Monday, January 17, 2011

Parenting: Each Child a Unique Journey

The following is a guest piece by one of our Board Members, Kelly Wolfington.

Back when our "home-made" son was 12 and our "home-made" daughter 7, my husband and I thought we were "born to be parents". (By the way I refuse to use the term "biological" or "natural" child... they seem so antiseptic and inaccurate... just what is unnatural about an adopted child? Our two children were such a joy and we loved the parent process so full with joyful rewards, the inevitable challenges notwithstanding.

So, one evening, when out to a romantic dinner, my dear spouse spontaneously asked, "If there were anything you could do to improve our lives what would it be?" Without hesitation I replied... another child... but this time I would adopt." He was stunned that I could be so quick and yet had never even shared this thought before. So, now it was his turn. "What his one thing you would do?" His response, "I don't have anything so why don't we go with yours." Thus began a 6-year odyssey trying to help the spirit of our next child find his or her path of destiny to us.

Having two "biological/natural" children already we figured we would have to go outside America's shores. Back then trans-racial adoptions were actually being reversed by some Courts. We were resolutely unwilling to have our family or our adopted child suffer the uprooting pain of such a tragic post-placement separation.

Upon completion of a home-study and the associated group sessions we were ready to begin. First Columbia. All our paperwork was approved (including fingerprints, tax returns and criminal records). Columbia then closed down its adoption program. Next to Bolivia. Same story. Next to Paraguay ... but their last rule was that both adoptive parents live in Paraguay for around 4-6 weeks continuously. We would not leave our home-made children for so long. Then... a miracle... my lifetime best friend told me of a local agency that handled quasi-open adoptions. I took our bushel basket of paperwork with me and in about 3 months a computer match was made for us with a woman anticipating delivery in January (only 2 months away!).

On January 12, 1991 our son, Adam, was born. On January 14 he was in our arms. We readied ourselves for another cakewalk through parenting. But, as our home-mades were meeting the challenges of adolescence, our young son, Adam, was traveling his own unique journey... with issues we simply did not anticipate, did not understand and had no adequate source for insight to unravel his difficulties. (Turns out the year he was born an amazing book was published that I discovered 18 years later and I am so thankful for this find.) Our adopted son was struggling unconsciously with a package of questions and confusions. Some seemed obvious... but these he denied.. such as a sense of abandonment. Others, it turns our could have been foreseen and even empathized into neutrality had we been aware and head he been able to articulate what was going on.

My coming articles will share what we have learned through life as adoptive parents. Howe we all benefited from communications, therapy and most of all, research and reading about the adopted child's tangled, often subconscious anxieties that translate into fear, frustration; even anger. Demystification has blessed us with the most powerful bond of love imaginable with and for our son, Adam. I hope some of what we have experienced will be helpful to others.

No comments: