When Bio Kids Need a Break

This post was written by Audrey Simmons as part of the Totally Broke Tuesdays series. This month, our focus is “Adoption.” Audrey has been writing about bio kids in the midst of adoption and you can find the first two posts here and here.

Do you ever feel like you need to just get away? Things have been crazy all day, all week, all month, and you wish you could just have a day off. Or even, an evening off. In the midst of forging connections, dealing with fallout from hurt children’s behaviors, and whatever else is going on in your life (and if you’ve adopted, finances or health might be one of those big things), you just need to run away screaming. At least, that’s what it feels like.

Your bio kids probably feel it, too. Depending on age, though, they might express it in different ways. Do they avoid the company of the family? Do they linger at events, dragging their feet when it’s time to leave church? Do they have trouble adjusting after an afternoon at a friend’s house? Do they whine about a need for privacy, for space, complain often? Are their own meltdowns reaching a level almost equal to that of those with wounded pasts?

Your bio kids might need a respite. If things are really tough, really chaotic at home, then they might benefit from a few days away with grandparents or other relatives or friends you trust. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just a special couple of days for them away. Nobody has failed. This isn’t giving up. This is just a breather. An oxygen mask, of sorts.

It can be good for bio kids to have a few days where they are getting a break in routine, some positive attention. In adoptive homes, there are sometimes periods of intense therapy/connection work where the kids who are “behaving” start to feel like they only get attention if they act up. Reshifting some focus for them can be healthy.

There will be transition on both ends. You might cringe at the level of enthusiasm they have for “escaping,” even if no one calls it that. Hold it in. This isn’t a time for lectures about family and loving and bearing burdens– chances are, they want to escape the behavior, and have trouble (as everyone does) disassociating it from the person. Let it go.

When they come home, there might be a day or so of sour attitudes and feet-dragging, and you might feel a little bitter. After all, they just got a break. You were at home, still with the screaming and door-slamming and peeing on the walls (or whatever you’re dealing with!). But coming back to “reality” is a jarring, but necessary, transition. They might equally be full of enthusiasm for discussing the days they spent apart from you, and you might (again) be tempted to be a little bitter. But this is connection! This is what you’re struggling to create with the kids who can’t see past tantrums right now.

Ask what they enjoyed or didn’t like about their days away. Connect with them. And then, gently remind them if you need to, that breaks or vacations are a chance to gather our wits and take a breath. Sour attitudes can be addressed and corrected, because even if it is difficult life, it is real life. Real life is sharing burdens, loving difficult people, and we need to focus our breaks on collecting ourselves and relaxing but not mistaking those things for what real life could be or is. It’s a difficult concept for bio kids to grasp, but it’s worth tackling and giving them occasional breaks to do so.

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