Friday, June 20, 2008

Adopting the older child

There have been many blogs lately talking about older child adoption. These moms are speaking from the heart, openly sharing there experiences and putting it out there for other parents to read. This post really struck close to home for me, made me think. The same blogger wrote more posts that are beautiful and heartfelt, and explain how each child is so different... there is no way to prepare completely for any child at any age. The more I read, the more I found... parents adopting at all different ages, all having very different experiences, but in so many ways, similar experiences. Blogs like this one, and this one.

Reading all of this made me think about our own experiences. I have always tried to find a good analogy for adopting the older child, and used to explain it as a game of chess... where you are always thinking three moves ahead. But that doesn't explain it fully. Our 'low' times with Pipo are few and far between these days, and much less severe, but they are still there. We had one such moment over the weekend, and Fitz and I spent half a day trying to understand this little boy, trying to figure out where he was coming from, why he acted the way he did. And suddenly it dawned on me. It is like reading a book.

Have you ever read a long, complicated novel? Harry Potter stands out to me. Often in the Harry Potter series, I found myself flipping back chapters, to remember certain scenes, certain conversations between characters to help me understand what was happening in the current part of the book. Much in the same way, I often find myself doing this with my bio kids. When they react to a situation in a different way than their siblings, I can look back through our share of stored memories and understand where they are coming from. Tommy had so many health issues as a baby and toddler; it makes sense that he is terrified at doctor's appointments. Kaleigh had a horrible experience accidently hitting a beehive in the woods with Fitz. She is terrified of bees. She is so much more dramatic at the sight of a bee than any of the others. I have read each and every one of these kids' chapters... I can flip back and remember, and use that information to help me navigate the present.

With Pipo, we started this book many chapters in. Those chapters are gone, cut out of the book, and I don't have them to look back through. Pipo, arriving at almost 9, was old enough to ask about those chapters. Occasionally, memories will surface and he will share them, but we have never experienced them... there are gaps and pages missing for us. Every time something comes up with him, Fitz and I try desperately to understand, we so desperately want to help him through. We do our best, but sometimes, many times, we are working blindly.

All this being said, it is one of the best 'books' we have ever read. I constantly find myself dreaming about the chapters to come... the ones that haven't even been written yet. It's a challenging book, this older child adoption, but one definitely worth the read.


Amy said...

Wow, I really like that analogy, and it's one I'll have to remember.
I sometimes think, "If someone else were to adopt one of my children right now, and they'd never met my child or me, how would they ever be able to guess or make sense of some of their behaviors?" This usually comes to mind when we go to Grandma's house, and Reid asks for a juice box, and she gets it ready and hands it to him, and he yells, and throws himself to the floor. Oops. She didn't know he likes to put the straw in by himself. That's just a tiny example, but you know - there are just SO MANY things we don't know and may never know about our children.
But just like you said, this is one heck of a great book, and even though I missed the beginning, I'm so glad I am in it now!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. What a wonderful way of explaining it. I really love the book analogy.

Laurel said...

LOVE this post. We've been reading our 3 kids' book for 6 months, now, and in many ways we seem to understand less and less, as we get deeper and deeper into their lives.

Our 8 y.o. bio. son was frustrated tonight. While talking about his frustration with me, he said, "They are just different." I asked, "How?" To which he replied, "They think differently than me." Sooo ... true!