They’re so lucky…
Its one of those eye-roll-type sentences we hear a lot since adopting our gorgeous tribe. “They’re so lucky to have you!”
It’s not just cringeworthy, its also not true, even though most people mean well. There is nothing ‘lucky’ about needing new parents, even if life was lived through luck or fate. It’s horrendous, sad and causes a lot of grief. It also is accompanied by (lasting) damage.
Never mind the reasons for adoption, it is usually upsetting, with lots of implications. I do realise that my four children don’t show some of the more extreme behaviours, thankfully, but there is still stuff going on. Some of it causes other people to say, “Oh, all children do that!”
Technically, this is true, as adopted or fostered children are real, proper children, doing children’s stuff. Some of it isn’t that straight forward though, as sometime the mental and physical damage can affect children in extreme ways. It might not sound over the top, but having two hour long meltdowns every day, for example, gets tedious pretty quickly.
I know that we will get the “race to be pitied most” soon, where people will fight over the worst experience of Lockdown, and I don’t want to claim my children struggled more than others. Many children have struggled during Lockdown, their mental health suffering. Some children couldn’t handle the lessons on screen or lack of friends.
My older one found it very hard. Early years trauma taught her that whatever you don’t see, doesn’t exist. It told her that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Life showed her that saying goodbye to somebody probably means you will never see them again.
The Lockdown confirmed her worst fears. Empty shelves in supermarkets, friends suddenly vanished overnight (Adults can’t be trusted, so we can’t actually explain all these fears away!), and classes she loved suddenly stopped or were reduced to a small screen.
For weeks she was incapable of doing ‘proper’ schoolwork, her mind in a daze. (Read more about this in another post about Homeschool Vs School at Home.) Slowly, as the Lockdown rules relaxed, so did she. She found out friends were actually still in existence (her shock at meeting a real live friend! Priceless!), and life was becoming more normal. We even went out for dinner. With it came her request to do more ‘real’ schoolwork!
I had been wondering about curriculums for ages, as I love the Christian curriculum we used. The demands were very high though, and especially my daughter couldn’t handle any of it. She doesn’t really take in written text. She doesn’t do verbal instructions either, otherwise I could read everything out to her. Abstract words, numbers or concepts are beyond her, as she has never learned to visualise things. I loved the character building side of it, but realised she was probably going to in her twenties before finishing the fist certificate level. As the children are all still quite young, I felt we had some time before we needed to worry, but I did wonder about it…
A friend recommended a different curriculum, I looked at it, and fell in love. We’re working on a much lower level, as she needs to regroup and learn new ways of studying. She is doing the same level as my eldest son, and the two are having lots of giggles over wonderful poems or funny dictation words. It is helping her to think about what she is reading, and as the grammar is in tiny, bite sized chunks, she can actually focus long enough to get all the answers right!
Today we returned to a fun art curriculum, using ebony pencils. With only a little help and advice (impulsivity can be fun, in lessons it can be rather awkward!), she drew her watch, ending up with a beautiful black and white drawing. She was so pleased, her whole face glowing with the achievement.
They all love their new schoolwork and I’m grateful that the Lockdown gave us that chance to reconsider and reassess what the children needed. We are reading more books together, the beautiful pictures in the workbooks inspire her, and they all feel a bit more grownup, discussing books, art and verbs.
The trauma is there, it’s real, it can be debilitating, but it can also be healed. The change over the last seven years is incredible, and yes, we feel richly blessed. Adoption is grievous, sad and horrendous, but for us, it’s been a wonderful gift, and we thank God every day for our four special children!