I am going to be real with you.
Adoption is hard.
No matter how old your child is when you adopt them, or whether you know all about their birth family, or even if you have an open adoption, there is no doubt that adoption is just. plain. hard.
Why? Because with every adoption, there is a loss represented. No matter how much you love your children, there is nothing you can do to erase that loss. No matter how much you try to protect them from hurt, there is nothing you can do to change the fact that they have been hurt.
You love them, and you do all you can to pour yourself into them, but some days are just going to be bad.
Some days they are going to pour out that anger and hurt on you.
Some days you may wonder if your love is enough.
So I am giving myself a pep talk while I write this to you. When the hurt of adoption is overwhelming the love, remember these things.
1. Take a deep breath, and remember it’s not about you.
This is the hardest one for me to remember when I’m in the trenches. Even though all three of my children were adopted at birth, my oldest is at the age when she wants to know absolutely everything about her birth family. Unfortunately, I don’t have all of the answers for her, and that’s hard. But I tell her everything I know, and I tell her how blessed she is to have two moms who love her enough to want the best in her life. Her birthmother did that by giving her to me, so I can be her mommy. So when her emotions become so much that she has to rage, I know that I need to remember that it’s not all about me. She just feels safe enough to take it out on me.
2. Give them a break.
Sometimes when one of my kids is having a particularly hard time, I send them to their room for a break. Sometimes they just need to be in their room, where they can cry, scream, or even fall asleep. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I know that I need a break from other people in order to process all of the emotions I am feeling, and I think kids need that, too. Most of the time, it ends with a hug and an apology.
3. Stand firm.
I know that one thing we want to do as parents is to immediately take away the hurt. And oftentimes, it can appear that the best way to do that is to give in to them, so they will stop crying. But children – especially children who have been through some kind of trauma – need to know there are boundaries. They may push back, but they need the stability that boundaries provide them. I know that when my kids are upset with me because I won’t allow them to have their own way, I need to (lovingly) stay the course. They always know what they can expect from me.
4. Pray for them.
No matter how much you love your children, you will never love them more than God does! After all, He is the One who created them, and He is the One who has a plan for their life. When the hurt is too much for us parents to handle, it’s still not overwhelming to God! So when I don’t know what else to do to comfort my children, I am so glad that my heavenly Father does.
Adoption is hard. But the children are worth it! And day by day, as you pour your love into their lives, the hurt will grow less, and the love will grow more. My hope is that one day, these days of hurt will be a distant memory, and all they will remember is that they were loved by a lot of people. Until then, we soldier on, loving them through the hard because, after all, they are just children, and they need us!