One thing that I didn’t expect out of our adoption journey was the incredible loneliness that came with bringing home our children. We were still quite young when we jumped into our adoption journey, wanting it to be the primary way to build our family. We quickly decided to adopt older children and found our beautiful kids fairly quickly. We were excited to have an instant family with our newly adopted school-aged siblings, and we were embraced by the community around us as we frantically prepared to triple our family size in the blink of an eye.
As the excitement and joy turned to the everyday realities of parenting children with trauma, we suddenly found ourselves feeling alone. While many people were well meaning and wanting to help, most didn’t know how, and we didn’t know how to ask people help us. We were in a situation that few people find themselves in. Parenting adopted kiddos often looks different than parenting biological ones even if people want to try to normalize your experiences by comparing them to their own. We thankfully did have some adoptive parents in our lives previous to us adopting and although most of them lived out of town, my cell phone became my lifeline. Texting really did feel like my life depended on it some days. This parenting gig is hard, and there were so many levels of pain and past that we were trying to sort through to help our kids finding healing and wholeness.
One fall day, about a year after our kids had come home we started to feel like trauma was overtaking our household. One of our kids was clearly working through some big feelings, and another was on the cusp of needing to do the same. We were exhausted and feeling so stretched physically, emotionally, mentally - you name it!
A friend mentioned hearing of a post-adoption parent network that had recently been formed. I was quick to message Adopt4Life in the hopes that they might be able to point me in the right direction toward organizations who could possibly help us pay for counseling. I received a quick reply from another adoptive Mom who had also adopted an older sibling group. Even knowing that, I immediately felt less alone. They supported our family and helped us figure out how to advocate for our kids to get what they needed to thrive. We found other parents from all over the Province who had walked or were currently walking a similar life path.
As our family gained stability and strength, my husband and I have sought ways to support other families. We still rely heavily on the friendship of other adoptive parents, and text and talk frequently to remind us all that we are sane :) We’ve also found ways to build on that community through conferences and online connections, and through building peer support groups where you can actually meet people in person instead of through a screen. I really think I’d be in a much darker place if I hadn’t found my “tribe” of people who understood where my family was at. Some of those people are long time friends who were just willing to listen and reassure without judgment during the challenging moments our family has had. Many are part of our new found adoptive parent’s tribe; a tribe of parents who will stop at nothing to keep barreling towards hope for their family. A group who may not have all the answers, but will have ideas of things to try, or at the very least be able to empathize with you and truly know the hard battle you are fighting. Never assume you are the only one who has felt a certain way or dealt with a certain behavior. Don’t let shame or fear stop you from feeling free in a community who will love you and your children, faults and all. I have certainly learned through this all that we are better together, and I know I’m a better person, parent and spouse from being able to humble myself to receive help and support from my peers.