Dear Mom Who Won the Adoption Lottery

Dear Adoptive Mom with Your "Normal" Kid, 

You dreamed of bringing home your bundle of joy. And when your dreams came true, you dreamed that your bundle would grow into a healthy and vibrant child who had nothing but typical struggles. And that dream came true. Your child understands social cues, your child is growing academically, your child adores you and thrives in school, at home, and in life. You did it! You won the adoption lottery! I am SO HAPPY for you and genuinely overjoyed that your child is doing so well. 

I had won the adoption lottery, once upon a time. (Let it be said that in a very different sense of the word, I still feel I have won the lottery despite the difficulties that have ensued with my children.)  My first child was healthy upon arrival and developmentally age appropriate. To this day, he is the most "normal" as far as his development, though he is on an IEP and has some social issues. This son has never hurt me... and I mean never. He has always made me feel loved and important, without being overly needy or demanding. He isn't a "Brick Wall" or "Black Hole" child. His birth mom loved him in utero, and still has contact with him in a role more like an aunt would play through open adoption. He is secure in who he is, and secure in our family. He is a dream as far as adoption goes- he experienced the least amount of trauma an adopted kid can experience and his resilience has shown up in the form of a very well-adjusted 15 year old. 

I don't know what your adoption lottery winnings look like, but what I do know is that for every adoption that results in a well-adjusted child and family, there is another that ends in a very disregulated, fearful, angry, delayed, and/or devastated child. The fairy tale we moms dreamed of quickly shifts to an intense drama or even horror show, and we moms feel very inadequate. 

Do I not love him enough? Do I not make him feel safe?  What am I doing wrong that he doesn't want to hug me? It is hard to feel like we are ill-equipped and unqualified to do the very thing we dreamed about doing for years prior to our adoption. 

Once we find ourselves fumbling as a mother, we turn for support and solutions. There is one thing we know for sure at that point- that we don't have the answers. So we reach out to friends and family we see as amazing moms for an ear to hear our hurts and a voice of wisdom. So many times the well-intended advise we receive doesn't apply to our child like it does to a biological child. We don't have the secure attachment and trust that biological parenting is done from. We don't have that position yet, and even when we do, it is often conditional. Instead of feeling heard and cared for when we bent or seek wisdom, we often leave the conversation with greater confusion. 

As the struggles increase in our home, despite therapies and books and sticker charts, we find ourselves isolated. Our kids don't do well out in public. Our friends don't understand our storm. We stop calling. We stop going out. Alone in our struggles, we find ourselves slipping away, losing the joys and identity we once had. Our friends feels rejected, our family thinks we have made a mistake because they see us hurting... and yet we cannot be another person who gives up on this wounded child. 

So mom that one the lottery, we are so glad for you and your child. You have what we as moms aim to achieve but we are not there yet. We want you to know that we look at you with envy as you gracefully tackle the role of adoptive mom. But we also want you to know that us other adoptive moms can't relate... YET. We need to know you support us in our battle field of life. We need to know that you don't blame us for the things in our home that are challenging. We need to know that you are in our corner as we seek to get the peace your home already has. And we also want you to know that if your tides change and your child begins to have identity stresses or social issues, we are here for you. God has us navigating those seas so we can lend you an ear or shoulder if you need it. We moms need to stick together in unity, love, and support. We need our kids to know that adoptive families are uniquely amazing, regardless of the challenges. All of our kids are good enough. And our best as moms is all we need to give. 

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