Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Point of Things

This blog faces a challenge beyond that of just writing things steadily. Knowing what to write about is a bit more challenging than I thought going into this. My own experience has been very frustrating, to put it mildly, but what is the point of just noting the problems and troubles endlessly? While venting may help for a bit, ultimately that is not a good strategy.

This is not meant to be a general guide to adoption either. Many other sources cover that in far more depth than I could. This is meant to present my thoughts, from the perspective of an adoptive father of 4 siblings that came from the US social services system.

I have done a couple of "here's some ideas" posts, but I am not sure what more to say. I suppose just writing about my thoughts as I continue to work through things with my adult children is the point. Hopefully this will help someone else down the line. Perhaps its value will be in many years, when all the posts can be viewed as a stream, rather than as a specific "I have to actively track this" forum.

Many other adoptive fathers are sure to go through this. I do those starting out the process to really think through the issues. Get good reference books, like Adopting the Hurt Child and Parenting the Hurt Child. Those books cover many of the things we faced. As bad as things were, I don't think they were that bad, but I can certainly relate.

This is not the easy road many will proclaim and the "you're a saint" encouragements will only last for a while, while the trouble will go on. These children do need help, but it takes a special man to provide it and to still keep his marriage intact.

Build your life on prayer as well! I could not have survived this without a deep relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ. This sucks far too much for that.

You will have some successful times, but you will also have many tough times. Have something more than you to rely on!

You May Never Reach Your Goal

While the goal of many in adoption is to build a family, I want to remind everyone that you may never do so. I took a trip to see my mother, picking up my youngest daughter and my granddaughter along the way. My wife and I gave my daughter and her husband some things to help them out as well, making me tow a trailer to where she lived a few states away.

My daughter and her husband said they appreciated the items (especially the older washer and dryer). The three of us (myself, daughter, and granddaughter) went to see my mother. This was a quick trip and I drove them back a couple of days later.

On the way back, I loosened my internal restraint against talking about anything serious and being a "father". Unfortunately, I ended up bringing out a lot of hostility from my daughter, showing me that she still holds a great deal of deep anger, blaming me for many things. (Some of which were my wife's doing, not mine.)

This showed me that it doesn't really matter how many "good things" I do, I will almost certainly be judged by her perception of what I did or didn't do when she was growing up. These views she holds may or may not be true, but they definitely color her view and keep her from establishing a normal relationship where the other party (me in this case) can make mistakes, but be worked with to correct them.

One of the complaints was that I talk through things too much. That is one of the ways I work through issues and I think it is usually better to work through things than to just stuff them, even if you have to take a break from talk to let people get focused again.

This meant that I was unable to even resolve any issues. Talking about many things was "bringing up the past" (especially hers) even though that had a definite impact on where we were today. I am not perfect, but I want to work things out. I am not allowed to do that.

Perhaps I am wrong, but this shows me that I cannot be a father. My own father and I had plenty of disagreements, but I would never treat him like I have been, because he was always still my father. Yelling, yes. Holding him guilty of all my problems, no. In fact, I would have loved if he would have worked through many issues with me. He never did want to talk much out.

Ah well. I am sure I will refine my views over time on this and find I am off in a few areas, but the clear point that any good I do can be swept quickly away because I annoy her seems pretty discouraging. I realize some of this sounds like normal teens, but this is built on a base of being rejected by all 4 of my children and having someone else step in to claim the "father" role even though he is a "Disneyland dad" at best - all gifts, no discipline or encouragement to do what is right.

Don't plan on being a father, if that is your goal. You can definitely have an influence, but you may never get to be a father. That is an unfortunate reality.