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I know women who love being moms. A lot of them have bright, happy, healthy kids. And I know difficult or troubled kids whose moms also seem to just love parenting.<br><br>
But then there are moms who just don't seem to enjoy it, whether their kid is delightful or not.<br><br>
So my question: is your enjoyment of parenting more about the kids, or more about you? My husband and I are considering adopting from foster care, but our families keep pointing out that we're more likely to get difficult children than if we make our own. As far as we know, both options are open to us.<br><br>
I wonder if our happiness as parents really will depend on whether we get a "difficult" child. I recognize there are joys and difficulties in parenting any child. But I wonder if it has more to do with my personality than the kid. Then the question is not so much about what problems come with the child, but how we're able to deal with them. Does that make sense?
 

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I have a bio son and an adopted daughter. I love being a mom. Some of it is the interaction with the kids. Some of it is feeling like I'm doing something really important with my life.<br><br>
When my son was 3, he was VERY challenging. Often he would attack our baby. It was AWFUL!!!! We got help and it made a huge difference. Although I felt fulfilled during the difficult times, I was not exactly happy. I've known people who love the challenge of foster kids. I have a friend who adopted her foster kids as a single mom. She is tired from years of behavioral issues. I don't know if she'd do it again or not. I think not.<br><br>
What it comes down to is how much of a challenge are you willing to live with? Will you feel fulfilled by the one step forward, two steps back, one step forward life or will you feel overwhelmed? It really is a personal answer.
 

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I can't come at this from a foster-adopt angle, just an adoption angle and a mom-to-special-needs-children angle.<br><br>
I think your responses to raising a difficult child (whether bio or adopted, whether physical, mental, or emotional needs) is greatly affected by your own outlook and personality. That said, no matter how sunny or resilient or strong or optimistic you are, raising difficult children is HARD at times. And not just in "how it affects your happiness with parenting" ways. It takes a huge toll on your relationships, your marriage...how social you can be, how much freedom you have, your finances, your time...even your ability to relate to other people.<br><br>
I've had three "difficult" experiences. My first children were special-needs twins, who went through quite a lot (lots of hospital stays, brain surgeries, medicine trials, ER visits, you name it). I was a stay-at-home mom to them, and only them, for the first four years of their life. Before having children, I was involved in my community, was pursuing big career goals, had lots of friends, and lived a very strong, optimistic, meaningful life. Those first years of having the twins gradually wore me down, until I finally had to admit that all the strains and stresses of being a 'special needs' mom had worn me out...my marriage was rocky, I had few community connections, and I was depressed. I could never, ever have predicted that turn-out for me, even if I had known the challenges I'd face. I didn't think I was the kind of person that could "let" life overwhelm me...certainly I'd faced difficult issues in the past (as a young adult and pre-parent), and nothing affected me as much as this parenting experience.<br><br>
My middle child experience, ds3, has been a dream. I think he helped bring me back to life, honestly (I helped, too, but parenting him was almost like being reborn as a happy mom). He is a healthy, typical, bio child. Through parenting him, I finally experienced what it was like, the joy, of raising a typical child. I had experiences that could relate to others. I could join play groups! I could go to the park and not be the outcast. I experienced a public life without scrutiny, pity, or embarrassment. Those might sound like very shallow things to value, but I can't tell you how important they are. I can't tell you how amazing it is to parent without fear, without constant worry... it was just so EASY. So JOYFUL. I couldn't believe what I'd been missing all the previous years, even as much as I loved ds1 and ds2. I never knew what parenting could be until I parented ds3.<br><br>
My youngest child, dd, was a difficult parenting experience. Two years later, it still is sometimes. DD came home young, at 9 months, but she had been through several caretaker transitions in her young life. From an early age in Korea, she showed anxiety around strangers and fear/grief at change...so no surprise, when we brought her home, it was like a bomb exploded in our lives. We were not prepared, despite years of reading and research, for how difficult it was to parent her. She grieved, she manipulated, she didn't sleep, she resisted us...again, it doesn't sound like much, but after months of frustration and severe (!) sleep deprivation, dh and I were at our limits and our other kids (not to mention dd) were NOT getting the life or parenting they deserved. I actually found a lot of our parenting experience with her MORE difficult than what we'd been through with the twins, which is saying a lot. Over the past two years, we've worked long and hard to improve our relationship with her in baby steps. We measure progress by the month, or the half-year, and over time it has gotten better. She was just incredibly, incredibly needy...and infuriating when she didn't get what she wanted (with anxiety and attachment coming into play as well). Parenting her was, and still is at times, exhausting. She eats up a lot of our emotional reserves.<br><br>
So, your question...is your enjoyment of parenting more about the kids, or more about you? And I wonder if our happiness as parents really will depend on whether we get a "difficult" child?<br><br>
I think it's naive to think that your general positive outlook, or ability to handle challenges, will mean you can parent a difficult child unscathed. You have to have a healthy respect, I think, for the statistics of marriages, depression, and other outcomes of difficult parenting situations. It's not as if all the people who experience divorce, or depression, or even shorter life spans, are just the <i>weak</i> ones, or the ones that didn't <i>try</i> hard enough. I've seen families and marriages...healthy, thriving, positive people with great community connections...fall. I've been close to that edge myself more than once.<br><br>
For me, parenting joy is definitely affected my my outlook....enjoying the little moments, even in a challenging experience, brings great joy. Celebrating the milestones, and "inchstones" brings great joy. I love being a parent more than I ever thought I would, and have chosen to have a big (four now, five including our son that passed) family because of it. That ability to see the little things, to experience joy, was true of my life before parenting, and it's especially true now. What I didn't expect was that eventually, all the background noise and stress and strain of difficult parenting lessened my ability to enjoy the little moments. It took a lot of work, and therapy, to get healthy again. It still does. Stress wears you out. It wears your partner out. In some ways you can prepare yourself for how stress will affect you, but you can't always count on your partner having the same reactions, the same tolerance, or the same vision of how to fix things. It's tricky, no doubt.
 

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Gosh I'm annoyingly wordy at times. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"><br><br>
I was just preparing dinner, and I thought of a much simpler way to put all that. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><br><br>
Every child, no matter how challenging, fills you up and drains you. The easier children fill you up more, and more often. The challenging ones drain you more, and more often. That doesn't mean there aren't times when challenging kids fill you up...and sometimes, because it's so rare, it's a gift that fills you up in ways no typical/easy child could ever do. The highs and accomplishments with our older sons and daughter feel like HUGE accomplishments...huge gifts...and that's really something.<br><br>
But yes, over time, the depletion takes its toll. You can try to "fill" yourself up in other ways, but it's hard to go through life with a constant drain...especially when that constant drain is a person or a child you love. That kind of frustration and challenge is very different than the challenges (or life struggles) I had faced in the past. I don't think you can know how you'll react, or feel, until you're there.
 

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Not an adoptive mom yet, but just another thought to add.<br><br>
All kids, adopted or not, have more difficult ages than others. Some are dream babies and then turn into crazy toddlers. Or have easy preschool years and really hard pre-teen years.<br><br>
At the same time, parents tend to have ages and stages they can handle better. I actually found having a newborn quite enjoyable, but toddlers are a lot tougher. I do better once they start approaching 4 and can reason a little better. Other people have completely opposite experiences.<br><br>
So there are a lot of variables involved, no matter what.
 

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I have a bio son, have had 7 foster children, and I have an adopted daughter.<br><br>
I promise you my bio son's issues and difficulty was only challenged by one of the other 8 children. He really didn't belong in regular foster care and everyone knew that going in. But outside of that one, the rest were really not that much of a challenge by comparison to my son--and one of those kids went through methadone withdrawal in my home (which is REALLY a challenge, but short-lived).<br><br>
I'm one of those mothers who didn't entirely love <i>parenting</i> per se, and that has absolutely nothing to do with the kids. In fact, I think that having challenging kids actually makes me more engaged as a parent--because I was just never into being very playful and creative, etc. I was one of those people that had to have 42 plates in the air at all times until very recently.<br><br>
But it was me... not the kids. We had challenging kids and we had easy kids. It didn't change how I felt about parenting. I needed to feel "useful" and for whatever reason--no matter how hard I tried--I could not trick my mind out of it's idiotic insistence that raising children was useful... worthy, even. I couldn't get myself to see the value in slowing down and just enjoying life without DOING stuff all the time.<br><br><i>Of course, about 14 months ago when I finally (for reasons unknown to me) felt at peace with just my two kids and loving them with nothing on the to-do list, life threw a curve ball and has consistently battered us with way more than I could've ever willingly taken on... so it's been rough.</i><br><br>
Kids coming out of the state system come in all conditions. But my bio has been, to date, our hardest "case" yet. My adoptive daughter and all but one of our foster kids have been very easy kids. Not without their respective issues, but nothing taxing on our household beyond the adjustment period.<br><br>
I think there's a common misconception that they will always be harder and with more problems than a child you could have on your own. My son definitely shoots that theory to heck. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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I have a friend of a friend and she has one bio son and has adopted 4 other kids from foster care, and she says the same thing -- her bio son is far more difficult than any of her other kids. That may change as they grow into teens and adults, but none of her adopted kids have "issues" whereas her bio son is really a handful.<br><br>
or, in the wise words of a wry comedian in my adoption seminars years ago, "you never know, you could give birth to an a$$hole."
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">Gosh I'm annoyingly wordy at times. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"><br></div>
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I'm glad you included the "wordy" version! It's fascinating to hear your story.<br><br>
This is a great question...thanks OP for posting.<br><br>
I am giving this all some thought, but to share for the moment...<br><br>
I have a really easy kid, and parenting has completely kicked me in the butt. I'm just a really intense person with a lot of baggage, and parenting hasn't made that all magically go away!<br><br>
It's been a wild ride. I had a long, frustrating conception journey, a great pregnancy, a difficult labor & c-section, a long recovery from that & a breast infection, and a difficult transition into parenthood (just from the "normal" stuff...sleep deprivation, not long enough maternity leave so rough transition back to work, etc). It took me about a year to feel like I would survive with any recognizable part of myself intact. Now that DD is 19 months, I actually have times when I feel confident as a parent, and I enjoy it much of the time. I love my DD like crazy, and have from Day 1. I haven't always loved myself in the process, but I'm working on that.<br><br>
I wanted to be a parent because I believed it would transform me. And I was right...it has...though not necessarily in the ways that I expected. For example, I had hoped that giving birth would be this amazing empowering "feel good" experience that would show me how powerful & strong I am! Instead, I learned a lot about my limits. Hmmm.<br><br>
Parenting is intense for me, but that doesn't mean that I wish I weren't doing it or I made the wrong choice by becoming a mom. It just is what it is...and I know it will keep changing.
 

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I've been fostering for four years and have fostered three children, done respite for a few more, and have lots of foster parent friends. Most of the foster children I've encountered are pretty typical children. I've adopted one of my foster kids and will be adopting my daughter this summer. The challenges my son has encountered (ADHD, sensory issues, and mild developmental delays) are those that any child could have. In fact, none of them really showed up until he started kindergarten last fall. And my soon-to-be-adopted daugher is a very "normal" three-year-old. They both have pretty big birth family risk factors but nothing has shown up so far.
 

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I have always wanted to be a mother. There was never any question for me of having kids or not, it was always just a question of when. I went into education because I love children so much. I have three bio kids and we're trying to adopt for our fourth. I ADORE being a mother. I stopped working when my first was born, and we homeschool.<br><br>
My kids each have a different personality. My first is calm and laid-back, my second is stubborn and sometimes quick to anger, and my third is a firecracker (just last night: "Mom, I'm right and you're wrong." and she's only three!). They are all happy and sweet and wonderful. Having been around a lot of kids, I can say with a degree of authority that these same kids might not be as happy and well-behaved if we weren't their parents. We not only love them, we love having them. One relative and her husband have always acted like doing anything for their baby was the hardest work in the world. She's school-aged now and fairly high-maintainance.<br><br>
I love the quote, "Children behave as well as they're treated." The issue with older foster children is that they haven't been treated well. I know that if I didn't already have kids, I could be a great mom to a child who came from a troubled childhood. Since I have to consider what impact a kid like that would have on the family we already have, I know that we will never go that route.<br><br>
Good luck with your decision!
 

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I've always ALWAYS wanted to be a mom. I never had bigger aspirations honestly than being a stay at home mom. I never thought that was the life I would get and always planned for other careers, but I am blessed to have a family that only needs one income.<br><br>
With that said, we got pregnant, not on accident but not on purpose either. We were careless with birth control because although we knew it wasn't the best time to add to our little family, neither of us could stand to wait any longer as we both REALLY wanted a baby.<br><br>
She is an amazingly beautiful and smart baby but she has tested me harder than ANYTHING in my life. She was an extremely fussy and clingy baby and she is only slightly better now as a young toddler. I've always been pretty lazy and laid back so the effort required to keep her healthy and happy is some days more than I know how to give or even have the ENERGY to give. As far as we can tell, she is neurotypical but I often feel like I have to do more with her and less with everything else to keep her from crying a good part of the day compared to my friends with children of similar ages.<br><br>
I can't imagine life without her but I still have days where I wonder why I didn't take birth control and waiting more seriously. I am still happy though being a mommy... it just isn't anything like I expected. Our relationship I'd say is partly her personality and partly mine. She needs tons of attention and I like lots of down and quiet time... its certainly an effort working toward a common ground we can both agree on... which of course usually means me giving because she is too young to understand... or have to.<br><br>
I don't have any other children to give a definitive answer on if I had an easier child would I be HAPPIER being a mom, but I am still very much so happy doing it. I still try my hardest to become a better person for her because being a mommy is important to me. I think how each of us reacts to parenthood is like anything else.. our child's personality will affect our feelings a bit, but how we face things will certainly be a huge deciding factor.
 

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I am a birthmom, but I was a mom mom first. I am parenting two older children (11 & 9) and my daughter was placed for adoption at birth. She is 9 1/2 months old now.<br><br>
For me, it took a while to get to the point where I truly loved being a mom. In fact, it hit home even more what an amazing gift I had in my children after I placed Ladybug with her parents. My road through parenthood has been hard because my son is a fairly difficult child. He has anger issues, ADHD, and separation issues. My children's father is absent and has a history of mental disease that I am praying was not passed on to either of my children.<br><br>
I think that people who say you will get a difficult child through adoption don't know what they're talking about. You could easily give birth to your own child who has all kinds of issues, or adopt a baby or older child with no issues at all.<br><br>
Here's the thing... children are people too and NONE of us are perfect. Every child will at some point be difficult in one way or another. There is no way to get around that. You just have to trust that God/the universe/whatever will send you the child that you are meant to have for whatever reason.<br><br>
All you can do is just trust the journey. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 
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