Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Transparency. We all want it, but struggle to give it. Transparency in adoption is even more rare.  There are two kinds of adoptive parents out there. There are those that pretend that adoption is all sunshine and rainbows, and there are those who are an open book. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle.  I’ll admit, when we were adopting our now 2 year old (he was 6 months old when he came home) all I read or remembered was rainbows and unicorns. I often thought, “I’m adopting a baby not a teenager.  This can’t be too hard.”   It was hard, but for different reasons.

I’ve struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. When I was pregnant with our 5 year old son I was terrified I would end up with post-partum depression or that my medication would negatively affect him. Neither of those things happened. He is a bright, happy, and energized boy.  I had a great psychiatrist who spelled things out for me.  His education and assurance was wonderful. There was no depression, just a cranky sleep deprived mommy. So when we decided to adopt I had no thought of becoming depressed.  It came from nowhere and hit me hard. Our son was and still is the happiest child I’ve ever seen. Since coming home he awakens singing and babbling. But at six months old and in a foreign place that’s all he wanted to do. Sing. Poop. Cuddle. Eat. Eat. Poop. Laugh. Poop. Cuddle.  Notice something missing??? Sleep!!!! He didn’t sleep for us when we were in Ethiopia either. And he didn’t sleep much at home.  If you were holding him he was happy. But put him in bed?? He’d cry for eternity.  I couldn’t handle the crying. This poor child had been through so much already.  I needed him to attach to us. He needed to feel loved. Cry it out parenting was not an option (and it wasn’t with our bio son either).  The problem here was that my husband worked third shift. Guess who was up with him??? This mom.  My mom moved in to help for a while, but I had the night shift.  Nine months of 2-3 hours of sleep got the best of me.  On the weekends all I did was sleep. My migraines came back with a vengeance. I was cranky. I didn’t go to church much. Didn’t read my Bible.  I had no motivation. I hated going to work although I loved my job. I cried all the time. I was snippy.  People would always ask about our family and I’d crack a smile and spit out sunshine and rainbows.  Uggh.. It was mostly lies. “Things are perfect.  Yada, Yada, Yada. Finally I went to my doctor. Did you know there’s something called post-adoption depression??? Google it. It’s real.  My doctor explained that although my hormones weren’t raging like post-partum, the situation was still the same.  That, along with my anger that I didn’t have sunshine and rainbows kept me down.  I also longed for Ethiopia. I connected with the people and culture there in ways I never expected. I was depressed, but with the help of medicine and begging my husband to take time off of work things turned around.

When we began our adoption of V, I knew the truth this time around.  There was no question as to whether this would be difficult.  Horrific trauma. Horrific. Loss.  No permanency. I work in mental health so I knew how this would play out. I began to share way too much information with family in an attempt to prepare them of what to expect and how to respond. Bad idea. Older kids have a story; usually a difficult story with unfathomable acts. Their story is tough. It’s usually not pretty, and it’s theirs to tell. Many people can’t handle knowing what these kids lived through. My attempt to not gloss things over resulted in me over-sharing information that jaded people’s thoughts. That is one of my biggest regrets.  We have a small group of people that get the “unfiltered” version of life parenting a child from a hard place. And we have others that get the truth, just a little more broad. No person should expect a child who has lived this life to come home and be grateful, but there are people out there who think that.  The truth is that children with a history of abuse or neglect learned different ways to protect themselves from their oppressive situation. The techniques they learned almost always fall into a category of control, manipulation, triangulation, aggression, or violence. While these were once the methods that kept them alive and safe, they are usually not necessary or productive in safe homes. I will tell you that my husband and I have encountered most of those techniques. We are blessed to have family and friends who support us and pray us through the hard times.  It’s hard. It’s exhausting. But it’s worth it.  And I mean that. Redemption is beautiful, but it comes at a cost.

”Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” – Rick Warren

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