Friday, November 20, 2009

Adoption Questions: What did you not expect?

Question: Did your kids come home with a lot "more to deal" with than you thought?

My answer: For us we brought home 2 children we weren't expecting to bring home. We went over for 2 preschoolers, we came home with two children at an infant level. Though we weren't prepared for infants, our transition home went wonderfully! The hardest thing was (and still is) bonding with an older child Something I didn't expect was autism or at least autistic tendencies. I, in fact, always said I couldn't deal with that ONE thing. Don't ever say never :) God doesn't call the equipped but equips the called and we love Emma without question and continue learning how she ticks and what we can do to help her as well as continue the process of trust with her.

From working with other families: In general families that have difficulty upon coming home (which I'd say about 1 in 10 have significant enough difficulties that they share, and others have adjustment issues but quickly resolve) it's based on behavior or a lack of connection.

Those are great big generalizations, but sometimes the behavior of the child- like Emma- is more affected by their time in an institution. Some children may have true autism. But a general thing that can be overwhelming is either 'orphanage behavior' (hitting, kicking, biting, pushing, never saying thank you, demanding things, jealousy of other children) or institutional behavior (stimming, rocking, grinding teeth, not doing well in new situations, spinning, hitting self). And then the lack of connection is generally the parent's side, but it's another thing that I've heard several times. "I love her but don't feel connected yet" I've heard twice this week. Sometimes it feels like you're babysitting someone else's child when you come home. Love is work. It will come ;)

I think families that expect instant love and gratification generally have a more difficult transition time, but some people definitely DO find that quickly as does the child! Some families that go in without expectations also find an instant connection and reward whereas others do feel the disappointment or difficulty with some things. A LOT just depends on the child/parent interactions and 'chemistry'. Some parents and children mesh immediately whereas some take a lot of time and effort.

Other ideas from post-adopt parents: Many people commented that their transitions home were easier than they'd expected. They found their medical info on their child was sparse and often inaccurate. Depending on who gave the information on the child and what the original intention of the description was for (funding or to find an adoptive parent or to dissuade people from adoption), the description may hold a completely different tone.

The question was also raised about previous descriptions and the expectations that come with it- giving a child character traits based on their photo or pieces of the description. That's definitely something to consider. Words can paint a picture, but not necessarily an accurate one :)

Feel free to add to this in the comments! This was a conversation going through RR today and I think it's a good one to share! :)


  1. I think that is a great post.

    I would love to adopt a couple of cuties in Ukraine right now but my husband is sure that I'm crazy. Hopefully one day he will change his mind!

  2. Great post Meredith.
    We have had Aiden home for 4 weeks now and even with me being hit with H1N1 on our trip home, my mother in law passing away and most of our 8 kiddos being sick since he has come home his transition has been a breeze. Much better than we expected! Mary Ellen

  3. Good post ...and to Jenny when it is right it will be right for both of you. Mom

  4. Hey Meredith,

    I think about this subject often and it's also one people like to ask me about. I remember thinking the very same thing about autism that you talked about in your post. But your right God doesn't give us more than we can handle(even when we waiver in thought and think that he has!!!!) He also NEVER accepts the word or attitude of "CAN'T!"

    Even with the research we did before adopting there were things we didn't account for or even think of and later found it difficult to find information about. As more and more families go through the process I believe this is changing so good job Meredith keep the lines of communication open!

    I know for me while working on our adoption it was hard to look at Macey's picture and/or read her description and not imagine what she would be like, how our meeting would go or envision our family's future together. I'm glad I didn't hold those thoughts or visions as truth as the reality version didn't always play out the same way. I think that if I had held on to my preconceptions it would have made our connection and bonding difficult.

    As for transitioning into the family and everyday life, we've had good times, bad times, many times of exasperation and complete exhaustion. We have even had times where the thoughts of hopelessness crept in and with no end in sight but He is true to his word picks you up and pushes you on!!

    Although Macey has transitioned fairly well there are issues that we have addressed that sometimes pop back up in some form or another so we readdress them but I can also say that very same thing about all my children and sometimes my beloved husband too1 (like his cup in the frig! lol)

    We feel very blessed to have ALL our children and even thought life can be difficult the rewards are abundant!

    Sorry for the Nove! ;-)

  5. Thanks so much for posting this, Meredith. So much amazing information!