The Curse of the Adoptive Parent

The curse of the adoptive parent is alway wondering if your kid is going to have adoption-related issues. The curse of being a neurotic Jew is that you are always going to wonder when- and wait for these adoption related issues to pop up. When is going to happen? Now? Is that meltdown really over not wanting to pick up her toy that she threw down in anger (anger oh my god- is she angry?) or is it some deep-rooted adoption issue?

Because I tend to be neurotic I surround myself with people who are pretty sane. I don’t like my neurosis to become a giant echo chamber. My brother married a woman who is as-or more- neurotic than he is, and it’s um, no good. Andy is my un-neurotic echo chamber. When Andy gets worried or worked up – its always about very real problems. He doesn’t waste his time thinking about what could be. It makes us a pretty good match. I worry enough to get things done- he is laid back enough to stop me from spinning out of control.

About a month ago I went out of town for 36- hours. We talked to Davy about how I was leaving town. How we would Facetime every night. How dad will be there to take her to her parties. How Baba (what she calls my mom) would hang out with her. I came back from her trip and she was mad at me for a whole week.

One week of toddler cold shoulder. One week of no cuddles. One week of constant attitude. Ouch. I finally asked her if she was made at me for leaving her and she said – with downcast eyes “yes momma”. I hugged her. Told her I was glad that she could tell me. She can have her feelings, its okay. I still and will always love her.

The rational side of me knows this is normal. My friend said that when she goes out of town her kids are made at her for two weeks and “they came out of my vagina. I know, I was there”.

Here is the curse of the neurotic parent. It totally threw me for a loop. MAYBE she has abandonment issues. MAYBE she has attachment disorder. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. Some people in the adoption community believe that ALL kids have some sort of abandonment issues. Some profound primal wound. I actually don’t believe that. I think in our case, Davy was loved in-utero, loved by the people who took care of her for the first 7 months of her life and loved by us. Davy walks into a room and thinks “why the hell wouldn’t you love me- I am Davy Beach”. That is our Davy.

The calm and rational side of me knows that Davy is as adjusted as other 28-month old kids. She loves her momma. She loves her Daddy. We have never been separated for more then a few hours. She was pissed I left her. I realized the curse and the thing that I have to fight against is the assumption that every problem we might have stems from her adoption. b She might in the future have adoption-related issues, but she might not. If I attribute EVERY issue she ever has to the fact that she is adopted- well then, FOR SURE she will have A LOT of adoption-related issues.


11 thoughts on “The Curse of the Adoptive Parent

  1. With all due respect. The curse of the adopted child is narcissistic parents who manage to refocus everything on themselves. Adopted children don’t so much “adjust” as they do “survive”. There is no such thing as not having “adoption-related issues”; there are simply different levels of manifesting them. There is the crime of adoption, full stop. And there are victims of the crime. And there are criminals. And trying to assuage one’s own guilt is a battle better lost. For at that point you might, thank God!, actually manage to realize it isn’t about you.

  2. I have to add that you are the wisest & Most Aware neurotic worrier I have ever seen! You have fantastic insight to what’s going on, which you need to remember when the negvox try to tell you that you are making a muckery of it. You are not. You are doing fabulously! *huggles*

  3. I am grinning because anyone smart and wise and nice enough to answer the first commenter in the manner you did has got a whole lot going for them . . . and for a child.

  4. Loving the back and forth :-)! Sometimes all sides can be correct. Age at placement is the best indicator for “adoption success” – but there are always the outlyers who buck the odds (thankfully!) Adoption is necessary, Daniel, for some children’s survival. And, yes, torn from their birthculture in many cases which is better than a life of possible servitude or infant/childhood mortality. Children are very resilient and though may be initially wired into survival mode, can learn to cope very well throughout their lives. My belief is the wiring cannot necessarily be changed; but good, sensitive parenting will never fail a child no matter their background or circumstances.

  5. Back and forth? You mean “back”. All sides can be correct? That is idiotic. Like most adopters who are scared of the truth, this one censors adoptee voices. We will not be silenced. And the children will one day be brought back home.

  6. When all else fails, condescend.

    “All sides can be correct” doesn’t work when we talk about slavery. It doesn’t work when we talk about pyromaniac firefighters pouring gasoline on the fires of their own creation. And so it doesn’t work when we talk about adoption. Your notion of the “clean slate” smacks of ethnic cleansing, by the way.

    Please pass on this web site to the children now temporarily in your care:

    Transracial Eyes:

    When they are of age, and are tired of your patronizing attitude and platitudes, send them our way. Then at least they’ll be halfway home.

  7. Without knowing what trauma Davi has been through, OF COURSE she will have issues. The good part is that you know you’re neurotic. You’re a neurotic Jew, and she’s an adopted Ethiopian. The 2 of you will grow together and work it out. Really. This may sound cliché, but LOVE DOES CONQUER ALL. Do the best you can, but do be a Parent. There is a West African saying––” A mother hen who steps on the feet of her chicks does not mean to hurt them.” I see too many parents get neurotic over discipline. Na, na. Boundaries along with love will help her heal and grow.

    I love your courage to adopt a black girl in Portland, a city in a “Whites Only” state. Good luck to you all, and if you need a long distance Black friend, I’m on Ravelry too. Feel free to contact me.

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