Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Challenges of Parenting Orphans

I'm always excited when something by the Vitafamiliae blog pops up in my reader. Lora Lynn is such an inspirational person and I've been following her story of adopting a toddler from Uganda with bated breath. 

A few days ago she posted an article called Adoption and Anger and I cheered. I am so grateful that she addressed this issue. 

Basically, she writes about how adopted children deal with trust issues and as they are going through the process, the entire thing can be very frustrating for parents (and caregivers). 

Here is an excerpt: 
There’s a side to adoption that no one really warned us about.  We were prepared for attachment issues, for trust issues, food hoarding, lashing out.  But no one really told us that there’d be parental anger.
Because of her life situation, Mira is a fighter.  Her survival instincts are finely honed.  While she attached to us right away, getting her to trust us has been more difficult. .....

.......I liken the feelings of frustration we have to the first few months with a newborn.  The baby is well-fed, always being held, and is kept warm and safe.  Yet they scream bloody murder when you change their diaper, even though you’re doing them a favor.  Or they just scream because they can.  They’re not entirely sure you’re coming back with food.  As a parent, you’re exhausted and frustrated.
But you love your babies and you stick with it and eventually they learn to believe you’ll show up with food or you’ll get them out of their crib.  They learn not to fight the diaper changes and the nap times.
Mira is still like a newborn. And sometimes it frustrates us and makes us angry.  We know it’s just an issue of time, but it doesn’t make it any less anger-inducing in the heat of the moment.

You can read the full article here.In the comments, Lora Lynn makes it clear that she and her husband experienced the emotions of anger and frustration but did not give in to those feelings.

I completely understand where she is coming from and it is wonderful to have someone document this difficult transition period with a new baby in such an articulate way. 

I've seen this happen over and over with the new babies and toddlers we take in. They have to go through such a process of building trust and realizing that we love them and won't hurt or abandon them. During that time, especially if the child is sick, it can be very draining emotionally. You can feel like giving up and not doing anything when 'obviously the child doesn't even appreciate it anyway'. At these times, I'm grateful we have a large enough staff that everyone gets the chance for a break and can take time to step back from the situation if they get too tired or frustrated.

I'm still learning as I go. God didn't reveal the whole picture to me when he asked us to do this job, and in some ways I'm glad. I depend on Him for so much. And, you know, he is so good about bringing people or information my way that helps me to know how to better serve the children He's given us. 
For example, Denny is doing so much better since he came to live with us just over a month ago, and the way I know he's doing better physically, is because he is now starting to behave like a normal 20 month old child. That means he now feels comfortable enough with us to demand more food or throw temper tantrums. So, he gets to move on to the next level of recovery which includes more love and added discipline. It's not easy but it is so necessary. 

Pray for us as we work not only with the physical bodies of rescued children but their hearts and minds as well.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so happy for Denny's tantrums. How great is that!

    I'm praying! and praying!


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