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Hi everyone,

Long time no post- life with our new son has been a vortex of energy input, so I have not had one second to post or even read here which is likely the worst possible thing I could have dropped. I realize that I am so needing support, connection, community and care right now. I'm curious if any of you have ideas for me about how to get some of my needs met. I'm open to posting openly here and getting feedback and support, or buddying up with someone privately, or even having you point me in a direction of some other resource.

Long story short, When my daughter was 4 her brother died at birth due to catastrophic uterine rupture and I lost my womb that day. We turned to other options for building a family and after loads of thought and effort went to Rwanda to complete an adoption in 08. The US agency we worked with took a bunch of our money and were negligent and fraud committing at best and we later learned we were denied by the country due to some misunderstanding about the circumstances of our case (mostly surrounding the fact that I had successfully lactated for this baby).

Fast forward to 09 when we successfully and quickly adopted independently from Rwanda on appeal.
We met our son in Rwanda at the orphanage when he was just around 7 months old and we brought him home two weeks later in July of 09.
(did I mention how happy I am?) I am stay at home, homeschool my daughter and have been with Pacifique ever since he placed.

So: my problem. Where to start? We have had zero support pre or post placement. Our homestudy sw did nothing to advocate/support/assist us over the time we worked with her... she never called to follow up after the agency made away with our money (she was independent of them) nor after we placed. Other attempts locally to find someone have failed miserably. I live in central Vermont and there don't seem to be many resources?

Anyway, so now home with my son I am noticing loads of my own feelings that I am uncomfortable with and ways that I parent Pacifique that I would NEVER IN MY RIGHT MIND HAVE done with my daughter. I don't know what is second child syndrome, what is boy versus girl child, what is "adoption" and all that that encompasses, what could be grief over Trace dying and now being responsible for caring for "this child instead" (I wonder if there is part of my brain that actually thinks that? I have seen that happen at times like Trace's anniversary where I feel like someone handed me Pacifique as a stand in for Trace) ... Overwhelmingly I experience crazy anger, and I am way less gentle/AP with Pacifique I notice. I also have this "oh-well" mentality that happens from time to time. Like, so I'm not getting him on the potty as much as I would like "oh well" or he's not eating perfect foods, "oh-well" or even "so he's crying, Oh-well". So this sounds like typical second child stuff, right? But I can see where it is attached to the fact that he used to be in an orphanage, so my mind will say, "oh well, it could be worse..." which I HATE!!! I cannot believe my mind is doing that!!!! I have yelled at him, which I still have never come even close to doing with my 8 year old... and made him cry with my crazy angry responses (when they happen) which totally freaks me out! I don't know where that is coming from, I feel sick about it, it is soooo counter to what I believe about parenting and kids needs for safety/comfort/acceptance/love/care. I wonder constantly what damage I am doing to his already confused and traumatized being.. I give him this jekyl/hyde mentality where i love him fully and smother him with gratitude/amazement/joy that he is with us and then get frustrated with him.... ahhh!

Oh, I'm beside myself just thinking about it. I did think about going to the parenting boards with this, but it strikes me that this is adoption related, or my history with loss related... I could go on and on... about the differences in attaching, the frustration I feel at times, etc. I am happy to share more, but want to make sure that I do so in an appropriate place.

I know posts can sound one sided... and this one does. I love this little guy to pieces and he knows it. We do really well a lot of the time. But man oh man am I dying for some support and shifting around all of this. Anyone with ideas about where to get support? Is this board appropriate? or anyone want to pm? Other ideas?

With hope for connection and relief,
 

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I'm so sorry you are experiencing such a difficult time. Our agency doesn't do post-adoption followup either, but that doesn't mean there are no resources available (although I don't live in VT, so I'm not sure what you have in your area.) I'm going to share where we have gotten support over the years (our daughter is now 6.)

First of all, for myself, just a "regular" therapist was quite helpful in getting support for some difficulties with my daughter. She wasn't an adoption expert, but she could help me sort out the tangle of things going on with ME. So I wouldn't rule out a few sessions with someone competent to help you sort through what's going on.

Secondly, we have found that post-adoption support services in our community are available through a couple of places even if we didn't use them for adoption. So I would check around and see if there's a nonprofit agency of some kind offering these services, and ask if you can participate. We also have an organization that supports primarily families formed through adoption from foster care, but their services are also open to others.

Thirdly, we started asking around and for several years, formed our own social support group of families who had adopted from the same country as us, had similar age children, and had gay or lesbian parents. Maybe by asking around, you could find others who have adopted from Africa (for example) fairly recently and offer to host a play group.

Finally, as our daughter got older, she has worked with two different therapists. The first was a specialist in attachment, so had quite a bit of experience with adopted kids; the second, not very much experience, but we liked her approach. For whatever reason, the second person did the trick and has been REALLY helpful. Just a reminder to keep the net wide.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you. There are a number of excellent books on the stickies list for this forum too, but I was mostly too overwhelmed to do much reading!
 

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I could have written your post, I think.
I don't know if you remember me...we have two older sons, one son that passed away in '07, and we brought home dd in '08 from South Korea at 9 months old.

I, too, lost a child before adopting. I don't know if that's related to the Jekyl/Hyde thing or not. My close friend and I have talked about this a lot...she's a first-time parent to a little girl from China, very close in age to our dd, and she's experiencing the same feelings, same struggles. Her experience makes me feel like this is adoption-related, not loss-related. She's talked to her adoption friends, too, and they've admitted similar feelings...which is all very comforting, really.

I also feel like 9 months is a very, very challenging time to bring home a child. In some of the reading I've done, it's suggested that it might be one of the worst times. A little earlier, or a few months later, seems to be ideal. At nine months, a child is just starting to phyically claim their caretaker/mother, and so moving them at that time can set them & us up for real challenges. I definitely felt rejected by dd at times, and I think that put my defenses up. I know I should be the bigger person, and usually I am, but add in a lot of sleep deprivation, and a child who is rapidly turning into a challenging toddler, and you don't always get the best parenting.

For me, I think it comes down to attachment. I still do not feel fully attached to dd, though I do notice that it's getting better all the time. At this point I've accepted that it will be a long, long process. Perhaps years. I'm okay with that. In the short term I try to do my best, though of course I fail regularly and have to both keep myself accountable AND work on forgiving myself at the same time. A guilty mama is not a good mama, nor is one that pretends everything is okay. It's a difficult balance.

Another part of this is personality conflict. My friend agrees with this, too. Dd and I are like oil and water sometimes. She's a button-pusher, the way some kids (bio or not) just ARE. She's also very loud and very dramatic, and to be honest some of her personality feels so completely different than anything or anyone else in our family. I keep trying to remind myself that it must be frustrating for her, too, to be in a family where only parts of her personality are reflected by her parents and siblings. That helps. I also enjoy talking to friends who have bio kids that act/feel the same way...kind of like "Hello, where on earth did YOU come from???" Adoptive families aren't the only ones who experience this kind of conflict, this kind of relationship.

So what helps....

Time. Really. It can't be too much lazy time, though. Just letting it pass doesn't make things better (though sometimes that's all I can manage). I try to do a cuddle/bonding activity with JUST her at least once a day, and I try to purposefully up my smiles/compliments/enthusiasm around her, too....especially when I'm going through a stretch of rough days with her. The "fake it till you make it" attachment mantra isn't completely out of our lives yet.
I love dd, but I try very hard not to let her see my coldness on days when she's driving me crazy. She definitely sees my irritation, though
, and reacts to it.

I try to focus on her good qualities, and the things I do enjoy with her. She is such a sweet kid...so helpful, so in love with babies, so joyful. I do everything I can to interact with her in these joyful, enjoyable, entertaining ways. I try to build our relationship out of these things, if that makes sense, so that the other stuff doesn't play such a prominent role. I don't know about you, but sometimes with the stress of the every day, I tend to focus more on the irritating and upsetting, rather than the easy joyful stuff. It takes a little concentration to refocus on all of the wonderful things she is, rather than on the things that get under my skin. It's working, though.


Dd getting older. Seriously.
As she's gaining more language, and able to interact with us more, things are really getting better. I think the language delay has been a huge, huge frustration for all of us (dd especially), and it's meant that we just don't treat her the same as we did ds at this age. We don't have the same bonding conversations, we don't do the same activities...and yet her mind is the same, she just can't communicate as well. It's a strange thing, to have a child developing late in the range of speech acquisition. I didn't realize how much language helped me bond with ds's personality, or how much I enjoyed his vocal, "rational" self vs. his pre-speech toddler self. As dd is gaining speech, our frustration levels as a family are going way, way down. And as she's getting older, she's becoming more of a child and less of a tantrum-powered toddler. That's good.

Cuddling. We try to do a lot of this, and I love it. Dd is into it sometimes, or not into it at other times, but even if she's just snuggled up to me as I read a book, I can feel the mommy/child warmth of it. So can she. Sometimes those cuddling/book moments are the best part of an otherwise crappy, drama-filled day. It's nice to stop and take those moments while we can.

I need to get the kids off to school, so I don't know if this addresses all of what you wrote. Let's keep talking, though. I found the isolation of these feelings was the worst part of the adoption experience...so much guilt, so much self-doubt, so much pent-up anger and emotion. Not good. It's helped so much to hear that many, MANY other adoptive (and some bio) parents have gone through this as well. You're not alone.
 

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Not sure if you remember our story, either, so here is the quick synopsis. I have an almost 12yo
bio son who was a 30w preemie due to preeclampsia, I had a daughter who was stillborn due to cord injury (but I also developed severe preeclampsia again and further pg were AMA), and a 4 1/2 yo son adopted from Korea at 5 1/2m, and a 2 1/2yo adopted from Korea at 12m.

My now 4 1/2 yo had a smooth transition after just a few days. We had our ups and downs, but mostly it was really, really smooth. And still, we had personality conflicts at the "hard times" of typical toddlerhood that I do feel were adoption related. He was more manipulative at a younger age than I truly thought was possible (and had scoffed at other mother's similar claims prior to my experiences with him
)

My now 2 1/2 yo--well there are lots of posts here of me crying my eyes out at how hard it has been. He had a rough transition, lots of grief, lots of mistrust, and was just generally frustrating and tiring to parent. Add in unexpected medical issues, language delay, and that he came home already mobile...well, it was/is just really, really hard. He slept poorly for so long our social worker actually told me it was more important that I go to a hotel/leave him with a sitter and sleep that to worry about bonding, etc. I lived so sleep deprived for so long I developed chronic health problems from it. I am still sleep deprived, and we are probably at the plateau (due to some of his health issues), so it is unlikely to get much better from this point. At a year and a half home, I feel like we are finally beginning to see the light. I htink we have mroe good moments than bad at this point. But I still find myself not the parent I want to be, nor am capable of being. This one, well he is a button pusher. He likes to test limits, he likes to manipulate, he likes to deliberately disobey/break rules, hew is extremely impatient and demanding. It has so traumatized DH that he has said no to adopting again.

So, in addition to what ROM posted (most of which we did/do as well), here is what has helped me:

--talk to people about how you are feeling!!! and how hard it is! I felt for a long time that I should just be happy, although I did share on here, but not IRL so much because I thought people wouldn't understand or would judge. But they didn't. And just having others acknowledge that I wasn't crazy or a bad mom helped tremendously! A counselor would have been an excellent option, and one I would have pursued except for a significant change in finances right after he came home. But I surrounded myself with people who could support me, even if they themselves parented differently than me, and just listen.

--I gave up my AP ideal of not leaving my child with other people. We already knew I would need childcare in a way that I hadn't with the others since I am in grad school, and so we included her in our inner circle as far as bonding purposes, which helped him to be comfortable with her a lot. But I found that getting away for school wasn't enough--I needed me time that was more unfocused. And so I have utilized church nurseries, and classes with childcare way more that with my other children so young. I needed to be able to breath and escape and not suffocate. And I was/am a better Mom for it. Just a few weeks ago, I put him in preschool PT, going to FT in March (instead of the sitter, whose scheduled didn't work with mine this semester). I need him to be there in summer for my school requirements, and wanted togive plenty of time for transition, but am breathing much easier having him gone for part of the day. I also leave him with DH and go to my friend's houses more in the evenings than I did when the others were little.

--similar to "fake it and make it", sometimes I measure time in minutes, not hours or days. I can get through the next 3 minutes without yelling type thinking. In the same way, I also start over at each time I lose it, and try to just let it go. I also gave my permission to walk away from difficult situations sometimes.

--prayer. I need the reminder to be still, to calm, to be at peace. Not much else I can say here, but if you don't have a time to pray or meditate, I encourage you to find the space to do it.

--do little things for me. Whether its the special chocolates that I like, or the coffee, a pedicure, or just planning away to grocery shop by myself so I can browse and linger. I need to recharge and feel like me again.

--take a good vitamin, and a vitamin D supplement. Part of the health problems I developed were from staying indoors so much to avoid dealing with tantrums and meltdowns publicly. But doing so left me Vitamin D deficient, despite being fair skinned, living in TX without using sunblock. Vitamin D deficiency, BTW, can cause depression and irritability, as well as a host of other health problems.

Finally, I wanted to say, come here and talk with us. As you can see, many of us have been there
We would be happy to walk this part of the journey with you. It takes a lot of courage to say out loud the things you shared with us.
 

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I am sorry to say I haven't read the other posts yet, but I highly recommend seeing a therapist on a weekly basis and maybe even more frequently at first. I use therapy on a periodic basis (not just when something is "wrong"), and I found two of the periods when I utilized it included post-adoption with my children.

I think it is okay to be where you are at (you couldn't necessarily help it even if it wasn't), but you also have a responsibility to your child to work through unresolved issues that will weaken your relationship with him. It is amazing how much therapy just one hour per week can transform a person and their relationships.
 

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aw Jaya, I'm sorry you're going through a rough patch.
I haven't brought adopted kids home yet, so I can't really speak to that, but I do have two kids and I do have one who is really challenging and causes me to question myself on a regular basis!

A lot of this is just second child syndrome. For one thing, you are divided where you were not with your first. that's ok, I often feel bad for first children, with all that crazy attention from their doting parents
. also, you kind of realize that kids are not as fragile as we think they are when we are responsible for our first -- it truly doesn't matter if you don't get him to the potty as much as you did with your first, it truly doesn't matter if he isn't eating a pristine diet -- not because it could be so much worse for him, but because he will be just fine, and the details matter less than the whole package. He is loved like crazy by you, and that is what matters. I think the best thing about being a full-time mom is that while you might lose it with your kids more often, you also have all that time to make it right with them. Nobody is perfect, parents included, and it's fine for them to know that. we all make mistakes, we all do things and say things we shouldn't, but it's how we handle it that makes the difference. Just apologize, love on him, forgive yourself and try to do better next time.

and yes, I agree with the therapy recommendation, if you can swing it. If not, spend more time at MDC, that's my own personal therapy.
 

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I also think you should look around for a therapist where you live. It sounds to me like some of what you are feeling has to do with your loss and you might feel better having found a therapist to work through some of your feelings.

I think it's pretty common for homestudy social workers to do your homestudy, period. Mine also did my post-placement reports for my second child, because by then it had become a country requirement. But we paid for the reports, and it wasn't therapy, it was a visit to the home to see how the child was doing. He might have been willing to work for us if we were having problems, but we would have had to initiate and pay for it. Personally, I think we got exactly what we paid for. If you liked the sw, and think he or she might be helpful, it might be worth a call to see if you could arrange for more support.

I think a little of what you are describing is normal second child stuff. It's pretty common for many people to relax their "standards" a bit. I know that I wasn't nearly as fanatical about certain things with my second child as I was with my first, and in general that was a good thing.

I didn't have any real resentment of my kids and my second was a much easier child than my first. My first had a few attachment issues that we needed to work through, and it was exhausting and draining. I'd experienced more miscarriages than I can recall prior to adopting our first child, but they weren't really that big a deal for me.

You might want to contact a few local adoption agencies and see if they are aware of any parent support groups in your area. We have a few where I live (upstate NY) and I know that many people find them to be helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
First off, thank you all for the thoughtful and heartfelt responses. I have checked back here multiple times a day to see who has written and what you've said, although I just haven't had a second to respond since I posted. Still, I was thrilled each time I saw a response... I felt so cared for (and thrilled to connect with some of you again!)

I have to say that I feel better already (and interestingly, Pacifique has not wanted out of my arms yesterday or today which is highly unusual). I can look back and notice a pattern where each time I have reached out (in person or here on line) I have had a big shift quite immediately. So, that teaches me how important it is for me to talk, to be seen and heard, and allow a vulnerability and then receive support and care. I do not need to pay someone for that, so it has served as a good reminder to ask for help, to ask to be listened to. No one is going to show up at my door asking how I feel
I have to put myself out there. Since I posted I have not had one "incident" of impatience or anger. I know I will again, but it is worth noting that it did shift...

Of course I remember you ROM. And your ^i^ boy. I do appreciate all your ideas and thoughts and benefit greatly from reading your own experiences. It is interesting to me that your friend had the similar jekyl/hyde thing altho she was not a loss mama. I do have a friend who also adopted form Rwanda (before us) and she had lost her baby at 3ish months. She experienced major anger/rage issues with her adopted dd... and I also know that loss mamas have some of this even with biokids that come after their other child dies, so I dunno. I guess it is just gonna be hard to know what reactions and behavior stems from with all of our "baggage" and losses (Pacifique too). I still get worried that Pacifique has died if he sleeps later than regular, or randomly during the night when I can't see him.

Unfortunately, from a potential available support standpoint, I live in the opposite of a metropolis. I also live in the whitest state in the nation (okay, well we are neck in neck with Maine). Our town holds all of 500 people. So local resources are few and far between... there is zero possibility that I can find others in the area who have adopted form Africa and have a playgroup for instance, but there are other ways to network to the same end I suppose. It is a challenge always to find energy to reach out or create what you are looking for when you are in need of support b/c usually that indicates that I am low on energy and ideas.

Most of you mentioned a therapist ongoing. Great idea, impossible in my mind due to childcare issues now (no one to take the kiddos). Not to mention finances. I was seeing someone prior to the adoption, which was marginally helpful, but I have not any clue how to logistically continue. I am really concerned about the overhead of getting to the session compared to the potential benefit. Wish they did home visits... sigh.

Our hs sw was not anyone I would want to try to get support from for various reasons, mostly I don't respect her practice and level of professionalism. I have hired a sw who has done a few homevisits so far, and I really like and appreciate her, but she is available only very very often.

ITA on the time/prayer/and attachment points. I think honestly, it all comes down to attachment/connection for me. I notice that if I get totally frustrated and spiral down and decide in response to sling Pacifique (he would be happy bulldozing around on the floor endlessly) that my patience/oxytocin/care skyrockets. Or I could just take a bath with him, or sing to him while massaging him... if I slow way down and intend to connect with him, the anger melts into love. Wierd?

I've been watching what is happening right before i get mad. I get a tense feeling in my solar plexus that carries up into my chest and out my throat. It is always at a time when I am not present, or when I am wanting something to be different (the definition of stress). If I am present and centered it doesn't happen. This makes me think it is a lot about self-care (i have none?) and taking quiet moments for prayer/meditation and asking for help as well.

There is still this feeling that "he is not mine". In some ways, he feels completely right.. like I have known him always. Heck, for three years I imagined him, visualized him, prayed for him, and journeyed to him wherever he was. When I saw him the first time, he was exactly what I had seen in my mind. Exactly, no doubt. But then there is that part of me (almost an innate part/animal instinct part) that says, "who is this child I am responsible for now? He is not mine!" (Not that I believe children are ever an object to own.) He has a "real mother" out there somewhere, who am I to try to take her place? What am I thinking taking him from his country... I don't look like him! He doesn't smell like me... But then after all that I get to "whatever". What does it matter? We all make our way to where we are by some Grace and Mystery. And I fall into a trust of it.

But it is in that place of "he is not mine" that I can react with anger and resentment. And realizing that despite that feeling I have a responsibility to care for him and love him and help him experience safety has really helped me these last few days.

I'd be curious how others internalize or understand being the adoptive parent when the other mom is out there somewhere. I want to keep her alive and real for my son, I want to include her in our prayers and hearts. I have yet to understand my relationship to her and of our son to her and to me, I suppose. I am sure that time and attachment will help.

Thanks for listening. I look forward to hearing any responses and keeping the sharing going...
 

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You may not have support groups specifically for others who have adopted from Africa, but there might be more general support groups for people who have adopted which might be helpful. There is some common ground for people who are parents through adoption no matter where their child originated.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ariahsmum View Post
It is interesting to me that your friend had the similar jekyl/hyde thing altho she was not a loss mama.
Yes. I remember when her daughter had been home a few months, we met for a playdate at a local nature center. We were all in a room, staring at turtles in tanks, and she started telling me how she felt. One phrase stuck in my mind: she was worried her feelings/mothering behavior were going to turn her daughter in a psychotic or psycho-killer someday. It might have been a great weight off of her mind to share that with me, but it felt like an even bigger weight off my shoulders. I'd thought/feared the very same thing!

How many months has your son been home? It really does get better. My friend said it started getting better for her at 6 months (not solved, but better). For me, it's been a very gradual process since about 4/5 months after dd came home. I mean, she's been home since June of 2008, and the process is still going on...it's not something that gets better overnight.

Quote:
There is still this feeling that "he is not mine". In some ways, he feels completely right.. like I have known him always. Heck, for three years I imagined him, visualized him, prayed for him, and journeyed to him wherever he was. When I saw him the first time, he was exactly what I had seen in my mind. Exactly, no doubt. But then there is that part of me (almost an innate part/animal instinct part) that says, "who is this child I am responsible for now? He is not mine!" (Not that I believe children are ever an object to own.) He has a "real mother" out there somewhere, who am I to try to take her place? What am I thinking taking him from his country... I don't look like him! He doesn't smell like me... But then after all that I get to "whatever". What does it matter? We all make our way to where we are by some Grace and Mystery. And I fall into a trust of it.

But it is in that place of "he is not mine" that I can react with anger and resentment. And realizing that despite that feeling I have a responsibility to care for him and love him and help him experience safety has really helped me these last few days.

I'd be curious how others internalize or understand being the adoptive parent when the other mom is out there somewhere. I want to keep her alive and real for my son, I want to include her in our prayers and hearts. I have yet to understand my relationship to her and of our son to her and to me, I suppose. I am sure that time and attachment will help.

Thanks for listening. I look forward to hearing any responses and keeping the sharing going...
I feel this "she's not mine" somewhere deep, too, though I have to say it was strongest at the beginning and has been fading slowly ever since. I DO think some of this feeling is at the root of why I feel less invested in controlling my temper, or in getting more physical/frustrated with her. It's not a pretty part of my feelings, to be honest, but it's there.

When dd first came home, I was so resentful of the babysitting feeling. Her grief period, her adjustment period, was torture for us as a family, and I felt so angry that we were doing this to ourselves "for a child that wasn't even ours." (
that sounds so awful, but there it was.) I regretted the adoption, I regretted dd's parents (they weren't the perfect parents I'd been picturing), I regretted everything. I remember telling dh that I wish we could just blink and make it all go away...the whole experience. The money, the process, the expectations of all of our family and friends to make it work. I felt trapped and resentful.

Over time that went away. I don't feel like we're babysitting her anymore. I don't even feel like she's not my daughter. I would say that somewhere around a year of her being home, I started feeling very at peace with her having two mothers, two fathers. I knew I was her mother, too. I don't know why--I wish I could tell you. Maybe it's the cumulative diapers, teething, holding, feeding...just the up-to-my-elbows mothering of it all. Maybe it's just time getting used to the idea. I can't say. I feel very much her mother, but I also know that her first mother is out there and that's okay. There's no weirdness. It doesn't cause havoc in my emotions or motivations anymore, though there are times when the distance between us (again, I think this attachment related) still makes me a less ideal mother to her than I am to my other children.

One other thing you said really struck a chord:

Quote:
There is still this feeling that "he is not mine". In some ways, he feels completely right.. like I have known him always. Heck, for three years I imagined him, visualized him, prayed for him, and journeyed to him wherever he was. When I saw him the first time, he was exactly what I had seen in my mind. Exactly, no doubt. But then there is that part of me (almost an innate part/animal instinct part) that says, "who is this child I am responsible for now? He is not mine!"
I think this was part of the betrayal I felt from dd (which is ridiculous, because a 9-month old couldn't betray me). Really, I think I betrayed myself. I was so in love with my imagined daughter, so in love with the baby I pictured in my heart, then in my mind, then in the photos, that when we finally met dd and her personality was so set, I was lost. Where was the daughter I imagined? Who WAS this child?

And it wasn't just her. I'd imagined so much behind the story of her adoption...had pictures of her parents and their situations in my mind. One of the things we found out the week we brought dd home is the true story behind her adoption, and lots and lots of facts about her parents, their lifestyles, their backgrounds. I think in my mind I'd imagined a more storybook picture...some bright, lovely college student who'd been abandoned by her boyfriend, and had chosen to place her child for adoption...
. So not realistic. And so not close to the truth.

I remember it was after our first meeting with dd, but before we were able to take her home, that we found all this out. I was so stressed out over it. It hit me like a ton of bricks that this would NOT be some dream child. She was a child with baggage, with possible damage done to her by her parents, with a non-ideal story...even with genetics that might not be the best (a snobby thing to think, but I thought it). I panicked a little, because my dream child adoption was slipping away.

The next four months of being home with her, when she was so wound up and NEVER sleeping, made that dream child slip away completely.

Fast forward to now... it's been a process of falling in love with a completely new child, and giving up those years of our imagined adoption, our imagined child, completely. COMPLETELY. That has been a long process, and therapy (here and there) has helped with that. I'm not there yet. I still can't stand to look back on the journals I kept for dd while I waited, because the child I wrote those to does not exist. I was so wrapped up in my vision of her that I didn't look at anything the "right" way...despite reading all the right books, all the right articles, and thinking (I thought) all the "right" things about adoption and attachment.

This experience has not been what I thought it would. It's been loss all over again...giving up on the child I imagined for years, and realizing that I HAD to let her go so that I could start truly seeing the child in front of me. The reality of her. And that has been a lot of coming to peace with the discord of the experience...the discord between her imagined personality and her real one, between her imagined adoption story and her real one, between the imagined parents and the real one, between my imagined parenting skills and my real ones...it's not at all the fairytale experience I thought it would be, way back in my mind two and three years ago.

It may be that the depth of anger is fueled by that loss, and the reflection of loss of ds. I don't know. What I find most comforting are the stories of parents who haven't lost a child, who are going through this too. I think adoption can be a very scrambling experience for anyone...not just parents that have experienced loss. There is so much build up, so much expectation, and so much harsh reality on the other side.

 

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I just want to thank you guys for sharing so honestly
 

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ROM, I am thrilled reading your response to me and others. Hearing some of your own very real thoughts and feelings is meeting my own need for learning and growth. Thank you. Keep it coming!

To answer your question, our son has been with us now since June of 09, home since July. That makes it what? Just over 6 months? Still very new I guess, although I can convince myself that he is nearly full grown, lol, as he was only 10 pounds when we adopted him at 7 months and he had zero muscle tone. Now he is running around, vaulting over the baby gates, talking non-stop, growing like the Nutcracker ballet's Christmas tree. I can hear myself say, "You're out of time, Jaya! Pull it together! You are going to scar this kid for life."

My dear friend who also adopted from Rwanda said for her it began shifting at 1 year... but I'm guessing that those shifting points can be not only related to adoption, but also at what age you lost your previous child.. kind of like labor where if a woman had a cesarean her first birth at 6 cm, she can hit a wall at that time in her subsequent labor... until she passes the point where she was the last time... regardless, it will shift, I am sure, just in time for it to downshift again, right? Likely there will always be something to challenge us.

I was intrigued reading your story of dreaming of this child, and then being faced with the reality in front of you that was not matching your dream. I was prepared for that kind of thing, as I had read about it time and time again, but honestly for me it has not been that way. For one, I actually was soooo focused on getting this child- it was a *major* hurdle- that I never really had time or energy to project what it would be like in reality to parent him, or have him here. I think to a degree that has been a good thing in hindsight- i never romanticized any of it, or had it in my head one way. I did read a lot of writing about other's journeys and knew that anything could happen, including standing in the orphanage and feeling utterly disconnected or numb. And boy, it was not that way! I cried and cried holding him! What a beautiful moment of utter joy, relief and gratitude.

Still, I do think that so much adrenaline (for lack of a better word) was used for the three years it took to get to him that it gave me that "now what?" feeling when I finally received Pacifique. Big time emotional let down came in. I likened it to planning a summit of Everest. You prepare and map and plan and strategize, you train and train and train, then begin your ascent. Along the way, you fall into a crevase, nearly die, go without food, face death-defying situation after situation. During the journey, you picture getting to the top, but never imagine life *after* you get there and come down. Survival allows you only to be in the moment. When you fall into the hole, you cannot sit and grieve, cannot wallow or process... you just have adrenaline surges to get you to safety- to your goal. Maybe, *maybe* when you get to the top, you might then keel over and melt down. You might discharge a ton of tears of relief and fear and victory and disbelief, and omg you did it! melt down for all you endured along the way. I think this is just the thing that happened to me. And so now, I am back from my epic journey and living this life fully, but struggling with the realities after having done this totally miraculous thing that only likely a fraction of the world's population would do (everyone said I should give up!) and now what?

This is the now what. I get to fall in love with this child.

Unlike you, ROM, I do totally think he is the one I imagined. When I say I imagined him, dreamed him... it was not a mind kind of imagine. I sat in prayer, journeyed, meditated, dreamed (traveled? yes I am woo-woo!) time after time (and perhaps you did also) but each time, I asked to be taken to him, and I saw him. I felt him. I let my soul sit in the room with his and I would just be with him. It was never more than that. When we were denied in Rwanda the first time, we tried again to pursue domestic or ethiopian adoption. or surrogacy. And regardless of how much I just wanted a child, the feeling kept coming back that our child was not in any of those places. I kept feeling this soul... calling me to Rwanda, I could not explain this it jsut was, and it was sooo strong! (I realize I put myself out there a lot with my description and sharing my thoughts... I sound like a complete quack!) And when I held him, I knew I had held him before in other ways... so I totally believe for myself that Pacifique and I were headed toward each other all along. But that does not mean it is bliss, or easy, or without struggles bonding. But it is part of why I am so horrified with anger toward him.

Pacifique is a true orphan in the sense that he was left in the bush as a newborn and a police investigation turned up no leads to who a family member may be. I will likely never know who his family is, what his story is before he was found, or the circumstances his mother was in. To that end, it will always be up to my imagination, and later in life, his imaginations or memories. I can imagine that finding out some information about her would add another layer to work thru.

In processing all of this in my head I really do believe that a lot of what I am experiencing ties back to the death of Trace Oak. In many ways, I feel that I live a dream come true. I gush with love and gratitude for Pacifique, I am often moved to tears with this overwhelm. He fits into our family in such a beautiful way, brought so much joy and healing to us all- him as well, I imagine. He is Mr. Personality, a total ham, humorous! We truly are doing great. And there is this other side where I resent him somewhere deep inside, and I wonder how much that is that he wouldn't be here at all if Trace was. In some very real sense, it is like Trace's dying allowed for Pacifique's journey to our family... and there is grief that I don't express now that gets bottled up as I try to constantly love and care for my living children. I'm guessing repressed grief can come out as frustration, lack of patience and anger? I am sure it is a very complex situation and I do not mean to blame it all on the death of my son and the loss of my womb. But I'm guessing that a large part of it has its foundation right there. When I see Pacifique, I see my son, but I also see the absence of Trace.

Enough for now... if you've read this far you can either send me a bill for your time listening or send me a check to reflect your appreciation of my momentary reality entertainment!
 

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I don't have any words of advice, but as another loss mama, I just wanted to give you a big


We lost our Stephen due to a cord accident at 40 weeks. We had already begun the adoption process when we got pg with him, so rather than ttc we continued on with our plans to adopt after his death. I threw myself into the adoption process completely. Now, we are in the early newborn baby days with our boys and I'm completely overjoyed


Although I feel like I've grieved, like I continue to grieve, I wonder if a day will come that it will hit me...

like the band-aid will be pulled off and I'll see that the wound is still there. That it hadn't healed but was covered up.

I don't know. It's tough.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ariahsmum View Post
To answer your question, our son has been with us now since June of 09, home since July. That makes it what? Just over 6 months? Still very new I guess, ....I can hear myself say, "You're out of time, Jaya! Pull it together! You are going to scar this kid for life."
Just over six months is very new.
I think it's great that you're reaching out...it seems like you're being proactive, and trying to alter the course you're on (where it needs it; not entirely).
And no, you are NOT going to scar this kid for life, though I know exactly what you mean in voicing those worries.

Quote:
Still, I do think that so much adrenaline (for lack of a better word) was used for the three years it took to get to him that it gave me that "now what?" feeling when I finally received Pacifique. Big time emotional let down came in. I likened it to planning a summit of Everest.
This is such a good point, and we felt this too. Two years of planning, of working, of waiting, of snail's pace steps, then BOOM. Over. Done. The "Now what?" feeling can be pretty intense at times, and there aren't the biological hormones (as there are post-birth) that instictually move your body and mind into the "now what" mode of parenting.

Quote:
In processing all of this in my head I really do believe that a lot of what I am experiencing ties back to the death of Trace Oak.
In some very real sense, it is like Trace's dying allowed for Pacifique's journey to our family... and there is grief that I don't express now that gets bottled up as I try to constantly love and care for my living children. I'm guessing repressed grief can come out as frustration, lack of patience and anger? I am sure it is a very complex situation and I do not mean to blame it all on the death of my son and the loss of my womb. But I'm guessing that a large part of it has its foundation right there. When I see Pacifique, I see my son, but I also see the absence of Trace.
As you've been writing more, this is what I suspect, too. It's very possible that this is tied in with your loss more than anything else. You mentioned that there aren't many adoptive families or adoptive support groups in your area, but is there a loss support group? When we lost ds, I know there were several groups in our area of parents who had lost children (at all different ages). I'm wondering if joining one of these groups, rather than an adoption-related group, might give you a place to talk about these feelings.

If not a support group, then I'd really, really, REALLY suggest finding a way to do some individual therapy. I'm not saying all the "reallys" because you're messed up or somehthing (
), but rather because I think therapy can be so helpful in dealing with the loss of a child. We leaned on our therapist heavily in the months after we lost ds, and it was in those sessions that I was able to talk about some of the more horrific feelings and experiences relating to his death. It wasn't all doom and gloom, though...it was also a place of support, a place to get guidance, a place to hear what was "normal" and feel less guilty or alone in my feelings.

I know therapy is a hassle to arrange and to pay for. I know it sometimes takes a few sessions with a few different people to find the right therapist match, but honestly--it is SO important.
It's worth the hassle a hundred times over.

Big
s, mama. You'll get through this.
 

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I felt this way with my adopted son, too, and it just took a while. We had him as foster parents, and then we adopted him, and it just took over a year to feel like he was mine, totally. Just the same as you, I loved him, I took good care of him, and we were incredibly thankful for him. At the same time, I didn't feel quite as bothered by his crying, I felt less tender towards him at times, and I did feel a little like I was babysitting. All the same stuff others mentioned- he didn't smell like me/my baby, and he didn't feel as intimately mine. You know how your kids' snot or drool isn't that grsoss to you? Well his was. This is all normal, though, I think. It just takes time to bond, to attach, and to let the animal part of yourself realize that this is your baby, forever. I promise you it will change. After over a year I suddenly realized that my son was the same as my other kids, and I loved him like crazy, like my bio kids. I do still have more complicated feelings about him, after all he does have another mother and siblings in the world, but this is all okay and normal.

I really hope you can find an adoptive parents support group.
 

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This is an amazing thread. All of the honest sharing is so moving to read. I have just a little to add...

Quote:

Originally Posted by ariahsmum View Post
But it is in that place of "he is not mine" that I can react with anger and resentment. And realizing that despite that feeling I have a responsibility to care for him and love him and help him experience safety has really helped me these last few days.

I'd be curious how others internalize or understand being the adoptive parent when the other mom is out there somewhere. I want to keep her alive and real for my son, I want to include her in our prayers and hearts. I have yet to understand my relationship to her and of our son to her and to me, I suppose. I am sure that time and attachment will help.
I deal with this too. In our case we meet with his birthmom regularly. She is not "out there" but is quite nearby. I'm not sure if that makes it easier or harder. When my son smiles, I see her smile.

In a way I think it makes it easier because I have not "taken" him from her. She chose to place him with us. Still I feel her grief daily. Every time she sends me an email telling me that she misses him, I get teary.

I tell myself that this grief is part of adoption.

But it is hard to share him. Forever. It is hard at visits to have her intimately cuddle him, crossing a line that others don't cross. It is hard to worry that him being "brown" and us being "pink" will create difficulties for him. There are so many things that make it scary and sad.

But then I usually remember that for some reason I get to parent this amazing little guy, to share in his triumphs and trials. It's the long hours in the middle of the night that makes him "mine" not the color of his skin. It's the way he looks in my eyes. It's even the careless disregard he has for me, as if he knows Mom will always be there to take care of him... he can have the luxury of taking me for granted, just like the other kids do. Even though he is just a baby, I see it. The comfortable trust in the fact that I will always be there for him. Those things make him "mine" and though sometimes I have to remind myself of them, it still helps.

Reading your posts touches me deeply because we want to adopt an older child, probably from Africa someday soon. The idea that 9 months is a difficult age is so helpful. I think adopting a newborn and adopting a toddler, especially one from another country will be completely different and I am preparing myself for lots of uncharted territory ahead.

Thank you for sharing, all of you wonderful mamas!
 
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