“When the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.”
I saw this quote online a few days ago, and couldn’t help but think that it related so beautifully to attachment. It so concisely explains everything we try to do for attachment and exactly why we do it. When I thought about it more, however, I found that it also explains how I cope with daily chaos of parenting 3 adopted boys with a variety of needs.
There have been many moments on our adoption parenting journey that have felt lonely and hopeless. It is in those moments, that I have learned to find and appreciate the "roots" that keep me grounded. Having a wonderful, supportive partner in this parenting journey is always a constant source of strength. Even though we have each other, there are still times when it begins to feel like it is us against everything.
Having support from other adoptive parents is one of the strongest roots I have. When my husband and I adopted our first son at 13 months old, we began attending a post adoption support group through our local CAS. At that time, we couldn’t relate at all to the struggles that others were facing. We had a cute, perfect, healthy little boy and were often in disbelief about what the other parents were dealing with. Five years later, two more adopted boys, and an entire alphabet of medical acronyms our kids are diagnosed with, we now find that we can’t relate to anyone BUT adoptive parents. Our perfect little 13-month-old boy is now 6 and has gone on to have severe ADHD and seems to be experiencing attachment issues.
Our second son was adopted at 19 months of age. He was prenatally exposed to cocaine and was very delayed when we adopted him. He was later diagnosed with a very rare chromosome disorder associated with several developmental, behavioural, and medical conditions. He is now 4 and currently in the process of being diagnosed for possible autism and ADHD.
We then adopted his half-brother at the age of 11 months old, who also has the same rare chromosome disorder. He is almost 2, and doing well so far. He is closely followed by the same specialists as his brother due to the chromosome disorder. Our lives now revolve around MANY doctor's appointments, therapy sessions, school meetings and coping with the tasks of daily living (which requires a lot of timers, reminders, tantrums, visual schedules and, ultimately results in the kids being organized and me forgetting everything I need...).
The post adoption support group is now the one place I know that someone will truly get what I'm going through. Whether its the unfathomable challenges we're up against or simply the joy and humour in our parenting adventure, I know that there's a spot where everyone will understand that. It has also been a place for helpful suggestions and resources that renew my strength and give me hope for the future.
I'm not sure how adoptive parents survived before the internet and social media, but this has been a huge factor is reassuring me that I am not alone. Reading blogs, Facebook pages, Instagram accounts are all ways that I've incorporated adoptive parenting support into my regular life.
Another "root" I have that keeps me going is my perspective on life. I am committed to recognizing all the positive aspects of our lives. I have a relatively rare connective tissue disorder that was diagnosed when I was 5 years old. My wonderful mother, who also has this condition, never let me forget how fortunate I was to have so many abilities despite my limitations. I hope to instill this same attitude in my boys. They have so many amazing skills that I hope will be their focus as they grow up. I also work in healthcare (specifically end of life care), which provides a constant reminder that every day is truly a gift.
While my work can often be difficult and sad, it has helped me get through some of hardest days at home. Even on the worst days, I remind myself that I am alive, well and able to parent my children. I am thankful that my children are not facing life-threatening illnesses. Even though dealing with each new challenging stage of development can wear me down to my last nerve, at the end of day I know how fortunate I am to be here to help them through it. I know how fortunate it is that they get to grow and face each new step in life.
Some days it really does feel like everything is falling apart and it may take me all day to truly get in touch with my positive attitude (this is often much easier after the kid's bedtime). When my oldest son has a particularly rough day with his behaviour, I always take the time at the end of the day to remind him that tomorrow is a new day where he will get the chance to try again. This advice holds true for myself. On the days when I have nothing left to give - I still have tomorrow.