Jan 202015
 

I’ve been thinking about that phrase a lot lately.

No, I’m not talking about the trip home from the airport after you get back from vacation.

I’m talking after the airport.

With a capital T and a capital A.

THE airport.   The one where you come home with your adopted child(ren).    The one where the family meets the cousins, nephew, niece, grandchild etc. for the first time.

THE Airport – the place where your adopted child(ren) are thrust into a whole different world.   A world where there are a lot of people who know them and love them.   Or at least love the picture of them and the “idea” of them.

THE AIRPORT – where everything changes.   Where your child goes from being one of many to suddenly being the center of attention.    From being on a trip to going to a strange house they’ve never been in before.

There are times where, after the airport, it truly is a “happily ever after” story.   Child adjusts well, learns a new language, learns to like chicken nuggets and fries, loves mom and dad and does well in school.

And there are times when it doesn’t.

When after the airport is a whole lot of work. And a whole lot of pain.  And a whole lot of struggle.

An example of that – a friend of mine wrote a post on her blog about dealing with the trauma that many adopted kids struggle with.   You can read it at http://outofshemind.com/2015/01/dear-adoptive-parents-hard-lonely-road/.   It was shared on Facebook over 14,000 times and was read by over 60,000 people.  Think about those numbers.   14,000 times.   That means that 14,000 families are acquainted with the struggles that many adoptive families go through and felt others should know about what Heidi wrote.  60,000 views.   That means that 60,000 people read what she wrote about it.   60,000 people – even if you figure two people per family, that’s still 30,000 families.

Those are vulnerable children.   Children who have a new family.   Children who aren’t vulnerable to malnutrition or preventable disease, but children who are vulnerable.   Vulnerable to the scars of their past.   Vulnerable to the culture shock of going to a new country, a new language, a new…….

Those are vulnerable families.   They are, mostly, experienced parents who know a bit about parenting.    But they haven’t been adequately prepared for THIS.

For Reactive Attachment Disorder.

For what PTSD looks like in adopted children.

For a whole host of other scars.

How can you prepare for the unknown?   It’s not easy.

But, there are things you can do, before the airport, to make “after the airport” go smoother.

I’ll expand on this in the future, but a couple of quick thoughts:

  • Make contacts with some experienced parents – people you can call or text and say, “oh my goodness, what do I do?”
  • Read – read books, read blogs, live into the experiences of others who are walking that trail and sharing it with others.   And don’t let just one spouse read and tell the other about it – both should read…….
  • Plan for chaos – plan for how you’re going to handle chaos.   Look at it sort of like going white water rafting.   The time before the airport, you’re riding in the raft and it’s relatively smooth.   But you know big rapids are coming.   You don’t know how big they are, but you know they are coming.   Prepare for it – talk through what you’re going to do.   Talk through how you’re going to communicate.    If the rapids are minor, it will have been a good exercise in communication.   If it’s a really wild ride, it could be life saving.

Remember, you are not alone.

Tom

Jan 152015
 

I’m going to jump into a difficult subject today.    It has to do with adoption and what happens after the kids get home.   But first, I need to make a disclaimer that comes with a couple of points:

  1. Not every child who is adopted deals with trauma issues.   Many of them live fully adjusted, totally normal lives (if you can even define normal) and don’t carry any emotional baggage from being orphaned and adopted.   You don’t hear about them, precisely because they are “normal.”
  2. Every child who goes through the disruption in their life that comes with being orphaned and adopted has the potential of being affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  
  3. So every adoptive parent should go into adopting knowing that they might have to deal with these type of issues and should be prepared for the possibility.

I’ve had discussions with numerous people over the years where the topic has come up that there are no guarantees with biological children and there are no guarantees with adopted children.    Those who are not in the adoption “world” seem to think that means that adopting isn’t that much more of a risk of “hard parenting.”

That’s not exactly true.   Yes, it is true that there are no guarantees, but there are also probabilities.  And the probability is higher that a child who goes through the first years of their life and faces one or more of the following is more likely to have emotional baggage to deal with:

  • Is not raised by their biological parents and consistently cared for during the first 5 years of their life.
  • Has a constant turnover of the people who are caring for them – and can’t build an emotional and trust bond with one person.
  • Witnesses or experiences a traumatic event – the  death of someone close, abuse, natural disaster…….
  • Has consistent and ongoing situations where they have emotional or physical needs and they need someone and there is no one there to be their “go to” person.

When you look at it, any one or more of those could fit the experiences of almost every orphan in the world.    That tells me two things:

  • There is a lot of work that needs to be done to improve the care of vulnerable children while they are in “transition.”    That means the time between when they are with their birth family until the time when they are with their new family.
  • The adoptive parents and those who care about them need to be much more aware and much more supportive of the reality that every single adopted child has the potential for carrying very difficult experiences that leave scars on them.

So, with that being said, I’m going to step down from the podium and let a couple of other writers talk about adoption, trauma and what it means.    I would encourage you to read the links below and if you want to talk about them, either message me (see the spot on the right side?) or Facebook me or carrier pigeon or whatever way you want to get in touch.

http://outofshemind.com/2015/01/dear-adoptive-parents-hard-lonely-road/

http://outofshemind.com/2015/01/marriage-in-the-trenches/

http://emergingmama.com/things-parents-kids-experienced-trauma-know-well/

Vulnerable children.

Vulnerable parents.

If you are there, know you are not alone.

If you know one, support them.   Encourage them.

If you are feeling God calling you to become one, be faithful.

TJV

Jan 052015
 

So, we’re 5 days into 2015 and what’s next?  

I don’t know.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s next.   I know what I think is next but only God knows what is really next.

But let me tell you what I’m thinking…….

I’ve taken some time and assembled a VERY long list of blog topics all related to vulnerable children.    It’s a list that is going to take me a long time to get through.

Why?

Because one of the main goals of the Vulnerable Project is to help further understanding and action about the needs of those who are less fortunate.

Understanding – understanding of a group of issues that is horribly complex.

Understanding of a group of issues that many big non-profits wouldn’t necessarily get a passing grade on.

Understanding of something I don’t fully grasp either.

But if we have a conversation about these topics, we probably won’t all agree, but we will all be better off for the discussion.

And then there’s the other piece…….

Action – once you know, you can’t plead ignorance.

Once you know, you can’t claim you didn’t know.

So, in between the discussion of the issues, we’ll also have discussions about ways, healthy, productive ways that you can make a difference. 

Not always with money – many times not with money.

But ways that you can take the understanding and make it into more than just head knowledge.

My target is going to be two or three posts a week – more or less depending on the issues, the other things going on in my life and my family.

How can you help?

  • Read and discuss when you see something that resonates with you.  
  • Share it with others – spread the word, engage and educate more people.
  • Support what we’re doing – put a tip in the tip jar, get involved in helping with one or more of the action plans that we’ll be talking about and promoting.

Thanks for reading.   Thanks for helping me kick off a new year.   It’s going to be really interesting to see where God takes this in 2015!

Tom