, was that adoption brings with it a little secret, that not many people talk about, called Post-Adoption Depression (PAD). When I had KB, I was very lucky to have an amazing family doctor, who made sure that I was aware of Postpartum depression (PPD). I did my best to take care of myself and maintain a strong village of support around me, which got me through any baby-blues I felt. Adoption was a little different. Like PPD, PAD has both physical and psychological contributors. Attachment is such an integral part of a successful transition. It means spending a significant amount of alone time with your children, to reinforce what comes more naturally to a biological child, that Mum and Dad (in our case) are number one. It can be very isolating, especially for people who are used to being more social. You are hyper-aware of how unpredictable your child(ren) are, and you have been warned over and over again by your social worker, that you just never know what they might react to. There are so many reminders of the fact that you were not the first ‘parents’ in their life. Even the child, themself, may not be aware of the residual effects that their trauma has left them with. Any outing with any child is an adventure, but with a transitioning child, it can quickly go from an adventure to a complete nightmare, and you have absolutely NO idea why. Add to that the inevitable feelings you have that a biological family member may see you, and confront you, or find out where you live, and come to take the kid(s),even though you know that it’s impossible. The ever present fear that one day your worker will call you up and tell you that this has all been a mistake and your children are being placed with their ‘real’ family. The strange teeter-totter of emotions you go through, where you are incredibly possessive and protective of YOUR children, while also wanting to constantly blurt out “they’re adopted” as an excuse anytime they misbehave or do something strange. The absolute gut-wrenching guilt when on the worst days you think, or even say out loud “what have we done”, or worse “did we make the right choice”? I could go on and on, and even if you have never adopted, you may be thinking to yourself “I went through most of that with my biological children” and that is, sort of, my point. All of these intense feelings and emotions contribute to PAD in the same way that they contribute to PPD. Physically, you are also battling hormonal changes, just like with PPD. The hormones are different, but they intensity of their impact on your body is the same. I wasn’t surprised to find out that PAD exists, but I was surprised to have it hit me about a year after Fox and Bear had been home. It happened slowly, as things became more regular at home, and life became (our new) normal. PAD snuck (or is it sneaked?) in, just to keep things interesting. It lasted, on and off, for about a year.
And now, as we head towards our third Christmas with the boys, life is just life. I don’t remember what life felt like before my boys, and I can’t imagine life, going forward, without them. KB never ceases to amaze us with how much she loves her brothers. They fight, of course, and she complains when they go into her room uninvited, or are the reason for her to miss out on something, but every night when she makes sure to be there while we put them to bed, to read them a story and help tuck them in, when she beams with pride as she picks up Fox every afternoon from his classroom and brings him to the bus with her, every time we find her and Bear snuggled together in some corner in her room as she shows him a funny youtube video or plays a game with him, we know she was MEANT to be a big sister, and she is really good at it. And the boys themselves, have truly surprised us all by thriving in every way possible. They have completely blown-away all the professionals in their lives who were prepared to label them with an entire alphabet of syndromes, based on their birth history. I’ll admit that it makes me proud to be congratulated on our great work with them, but in all honesty, it wasn’t anything we did, and it makes me sad to think that this is the expectation of most foster kids. The approach professionals take is one of diagnosing what must inevitably be there, versus letting the kids just be themselves and only diagnosing IF something presents itself. For Fox and Bear, they just needed the space and time to be themselves. They needed consistency, familiarity, and people who truly believe in them. They needed to be home, and we are so very happy that they are!!!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little update. If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know, and if you have an adoption story to share, I’d love to hear it🙂 Happy World Adoption Day!!!