Tag Archives: adoption

Adoption Question: What Do We Wish We’d Known?

A new adoption question from Karen: “I guess my questions would be centered around making that first decision: Is there anything you wish you’d considered before taking the plunge? Anything you wish you’d known going in, either about yourselves, your kids, or the adoption process?”

This is such a good question! And yet the strange thing is, the answer for us is no. When we realized The Cherubs were the kids for us, we moved forward and have not looked back. The challenges we wrestle with today weren’t things that could have been flagged earlier, or even things we would have avoided if we’d known.

That said, we know of other adoption situations where things were less straightforward: where DCF withheld key information that would have been a red (or at least a yellow) flag.  Or had a child move in to an adoptive home immediately, with no transition time. Or said that a child’s academic records were mysteriously missing because the school switched from paper to computer storage and “lost all the files.”  There’s a lot of bullsh*t in this process, no doubt about it. Some you can get through by asking enough questions and refusing to be pushed. But other things you just have to take a chance on and deal with as they come up.  This can be tough, and there’s a possibility that some hard choices will need to be made down the line. Or not. There’s really no way to know. Which is one of the ways this is a lot like biological parenting…you just don’t know.

There is a point where taking this plunge requires you to believe that you can learn to swim, and that you have what it takes to adapt to different depths and changing tides. You are banking on yourself – your ability to learn, adapt, grow – far more than you’re banking on the kids. That’s important.

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I remember an exercise we did in our adoption training class, where we all picked a piece of paper out of a hat with a set of circumstances/reactions/behaviors written on it that were common among children who have been through the trauma. Some things sounded mild (resistance to rules/authority, a child who considers herself an adult), while others were totally alarming (violence, setting things on fire). Then we were asked, “Your child exhibits this behavior – what do you do?”

At first, it was incredibly awkward. I remember feeling ashamed to have no answers, and afraid that this would disqualify us from adopting. But just the opposite was true. Our instructors wanted to put this on our radar screen: Kids who go through trauma are going to have some form of “aftermath,” and you can’t always tell right away what that will look like. They wanted us to understand that the kids we were considering were people, with a full range of human reactions. They were not dream fulfillment objects for us, waiting to run into this bright & happy new life with nothing but smiles, hugs, and giggles.

I’m pretty sure all of us in the class ignored this piece of wisdom, but that’s okay. It was there for us when reality hit and we needed it. Then were were grateful to have been told in advance that this is part of the process.

We did a lot of due-diligence before saying yes to this adoption. We’d stepped back from numerous other possibilities because one or both of us didn’t feel like it was a “green light” for one reason or another. So when we saw the Cherubs’ profile, and as each step revealed more and more that seemed like a really good match, it was easy to recognize what yes felt like after so many no’s.  And once we made the decision, we never looked back. There was so much to focus on as we shifted from “waiting” to “matched” to “we just met our kids!” to “Omigosh they’re moving in tomorrow…”, it was pretty easy to keep our eyes looking at the next thing ahead.

No matter what, adoption will be more difficult than you expect. For everyone involve. You are taking children who have never met you, putting them in a family situation they have no say in, and telling them, “Trust me! This is gonna be great!”

If you don’t think the sh*t is going to hit the fan from time to time as you try to make this work? You are – by which I mean, we were – naive.

Here’s the thing, though: That’s okay. There is incredible power in going into hard challenges with more confidence, hope, and bravado than reality might suggest, so long as you have some wisdom lurking around the edges for when you need it. As I said, to get in the pool at all, you have to believe you have what it takes to learn how to swim. If you take this plunge, you will learn how to swim, and it will be worth it.

Thanks for the question, Karen. I hope this helped!

Did We Steal Our Kids?

I was deep down a YouTube rabbit hole, watching a series of videos by a fascinating, opinionated, extremely conservative woman who has given birth to 10 children. She offered a variety of helpful and entertaining thoughts about the logistics of it all – the importance of routine and structure, balancing nutrition with food that’s fun, helping siblings get along – and then every so often, she’d veer off on some crazy tangent, like how she doesn’t let her toddler daughters wear snow suits, because snow suits have pants and are therefore unbiblical.  I laughed out loud. I was riveted.

In one video someone asked, “Would you and your husband ever consider adoption?” I was pretty sure I knew the answer. The defining statement of her life is CHILDREN ARE A BLESSING FROM THE LORD, and the New Testament directs Jesus’ people specifically to care for orphans.  I was sure she’d respond in the affirmative.

Wow, was I wrong! She looked right into the camera, eyes hardened, and declared, “No. I don’t think we’d ever adopt. If a family member needed us to take a child for a time, then maybe we might help. But we would never adopt a child that was not related to us, because that’s just stealing…”  She went on to say that infant adoption is essentially buying children, and that adopting through Child Protective Services is the absolute worst, because that means the government has taken a child away from their parents and relocated them according to it’s own standards, which is appalling.

I was shocked, and offended. But then I thought about it, and wondered, “What if she’s right?”

For the first time I faced this thorny question: would the Cherubs be better off if DCF had never removed them in the first place? Children are resilient, after all – memoirs like Educated and The Glass Castle show us that. And it their own ways, the Cherubs had developed a series of work-arounds to more or less survive. It wasn’t a great survival. Things were a bit feral, from what I understand. But kids have made it through worse. It wouldn’t have been good, but it would have been whatever it was, and they would have become different people, with different relationships and world views than they’re becoming now.

I ran this idea by #2 Cherub – the one who likes me the least and is convinced that she could run things far better than us if we’d just let her – and she said, “Yeah, I can understand how people could see it like that…”

Gah – what do you do with that?

You come back to the facts.

It’s debatable whether (and under what circumstances) the state should be allowed to remove children from their parents. I have all kinds of mixed opinions on that. But by the time we came into the picture, hoping to adopt? That was not the issue at hand. You don’t just go to DCF, point to a kid you think you could do a better job of parenting, and have the state go get them. You spend months applying for the chance to step in as emergency backup for a child who has already been put in a situation where they need new, functional parents, based on a long series of choices and decisions that you are not privy to and will probably never understand.

This is not a romantic world you’re entering. This is disaster clean-up.

Once kids are in foster care, something needs to happen. Foster care is highly unstable (and often devastating, although that was not the case with our kids), and children need a permanent home and long-term committed relationships. If the biological parents can’t, for whatever reason, do the job, someone needs to.

(Things get way murkier when you’re talking about infant adoption, and even more so when things are done internationally.  I know almost nothing about either of those, but for a  in-depth look at ethical international adoption, check out The Archibald Project. They’re fantastic.)

So no, I don’t think we stole the Cherubs. I’m the backup Mom, and Steve is the magical unicorn Dad (more on that in a future post) in a really difficult situation. Understanding our role, challenging as it’s been, helps us navigate the ups and downs that come with this usual family constellation and help the Cherubs grow and thrive.

Bad Breakfast Choices & Adoption Questions

I kicked off this second day of 2019 with leftover Chinese food, two spoonfuls of cottage cheese, and a stray chocolate chip cookie. It was every bit as gross as it sounds.

On a happier note, I have reason for optimism: Christmas vacation is OVER (Hallelujah!) and it ended on a much better note than it began, with all the adults & teens still speaking to each other. Miracles abound! Also, I’m midway through re-painting the upstairs bathroom, and anyone who has ever painted knows that the difference between the first splotchy base coat and the second coat of pristine beauty is a wellspring of happiness. So as soon as my stomach settles down, I’ll be at it.

After last week’s jump back into blogging (thank you for all of your comments, commiserations & encouragements – that was amazing) I looked back over the series I did a few years ago where I chronicled our adoption story and answered questions about how it was going. It was cool to see how far we’ve come…and I my response to several of the questions was, “Wow, I’d answer this much differently now…”

So I will.

I  know some of you are considering adoption, or in the midst of the intense/ terrifying hope of the application/homestudy/placement process – I hope this will help cheer you on and provide information you need. For those of you deep in the weeds of doing this thing, building new families with people you just met with some version the strangest introduction ever (“Here’s your new Mom & Dad!”) I hope this will encourage you…and remind you that  you’re not alone. I also appreciate how many of you are simply curious about this strange world, which is awesome: it’s a curious thing. So over the next week or so, I’ll revisit some of those questions and update where we are today and what we’ve learned.

And on a personal note, it’s good to keep track of where our family is at different seasons of this adventure – there’s so much that’s forgotten in the swirl of responding to the next thing in front of us that it’s easy to miss how far we’ve come.

 

Do you have questions you’d like me to answer? Let me know. Put them in the comments, shoot me a text or email, etc. Ask about anything, and I’ll do my best.

We’ll kick it off tomorrow with my thoughts on the charming question, “Isn’t adoption just stealing children?”

See you then!

 

Adoption – almost three years

Finally, we’re a normal family.

I’m working on a guest post about our adoption for another site, trying to condense three years of intensity and insanity into a few concise, feel-good paragraphs. Holy crap, it can’t be done. I can’t make the process look pretty. But I can point to the results and say, Hey! Look! It worked! 

We had a normal start of the new school year, with #1 Cherub heading into his sophomore year like the budding soccer star that he is, and #2 Cherub beginning 7th grade with confidence that she can conquer math AND make the school musical.

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We were thankful at Thanksgiving, celebratory at Christmas, and tired of all that time together by the end of Christmas break. It was all delightfully mundane.

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If you’d told me two years ago that we’d be this normal today, back when we’d just met The Cherubs and they kind of hated us…I would have burst into tears, smiled at you politely, then fled home to drown my sorrows in Cabernet Sauvignon (it’s like Gatorade for adoptive parents – it’s what keeps you going).  And yet, here we are. At a point where I don’t even have wine in the house.  Miracles happening all around.

In the midst of this, I didn’t dare blog. I’m not superstitious, but it has felt way to dangerous to come here and say, our family is working! I guess that’s an indication of how precarious this has felt, because I can write about almost anything.

I’ve been thinking a lot about learning. Progressing, becoming better than you were before. I want that. But I hate how hard it is to recognize when you’re in the middle of it. I have friends writing books, taking on new roles at work, starting new businesses and relationships and families. From the outside, I can cheer them on and see how they’re growing – succeeding, flopping, getting back up, starting again and applying what they’ve learned. It’s so cool from the outside, and so not-cool from the inside, when it’s you. And yet…when it’s you, there are these moments that happen, where you feel like a little kid on a new bike, brave enough to yell out for the first time, “Hey Mom, Look! I’m doing it!”

The First Days of Adoption

Friends of ours just met their kids for the first time!!! They’re adopting older siblings from foster care. For obvious reasons, this makes my eyes fog up. I am so excited for this new family. And aware of how vulnerable it feels to attempt this. As much as we all want to imagine these moments as beautiful scenes where orphaned children run into the arms of their new parents with bright smiles, grateful hearts, and the sun shining down on us all, that’s not exactly what it looks like.  At least that’s not what it looked like for us.

For us, it looked like equal parts wonder, awe, and terror.

I’d forgotten about this until our friends sent out a picture from the night they met their cherubs. They were on a couch together, arms around one another, looking for all the world like a ready-made family. It was GORGEOUS. It reminded me of sitting on a similar couch, taking a similar picture. And the surrealness of the whole, “Hi, so nice to meet you, I’m your new mom/dad/kid.”

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Don’t we look happy? But #1 is CLUTCHING that conversation ball for dear life. It might be the best present we brought that night. 

After that night, we started the visits and the process of getting to know each other. Our kids liked us okay. We were white, which wasn’t their favorite. But we said we’d get him a basketball hoop for the driveway, and that she could paint her room any color she wanted, and we had a dog. So that all worked in our favor.

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Steve & #1 assembling the basketball hoop. This took approximately 5 hours, at which point we could see in both kids’ eyes, “Wow, this guy might be serious about being our Dad…”

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Paint swatches on #2’s bedroom wall. She had hundreds of these, and was so excited when she found the perfect shade of lavender.  

We spent the next day with them. We shot baskets at court near their foster home, then went out for lunch. We went bowling, and for frozen yogurt. On the way home, #2 Cherub commented, “Wow, you guys spent A LOT of money on us today.” We didn’t know how to respond. She was right (who knew fro-yo could cost almost $30?). We hadn’t realized how soon we’d be navigating real parenting questions. How should we convey to them the truth – You guys are worth so much to us, of course we want to spend money on things like this, and the other truth – No, this does not mean we’ll buy you every single thing you ask for, like real Uggs or $200 sneakers – when we barely knew them? I think we said something about how we try to be frugal about some things so we’d have extra to splurge on things that really mattered.

Sometimes you just punt.

The next time we saw them was Wednesday.  I drove the 45 minutes to pick them up after school, then we came back to Cambridge to wait for Steve to get out of work so we could have dinner together. There was a weird rule I don’t quite understand that we weren’t supposed to take them to our house until we’d had a couple weeks of visits, so we ended up doing a lot of driving around and activities. I’m not good at planning activities, so this was super stressful for me.

Okay, let me get honest: this part was just awful.

I already loved these kids. But they were so unhappy to have their lives disrupted. They loved their foster mom, and her family. That was the best life they’d ever known, and they were ANGRY that they had to leave it. They hated the music I played in the car (all we could agree on were a few songs from the Jackson 5. Shake Your Body Down To The Ground will forever remind me of being stuck on 95 North in Friday traffic). They hated missing out on time with their friends and foster cousins.  On some trips, they’d both cover their heads with the blankets we kept in the backseat, just to get away from me.

This gave me lots of time to figure out activities for us, what with all the not talking.

This went on for two months.

Most transitions go WAY faster. (We have one set of friends that met their daughter on a Saturday, then she moved in The following weekend.) Often this isn’t based on what’s best for the kids or the new parents, but a more practical need: there aren’t enough foster homes available in Massachusetts, so if DCF can move two kids into a pre-adoptive placement and free up those beds for other kids? That’s the top priority. Fortunately for us, our kids’ foster mom was retiring, so there was no rush. We were able to spend two months transitioning. This let the kids finish off their school year where they were, and allowed them to process some of their feelings of loss, fear, and anger along the way, which made a little room for some excitement to creep in there.

That first Wednesday, we painted ceramics.

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Then we picked up Steve at work, ate dinner out, then drove them home. They were clearly relieved to get back.

I share all this to let you know: this takes time. It didn’t stay this hard forever. It’s been more than a year since either kid hid under a blanket on a car ride (I mentioned this to #2 last week, and she’d forgotten all about it.) But it was rather rocky for what felt like forever, as it ticked by, one minute at a time.

What helped us turn the corner? There were a bunch of things. Their foster mom did an incredible job helping them wrap their minds around the concept of adoption. We showed up on time for every visit and seemed glad to see them, which counted for more than we ever would have guessed. But the unexpected factor was THIS DOG.  The kids loved her, and she loved them. They agreed that she was awesome, even though the jury was  still out on us. And so they let her nudge them along those first few steps of becoming a family.

A pivotal moment was the night we brought Bergie with us to drive the kids back to their foster home. They got out of the car, hugged us and her, and then headed in. Bergie looked out the car window as they went up the steps and in the door, and then began to howl.

She’s part Great Pyrenees (you can read about our best guess at her genetic heritage here), bred to protect sheep. From Day One of meeting them, The Cherubs have been her sheep,  and she takes her job seriously. She was MOST UNHAPPY that night when we drove away without them.

This was, I suspect, the thing that helped the kids consider the possibility that our house might be an okay home, and we might be okay family.

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Waiting for #1 to come home. She has subdued an invading bear and has things on lockdown. 

Every family has its own unique story. Our friends’ experience transitioning will be different than ours. They’ll have their own ups & downs. Life might look long sometimes. They might wonder if they’ve ruined all their lives with this crazy idea. (Okay, I’m sure THEY’LL never wonder that. Surely that was just us…) But you do what you do in any challenge in life: you hang on, pray, and watch for small signs as things get better.

Over time, we’ve seen a cycle, where what used to feel like miracle moments of unexpected closeness become the new normal. Then we climb up on that new level and reach for the next step. This is my hope for our friends.

And for YOU when you adopt your cherubs from foster care :)

 

Middle School Musicals & Blending Families: A Praise Report

This weekend we watched #2 Cherub sing and dance in Oompa Loompa splendor in her middle school musical. It was SPLENDID. The show was hilarious and fun (thankfully less creepy than the Tim Burton movie) and there were some astonishingly good moments for us as a family that I want to capture and remember.

Willy Wonka 1 Willy Wonka 2First, different members of the Cherubs’ original family came for all three performances. Friday, Saturday & Sunday, they each drove long distances to a school they were unfamiliar with. They brought hugs and flowers and loud cheers for #2, and bought #1 more candy than he could possibly scoff down during intermission. They are so for the kids.

It’s not easy, what they’re doing. I don’t think this always how it goes in these situations (this was not at all our experience when we had Princess Peach) – and so I’m astonished and grateful that it’s possible. It’s good for the kids (and for us) to have so many people on their team.

Lest I paint TOO romantic a picture here, let me also say that the kids have no idea what to do with all of this familial blending – first they were terrified that we wouldn’t like each other, now they’re like, “Wait, you guys LIKE each other?” They find it awkward. But as one of their uncles pointed out, when you’re 14 & 12, EVERYTHING is awkward. If this is our awkward, we’ll take it.

Second, as we drove home after opening night, I heard #1 say to his sister in a low voice, “You did a good job.

I was like, “WAIT! was that a sweet moment between my children???”

They laughed and said, “Yeah, it was…”

For all the truth about how much #1 & #2 have helped each other through difficult times, they are also just like every other set of sibling kids I know: they bicker constantly, the one-upsmanship is endless, and they agree on nothing if they can possibly help it. It gets so bad some mornings I’ve threatened to make them walk to school if they don’t cut it out. (This was highly effective the week it was 9 degrees. I think it will lose its power as the temps warm up.)  There aren’t many moments when they say something genuinely nice to one another that isn’t prompted by a grown up.  But this was unprompted and genuine. #1 was right – she did do a good job. He knew how hard she’d worked, and (I think) how much his big brother praise would mean to her. It was precious.

Then we got home and she tripped over something and he made fun of her, so we were back to normal. But still, I think it’s the “good job” she’ll remember.

By the end of the weekend, we were all EXHAUSTED. It’s noon on a snow day right now, and we’re all still in our pajamas. I think big events take a bit more out of you when you’re a new family, because you’re not sure how things will go and there are so many emotions and hopes and relationships at play. But when it all works out? You need to WRITE IT DOWN and remember it, and let it set the new standard for how things can be.

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Dinner, both nights of the show. I would have been such a good 1970s parent!

What If My Kids Never Love Me?

Today’s adoption question is from Beth:  How do you deal with the fear and/or reality of the kids not loving/attaching to you, and you to them?

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Before The Cherubs moved in with us, when we were in the transition phase with visits on Wednesday nights & weekends, our kids declared that they were not going to call us Mom & Dad until the adoption was finalized.

That was fine at first.

But after six months or so,  I was tired of being called Trish & Steve. It didn’t bother me much at home. But when we were out in the world, and people were trying to make sense of who we were to each other because we don’t look alike? It would have been so much easier for the kids to call out across the grocery aisle, “Hey Mom, X is on sale!” than “Hey Trish….”  Plus, when you’re doing all the work of a Mom & Dad, it’s nice to be acknowledged as such. Having them call us Trish & Steve felt way too much like we were just sub-contractors employed to fulfill their parenting needs.

And yet, #2 Cherub asked me almost daily in the weeks prior to our adoption finalization, “Are you SO excited that we’ll call you Mom & Dad after that???” I said that indeed, I surely was.

The day came. It was wonderful.

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When we arrived home, #1 immediately ran across the street to his friend’s house to tell them he’d been adopted. Then asked if we could hang the certificates on the wall in the kitchen, “so everyone can see them.”  (Cue  tears as I hand Steve a hammer and two nails.)

But the kids still called us Trish & Steve for two more months.

It wasn’t until we went to a conference in Syracuse, where our family unit was a distinct entity in a sea of people they didn’t yet know. That’s when called us Mom & Dad for real. It was 15 months from when we first met. Not a long time as I look back at it now. But during those days? It felt like forever.  And it was really hard.

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One of the big things the Cherubs said when I told them about this blog series was, “Make sure you tell people who might adopt not to be offended if the kids don’t want to call them Mom & Dad right away. It’s not personal. It just takes time.”

That’s the overarching theme of adoption: it just takes time. Human attachment doesn’t happen instantly. Some circumstances (romantic love, childbirth) give you a surge of hormones to kick things off. But adoption is really much more like meeting a new roommate: You hope you’ll get along well and even enjoy hanging out. But there’s no way to tell how long that might take.

Even though I knew this, it doesn’t mean I KNEW it. The picture you create in your mind of our future family is about being a family, right?  Whatever that means at any given moment, it’s always about more than being roommates.

Here’s what I learned about attachment: it’s not about what I thought it was about. I thought it would be about affection, attention, positive interactions and new memories we created together.  I thought that if we did enough of that, love would just bloom and grown in a neat, orderly (rapid) way.

Nope.

Attachment is about reliability.

Attachment is when you become the people your kids look to for answers, approval, and assistance. Attachment is when they trust – not with their minds, but with their instincts – that you will see and meet their needs.

There is very little reciprocity in the early days of adoption, and what there is is probably your kids faking it, trying to guess at who and how you want them to be. It’s all YOU, pouring out everything, meeting all the needs as they come up, and trying not to get discouraged as your kids don’t seem to care.

They totally care. But they are terrified this will go away, or that the other shoe will drop and you’ll turn out to be mean, or a loser, or both. And so they don’t have enough energy to reward your awesome parenting with gold stars of Cherubic appreciation. They’re just trying to get through the day without losing their sh*t.

When you adopt, get over the idea that anything in the first six months will be rewarding.  This isn’t about rewards. This is about building, and building is WORK.

Consider this:

Adoption is a bit like getting your family from IKEA: you start with component parts and vague instructions, along with a vision of what you hope to have at the end. You don’t expect your IKEA building experience to be fun or rewarding. You just hope it won’t wreck your relationship or drain your sanity beyond what you can replenish. These are reasonable, appropriate goals.

Practically speaking, “building” meant in every area of our new family dynamic, we went first. We loved the Cherubs first, in word and action, without any response from them.  We affirmed them over and over again, for all manner of successes (“You made the soccer team? GREAT!” “You cuddled with the dog? WOW!” “Your hangnail healed? WAY TO GO!”) We made school lunches, cooked dinners they didn’t want to eat, kept to a daily routine, and arrived every single place we went at least fifteen minutes early (they HATE being late).  As I shared at the start of this series, love isn’t affection at this point – it’s consistency. That’s what our kids needed most when they first arrived.

So how did we deal with the fear that they might never attach to us? Or the moments when we weren’t sure we could keep up this level of unreciprocated enthusiasm?

We took advantage of small escapes. You have to build in the pressure release valves early in the process, because all that steam needs a way out. I had a weekly night out with a friend that I did not stop when the kids moved in. They HATED this – they were sure I was out doing something shady, and had no trouble expressing their disapproval. Whatever, out I went. (Steve did have a talk with them about how & why he trusted me, which helped a lot.) Now, if I miss a night, it throws them off that I’m not gone.

Steve kept playing hockey twice a week before work, even though we were beyond sleep deprived, and it made our morning routine a little more complicated.

And we gave the kids early bedtimes so we could have some time alone together in the evenings, during which drank more wine & beer than is probably recommended. Don’t get me wrong – we were always sober. But I think we needed a finish line to the day – a reward! And it had to be something where the Cherubs couldn’t say, “Can we have some of that?” Because they had everything else. (Here’s the stark truth:  when you’re in the thick of  pre-attachment parenting, there’s a good chance that the guys at your local beer & wine store will know your adoption story.  BLESS IT.)

Here’s the thing though (and if you’re about to adopt, you should copy, paste & print this paragraph):

This doesn’t last forever. This weird roommate-esque, non-reciprocal relationship? This is not your permanent relationship. Your family will not always be a crooked wonky shelf from IKEA. You have all the parts you need. But the attachment part of adoption? Turns out it’s grown, not built.

Our kids are still not fully attached to us. But we are light years away from where we were even 6 months ago. We function like a family now. We have inside jokes and longstanding debates. We hug and say “I love you,” and they look us in the eye when we talk to them.  They look to us for help, answers, and approval. They watch when they think we can’t see them to see if we notice them, if we know where they are, if we’re paying attention.

And none of this progress comes in an orderly way. Growth shoots up out of nowhere. Like this:

On Saturday night, I was up in our bedroom working on a sermon for Sunday morning. For the first year we knew them, the kids would never come upstairs, and were convinced I was doing something nefarious if I was up here anytime other than to go to sleep. But that’s been changing lately, and now they’ll come up to ask me a question or pet the dog. But Saturday, they both came up, and we all just sort of hung out, laughing about silly things. #2 demonstrated her pushup technique. #1 hid across the room, texting me to see when his sister would notice he was there (too bad I’d left my phone downstairs). Then Steve came up and we all petted THIS DOG, who was lying in the center of the bed, soaking up the love and clearly thinking, “FINALLY you people get this pack thing!”

It was good. And let me tell you, it felt totally beyond us until the moment it happened.

DO NOT GIVE UP, new adoptive parents! Today is not forever in this relationship. Keep building, hang in there, find some (preferably healthier and less causing of weight gain) ways to let out some pressure. You can do this! And it’s worth it.