Dear Home In Turmoil Whose Adoption Went South,
Please believe me when I say I understand your pain. I may not know your exact personal circumstances or why adoptions went south, but I do know that there were many times along the adoption path that I honestly thought would never happen. It was an international adoption, and we were not only dealing with state and federal adoption laws, but Bulgarian laws, customs, and procedures as well. There were financial concerns, worries about the home studies, trouble with multiple adoption court hearings overseas that we had absolutely no control over, the length of the whole process itself, and many other stumbling blocks and potential stumbling blocks along the way. Anything could have gone south at any time.
Then there were the issues we had with Olivia (name changed here) when we finally got through all that and got her home. That was when the real trouble started. I have written an entire series of articles on PADS—Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome; therefore, I won’t go into all of the specifics of that in-depth here. But I will say that she was afraid and miserable, we were afraid and miserable (especially me!), and we felt extremely alone in many ways and scared to ask for help for fear of being seen as weak or unfit parents. There were times both during the week we had to spend with her in a hotel room in Sofia and once we got her to our home here in the U.S. when we thought we’d have to give her back. I can say now that I am beyond extraordinarily grateful that we never did that because all worked out wonderfully well in the end, but at the time, we constantly had to talk ourselves out of believing that this was never going to work. Indeed, I learned from a PADS expert during my time writing that series that she knew of orphanages that were full of children whose adoptions didn’t work out. She thought that almost all of that was due to a lack of appropriate counseling and the right resources openly available to parents, many of whom suffered from PADS and did not even realize it or recognize the symptoms. The adoption world doesn’t talk about that much.
As you can see, we very well could’ve easily been one of those families whose adoptions went south—at any time, in fact, during the beginning of the adoption process and until after the first year of having Olivia with us.
So if you’re one of those single or two-parent families whose adoptions did not work out, please don’t see yourselves as failures. Don’t let whatever went wrong in the adoption to define you. You are so much more than that one thing, even if it is a major thing. It’s easy, in a way, for me to say, “You’ve got now, so go forward,” but I know it’s so much harder to live it. But it’s true. So get whatever spiritual or professional counseling you need and/or rely on whatever personal support system you may have and move out of this current headspace you’re in. Know that no adoption goes south without a series of complexities coming together in a negative way, such as in a “perfect storm.”
Please also know that if it is the adoption process itself that has somehow gone wrong, there are always other chances and renewed hope even though it now feels like it’s your own personal hell that will last forever. Life has a way of surprising you in both good and bad ways, so since this is a bad way, wait and a good way really will come along.
Most of all, please seek support no matter what your circumstances. Other people have gone through what you have, are going through what you’re going through, or will go through whatever is happening with your family right now. There are plenty of ways to seek help in our day and time thanks to technology. Go to your church, local support groups, online support groups, your adoption agency, other adoptive parents you know, family members—whatever it takes to give you a listening ear and relief. Sometimes just talking really does help. And whatever has happened or will happen, know that you’re never alone.
With love and support,