Uncharted Territory

Someone send me a road map, please. I keep finding myself in uncharted territory.

When our kids are little, we can fix their boo-boos. Once they get into adolescence, they have to start fixing them for themselves. That part is hard for me.

With five adopted kids, you’d think I’d be an expert. You’d be so very wrong. The issue of adoption is a big one in adolescence. When you get mad at them, they think it has something to do with being adopted. One of my Bigs is really struggling right now. Today is her birth-half-sister’s birthday. That child is the youngest of six my daughter’s birth mother raised. She is a late-in-life, post-divorce, post-traumatic head injury baby. Adoption was chosen for her because grandma was, by then, raising the other six because of birth mom’s injury. None of this is easy for my daughter to swallow. She will perpetually see herself as the one they gave away.

I cannot fix this wound in her. I can love her with all my heart. I can be supportive. I can take her to therapy. In the end, though, it is a pain she will have to deal with. I think she thought getting to know her half-sister would help her. I think it will some day, but it isn’t yet. Not that her half-sister has a charmed life; far from it. But she is there as a reminder of that heartbreaking early separation.

Would my daughter still be struggling through her teen years had she not been adopted? I don’t know, but I am thinking it’s likely. I remember being an unhappy teen, too. That knowledge is little comfort to me, though, trying to help her. I said at the beginning that I need a roadmap. The truth is, I think we both do.

I tell a lot of heartwarming stories in this space. I think it is helpful to remember, however, that the pain that is inherent in adoption will be around from time to time and it’s normal, even though it isn’t easy.