Monday, May 07, 2007

What Adoptive Parents REALLY Think???

Now that I'm the mother of two teenage daughters and all THAT means, I think back to my adoptive mother and feel almost sorry for her.

Adoption was the elephant in the room. The idea that I was born to someone else was so loathesome that she threatened to divorce my a-dad if he ever raised the issue. She went to her grave never having discussed it with her closest friends.

But she must have been terrified.

I KNOW she was. When I became less compliant, more rebellious, the more tense our relationship. What WASN'T discussed hung over our heads like a dark cloud. Every instance of typical teenage separation was seen as a personal rejection. If I closed my door, I was closing it against HER. If I wanted to hang out with friends, I didn't want to be with HER. If I came home late from a date, I was a slut destined for pregnancy and ruin.

Here's the "let's be honest" part.

When my girls act up, I don't carry the extra baggage of wondering about such unknowns as genetic predispositions. When I toss and turn at night, that's ONE thing I don't think of. I WOULD if I were dealing with a teenager I didn't give birth to. In fact, I think it's NATURAL to do so. How could one not? I'd wonder, was her mother temperamental like that? Did her mother have extreme PMS, too? When did her mother begin to acquire abstract thought? At 15 or was she a late bloomer?

I have a map. It's not always reliable and often, the roads I thought were leading somewhere are misleading, dead ends. But I HAVE a map. I think raising an adoptive child/teenager must be like driving without one. You don't always NEED a map to navigate, you've got personal experience to rely upon, but it IS nice to have one in the glove compartment just in case.

Sometimes I wonder...what DOES an adoptive parent think of when the child-rearing gets tough? Secretly. At night.

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder this too, good questions


joy


p.s. blogger sucks and won't let me leave proper comments, come to candy mountain,


I mean wordpress

11:17 AM  
Blogger RealEstateShows.com said...

Joy is right... you need to move to Wordpress. :)

Parenting is tough right from the start, so I know what I think already, as an adoptive parent... nothing different than I think with the four naturally born children in our home.

This would have been hard for me to believe a 18 months ago. My wife talked me into adoption. I was unsure I could love in the same way I love my four boys. Perhaps the fact they are girls has helped, I don't know. All I know is that, for me, the love is strong. Emotionally, the bond is so strong, I don't feel a difference.

That's my experience.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

I'm moving to word press at my year anniversary blogging...in like two days. Oh my god. Six children. The laundry. The GROCERIES. The dirty socks wedged in the sofa. (Okay, that's my house).

1:51 PM  
Anonymous justenjoyhim/judy said...

Nate is only 5, but lately the child-rearing is tough at times -- not always, but at times, with atypical behavior for him -- rages, occasionally, like a Tantrum Plus. Biting and pinching at school very occasionally. Really poor talk about himself.

The thing is, what we think isn't in secret and it isn't at night. But maybe we're different from other APs; I don't know. We've always been pretty open about things. My mother would be appalled, but hey, what she doesn't know won't hurt her.

What do we think? Well, the adoption question does always come up. In this case, it's a valid question, as in -- does this have to do with some kind of adoption loss issue? There's also the fact that we don't have any medical information about his first family.

Or it may have nothing to do with adoption.

We don't know. So we'll take him to an adoptive health clinic about 1/2 hour from us. I have to call them back at the end of May (already talked to a nurse there) because the psychologist there is out on maternity leave. Then he'll be assessed by the M.D. and the psychologist.

The nice thing about adopting today as opposed to many years ago is that we do have access to these clinics and centers, people who can help us and look at things from all angles.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Judy, Thanks for answering my question - which is framed from my experience circa Closed Era - openly and honestly. I can see where you don't want to leave any stones unturned. And it must be frustrating trying to get a handle on what may be linked to adoption loss. Or not. Especially with a child so young. My a-cousin is going thru something very similar with her (bio) son. Had no idea there was such a thing as an adoptive health clinic.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Being Me said...

Not an AP so not what you asked, but...

First thoughts, as a teacher I was amazed at how different kids can be. And then at how much my kids are like ME, especially when they're "bad". And how my best friend's little boy was soooo different from mine. And how grateful I was during their adolescence to recognize their patterns. And how it increased my empathy with my parents.

I'd be really interested to hear from aparents of teens. Is it still "nothing different than I think with the four naturally born children in our home."?

5:26 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

You SAID it! :And then at how much my kids are like ME, especially when they're "bad"

Yes. Yes. and Yes again. Especially with my 14-year old. Yikes. It's payback time, baby. Bigtime. I think she's a pretty typical teen, but dealing with an emo adolescent is like dealing with a toddler. With boobies. I can't exactly put her down for a nap or order her into a timeout. Darn! It's all about negotiation and giving MYSELF a timeout. I've also made the mistake of NAGGING. What a disaster that is.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous justenjoyhim/judy said...

I imagine, Nina, it would have been much different in the Closed Era, although I'm speculating a lot here.

The adoption health center started out as an international adoption center/clinic -- where doctors could evaluate children adopted internationally for diseases and to see how they were doing psychologically if they had been raised so far in an orphanage, to see how they were doing developmentally. I think they opened it up since there are some of the same issues with domestically adopted kids -- adoption loss issues and such.

It is SO hard to know with kids, and at this age it could be anything, from fear of going to kindergarten in Aug. to adoption stuff to being overtired. ??? Who knows.

I wonder if you can get answers from any of the adoptive parents from the Closed Adoption era -- do ANY of them blog, read blogs, are open enough to read blogs? ;)

7:21 PM  
Blogger Possum said...

Great questions Nina - and a great post.
I know my 11 year old is showing so much of my personality.
My a-mum just pulled her hair out - and sent me to visit my older sister when she'd really had too much!!
Poss. xx

12:08 AM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

I think they must think they were crazy to get into this...lol. Actually, they must rethink why they got into adoption over and over at various times, especially when the going gets tough such as in the teen years.

However, I have known many parents who did not adopt that couldn't wait for their teens to leave the nest. I always wondered about them!

4:34 AM  
Anonymous justenjoyhim/judy said...

I actually had an adult adoptee tell me that her dad used to tell her when she was a teenager and he was angry, that he would send her back where she came from. I know she said it in a joking way and he was supposed to have said it in a joking way, but I was mortified and thought that was an awful thing to say to a teen.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

JUDY wrote:
I wonder if you can get answers from any of the adoptive parents from the Closed Adoption era -- do ANY of them blog, read blogs, are open enough to read blogs? ;)

Mmm. THAT would be fascinating. Gonna Google and poke around. Great idea. And about the adoptee's dad who jokingly said he's send her back. I think many parents say all kinds of really nasty things when angry, but when adoption is involved...it takes on extra/special meaning. Like if I ever said something like that to my teen when both of us were "emo," I'd probably mean "send you back to Hades from whence you certainly must have come" (JUST KIDDING!!!).

POSSUM...When your 11-year old hits 13ish, I HIGHLY recommend reading some books on raising a teenager that includes developmental stages, the way their brains work (and don't) and the fascinating transition from literal to abstract thought. My now 16-year old was relatively easy (even though we DID go thru a sullen phase), but my 14-year old is all raw emotion and I tell you, I'm so grateful to have got the worst of the people pleasing issues behind or else this would be an absolutely NIGHTMARE! Sheesh. Your a-mom shipped you off, huh.

LEROY, Yep. That's my suspicion. That things MUST get more complicated for adoptive parents when their once cuddly cutee hits THOSE years. I have a friend who was THRILLED when her son left for college because she said she was exhausted by all his bad-boy behavior..the drinking, the late nights, the worry that he was having lots of sex (he was) and then there was the time he ended in the hospital w/alcohol poisoning. I wonder if it has anything to do with just how tough it was getting them through the challenging years?

10:04 AM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Nina...I think that unless one stays connected to their kids regardless of age, a parent is fighting a losing battle, not that relationships should be battles, mind you! Teens raised by their own mom and dads just don't have the disadvantage adoptees have of the genetic disconnect and all the denial going on. Yet, even without having that disadvantage, teens are on a mission to disconnect in order to become independent. What teens don't know how to do well (and much of this stems from how functionally/healthfully they detached in their earlier years), is become interdependent. That is balancing and moving back & forth from being dependent to independent cuz teens tend to go from one extreme to the other. That is what drives parents crazy because they think the teen has lost all ability to reason - and in some cases that probably is true!

I believe if you have had a good connection with your child in the early years, it will pay off big dividends when they go through their teen years. Just let them know you are there for them, that you love them no matter what and that you want them to be safe. Fewer rules are better than lots and give those teens strokes when you can because they need you even if they can't/won't express it.

I wouldn't trade a day the kids were home for anything. It was hard to see them leave but they knew that they could always count on their parents and I believe that gives a teen the confidence to venture out...become their own person..just like when they started to walk or go to school.

I'd do it all over again but I'd want my youth back then too...lol.

5:04 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Leroy, You are wisdom personified!

Wow. You really nailed it with the whole back-and-forth-independence-dependence thing. In fact, you helped explain what just happened a week ago w/my 14-yr old. She was a VERY clingy baby/toddler and I literally carried her EVERYWHERE (which was fine w/me). And while she separated just fine in time for school, we've always been very close. I think she's had to push a bit harder to become more independent. So she made a Big Declaration of Independence (also known as the I'm Not A Baby Anymore speech) and asked to do the sorts of things that a 16 year old might do then, that weekend, decided to stay close to home and chill. Go figure. Well, I think you helped me figure out THAT perplexing behavior!

10:34 AM  
Blogger M.A. said...

I just found your page and spent the bulk of the afternoon reading your back journals and blog comments. I was researching narcissistic personality, as I so often do, after having another agonizing conversation w/mom. A tooth extraction w/o novicane would be preferable.

I've always wondered what role adoption played in parents w/NPD, and don't think I've ever found anything that addressed this. The logical me say's no, she would have been,and still is, just as cruel and abusive to her "natural" children. But the child in me always wonders and still does. My mom is the poster child for NPD - she makes the Wicked Witch of the West look like a loving grandmother.

My story is long. I'm 55yrs. so I guess when you refer to mine as a closed adoption. I know it was private and they paid $$ - and don't let me forget it. It was the same old line about chosen, no questions about birth mom accepted, any research in to birth not only discouraged but would suffer a harsh backlash. Birth background didn't matter. It was just some kind of a genetic function she could not perform. All that mattered was she was raising me. She always said I was nothing more than a "lump of clay" for her to make into whatever she want. At least she was consistant. she felt that way about all her adopted children. There was no belief of nature to her, only nurture.

This deeply disturbed individual went on to adopt 4 children. Do not tell me there was any screening. We all come from differant nationalities with extremely differant looks and complections, nothing closely resembling the a-parent or each other. We always got the comment as kids growing up that you didn't look like your brother/sister. My mother reveled in that, especially loving to tell the nun's we all had differant fathers!

Having been abandoned at birth and then placed in such a horrid abusive environment is socially and morally inexcusable.

I too hate adoption. It is the buying and selling of children. How does it differ from slave trade? I don't see how any concern is given to the child. Just out to the highest bidder and in my case no consideration as to how or if the adoptive parent can afford to support or care in the future, both financially and emotionally for the child. I think most animal shelters or rescue groups have a higher standard in screening before placing a pet in a new home than, at least in my personal experience, private adoption.

I believe I would have been far better off, as would my siblings, if we had been raised in a government run environment by trained and educated child development professionals. If you argue that environment would be devoid of love - I wasn't raised with any and at least I would not have the emotional and phyical scars I have to deal with today. Differant ones I am sure. More distructive, I doubt.

It is very hard for me to imagine that a child is better off being adopted. Maybe there are a few adjusted individuals where it would be a success - I'm not just not aware of any. Maybe you or your bloggers can show me.

8:42 PM  
Blogger joy said...

Oh wow m.a. I am sorry, but glad you found Nina.

Nina is awesome!

1:37 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

M.A: Thank you, M.A. I'm going to post a response instead of in a comment. But...an expert on NPD (who's name I can't recall) said something like...If you have a parent with NPD, then you know what hell is like. It's a hellish way to grow up. But you don't grow up. You're not allowed to. I AM glad that you are aware of the great trauma that you have suffered plus, the double indiginity of having a crazy, self-centered parent AND knowing that you were placed in a home with such an incapable person.

I think you're awesome, too, Joy!!!

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