We knew we were in for it when our (then) youngest son was flipping out. When I say “flipping out” I’m not talking about stomping his feet, shaking his head, and scowling at us. I’m talking about throwing things at our faces, screaming obscenities, trying to physically hurt his sisters, pulling my wife’s hair, and destroying the house.
We were in the early stages of learning all about the affects that drug and alcohol exposure at birth has on a child’s brain and body. A week prior to this event, our son received an official diagnosis of Alcohol-Related Neuro-Developmental Disorder (ARND for short). Traditionally this was called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This type of disorder is very difficult because it spawns so many different behaviors, reactions, and outbursts. Plus, most children display such subtle characteristics that it’s hard to tell they have it. This would be an uphill battle!
Our road had been bumpy for the previous year or two already, but it was about to become even more treacherous. We were exhausted. Our emotions had been stretched so thin already that we weren’t sure we could go one more day like this!
Not What We Expected.
“We didn’t sign up for this!” we both thought. The last thing we thought we would deal with when we first began the journey, was ARND. We knew it wouldn’t be problem-free, but this? No one told us about the trauma that many children, adopted through foster care especially, might deal with. No one came alongside of us, in those early days, and shared the facts about reactive attachment disorder, ADHD, fear-based trauma or how every last bit of life could be taken out of us we we dealt with each. No one who could answer our questions or empathize with our tears. In fact, it wasn’t long before we were running on empty.
Perhaps you identify with that last sentence. Maybe you’re feeling that lonely, empty feeling in the pit of your stomach. Maybe you’re filled with regret over your decision to adopt the particular child you adopted. Maybe this wasn’t what you planned for, not what you signed up for, and certainly not what you expected.
Asking Big Questions.
You’re not alone. Can I just say that? Can I just tell you, through your tears and heartache, you’re not alone! We have crawled through these same trenches. Heck we’re still crawling through them, covered in the crap that this difficult journey sometimes covers you in! We still find ourselves having more questions than answers at times.
It doesn’t take long after you start your journey to start questioning a lot of things. In fact, the questions mound up pretty quick. Questions like “How will we raise this difficult child?” or “Who can we lean on that really understands what being an adoptive parent is like?”
To be perfectly honest, you will almost certainly have questions that go unanswered. And, even when you do find answers, more questions will arise. You can expect this to happen. The how, the who, and the when are answered by building community and not giving up, even when it gets difficult! But there’s something else that shows it’s ugly face right in the midst of your questions.
Fear. You can plan on it. As the questions mound up so does the fear. In fact, fear is a presence that inserts itself into your journey whether or not you adopt children with special needs or from traumatic backgrounds. Our first adoption was a private adoption and her birth mother was healthy and responsible. Did we still have fears and worries? Absolutely. Do you want to know how to overcome fear? You keep moving in-spite of it. That may sound simple, but that’s all it takes. You also find some close friends who can carry the burden of fear with you and speak words of truth to help you continue.
There is a popular quote that is used in many corporate and leadership circles that simply says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The same is true for navigating the adoption journey, especially when it gets dark and difficult (which it certainly will at one point). You take it one step at a time and you never, ever quit. We know it’s hard. But we also know how amazing it can be. You just have to believe it!
In our FREE video series, “Creating Your Adoption Roadmap,” we’re talking a little more in-depth about the big questions and how to overcome fear. If you haven’t jumped on and checked them out, Video 2, “Answering BIG Questions On The Journey” is live right now. Here’s a little more about the series..
Our FREE adoption video series Creating Your Adoption Roadmap is now available! In this 4-video series we unpack 3 crucial points for the journey that we have learned over the past 13 years, through domestic adoption and foster-to-adopt. These 3 points, if applied, have the power to transform your entire experience. Video 1 covered the mental shift you need to make to begin, or continue the adoption journey. In Video 2, which is now live, we’re diving deeper into the journey itself and discussing how to overcome fear. Don’t miss one second of this enriching series. Click here to gain access!
What are some of your biggest questions when it comes to the adoption journey?