Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The messy wonderful life of adoption

A friend recently posted this article and I think it speaks of the realities and ongoing costs of special needs adoption, especially but not limited to FASD, RAD, ODD, etc., that aren't always spoken of.

"We've had the house we dreamed of with the white picket fence.  We've had the kids we imagined and some we didn't.  We've lived and loved more than most.  The past few years have brought us unimaginable pain but in even greater volume, love and blessings that we appreciate all the more for all our losses.  We are embarking on yet another stage of our lives and we know not yet where it leads.  Middle aged (OK, at 56 that  means we plan to live until 112), we no longer own a home.  Renting is not a problem but the instability of it is especially hard on our younger kids.  We also see ourselves continuing to host back at least one of our adult kids with disabilities (as we do now) at any given time.  So we are looking to have more reliable housing (about to have to move a second time in a year).  If you are the praying kind, keep us in mind as we figure out where the path less traveled will lead us next.  We've kind of lived our lives like this line from a Trooper song "Don't let fear and good judgement hold you back".  I think that's what got us into this messy, wonderful life in the first place so we'll try not to let common sense interfere with our next move.  

One thing that is often overlooked is that the child's issues could be so extreme (behavior or health) that 1 or more parents are required at home to manage the child.  Over the years raising our children we have had times were both my husband and I worked outside of the home and other times that one or both of us have needed to be home.  During the time that we both needed to be home we still had to pay our bills so this would come out of our savings or line of credit.  Having to stop working to focus on raising children with extreme issues seriously effects your career and retirement savings over the years.  Leaving your job for a few years or more and then trying to re-establish yourself at an older age can be near impossible.  For example at one time my husband was a career firefighter but leaving that profession and then trying to get back into it in your late 40's to early 50's is near impossible when you are competing with 20 year old's.  

Many starting out with adoption have a family home and are adopting to add to or start their family, it may be the proverbial house with the white picket fence or something more modern.  Your child may arrive with behaviors that you expect will be outgrown quickly but over time the child grows, their behaviors/strength increase and your home begins getting more damaged.  In anger, walls are punched and kicked and things are thrown, windows broken, doors ripped off the hinges, the wear and tear on the house is hard to keep up with.  Maybe your child has issues with toileting and does this wherever they please or they enjoy smearing it.  Your child may also be a hoarder which quite often involves hiding food and other things that rot and smell.  Over the years we have had children that rage, had issues with toileting, are generally klutzy, wheelchairs/walkers that can damage the walls while the occupant is learning to use it, etc.  all which can take its toll on the house.  Your once beautiful home now looks like it belongs in the slums.  

Having adopted kids with special behavioral needs there can be issues with safety and security over the years.  I know of families that have had to pack up and move their families because of safety issues either from birth families or the child's behaviors as they became teens or young adults.  

All these issues can compile and you find yourself not able to afford the home you started out with and your financial future can be looking pretty bleak.  There isn't assistance available to look after the child that you so willingly adopted years ago it is up to you and your family to make things work.  Mental health supports for youth are extremely limited and you might just have to ride the wave making things work anyway you know how.  

So, I really understand when my friend says she has a "messy, wonderful life".  If we had known what we were going to go through over the years I don't know if we would have jumped into adoption like we did, but looking back would we change a thing......probably not. Oh, and yes all of us in the adoption community need your prayers.  

1 comment:

  1. I love the description of a "messy wonderful life". It is an accurate description of many an adopted family's life.

    Thanks for sharing on #WASO