Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adoption Takes Some Stamina

I recently heard a radio clip where the speaker was advocating the adoption as a cure to the abortion issue. While I completely agree that Christians need to really show themselves as more loving and being willing to help out those caught in a hard place, I think the reasoning was very simplistic.

First, the children of such situations are often the most sought after in the adoption area. Many potential adoptive parents are lined up for an infant, making such a child relatively easy to place. In fact, many of these couples are almost begging for a child. The message of this may need to get out, but that isn't the sole problem.

If the child has known special needs, perhaps due to poor behavior (such as drinking or drugs during pregnancy) by the mother, the parents may be in for quite a ride as the attempt to raise a child with serious issues.

Finally, adopting older children, including any that are no longer infants, carries its own serious risks. I am probably very jaded by my own experience, but the myth of "happily ever after" if we just love enough is just that, a myth. Older children carry their own load of problems and taking on such a child (or sibling group as we did) can make for a much more challenging road than most adoptive parents are really ready for.

We went through many "parenting classes" prior to adopting, yet none of them prepared us for the serious challenges we faced. I now vaguely recall being told many "horror stories," but we were too young and naive to believe them. After all, we would be different! We would work through anything and stay committed no matter what! Right?

While the zeal is necessary, some healthy reality is as well, along with a really strong support group, including government and social authorities that believe parents, not trouble teens that are willing to say anything to be free from these interlopers who are attempting to parent them.

Providing such strong support networks is much more important than any massive attempt to place all the waiting children. Not providing that will ultimately harm children more, and the families that try to adopt them. Leaving a child in the foster care system has serious issues, but throwing them into a family that is not prepared is also foolhardy.

Make sure you have some serious stamina if you are going to start down this road. And if you are advocating adoption as a solution, make sure advocate support for parents taking this step to an equal or greater degree. Otherwise, you are setting everyone up for a mighty crash.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Taking the Long Term View

I wanted to post a quick note to say that the process is not all depressing. The problem is that I didn't know how depressing it was until far into the process, so it becomes a little heavy at times. Even though I see serious issues remaining for all my children, I definitely believe we were brought together for a reason.

While it doesn't eliminate the pain from the current struggles and disappointments, knowing that they did make it much farther than they would have made it if they remained in the system is definitely an active encouragement. They all were at least 18 before they had children, for example! While not a normal thing to celebrate, I think it is a major achievement.

BTW, our first grandchild is due in a little over a month, I think. That is going to be another new experience!


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tough to Stay Positive

I went into the whole adoption experience with a lot of positive energy and excitement about the whole thing. While I definitely didn't work through everything, I was sure this was a good way to go and would really work out well.

On the one hand, it has worked out better for my children than it would have, especially if they had stayed in the system for their growing up years, something an older sibling got stuck with. They also almost certainly have been split up.

Yet for all this, they fall so short of achievement in their lives that it is discouraging. I am not referring to the aspect of meeting some parent's goals of living vicariously through them (though the often accuse me of that), I am referring to the desire to really accomplish any major goal in their lives. Somethings they do talk about a goal, but they rarely pursue something with their whole heart.

I should note an exception to that is my youngest son, but his pursuit is in to some weird stuff that is not ultimately likely to really help him much in his career or even in a solid hobby and personal relationships. Ah well.

I have no trouble with failure along the way. I have certainly failed enough myself, but you have to be trying to get somewhere to fail successfully.

I wonder if this is a general "adopted child" issue or if it is special to my children. Probably a mix of both. My wife is not overly motivated, so they can latch onto that to reject anything that looks like motivation in their lives, claiming it is just me wanting them to be "just like me". No, I want them to be the best "them" they can be, but that is an uphill push.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All the Rules Change

When my son and daughter-in-law moved in early last summer we made a few "rules" they were to abide by (help out significantly around the house, regular weekly "family" meetings, regular church attendance somewhere, no dog). Well, my wife (the cat lady) rapidly caved on the last one and they have a small dog as does my teen daughter (who is only home a couple of days a week now, but that is another story). The meetings and church went out the window quickly. The help around the house is debatable. My wife and I think it is not enough, though they tend to think they are almost doing too much.

We are due to be grandparents in a little over a month, but I am not sure if we are helping or hindering them, in the long run, at this point. My son can't take any questioning of his effort, or lack thereof. My daughter-in-law has challenges of her own. A year ago I would have said I would never get in this situation, yet here I am. Too much of this reminds me of his early teen years where he always claimed he was doing plenty, yet did little. He swears it is different now, but I don't completely see it.

At least he is working full time (mostly) and she is working part time. I guess I have to live with what I do have, at least for now. Having a baby (crying? screaming?) will be good in a sense, but a possible point of manipulation and likely a lot of loss sleep for all of us. I wonder if it will be worth it.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Life Throws Lots of Curveballs

I had cut off all my contact with the birthfather (after being very open with him) when I found out he deceived me to take my daughter to my youngest son's graduation from boot camp. (And she went along with that!) She was supposed to be going with him to a friend's wedding. Stupid me....

She will be going up there this week because of the death of her oldest birth-brother however. I am not going. If she gets sucked into staying I will live with that. I wouldn't put it past the birthfather to pull at her, but the largest pull will likely be from her older sister who had been planning on getting her to move up there when she turned 17 (the legal age to leave home in our state) a short while ago.

I don't know if the emotional roller coaster will ever be done, but I will be so glad if it ever is.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Clear Sailing to Pain....

Things seemed to be going well. My son and his wife are getting settled in. They both have transferred their jobs down here. He did have to take a pay cut because the local store works differently, but it seems like he may be able to advance quicker into management since this store seems to have openings there, partially because it is a just opened store. His wife also should be starting some part time work, which will give them some extra income. She is getting hit with some serious morning sickness, so it is not certain whether she will be able to continue to work, but she is certainly going to try.

She also got into a local program that will allow her to earn the few last credits she needs to get her high school diploma. She dropped out of high school in January to move up with my son and completing this will be a good step for her personally and in business.

All seemed well, until I found out tonight that my youngest son, who is currently finishing his specialty training in the Army, has been contacting his birth father enough that they know all of what is going on in his life. I am only 1 state away and I have not heard from him at all, past a letter to all of us here that I am fairly sure they told him to write to his family. I did call the S1 a week or so ago and my son called my wife and daughter, so he did talk to them at that time, but I have heard nothing since.

It also seems he will be doing a short stint at the local recruiting office in the other state before shipping somewhere overseas. It is very possible I will not see him at all, even though I would gladly drive up to see him if I could.

I don't so much mind that his recruiting stint is where he ran from to "escape" our house, but the fact that I have no contact hurts greatly. I had also not heard from my oldest daughter until I called her last week, but even then I barely spoke to her. She said she was going to call me back that night, but didn't until the following day. Then, she spoke briefly and had to run, spending most of the time griping about her brother, not talking with me about herself.

She said she would call back, but has not for several days. I called her today and left a message, but I suspect I am wasting my time since she probably doesn't consider me a "real father" anymore.

I don't know that I could have prepared for this, but it is really lousy. This is definitely not the picture given by those cheery adoption shows and promo spots. Why won't anyone deal with the reality here?

I know I will ultimately make it, but the journey is more painful than most people realize. A father's heart is true, whether you give birth or not....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Birth Family Relations

I am sure many of you know this, but birth families have their own agendas.

I got my children's original birth certificates before we finalized the adoption. (Though I would have gotten more than 1 copy if I had thought more about it.) I figured they would like to have them in the long run, so I did so. This meant I knew the original birth family information. (It also leaked through a few documents from CPS.)

When my oldest was 18 and starting to search, I decided to open up the birth last name to everyone. This ended up with contact rather quickly and we ultimately even went up to their city for a long weekend so the children could meet some of their extended birth relatives.

You might expect that this would mean the birth family would respect us and work with us with integrity, right? No way. In this case, the birth father is the only one that had ongoing contact, but he gave enough incentives that both my boys (in the middle according to age) moved up there at 17. This is legal in our state, but not in the birth family's state. We lived with it, but weren't overjoyed. This was especially bad since we thought we were working with them to accomplish the best for our children.

We now find out that we are regularly disparaged there and discounted as having any lasting claim to be a "family" for our children. This is coming from my oldest son, who has been known to "say what we want to hear" in the past, but it rings true with everything else we have picked up on.

My youngest daughter turns 17 this summer and we expect him to do all he can to get her to run up there as well. She has noted that she has no intention to do so (and she has some things that are likely to keep her in our area for a while), but I don't think that will stop him from trying. I also think she is likely to face more of a mental battle here than she realizes, but she continually stresses her commitment to me. I wish I was less hurt by all this seeming betrayal, but I will ultimately get over it.

I suspect I will personally have lots of mental tension this summer, but having my oldest son back in town is likely to play an interesting role. It is definitely stirring up relations in their birth family, but hopefully that can all settle down.

Ultimately, I don't care where everyone lives, once they are adults. I do hope to have a long-term relationship (as a father) with all of them. I don't expect to replace the birth family and I never have (though they do seek to replace me completely).

This is a disappointing part of adoption that many young adopters should prepare themselves for. The pain can be worse than anything you can imagine. Thinking the entire effort to "build a family" was a waste is really discouraging.

Fortunately, some things appear to be turning around, so the end may ultimately be good. We are not through the woods by any means yet.

Keeping Up is Hard to Do!

Things are really changing around here. My oldest son, the one who went through such a rough teenage time, is now back living at home for a while with his new wife. They got married in the spring and moved down here a couple of weeks ago. They didn't have a place to stay (that they could currently afford), so my wife and I did the surprising thing and opened up our house to them. We want to work with them to get established jobs here, pay off all bills and plan for moving into something of their own. I have a feeling this will take a few months, maybe longer. While the relationship is different since they are adults, they both seem to really be trying to lay a good foundation.

They are hoping to be able to transfer their jobs with a large national chain down here this week, so hopefully he will get into the work groove again soon. He has helped with a few things around the house already, so it hasn't been a huge vacation. The three of us went to our church today (my wife had to work) and they seemed to enjoy it, though I am not sure if they will be staying there.

A very interesting turn of events. This would have seemed impossible when I was writing some of these early posts.

More discussion to come....

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Quick Update

I keep plodding along. I have got to get a longer term perspective, since the short term looks so bumpy. I did here from my youngest son at Christmas, though not since. My oldest son has called when we were out for 2 days, but he probably wants something. I learned a few weeks ago he moved his girlfriend from when he was here up there (in the middle of her senior year in high school) which is sad, but quite legal since they are both 18 now. I haven't talked with my oldest daughter since last fall, which I posted about here. I should probably call her, but it feels like she doesn't want to talk to me....

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Avoiding Depression

I thought things would be better when the two oldest were finally out of the house and later I thought letting the third oldest would help. It did in the day-to-day stress level, but I seem to be battling with depression a lot more these days. Having 3 children abandon you for someone else, blood tie or not, is a tougher thing to handle than many may realize. I plan on commenting on this more later, but I think it is vitally important for men facing this to have some really solid supports around. Unfortunately, I have none. I am effectively "on my own" it seems.

We are in a great new church, but it is a struggle to find my place and see how much I can fit in there. I don't think my wife really gets the depth of things either, at least for me, since she seems to just discount it saying (in essence) that I should just "get over it."

I don't know how it is for other adoptive fathers out there, but I was quite willing to build a family however it came. I didn't expect to have nothing after 13 or so years of investment. :(

It may ultimately turn out better, but it is still pretty bleak now.