June 17, 2016 | Vanessa Deibert, LSW, AASK worker
<< Before moving into Vanessa’s blog post, I want to quickly define some terminology. In this article, Vanessa talks about “adoption disruptions”. Adoption disruptions happen during adoptive placement and before finalization if a family and/or youth decide that the match is unfortunately not a good fit. After an adoption is finalized, if the family decides they are unable to meet a child’s needs and opt to relinquish their parental rights, that is called an “adoption dissolution”. Regardless of what agency you went through for your adoption or how your child was added to your home, Vanessa has some great tips on how to work through hard times. >>
If you have ever been on the receiving end of “I hate you”, “You’re not my real mom/dad”, or “I don’t want you to adopt me anymore”, you may be a foster or adoptive parent. While these statements may be hard for family members to hear, they ultimately serve a purpose for the kids who are saying them. It’s often much easier for kids to try to hurt the family they are attaching to before they are hurt themselves. The kids that we work with have seen patterns in adults such as: adults don’t keep me safe, adults always leave, and adults don’t want me. During adoptive placement, when kids start feeling comfortable and safe, testing behaviors are almost inevitable. They want to make sure that you’re not going to give up on them when things are tough and in their own way they are trying to tell you, “I feel safe here, please don’t make me leave”.
Adoption disruptions can happen during adoptive placement when testing behaviors get hard to handle or when families start to wonder if the testing will ever stop. Adoption disruption or adoption dissolution are very traumatic for both child and family. While some of the following prevention tips may seem like common sense, in the midst of an adoptive placement where you are struggling as a parent, they may not be remembered quite so easily.
Take time for yourself! The entire family is going to feel stressed out at times, make sure to take time for yourselves, whether it’s asking a family member or friend to watch the kids for a little bit so you can go out shopping, read a book, or just go for a walk. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, taking care of others is a challenge.
Check your expectations. Just because a child has been living with a family for a period of time, doesn’t mean they are going to automatically attach and their behaviors are going to go away. While it is not a bad thing to have expectations for children, make sure they are realistic ones.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! This one can be difficult for many people, not just families who are adopting from foster care. Be sure to reach out to family members and friends for support. They likely want to help and your informal supports will often be worth the most!
Don’t be afraid to try new techniques. Whether you have previously parented birth children, adopted children, or haven’t had much experience parenting, don’t be afraid to change your parenting style. A one size fits all approach does not work with kids and while one child may respond very well to a certain technique, another may not respond at all.
It may be difficult to try to reason with children who are so certain that you are going to give up on them and while love does not fix all, remember to keep a compassionate heart. These kids have seen traumatic things, they have been through traumatic events, and lived in chaos. When it gets hard, take a deep breath and remember that their behaviors do not define them and at the end of the day, they are just kids who need adults to show them a new pattern; that adults are capable of loving them, adults will provide them with a safe place, and adults won’t give up on them.