Yes, we have an incredible adoption story, and I am passionate about encouraging others to consider adoption. But it hasn’t been all roses.
In fact, I have a few brutally honest confessions to make.
Confessions of an adoptive mom:
1 – I thought I would be more appreciated.
Does Lindsey appreciate us? Yes. But she also has a sense of entitlement. Maybe this is partly because she did not have the childhood she should’ve had. Or maybe it’s just because she’s a teen. (This seems to be common in kids of all ages, and quite frankly, in many adults.)
2 – I thought she wouldn’t be a picky eater.
I guess this one goes with number one, but I really imagined that any child who had lived in foster care wouldn’t be picky. I was naive. She’s almost as picky as Kathryn. Meal-planning got harder instead of easier when Lindsey joined the family.
3 – I’m not as amazing a parent as I’d imagined.
Parenting more than one child is way different than parenting an only. (Kathryn was effectively an only, since Brandon is so much older). Adopting a teenage daughter has taught me how much I don’t know! The good news for me is that this is not an issue exclusive to adoptive parents; most parents of teens feel clueless sometimes!
4 – I’m not the hero I thought I was.
People seem to think we are heroic for adopting a teen. Did we provide a permanent, loving family to a foster child? Yes. But we also uprooted her from her old life, as well as changed her school, her church, her friends, and even her family! We changed the rules she was accustomed to, and the schedule she’d grown used to. We have expected more out of her, and we have let her get away with less.
I did not grasp all that Lindsey had to give up in order to say yes to becoming our daughter. (This post on Shaun Groves blog is a must-read: The List.)
5 – I thought she’d want to spend huge amounts of time with us.
I wanted to make up for lost time, so I expected she would, too. But she wasn’t used to having adults devote a great amount of personal time to her, so her natural inclination was to want to always spend the night away, hang out at friends’ houses, stay in her room a lot. We’ve gradually drawn her out, and she voluntarily does spend much more time with us now, and enjoys it. But it sure didn’t happen overnight.
6 – I expected to feel love for her right away.
It’s not unusual for it to take a little while for parents to bond with their newborn baby, but I loved Kathryn from the moment I held her, and even before. But I was able to be part of every moment as Kathryn’s little personality developed and she was completely dependent upon me; on the other hand, Lindsey came with a fully developed personality, as well as her own life and history that I was not part of. I made the decision to love her immediately, but the feelings of love came later.
7 – I didn’t expect it to take so long for her to feel at home.
I won’t candy-coat it: there have been quite a lot of hard days in the past 20 months. But I think Lindsey finally feels like this is home. She’s been here almost longer than anywhere else she’s ever been. She’s made us mad, and we’re still here; we’ve made her mad, and she’s still here — because we are family. I think she is finally beginning to really “get” that truth.
8 – I didn’t expect our kids to ask to adopt again.
With all the changes Lindsey faced, and all the changes Kathryn faced when we adopted, I didn’t think they’d want to do it again. For the past few months both girls have both been seriously asking if we can adopt again. They have been conspiring about who could share a room with who, converting other rooms into bedrooms: I think they’d love for us to adopt a dozen or so more kids. They have seen how much of a blessing it is for everyone involved, despite the difficulties.
9 – I didn’t expect to want to adopt again anytime soon.
Originally, I was thinking maybe we’d do it again when Kathryn was a teen. But I’m feeling that nudge again. We know God already has a plan, so we’re just waiting til He lets us in on what that is.