Monday, January 13, 2014

17 Nosy Questions about special needs adoption- ANSWERED

You know the questions that people WANT to ask, but they’re not sure how to ask them in a way that doesn’t come across as nosy, insulting, or otherwise inappropriate?  Close friends can discuss it, and others that have walked in similar shoes have experienced similar and will share their own responses as well, but for you or I to just walk up to someone and ask what we REALLY want to know, well, it just wouldn’t be appropriate.  

There is a difference between something that someone NEEDS to know and something they simply desire to.  Curiosity.  Many times we’ll be told not to answer questions of curiosity because it’s really not necessary.  I think differently, and so do several influential historical people:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

“Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

“I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.”

And so, even when there may be a bit of discomfort in the actual conversation that surrounds these questions, I feel like putting it out there is a way to help others to see what adoption and special needs parenting is really all about.  There are questions that are intended to be nosy or rude. These aren’t those.  These are the questions that are meant to understand, to inspire.

These are the responses to those hard questions from 13 moms of multiple children with special needs...

1. Did you fall in love at first sight, or does it take a while to have it feel like the child is really “yours?”

Amy: Sometimes, but "knowing" a child was mine and "feeling" it are different. Sometimes the bonding was quick, usually it took time to fully feel that true mom/child connection.

Jaclyn:  I have fallen in love with many orphans and still love them, but the feeling when I saw my sons was so overwhelming it brought me to tears. The feeling was soooo strong that I could not deny that God was calling me to GO!

Meredith: I think the idea of love came quickly, but the ‘love’ I had for each child initially and the LOVE I had for them a year-18 months home was amazingly different.  Initially I cared for and about them, but once that true bonding occurred between the two of us, it was a deep and indescribable love that you know with very few people in a lifetime.

Sara 1: When I first saw her photo, it was like love at first sight. I felt like I knew her, as if there was some sort of connection all ready. Seeing her for the first time in person I still felt that connection, pull and love towards her, but it was mixed with fear as she was more "feral" than we had expected.
Sara 2: Yes, as soon as she was placed in my arms I was in love with her. It was as if she was born to me.

Alysha: Yes...first sight of their picture where the idea of who they are is different then who they really are. Seeing them for the first time in real life was surreal and one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Both times my heart felt exactly like it did when I first saw my bio just knew they were mine. No matter how hard it might be at times, they are mine and my heart knows it.

J:  Love at first sight with the first 3 who were all toddler age, not as much with our older two, still excitement but not the motherly, protective feeling right away.

2.  How did your biological kids really react to having a new child in the house?

Amy: We started our family by adoption, then biological kids, then adoption, so.....

Jaclyn: There was definitely a honeymoon period. At first, the boys could do no wrong, but now they treat them about like they treat each other.

Meredith: It depends on the child.  Our kids already in the home LOVED our first two adopted children.  Both were much like infants.  The third child that entered was with just as much enthusiasm as he was like an older infant/young toddler.  The fourth and fifth came home together and one was readily accepted, but the other was walking, in to the other kids’ things, and quite honestly wasn’t very nice.  Other kids in our home have said they didn’t like her at times, and I can’t blame them.  I didn’t like her at times either.  But love?  Love is different, and there is definitely love between every set of sibling.  Not a single child would wish they didn’t have a single sibling.  

Sara 1:  My then 4 yr old traveled with us and knew for many months that we were working towards bringing her sister home. She was very excited.

Sara 2:  Very excited to have a baby in the house.
Lorraine: Our biological kids have welcomed each and every new sibling with open hearts and open arms. We've always included our children in the prayer process when God call us to adopt another child, and God has never led us to adopt a child without already turning our children's hearts toward that child. Once the new child is in our home/family, it's no different than when a new biological sibling is born. There's the usual transitions and adjustments all families have when a new member is added, but nothing God can't handle. Everyone learns together how to adjust to the new normal.

Shelley: My bio kids don't remember what it is like for a child to enter the family in the "traditional" way (ie: mommy pregnant/new baby being born). So, for them, children joining our family through adoption is the "normal" way. They were always accepting of the new kids.

3.  You adopted out of birth order- did the kids already in your house feel displaced?

Amy: we adopted out of order, but added in the middle so it worked out fine. Might be different if the new child became the oldest.

Jaclyn: Our boys became #3 and #4 of 5. Amusingly, our youngest is the only one who feels "displaced" because even though the boys are 2 years older than her they are both smaller.

Sara 1: No she did not feel displaced, likely due to the fact that developmentally she was still much older though.

Meredith: We chose to let our oldest/firstborn always stay the oldest, but even that looked different than we anticipated.  He is developmentally the oldest, and physically the biggest, but by age he is 16 months younger than one sister and 12 months younger than another.  Since they were not encroaching on his “man of the house” status (under Daddy, of course), he never has minded their chronological age being older than him.  Our other kids came in the middle, within 7-8 months of another bio child of ours, and she loves the close siblings.  Again, she is older than both of them.  

Lorraine: Our adoptions have been all over the place, and most definitely out of birth order. Our first adoption was of an 11-year-old girl. Our bio kids were ages 9, 11, and 13 when our 11-year-old daughter joined our family. So, we entered adoption out of birth order. Then we adopted a 4-year-old, then a 22-month-old, then a 17-year-old (who became our oldest child), then a 5-year-old and her 7-week-old half sister, then two 6-year-olds. So, our oldest biological child is no longer the oldest child in our family, and some people feel that's a huge deal. But, our oldest child agreed and was willing to give up his position as the oldest because he had a tender heart for adoption and a true understanding of redemption through adoption. He knew this because he first experienced it for himself through his adoption and redemption by our Savior, and he also experienced the adoption and redemption of several other family members being adopted into our family from hard situations. Our other two biological children were not the oldest to begin with, so they were not at all concerned about adopting someone older than themselves. One of our adopted daughters is four months older than our biological daughter, and they're best friends. Sure, it was challenging at first, but I think most of those challenges would have occurred regardless of the age difference. God has worked out each and every detail, and, for us, personally, our children (bio and adopted), their hearts are much more concerned about helping others than protecting their position in the family birth order.

Shelley: No. We did respect the fact that our youngest enjoyed being the "baby" of the family. We only added a child IN birth order (ie: as the youngest) after our youngest bio child indicated that she wanted to be a big sister.

4. Were you ever afraid the child wouldn’t bond with you?

Amy: Yes! Our 2nd international adoption our son wanted nothing to do with me (as in screaming like he was being murdered if my husband left the room)! It took a year, but he loves me and visa versa. He is now my biggest mama's boy!

Jaclyn: Definitely!! Adam bonded very quickly. It is taking Matthias much longer since he cannot hear and speak.

Meredith: I wondered for the first year after our first adoption, but as the love story slowly unfolded, I learned that working to gain our first adopted daughter’s love and trust was very different than the ‘easy love’ with the boy we adopted at the same time.  Our third child had a ‘transferrable bond’ with a single caregiver since birth, and I never really was concerned with his bonding.  Our 4th and 5th children, one bonded quickly and easily, and our daughter, now 3 years home, continues to struggle with bonding.  We take it a day at a time and know that God is sovereign in this too!

Sara 1: Sometimes I would think about that as a possibility, but I had talked to a few people who had spent much time with her, so I didn't actually worry about it.

Sara 2: Yes, she had suffered many different care givers at the hospital over her first two months and displayed many classic signs of attachment disorders. She was in SO much distress all of the time, for a few weeks I wondered if she would ever relax into me and feel safe. Which she did after about a month and a half. She is FIRMLY bonded to us now.

Shelley: Not until it happened

Gillian: Yes, I was afraid that she wouldn't bond with me, and it has proven to be a challenge. But what has totally surprised me was my struggle with bonding with her. I assumed it would be her issue, but it turns out, it has been something both of us have had to work on together.

5. Do you expect your typical kids to care for your special needs children when you’re no longer able to?  

Boston:  No I don't expect it, though I believe they'd be willing. They are our children and we made this decision. All responsibility is ours.

Amy: No. However, THEY talk about caring for them when they are older.

Jaclyn: Definitely not, but I imagine they will want to.

Sara 1: No, I do not expect any of my typical children to take care of our disabled children when we are no longer here. I do however expect them to care about them, make sure that they are cared for, spend time with them etc, as they would of a typical sibling. I don't worry about this because they are very close and I can't see one abandoning the other.

Sara 2: No, I would not expect my other children to care for her if we were unable. Unfortunately it's not likely that it would ever be a consideration given her diagnosis and life expectancy.

Meredith: No, we don’t expect them to take care of our children with disabilities, however we do hope they will want to be involved in their lives and have an impact on the care that their siblings receive when we cannot provide that anymore.

Lorraine: We don't expect anything. We seek what God desires and trust in His sovereignty, believing He has a plan and it is good. Several of our children have expressed that they wouldn't have it any other way than to help care for their siblings who have special needs after we're no longer here to provide that care. The love runs DEEP. However, if our children live overseas or are in situation where they're unable to help care for their siblings who have special needs, or even if they choose not to for whatever reason, we have complete faith that God will provide that care through someone special. We don't feel like we have to figure this out before we say YES to adopting children when special needs. We trust God has a plan and it is good. He will provide the care each of our children needs, and, for us, it doesn't matter if the care is provided by a sibling or another person God places in the lives of our children who have special needs---we just trust He WILL provide. But it's heartwarming to see the depth of love God has woven into our children's hearts, connecting them as siblings who passionately love and protect one another. Our children all pitch in pretty much 24/7 on a daily basis, not because they have to, but because they want to.

Shelley: Absolutely not.

Alysha:  I've enjoyed listening to my girls go back and forth over who will have who live with them when they get older. Not even talking about it in a sense of my husband and I being gone. Just wanting to have their bro's with them . It blesses my heart. They already make plans over taking their bro's to the movies, Disneyland and so on. I know they don't really get the gist of maybe one day really having to "care" for them, but I know in my heart that they don't see their bro's as burdens the way the outside world does.

1 comment:

  1. I am so grateful to have come across this post. I will definitely be showing this to my sister, who is considering a special needs adoption. Thank you so very much.

    Mia |