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.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What is Their Real Family?

I think I have written about this before, but I want to stress again that you really should consider why you are treading the adoption path ahead of time. Some do successfully build a family, but I have heard enough stories that our experience is not all that unique.

This is especially true with a sibling group, since they will likely come already being a "family" in their own eyes, even if they have been separated from their original mother and father. Just telling them they are now in a "forever family" will not change the "truth" imprinted on their hearts and minds that their "real family" is not the one they are in now.

If this can't be changed, as I suspect, it will guide the rest of their lives, no matter what you do.

Keep this in mind.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Set Your Expectations

Be very careful of your expectations when you go into the adoption process. You will almost certainly not get the "warm fuzzies" most imply when marketing the area. A few are open and honest about the challenges, but even those tend to gloss over the deep pain that may be involved.

This is often done with the stupid remark that you don't have guarantees with children you give birth to either. While that is true, it ignores a significant part of the issues involved.

I am certainly colored by our experience, but that doesn't negate the point - You will always have to compete, outwardly or not, with another family that your child(ren) were at least once a part of. Even an infant will have had months in the birthmother's body, so develops some kind of attachment.

The questions of "what if" can also easily plague adopted children, as they do with all of us. They may have to struggle with thoughts of how their life would be different if they could have lived "forever" with their birth parents. Fair or not, this is a powerful area to consider.

The best that happens may be that you give them a better childhood than they would have had. Is that enough for you?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thankfulness is Missing

My daughter, her husband and my granddaughter have been living with us for a few months now, but things are really not much different than when they were gone. Sure, we see them more frequently, but no deep connection really exists. My daughter is still incredibly proud and insists that she can "do it on her own" even though that is quite far from reality.

I am not sure this will ever change. While age may help engender gratefulness, we live in a "take" society and I am wonder if some of the (minimal in recent times) push from society to be thankful for what you did have is not very strong at all today.

So many people "don't want help," but that is really not accurate. They want the help, they just don't want any "strings" with it at all, even verbal reminders about being thankful.

Ironically, after all my wife and I have done, my daughter still doesn't want even a somewhat close relationship with me. I may be seeing things through my own bias, but I suspect she would much rather have a close relationship with her birthfather than she would with me.

Ah well. I do not have the "family" I was aiming for, even really a dysfunctional one. I have children who are glad to take from me at times, but who will not let me be a father at all.

That is quite frustrating, but all I can do is to try to keep growing so I can adapt and be the best I can be.