Possibly, or just sad that my poor blog has been left to the sidelines while my life moves forward.
I don’t ever want to pretend as if I know it all about adoption because I have four kids who are. Hell I don’t even know half. But if someone were to ask me today about adoption they would definitely get more than they bargained for. Here’s what I know so far.
1. I did not go into labour ONCE! This is just a huge bonus compared to how the original two came into this world.
2. Adoption takes a lot more time than pregnancy. Our first go around was a tease. We hardly waited at all. In fact, ours is not an adoption that Social Services likes to talk about because it’d always make them look bad for the next one. It was a short 3 months waiting after a scant 6 months getting on the ‘list’, which, would you look at that, is 9 months. The second go around made up for all that. We waited two and a half years for the next three to be placed with us. It seems strange that it only took 3 months to get an infant, but two and a half years to get three older children. Ah Social Services, I don’t understand thee.
3. It’s a much more difficult way to add to the family. I always joke to people who are in on our story that I just wanted to avoid labour to get to 6 kids, but that’s just in jest as the labour we’ve experienced in the last 4 months was way harder than any I experienced in child-birth. The labour is, of course, not always physical, but emotional and mental stress way beyond what is likely normal. This sort of cancels out #1, but it’s my list, I’ll make it as crazy as I want.
4. If someone wanted to sit down with me to inquire about adopting through Social Services themselves, I would tell them to run, and run fast. If you love to be lied to, avoided, stretched thin, left in the dark, and frustrated beyond reason, please, consider the Social Services route as it may be worth it to you to go through all that to avoid the usual adoption lawyer fees (adoption is free through SS here).
5. Having Birth families in the mix is not always beneficial when adopting through SS, so we couldn’t go into it insisting on open adoption. My daughter wrote how she’d love to show her birth parents our house and all I could think of was locking away the valuables (and I do mean jewelry because they’re unlikely to even think of the children as valuable).
6. Having six kids with a mixture of adoption, birth kids and older group adoption makes for wickedly easy topics of conversation among peer groups. I’m almost never stuck for words to say because people will get to the uncomfortable silence and then almost as if on cue, ask about adoption somehow. Then they will say they know of someone who is adopted too.
7. Sometimes talking about adoption gets too personal as people think it’s their right to know every detail. I will let them know when they’ve gone too far of course, but it gets tiring. This is someone else’s story, someone else’s possibly horrific story, not a gossip column, not a novel, a person’s life (or in my case, 3 persons’ lives). They don’t need to be gawked at or about.
8. There are a few people who are not as okay with adoption as I am and seem to fight accepting such simple things as a child’s change in last name. Thankfully those few people often get knocked back a notch by mightier people than I.
9. With older sibling adoption, you have to accept that you are not the first mom they’ve had in their lives and they truly think you will not be the last if they’ve been through the foster system. ‘Mom’ doesn’t hold the same meaning to them. It will eventually have a similar meaning to the kids who have known ‘mom’ since birth, but only time will make that happen, not force, not therapy, not well-meaning people.
10. Time cannot go fast enough between when the children are placed and when final adoption happens. It is interesting to me how much the newest three react, without even knowing it, to our Social Worker coming in our house for a monthly visit. These meetings have to happen between now and finalization because she has to prove to the courts that she meets with us to make sure it’s all going well. In our first go around, that was supposed to happen too, but it was sporadic, and I welcomed that. This worker is a bit stickier (I’ve had 4 workers in the 2 adoptions) about meetings. It adds stress to an already stressful situation. In the kids’ minds, ‘Social Worker’ = ‘something bad is going to happen’. I will be so relieved when that extra pressure is gone forever.
11. Churches following dogmas and rules will not baptize children who are placed and not legally adopted. My husband, a deacon of the Catholic church, cannot get his children baptized because they feel they are not legally ours so not legally allowed to baptize. This is disheartening to him, and not true either. Pharisees.
12. You can experience ‘firsts’ with many, many things when adopting older kids. It will not be first steps of course, or first words. It’ll run along ‘first time ice fishing’, ‘first time making an egg on your own’, ‘first Christmas with a forever family’. Those experiences are much more precious as not only will they never happen again, we’ve gone through so much more in order to experience them.
13. Children already in the home, who are super stable and have been homeschooled for 5 years, will change before your eyes into the remarkable beings you knew they could be in order to adapt to their new life. Of course they could become vermin, but when they don’t, it just makes you weep with joy.
14. New habits brought with new kids will make you crazy as said ‘stable’ kids will pick them up and knowingly use them to annoy the shit out of you.
15. Little boys blended from different families could show adults a thing or two about bonding. Sure, a kid may not bond to an adult and may fight tooth and nail over control, but my two have become the brothers I always knew they could be. Oh, and their bathroom always stinks, so if you come over, you’ve been warned.
16. If you’ve adopted to grow into a large family, large families will automatically flock to you. Which is a good thing, but different. Oh, and the noise level is beyond what any normal human ear can accommodate.
17. Adopting from the Foster system means you are very likely to be on a first name basis with weekly contact from your child’s teacher, doctor and therapist. Deal with it, as it’s your new life.
18. A lot of people you will run into from here until eternity will regale you with horrific tales of adoption returns and attempted stabbings, etc. You will hear nothing of the sort from Social Services by the way as they don’t want to breach any confidences that they know about (actually, they’ll just not talk in the hopes that you’ll not ask again and have to be told that these things in fact do happen on a fairly regular basis).
19. This has been my hardest road yet, but my feet are strong, my heart is soft and my laughter is therapeutic.
It’s just a list. A small list really as there’s so much more to adoption than this. But I feel like this is the stuff that no one will tell you about. This is the stuff that happens when it isn’t a squishy little infant being placed in a family.
OOo. I forgot one. Last one, I promise. If you didn’t drink before, you will now, I can promise you that.