Remember back July when Torina and I did those posts on translating the code from photo-listings? Mine is here. It was a response to Torina's. I seem to remember that someone else wrote one, but I can't remember them all. Mothering4Money added to it. Anyone else have one? I wrote a more serious post about photo-listings here and another here. Again, as I recall a bunch of us wrote posts on the issue. Feel free to leave a link to yours in the comments
Anyway, someone just read them and left two comments asking a question that many of you can help with. Here is a question from the second:
I had a question for the board..if you don't mind. Is it just possible that many of these kids really, really want a loving home and will respond to the kind of "normal" structure and loving that many of us are just so willing to offer? These comments made me read over many of the listings and wonder if any of the children are ready for adoption and what does that mean? I expected transition would be needed, but it sounds like most situations need a big trial/adjustment period or something with three therapists on hand. I'm a bit baffled. Is that an over reaction? What is the more "realistic" situation to expect? Or isn't there one.
Well, I'm going to give a shot at this.
All the kids in foster care have been traumatized. Some of those kids have had good therapy in which they have worked hard, and are relatively easy to parent. The thing is, it isn't the transition that is the difficult part.
This is what I think is more or less typical: In the very beginning the kids are anxious about being kicked out and generally are on their "company behavior." After a while they can't keep that up, and they decide to bring out their faults to see if you will still keep them. So they test. You might be prepared for that, so you ride it out and they start to accept that you are going to keep them and they calm down again. Then they start to experience real emotions and that panics them at multiple levels. If you love them, if they let themselves love you, it could really hurt. They pull away. They try to drive you away. Now that is not Reactive Attachment Disorder. That is just a normal kid being afraid of being hurt again. So you stay calm and ride that out. They calm down again. Slowly they begin to feel safe, until one day they feel so safe that all that rage they have buried can finally come out.
There are kids who are ready for adoption and who won't need a team of therapists to help them get through the day. But all the kids in foster care have been traumatized and being safe doesn't "un-traumatize" them. In fact it can often be the reverse: being safe means being able to feel and express the emotions from the trauma.
So it isn't just about the transition. It is about their whole lives.
This is so hard to explain to people who haven't done it yet. We were almost all of us naive. Even when we knew it was going to be hard we had no idea how very hard it was going to be. We knew there would be problems, but we didn't realize how long they would go on. We had no idea how exhausted we would get, and we had no idea how passionately we would love these kids.
The kids in care come in a wide range. Some of them have behavior problems that are more than I am willing to deal with. Some are kids whose needs are an excellent match for my strengths. Gary responds very well to what counts as normal for us, but he does very poorly with authoritarian methods.
If you are thinking about adopting I suggest you hook up with a matching specialist like Claudia. Don't let yourself fall in love with a photo-listing. The information is incomplete at best. More complete information will be given to you confidentially. Be prepared for some counter-intuitive information. Sometimes the easiest kids to parent are hard to place because they are parts of sibling groups, or are older, black, or have criminal records. Babies can seem like the safest bet, but sometimes babies have issues (autism, FASD) that are not diagnosed yet.
There are a lot of kids with a lot of different needs. Read the blogs of those of us who are doing this.
Okay, anyone else got advice for "Anonymous"?