Saturday, June 20, 2015

But, I Have Several Children...

Like me, it's likely many of you have read oodles of adoptive parenting books and thought, “That’s a great idea, but I have more than one child.  What do I do if I have other children?”

If we had followed the most popular written rules perfectly, we would have had to drop everything (and everybody else) to parent our most hurting child. All. The. Time. Three of my four children would feel neglected by me.  My husband and I would be estranged.

And, I doubt our most hurting child would be doing very well either.  

Because our family would be miserable.  

In fact, I feel if we had followed each recommendation in the most popular adoption books, trauma would rule our household.  Peace would not exist.  The foundation for trust would be greatly hindered.  For everyone.

There was a point when we spent the majority of our energy on our most hurting child, and it was miserable- for ALL.  Then, our youngest was born.  

I would never tell a parent raising children from hard places bringing a new baby home is a formula for healing (because I can’t imagine it is). I'm simply saying our perspectives dramatically shifted as soon as we brought our youngest home.

Taking care of our newborn consumed so much of my energy I didn't have any energy left to constantly consider what our most hurting child needed.  

And, our most hurting child started getting better.  We all started getting better.  Because we knew our saddest son was scared of a baby coming home and because we knew that fear could lead to very unsafe situations, we decided to send him to the aftercare program at his school.  My husband started picking him up on his way home from work, giving him dinner, and doing his bedtime routine until it was clear he was no longer feeling threatened by his new brother.  

Our other two sons had time with their new sibling and me for a few hours after school, and they enjoyed every moment of peace.  Their relationship grew.  They came to trust us more.  Laughter became common.  

My huband and I began to smile and laugh more often.  

We watched, as our hurting son had significantly less time with us, he was less stressed during our [now much more limited] interactions.  Slowly, he became more comfortable with accepting nurture from us.   We had more energy.  Our interactions with him became more positive and even fun!  

Then, when the youngest was seven months old, he started to crawl.  He took that liberty and, with a huge goofy grin, crawled purposefully to his very sad brother.  

That’s when we saw our sad son's first reciprocal smile (that wasn’t forced) in our home.

While none of this followed any adoption book I’ve read yet, I promise you that we respected our son and his comfort level with us.  And it was also respectful of our entire family.  Nobody was neglected. 

In fact, when our family had some space from the drama, we had the freedom to become a family that even our sad son felt safe in- a family he's now glad to be part of.  

I would love to hear of unique ways your families have problem solved below in the comments section.  

[I do not think any adoption book author would suggest other children should be neglected.  However, in their not speaking to the multiple child situation, I think many of us parents feel overly burdened, lack specific direction, and even take paths that are destructive to our families as whole units.]

[I hope this post is in some way encouraging to some of you. At the moment, no one has written a book on how to raise a family like our family as a whole unit.  My children are still very young and, with tremendous support, we are learning as we go.]  

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