Editor’s Note: Robin Blackburn is back on site with a look at some of the issues that her family faces raising adopted children. Truly honest and touching. Here she is:
This was supposed to be a different column. This was supposed to be warm and supportive, culturally inclusive and celebrating diversity. But, I have had a bad week.
I have been a bad, bad mummy. Wanna know why? I tried to “fix” my kids and I yelled in frustration. It is easy to forget that my kids aren’t bad, just challenged.
My kids are alphabet soup. No, I haven’t been that bad – they are still whole of body (just!?!). We live in acronym heaven – the place acronyms go to when they want to multiply. In no particular order we have ADHD, RAD, FASD, ODD perhaps, OCD perhaps, ASD perhaps, etc. etc. in ‘da haus! Some we have more than one of.
Okay, with adopted children, there is always the risk that something more will affect them, other than just the adoption process itself. Quite often, these children are either apprehended at birth or soon after, or apprehended after living in chaotic or unhealthy situations. Apprehension only happens because it is necessary. The children are at risk.
My kids are still my kids and I love them with all my heart. But oh my, can they be challenging.
How do you re-direct the child that doesn’t/can’t/won’t hear you? Now I know all mums will say their kids have selective listening skills but that isn’t what is going on. For whatever reason, at least one of my children is sometimes completely oblivious and in another world. You can’t reprimand them for not listening, although you will try. It’s pointless because it isn’t their fault and they, alone, cannot do anything to correct it.
What about the kid who cannot get through a meal without needing to wriggle, reposition, jump up and down, slide sideways in the chair, etc.? We can try and correct this using lots of behavioral techniques, but we can easily lose sight of the fact that they are not to blame – they didn’t ask for this – and they, alone, cannot do anything to change.
It makes me so sad that one of my kids tells me “Mummy, no matter what, or where, I am never comfortable. Even in bed, I’m not ever comfortable.” That is ADHD talking through my child and stillness is not an option in their body.
FASD may mean children are uninhibited; they cannot set boundaries, personal or safety, very easily. As the parent, you must be ever vigilant and understand that this is your job. For life. Even when your child is grown, they will be at risk of making very bad choices with no thought to consequences. Even when they tell you now, in a very small voice, that they want more than anything to be a good kid, but they just don’t know how. It is up to you, as parents, to keep leading them back from the edges they explore.
I am blessed to have a partner who understands, too, and tries very hard to be the father they need. Just as importantly, and the long overdue reason for today’s column, here in the Comox Valley we have a wealth of support.
We have teachers, principals, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, play therapists, psychiatrists, general practitioners, care givers, adoption workers, early childhood specialists and many more in our lives that do not just support, but actively go those extra 100 miles to help us.
Sure, in a big city we could have all of that. Here in our small valley we have all that and more. It is such a tightly woven web of support. We mention to the psychiatrist that we’ve found a great teenage babysitter and, of course, they know who it is. We talk to a behavior specialist only to find that we met them through tennis last year.
Some days it feels as if the number of people my children need has exploded exponentially – and it is somewhat true – but never have we met kinder souls. And they do not stop trying. When one thing doesn’t work, back they come with another option to try. As we progress through the school system, I am sure we’ll need more coping strategies, more guidance and more support.
But let me tell you – we are a living example, as a family, of the adage “it takes a village to raise a child.” All adopted families are, or should be.
To my village, too numerous to name, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Our family is so very grateful.
Category: INSPIRED ACTION