Sunday, January 08, 2012

Learn How to Manage Conflict

You will almost certainly deal with a lot of conflict as you raise children adopted from the foster care system.  Much of that is because that is what they know, so they are certain to repeat it in your house.

This makes it especially important that you learn to handle conflict in an effective manner, ideally before the trouble hits.

Note that I am not referring to the silly "anger management" classes some teach.  I am referring to learning real, practical ways to deal with the conflict you will face.  That may even mean pushing it sometimes, but you will need to learn when to stand firm and when to step back for the ultimate betterment of your long range purpose.

Learning good skills in this area is very important!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Respect Your Husband

One of the ways adopted children can seek to create strife in the house is to turn the wife against her husband, especially when that husband is attempting to stand strong for what is right in their lives.  Creating disorder in the husband and wife relationship can make it easier for them to get away with what they want to do.  It can also make things more like the chaos they are often more used to at a deep level.

Some adoptive fathers are disconnected, but please do not hold things against those who are trying to do what is right.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A Lack of Respect

I think this is true in many adopted children.  Respect for parents is a vitally important part of family integrity.  We struggle with it as a society, but I think it is always there, to a point, even so.  In the case of someone adopted out of the foster care system that respect is likely already connected to their birth parents, no matter how good or bad they may have been.

This means that it is hard for them to then transfer that same respect to a new parent, since the old one already holds the parental role.  I am not sure how you deal with this, but knowing it is a respect issue may help you accomplish things you would not otherwise.

Ironically, the one child of ours who has any relationship now was the one who I proved my willingness to come back to over and over as he went through a very strong rebellious period.  He repeatedly tested my resolve and I was relatively consistent throughout.  I am convinced that is the reason he has any respect for me today.  I proved that I would not be shaken.  He has a ways to go, but at least has some connection.

The other three would seem to have no respect, having all reconnected to the birth father and mother, giving them respect to a great extent.

Be consistent no matter what.  You may or may not gain this respect, but you will almost certainly not get it otherwise.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Don't Back Off

It is very important that you find supports so you can stay strong in your adoption journey.  Whether you are just considering the process, in the middle of raising one or more adopted children, facing the challenging years that threaten to tear everything apart or past the point where these children are in your home; you need to make sure you never back off of core principles to get a short-term result.

This may mean being firm when it seems like giving in is the only way to keep them attached to you.  It could mean being gentle when everything in you wants to damn them and write them completely out of your life.

Neither harshness nor undue weakness is good, you must be firm in a good manner.  Some of this may go against the grain of others, but it will ultimately be the best for them, whatever the final result is.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Your Purpose in Life

It is very important that those involved with adoption not let their children become their only or even primary purpose in life, especially after those children are out of their house.  Clearly you will have a lot of focused time with them when you raise them, but learn to let go once they are adults.

I know this is a general principle for raising children in general, but it is especially important if/when those children decide you are not really a valid part of their lives.  This can happen with children who are born in a family, but those children don't have a valid alternate family to run to, while the ones we adopt do in many cases.

This makes it all the more important that you find a purpose that doesn't require them to be an ongoing active part in your life when they are adults.  It may be great if they do maintain contact and a connection, but making sure you do not rely on that is required if you want to stay sane.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


I made a short post on this on my main blog, but I wanted to note the implications here.  My point is that most people project their thoughts and feelings on others.  That means that open minded adoptive parents will work with the birth parents, expecting the same thing in return.  I would be that most birth parents are quite selfish and would (and will) cheat the adoptive parents as soon as they get the chance, since they expect that the adoptive parents would do the same to them.

Note that this is in spite of anything the adoptive parents do.  We drove our three youngest to have a reunion with their birth family while all of them were still minors but this didn't gain us any credit since the birth family figured we were just like them (in their own minds at least) no matter what our outward actions were.

This may differ in adoptions not through the foster care system, but I would venture that most birth parents that are in a position to relinquish or lose the right to parent face similar life challenges.

Face Your Feelings

Its the holiday season again and we are facing our first Christmas almost completely alone.  One of our children and his spouse and daughter will be coming over Christmas Day, but it seems more like the consolation prize than a true connection.  It is hitting my wife the hardest since our youngest has basically ignored her since moving back to her birth family's area.

No way to avoid the tough times.  Got to just plug through them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Can Sibling Groups Ever Really Bond?

This is a question I have been pondering for a while.  My thinking on it and our own experience has made me suspect that sibling groups will almost always build a wall around themselves, consciously or not.  I suspect that many times that "us against them" attitude keeps them from truly bonding with their adoptive parents, keeping them loyal to each other as "the family" instead.

I had been a strong proponent of adoption sibling groups together whenever possible, but I am not so sure about that anymore.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Holidays

I don't know about all adoptive families, but the holidays were always a rough time with ours. They already had a bad start with my wife and I both coming from divorced families, making that time a serious pull between different people we needed to be with. Adding the children's troubles to this made them even rougher. It only takes one to ruin things and we would always have one that wanted to make things bad. It was almost like they got together and agreed that they would take turns being the "bad guy." This was very frustrating, but be prepared for it if you are facing this. It is also a time when the older ones may remember (consciously or not) the holiday time in the birth home as well. Those memories can also complicate their enjoyment of their times with you and bring up either bad experiences they had or the always present idea that you are not their "real family." Some may not have such a hard time, but I know we did.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Remain Firm and Consistent

Thinking over some of the worst times with our children I believe that my failure to stand firm in my convictions was likely a major contribution to the stress we faced. Of course this is assuming that the trials and tribulations due to out children were going to happen no matter what, something I am convinced is true. I have been doing a lot of thinking about relationships and the proper position of a man in both marriage and family, especially in light of our experience. Some of my conclusions go against the grain of modern society, but they definitely fit with my experience of what has and has not worked for my wife and I and in our relationship with our children. I will probably explore this more over the coming months. Hopefully I can produce some useful advice for those either coming toward these struggles or even those in the middle of them.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holidays are a Challenge

I have never been a big holiday guy, especially since they are a real pain with divorced parents, like I had. Still, they can be a time of seeing people and even spending some fun times together. At least that is the theory. We never did have wonderful holidays when we were raising our children. Sure, some things would go well, but someone would always stir the pot and bring up some commotion or another, ruining the time in many ways. I should have been more in control of myself at the time, as I am learning to be now, and not let them push my buttons. This year 2 of our children are completely alienated and we haven't spoken to them for some time, so we do not expect to hear from them over the holidays. Our youngest daughter finally contacted my wife for a few minutes (until her phone died) a few days ago, but we don't expect to here or see them for quite some time. My oldest son does live in town, largely because his wife has family here that keeps them here. They do not have the funds to go to their birth family, so they will be here. I suppose I should be excited, but I feel more like I am getting the consolation prize. We are the only ones here (other than his wife's family), so some of the involvement may be because nothing else is available. I suppose this is too cynical, but I read that they are all choosing the way (manners, behavior, etc.) of the birth family/clan, making any involvement with us that much rougher. We accept them exactly as they are, but push them to do better with themselves and their lives, rather than just encouraging them fritter their lives away. Only a month or so to go....

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Be Prepared to Move On

A tough thing in this journey of mine is that it currently looks like the only connection to my children I will have is to my oldest son who is "stuck" in town because his wife has a lot of family in the area. I believe that is the base reason behind his wanting a "relationship" with my wife and I. This seems to be mostly words with me, as he has not taken an effort to really reach out to me beyond phone calls and I am not willing to shove my way into his life after so much past direction. As the saying goes, the ball is in his court. The other 3 children are all actively ignoring us, with all 3 living in the area of their birth family. I can understand their desire to move there, but the lack of any phone calls demonstrates that their connection to us is quite weak, if any connection really exists at all. My youngest daughter did call me on my birthday early in the summer, but that is the last we have heard from her. She seemed to be fairly close to my wife in the past, so my wife is taking this much harder than I am. It is just a continuation of the same old thing for me. I will probably write more later, but the key thing I am realizing is that their personality and connections were laid before we came into the picture. Even though they came to us at ages almost 3 to 7, they had already developed a tight bond with their birth family and could therefore not really accept a bond with us as that seemed to violate the role of the birth parents. This is sad as my wife and I were the ones who raised them. Fortunately, no one can take the good parts of those years away. We have to move on with our lives. If they ever really desire to come back into our lives, they can reach out to us, but we are going to do our best to not allow their attitudes to limit our future.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Be Ready for the Consequences

Children don't get into the system because they are well taken care of. Even in cases where CPS was out of control, the children get corrupted by the whole foster care system. Though in our case the birthparents had 5 children before they were both 21. At least the birthfather was working his tail off to provide for them, but that meant he ultimately had little time to supervise them in their early years. The birthmother was overwhelmed and still a "child" in many ways herself, so they all learned to do whatever they felt like from an early age. This means that our attempts to provide structure in their lives were undermined before we began. While they outwardly complied when we could force it, they quickly left that when they went on their own and started parenting their own children in the "anything goes" style that ruined their lives. Changing habits, even those established in the first few years of life, is very difficult. Even our youngest, who wasn't quite 3 when she came with us, fell into those same patterns. I am sure the pull of the others helped with that, but I think a lot was already ingrained in her as well, by the relatively young age she came to live with us. Preparing people for this is far more important than many realize.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Count the Small Blessings

I often ask myself (and God) what was the point of all our work with our 4 children if they all were going to reject our way of life and basically return to the roots in their quite dysfunctional birth family. I regularly hear that they are better off than they would have been. While that is clearly a fact, as being stuck in the system (a distinct possibility for at least the older two of them) would be horrible for any child. The thought hit me today that they also all made it to adulthood without having a direct run-in with CPS. That is not an achievement most people would trumpet, but it is a good one for our children. In fact, they all made it to 18 before they had children and the 3 with children were married when they had the child. I am not sure about the 4th, but I have not been told about him having any children. This is an accomplishment for them given that their birth family had 3 or 4 children by the time the parents were 18, 5 children by 21. Not the goal I wanted to celebrate, but you need to celebrate what you can.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

What to Write?

I want to put lots of useful information in this blog, but I realize that I can only say so much and will tend to repeat myself. This makes me realize this blog is more of an avenue for me to vent rather than a place to find lots of good information.

I do not seek to tell you the ins and outs of starting to adopt, though I will repeatedly encourage you to consider the possible outcome before you start, rather than blindly walking into trouble.

I am not sure what I will keep writing here, but I plan to note things as I think of them that may help someone else, especially someone on some stage of the same path.