Paperwork, lawyers, dossiers, birth parents, plane tickets, trips, court, finalization. It can be exhausting. Imagining finally arriving home with your child can seem so far off, and, in truth, it can be years before that happens. But, when it does, post-adoption life can equally knock you off your feet just as much as various moments throughout your adoption process.
We didn’t have much of a honeymoon period. When you adopt a child, no matter of age or birth country, you are adopting a child from a hard place. Trauma, plus a lot of unknowns, can plague your child’s future. And, although adoption is difficult everywhere, Eastern Europe seems to be in a league of their own in terms of trauma, neglect, and abuse of their orphans. My son has now been home 1.5 years from a country in Eastern Europe, and we have been thrown into the trenches of parenting through trauma. He came home at 3 years old with no known special needs, other than some correctable physical malformations. Yet, he couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, and couldn’t eat solid foods. His body couldn’t handle more than about 2 ounces of water a day and he was completely stagnant in emotion.
The things we needed to deal with physically pales in comparison with the issues we have encountered mentally. Trauma is a whole new beast and one we now feel we were ill-equipped to experience. We have learned a lot and are obviously still trying to do a lot of self-improvement. Our son has made great progress (he is now walking and eating with joy!), but we are still battling a lot of fear-based reactions, PTSD moments, and a lack of understanding of communication as a whole.
Although we are facing serious hurdles in our future as a family, we have learned many valuable lessons along the way. We have learned that we need to lean on others for support and that we shouldn’t be embarrassed to need help. We sought out a therapist who specializes in working with parents of adopted children and she has helped us immensely. We have found wonderful therapists for our son who have helped explain so much about what he does and why he does it. We have relied on family and friends to give us a reprieve when needed and to listen to us when we need to vent.
We have also learned that learning to love someone where they are right now is a choice. Although we are constantly fighting to bring out the boy beyond the fear, we are learning to just celebrate where he is today. It’s hard, knowing that your child has been hurt and knowing that they have so much deeply hidden potential that they’re too afraid to pull out. But, we are learning to be thankful, to love gently, and to be joyful in the now.
Before we adopted, I thought I was a patient and compassionate person. Adoption has forced me to expand myself and grow more than I ever have before. My child is definitely teaching me more than I am teaching him. I am so thankful for things I used to take for granted, and I have learned to celebrate the little accomplishments that may seem futile for most. Post-adoption life is hard, but so unbelievably worth it.