For the past few years there has been an increase in information about the effects of trauma in childhood, specifically trauma in adopted children. There has also been an increased acceptance of people sharing the “hard” of adoption. Both of these are changes that overall have had a very positive effect on adoption in general. Struggling parents no longer have to feel like they should hide, or lie, or feel isolated. They instead can connect with both experts and other struggling parents to gain much needed support and help. Potential adoptive parents are much better equipped going into their own adoptions. Their eyes have been opened to the fact that adoption is not all roses and rainbows. And that is true, and honest, and in many cases accurate.
Ironically, I’ve seen that shift begin to isolate a different group of adoptive parents – parents of adopted children who are not struggling. Families who have experienced smooth transitions, whose children have not exhibited any sensory issues, whose relationships with siblings have been easy and very typical of any siblings.
I’m kind of afraid to tell people that he is fine, that we are fine.
Sometimes I feel like we should be struggling more.
I often feel like people listen to me with a look that says “just wait” or “clearly you aren’t well-informed or tuned into your child’s struggle”.
Perhaps adopted children with smooth transitions will struggle in other ways down the road, but maybe they won’t.
Perhaps those smooth sibling transitions will hit shags along the way in future years, but maybe they won’t.
Perhaps signs of trauma are simply hidden for this season only to appear in other seasons, or perhaps not at all.
Perhaps parents that report no negative behaviors are looking through rose-colored glasses, or maybe they see things as they truly are – and they are good.
Recognizing the high potential for negative trauma-related behaviors in adopted children is necessary. It is good to be informed, well-informed. Our children need us to be ready to assist them in working through any issues that arise, when they arise, if they arise.
Welcoming and supporting and accepting families who are being honest about their child’s or their family’s struggle with trauma-related issues is also necessary. It has been a welcome shift to see the false narrative of “adoption is beautiful” become one that also says, “but, sometimes it’s hard and messy and complicated.”
Honesty and authenticity about adoption is necessary and healthy, but only if we are willing to offer equal acceptance of those whose journey has not been hard, messy, or complicated. Instead of giving a look that says just you wait, let’s be sure our message is equally supportive. Let’s celebrate the grace God has given. Let’s revel in His ability to make all things new. His redemptive work may take place over years of hard and complicated, but He is just as able to bring redemption quickly, or easily, or without much struggle. Just as these children are His, so the work is also His…His to accomplish when and how He sees fit.
18 years in the classroom as a teacher was easy compared to parenting three little ones at home full-time. Through their three daughters, God has revealed Himself most clearly to Stephanie and her husband Matthew. He not only worked a miracle in giving them their biological daughter, He continued to show Himself in mighty ways throughout adoption journeys in China and Bhutan that were anything but normal. Nowadays she enjoys encouraging and connecting with other adoptive families through speaking and her work on the leadership team of “We Are Grafted In” and on the Board of The Sparrow Fund.