|Photo of our Nate by Angela Covington|
I started praying before I answered parents' questions and decided to tell them the full truth about whatever they were asking, even if the answer was uncomfortable. I would pray as I truthfully answered questions about bonding, behaviors, sibling rivialry, food issues, and loss. As I offered resources and my experiences, I discovered that so FEW adoptive families do this with other adoptive and potential adoptive families. Many adoptive families have gotten the message that not only should they keep their individual children's information private, BUT we have moved on to the idea that adoptive families need to act like we are better than biological families! To hear many adoptive families tell it, their families are problem free, fun-filled and their adoptive children are all prodigies that have forgotten the early tramas and losses because of their loving care...to which I say, nonsense! Either they are lying through their teeth or they don't know their child(ren). While I certainly would never want a parent to publicly elaborate on individual kid's problems or behaviors, I would like to see some basic honestly..especially when they are discouraging adoptive families who are facing challenges by making them feel all alone in their issues. Plus even more dangerous, the candy coated stories lead to adoptions by parents who frankly should not adopt!
When someone asks me about an issue that I don't have personal experience with, the first thing I say is something like, "That is tough. I haven't experienced that but I know families who have." Then I try to match them with a family farther along in that struggle who will honestly share their knowledge and resources. I never want to leave a family feeling isolated because so few issues are truly unique, but with everyone keeping their secrets, so many adoptive families feel alone.
When someone asked me a question that I do have experience with, the first thing I say is something like, "I don't discuss this openly because it is so personal to me and my family, but I know you are asking out of need and not nosiness so please keep this conversation between us." Then I go on to explain what I know, how I know it and resources that helped me.
Through my honesty, it is always my hope that the person will realize that adoptive families have unique struggles, but we have unique victories too and most importantly I want parents to know that they are never alone. God is in control. He is soveriegn and He was there with the child when you were not. He knows what they need and He believes in you.
Honestly, our family is not different from any other family. Our family is perfect....perfectly flawed and striving to serve His purpose.
God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.~~Psalm 68:6a