Why is adoption so poorly understood?
When I watched the film “Jungle Book 2” again on TV, the words of Mowgli's “adoptive father” - “I should have understood that the jungle is always a part of you!” - motivated me, this one that had already begun Rewrite post.
As an adoptive mother, I was also not always aware of what moved my daughter. But through her actions she got me to deal with this topic more intensively, to exchange ideas with other adoptive parents in seminars, to read specialist articles and to reflect on our “togetherness” and “against each other”.
First a short report: Our daughter came to us incognito with 7 days, my husband, our 2 1/2 year old son and me. From then on she alone determined my daily routine, because she only accepted food if she had previously screamed violently, that could be an hour after the last meal, but it could also take up to 8 hours, she has a day-night rhythm only let in much later. But she enjoyed being close to me, snuggling close to me and having her back scratched whenever I was there for her. This strategy of fighting with me when I demanded something from her and cuddling with me for hours when I let myself into her, she kept through the defiance phase, kindergarten and elementary school and was very varied and imaginative in the implementation. Of course, I developed my “counter-strategy” in order to end our struggles as peacefully as possible and not with my victory and defeat if I had to insist on my demands on them.
I have often asked myself why my daughter behaves this way towards me. In retrospect, I am convinced that her early separation from her mother was one of the reasons. At birth, the baby leaves the security of the womb, but finds something familiar again with every contact with the mother: the heartbeat, vibrations, noises, smell and the mother's voice have been familiar to him for months. How irritating it must be for a baby to be separated from its mother, how traumatic to only perceive strangeness around you and not be able to classify the separation. However, it wants to survive in this cold world and therefore spends a lot of energy in familiarizing itself with a person, a "new mother". But his fear and anger at being abandoned by his mother also needs space and must therefore also be directed against the new mother. Even if all of this takes place in the subconscious, one cannot hide their adoption from children, they feel it from the beginning. As a result of this knowledge, open forms of adoption have developed in addition to incognito adoption, which enable the children to remain in contact with the familiar birth mother.
We never kept our daughter's adoption a secret, she could talk to us about it whenever she wanted. Picture books like “The Finding Fox” were in the nursery, “The book from Bublan who got new parents” was her favorite. As our daughter got older and family became an issue at school, questions about her first family increased. We told her everything we knew. When, at the beginning of puberty, she expressed the wish to get to know her birth mother, we made an effort to do so. However, since this was not feasible, her feelings and pain about having been given up, having been rejected increased, and I got the full breadth of the anger she caused against her mother. With my attempt to comfort her: “Your mother loves you just as much as I do, she did not reject you, she gave you to us so that you are well” she did not help but only increased her anger: “You are both stupid, the one because she doesn't want me, you because you want me, and nobody asks me if I want that. I DON'T WANT !!! ”In the period that followed, I clearly felt the rejection of both mothers. She only turned to me when she urgently needed me for something, she took care of her everyday life with my husband. I don't know how I would have endured this time without my knowledge of my dual role. During this time, it was also a great help for me that I had people to talk to, who I felt understood by: parents of our adoptive and foster parent group. I also felt understood by my social worker in the youth welfare office, she was responsible for our foster child and therefore also had professional experience with dual parenting. In their office, adoptive parents often encounter incomprehension and perplexity when they ask for support with their “puberty problems”, because after the adoption they are treated like birth parents and are the responsibility of the ASD. Adoptive parents always need specialist service!
Puberty is a stressful time for parents and children, we all know looking back on our own puberty. Most of those affected are not aware beforehand that adoptive families - parents as well as children - are required to perform a double task here, which requires creative competence and special solution strategies. In order to find their own personality, adoptive children have to cut themselves off from two parents (couples): the adoptive parents with whom they live and the parents of origin who they do not know or know very little. For us adoptive parents, this does not just mean the normal stress of puberty as we know it from our own youth.
In dealing with our children, we experience ourselves as representatives, rivals and sometimes even as allies of absent parents of origin, whom we usually do not know, through whom our knowledge is (officially) filtered and by whom our children feel deeply hurt, but which they still idealize to enhance their own self-esteem. Our children ask themselves what is adorable about them and which of the negative characteristics of their biological parents have stuck to them. You are unsure: am I so bad that nobody can keep me forever? or is the affection of my adoptive parents really meant seriously?
“You are not my real parents at all!” Is what many of us hear. We shouldn't just apply these words to ourselves and react sensitively, angrily or even negatively to them. Rather, we should question them with understanding and love. Because they are often just an unconscious advance of our children to tell us something: When used in disputes, they try to find out with this hurtful sentence how we adoptive parents deal with it, try to test us, what place and what security they have in our family, whether they are given away or abandoned as they used to be. Or in their examination of their personal life story, it is their attempt to draw our attention to it, to help them to find their roots, to get to know their birth mothers / parents. For many adoptees there is a deep inner desire to relate to what is considered to be their earliest human connection, their parent, so that they may find at least one birth parent. In order to be able to support our children in their search for and encounter with their families of origin, we should be aware of the feelings we feel for these people. We can only be of real help to our children when we show them appreciation. Our unconscious insecurity, fear or rejection is felt by the children, is transferred to them and hinders them in this very important process.
External reasons known to the children that make it impossible to find birth parents can trigger behaviors in our children that are a great burden for us adoptive parents. The children are not aware of their actions. If you ask them why, they rarely have an answer. If we suspect the cause of their behavior, we should not speak to them directly; this usually does not help the children to change their behavior. A 13-year-old adoptive child cuts everything that comes before him: paper, exercise books, bed linen, curtains, his clothes, his hair ... At the request of his adoptive parents, to their admonitions and their threats of consequences, the child reacts aggressively and hurtfully keeps cutting. This child first came to a home as a baby and a short time later to his adoptive family. It knows that it has been adopted, but it also knows that its mother was deported to her home country with an unknown whereabouts. The child was thereby cut off from any connection to its roots. Telling him, "You cut things up because something important has been cut up for you" would do little to help the child. A loving understanding of his grief and his anger over being cut off from his mother, from his roots, and the assurance that the mother belongs to the family and can be loved despite her absence, can perhaps give the child a sense that his adoptive parents are sad too or get angry about them cutting up things that you gave them because they loved them. But even if we cannot change the behavior of our children that is bothersome and stressful, it is easier to bear with our children and their parents with this attitude.
"How did you endure that I hated you so much?" Asked my 16 year old daughter. "Because I knew that I was two mothers to you," I answered her.
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