I've mentioned before that so far, this adoption has been a lot smoother than our other adoptions, and I've been thinking about why that is. Sure, the kids are great (honestly, they are), but as you know from my other posts, they have their share of issues, just like my other kids (both bio & adopted) did/do. After much thought (and much coffee) I've come to the conclusion that the reason this adoption seems easier can be explained in three little letters: I.D.C.
Put away your shocked face. It's not the kids I don't care about, it's their behaviors. Let me put it this way. When you have six kids, sitting on the sidewalk next to your screaming toddler ceases to bother you. You just wait it out. They'll stop screaming eventually. I can't count the number of times I've had to carry Gabrielle out of a restaurant because she had a meltdown. And let me tell you, you haven't been stared at until you're a blonde Caucasian woman sitting outside of a Pizza Hut in Jinan next to a screaming and stomping Chinese girl.
We were a spectacle. Several times. Ten years ago, I would have been mortified. I would have stood on my head if it made her stop screaming. Now? I.D.C. Stare at me if you want. I.D.C. Trust me. I really don't care. Kids scream. Especially kids with traumatic backgrounds who are in the middle of a difficult transition.
As I mentioned in a prior post, Gabrielle screams herself to sleep every night. She also kicks and flails around like a crazy woman. To help her transition, I'm sleeping with her at night. (Too scary for a kid who's shared a bedroom with several other kids all her life to suddenly sleep in a big room all alone. See, I do care about the big stuff.) So every night, I tuck her in and she starts screaming. Loudly.
What do I do? I read her one story. She bats it away. I sing her one song. She screams louder.
Then I roll over, put in my earbuds and listen to a book on Audible until she falls asleep. I.D.C. If she needs to cry to deal with her fears/insecurities/anger that's fine. I.D.C.
And guess what? Last night, she went to sleep for the first time ever without screaming. And today at nap time? Same thing. She even sang along with me during my stirring rendition of "House at Pooh Corner". (Thank you Kenny Loggins.)
|Another picture of them sleeping because they're so darn cute!|
The beauty of I.D.C. is that it works with so many adoption related behaviors. You need to scream? I.D.C. You don't like me? I love you, but I.D.C. (BTW - your kid doesn't need you love you for you to love them. They'll get there, eventually. In the meantime -- I.D.C..) You're pouting because someone got a bigger bowl of soup? You guessed it, I.D.C. You're slurping your soup up and chewing with your mouth open? (Have to admit, this one is harder for me.) I.D.C. You'll learn manners sometime.
The thing is, integrating a new child into your family takes time. My kids come from hard backgrounds. They've never been taught how to behave in a family. But they'll learn. It will take time, but it will happen. I think the mistake I made when I was a new parent was thinking that everything had to be fixed right then. My children needed to love me madly from the start. They needed perfect manners. They needed to know they were safe. So I did my best to fix everything for them right then. If they cried, I tried to fix it. If they demanded something (rudely) right then, I got it. (Until fatigue caught up to me and they learned to wait.)
We've all faced hardships in our lives, and I'm willing to bet that you didn't conquer the hardest times in your life overnight. It took time. And that's where I.D.C. comes in. You see, when my kids cry or act out, I care that they are hurting, but I don't care that they are making a scene. Honestly, I really don't. The other four broke me of that. And strangely, it seems that by not giving them a reaction, it stops the behavior. Gabrielle's tantrums are getting a lot better. Jonathan doesn't sulk so much.
Adoption is born from trauma. Yes, it's a joyous event, but it's also a painful one. You gotta let the kids feel what they're going to feel. But, you don't have to let it bother you. You don't have to "fix" it. Just ride it out. It will get better (might get worse first, but that's another post.) Time will help you create the relationship with your children. Their behaviors won't be as extreme. They will learn to love you. But until then, remember: I.D.C.