Five Things Adoptive Parents Don’t Tell You Part Five

I’m coming to the end of a series I started last week-Five Things Adoptive Parents Don’t Tell You, if you want to catch up, start here and work you way back! Thanks for joining me!

I stand in the cafe and hear a parent bragging about her daughter’s scholarship. I hear parents telling of accolades their children have received for service. I watch kids win first place in the Social Studies or Science Fair. I’ll admit, sometimes I cringe. It’s that part of me who feels as if I haven’t done a good enough job if my child doesn’t have scholarships or awards. Sometimes it takes me a few hours or days, then I jolt back to reality. My reality.

My reality is that my children are survivors. They are warriors. I sometimes forget that. My adopted children came from a hard place. They didn’t have a cushy beginning. They have a story. I won’t tell it. They may some day. They give me permission to share the stories I do on here.They are overcomers.  I am so proud of each of them.

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Which brings me to number five…

5. Adopted children are valuable.

I sometimes hear people talk as if children were some sort of sub species as if they have no feeling, no understanding and instant mind wipes when they are adopted. Not true. Children are people. They are human beings. They don’t instantly forget things or their reactions to past events. They remember hunger. They remember poverty. They remember fear. And their feelings should be treated with respect. They are worth it.

If a child has a meltdown eating in a cafeteria because it brings back memories of the orphanage, then that child’s feelings should be acknowledged. Remember, connect and re-direct (you can find it here). We adults want our friends and family to acknowledge our trauma, our loss and we expect them to comfort us, to understand when we cannot cope. Children need the same thing. And when children have come from hard places, it is us adults who must look past the behavior and see the true issue. Loss. Rejection. Abandonment. Until we can acknowledge that our children have a past, they will stay stuck in it. They are worth so much more than that.

We parents must celebrate the major victories. A major victory for a hurt child will look different from what we are accustomed to seeing. While other children are winning the spelling bee, the trophy for a hurt child may be spelling one word in front of a crowd. A victory for a hurt child may be standing in front of the Social Studies Fair judges with tears streaming down her face while sharing her project. Victory. Wouldn’t that be worthy of celebration if a child  was unable to speak for six months as a result of past trauma?

We adoptive parents must have our own normal. We must not put our children in little boxes. I have struggled with this. With the expectations, with watching other children seeming to effortlessly making progress, and when I am swallowed up by MY expectations, I become my children’s stumbling block. Yes, me.

What does everyone desire? Acceptance. Unconditional love. Praise for a job well done. What is that job well done is learning a new language while peers are writing their first paragraph in their native language? What if I am so worried about that child writing a paragraph that I miss his first sentence in English? When I am so entrenched in my own need for acceptance, busy comparing my child to others then I miss the victory for them.

You see, our stories, mine and my children’s are intertwined, yet, they have a story that will part from mine, like a branch does from a tree. Each of my children have a purpose. Something to do on this earth. Talents and gifts that God placed in them. Each of them is special. Each of them is valuable.  .

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