Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Friday, November 04, 2011

Human is not a four letter word

The other morning as I was driving I caught a radio broadcast discussing blended families. After handling the first manner of business (dispelling the Brandy Bunch myth) it began playing voice clips of folks sharing their struggles to parent not only their own, but their spouse's children.

"He thinks I'm harder on his kids than I am on mine....She feels like I don't treat her kids like my own....I feel guilty for living with her kids full time and seeing mine only every other weekend....I don't think I can love my spouse's children the way I love my own...."
As the show continued and advice was offered to assist these couples in coping with their unique (and admittedly tough!) set of circumstances, I couldn't help but think that I've rarely encountered adoptive parents speaking with the same level of candor about the issues they face. (Especially not publicly, on the radio for goodness sakes!)  I certainly have heard many, many broadcasts promoting adoption - and truly not one of them spent any real time addressing the difficulties adoptive parents may discover once they bring their children home. If anything, the focus is nearly always placed on the adopted children and the troubles they may have. Yet, strangely enough, when you get to the core essence of it, the challenges of step and adoptive parenting can actually be quite similar. We are both working to care for children that were born to someone else as our own. Definitely, definitely not an easy task.

Why is it that step parents are allowed, even expected to face tremendous struggle in the meshing of their families? Because blending families is hard! I truly believe adoptive parents would be best, most properly served by being afforded the same liberty. It is, after all, another avenue to 'blend' a family.

Our clan attracts no lack of attention when we are out. Like most adoptive mothers, I have been asked more times than I can count about the topic. People love to shower us with praise as they "see" that we have {clearly} taken these poor, destitute orphans and freely offered them a new life rich with love, education and possession. Mostly, I just smile and thank them for their kindness. Still, every once in a while, especially if I know they are considering adoption for themselves or have already adopted and are quietly, shamefully flailing, I have chosen to answer their inquiries with pure honesty. It has not been easy. This may have been the hardest period of my life to date. I so loved mothering my children, I felt this would be an obvious fit for me. It turned out to be nothing like I expected. I thought I had adequately prepared myself for the new role, yet I found myself woefully ill equipped. Motherhood in this form has taken days and months and years to grow on me. We step forward, we step back. We progress, we regress. They struggle, I struggle, the cycle repeats. Our adoption journey has shown me that I'm not the person I thought I was. My compassion runs dry. My mercy fails. My love comes slowly, often painstakingly. My heart breaks and mends, breaks and mends. I question God's hand. Did I hear Him correctly? Did I hear Him at all? Is this as it should be? I've never quite been sure. We press on. Things get better. It just takes time.
Often at this point I think, I should have simply said, "thank you." ☺

Some are shocked to hear this sort of confession. They might prefer to go back to talking about those poor, destitute orphans having a nice new existence and leave it at that. Could it be that folks (unwittingly) hold adoptive parents to an unrealistically high standard? I really don't know, but I wonder. Is there a certain mysticism, an undue nobility that surrounds this subject and the dads and moms that have chosen to adopt? Perhaps so. Being placed on a pedestal might be part of what makes it feel so incredibly vulnerable to expose any difficulty we meet. It's hard to think we're letting someone down. They once thought so highly of us! We went (all the way) to {              } to give those lowly little ones a better life!

Certainly, admitting our frailty should come as no surprise. Not one of us is exempt from our own humanness.

At the end of the day, adoptive parents are just human beings, flawed people doing the best we can with our uniquely 'blended' families. Working to care for children that were born to someone else as our own. Definitely, definitely not an easy task...


jenlyn said...

I love this perspecitive, Tisha. Adoptive parents should absolutely be extended the understanding that blending is HARD. It would be amazing to hear a radio broadcast that deals with the adjustments, ups and downs and tough stuff families go through on the adoption journey.
In the meantime, blogs like yours help give people like me, an authentic, beautifully messy glimpse of what adoption can be like.
Take care and have an amazing weekend! --jen

Courtney said...

totally feel held to a higher standard. and totally failing it EVERY.MOMENT.

thank you!

Lisa Stucky said...

I really do love your honesty, Tisha. Thank you for telling it like it is and being so real and authentic.

Mama D.'s Dozen said...




I am So. Right. There. With. You.

Can I repost this on my blog? It was so well said.


Tisha said...

Laural, thank you. Of course you may repost. Blesings ~

Amy Jo said...

I totally agree with you that adoptive parents feel held to a higher standard. Maybe it is because we ARE! How many birth parents had to go through a medical exam, home visits, parenting classes and be approved by government agencies before they could bring home their precious bundle. I feel like the classes that I had to take made me feel like I had to be the "perfect" mom to my new little one. The classes were good and gave me different perspectives on parenting, but adoption just like any other type of child raising is all indiviual and unique based on the child and situation. One day I hope we all realize that "Perfect" isn't what we should all be aiming for, but improvement should always be our target.

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