During this process of writing step into bravery, I have had the opportunity to speak with many fellow adoptees. It has been interesting to hear their stories and perspectives surrounding adoption and I’ve noticed a lot of differences and similarities; people’s personalities mixed with experiences, influencing their opinions. However, amongst most of us adoptees there seems to be one similarity we all share: trauma.
Observing this commonality, I dove into it more, spending time reading articles and blogs by others surrounding the topic of adoption and trauma. I came across an article, written to prospective adoptive parents, outlining steps to take in attempt to achieve the perfect adoption. One of these tips stated to adopt an infant, “find the youngest, healthiest child you can find.” The older the child, the more the trauma; more problems, more issues. Less hope, less promise.
Initially, I was upset. How could someone say this? Is a child less worthy of a family once they are past the stage of infancy? Is adopting a baby ensuring a trauma free life? I needed to find out if this was this merely an opinion or if it was something more.
It was then that I realized the sad truth, this point of view widely being taught amongst prospective adoptive parents. Children that are past the age of infancy are often branded with a “damaged” label, having the loss of hope and innocence, too much for new parents to handle.
There is a big discrepancy in the adoption world; a lack of informative education and support. So many hopeful parents walk into the adoption process with a sense of naivety and are blindsided when raising the child isn’t as easy as they thought. Adoption is hard. Regardless of age, there is trauma, the two go hand in hand. No child comes as a blank slate. I won’t argue that the more life experience often results in more trauma, but it is not an excuse to throw a child to the wayside. Every child, every human being, is worthy of a family.
Hopeful adoptive parents, talk with other adoptees and other adoptive parents. Learn the complexity of adoption and find support around you. Expect repercussions of trauma. No matter if you adopt a child six days or six years old, hug them, even if they push you away again and again. Tell them you love them a hundred times a day, it’s never too much. Say you are proud of them, especially when you’re frustrated. Give them time to trust you, it may take years. Most importantly, never give up on a child. Ever
Adoption is not perfect but it is perfectly traumatic.