If you’re an adoptive parent and you haven’t yet read Sherrie Eldridge’s book, “Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew,” you’re missing some good insight. The book will not reveal all the things adopted kids wish their parents knew. Some adopted kids (now adults) disagree with some of what Eldridge writes. However, the book will give you some knowledge of what it feels like to be adopted, and some seeds for thought as you try to understand the heart of your child. I highly recommend you read it. (I get no financial gain by saying that.)
There is a flip side to the 20 things adoptive parents should know, at least for my kids. My kids experienced significant trauma at the hands of their birth family and the people that family allowed to become a part of their lives. Because those adults didn’t handle things well, they ended up in an orphanage system that was often harmful and hurtful. The things my kids have told me about their caregivers are about the only thing that makes me want to go back to their birth country. I would very much like to give certain women there an education they’d never forget.
The thing is, my kids don’t care about those people very much. They were temporary “mamas.” They were hired help. They weren’t family. It is family that caused the deepest pain and left the biggest scars. It is to family my kids wish they could communicate the things they want to be ingrained into the soul of people living in Eastern Europe. Here are 20 things my kids wish their biological family knew:
*You caused me more hurt and pain than any child should ever have to bear. You are ALL responsible. Those letters you send me now only cause that pain to deepen. If you loved me so much, why didn't you take care of us when our parents could not?
*I am ashamed of you and I am scared to death I’m going to end up like you, even though I have a good life and parents who know how to love me now.
*Even though you’ve caused me so much pain, I still love you and I still wish we could be together. I grieve that loss deeply every single day.
*Sometimes I grieve losing you so much, I take it out on my Mom and Dad. I wonder if that would make you happy? When my anger is over, it makes me ashamed that I treated them that way. It’s you I’m mad at!
*I don’t talk about you that often, but when I do, it’s hard for me and for my parents. They don’t like seeing me upset, so I hide that I’m thinking about you. I think about you every day. My parents know that and even though it hurts us both, they still try to show me it’s okay to remember you and talk about you.
*Even though I think about you, I don’t want to talk about you most of the time. Sometimes, it feels like my parents and my therapist are prying stuff out of me and that makes me even more mad at you, but then I grieve for you right after I get mad.
*I am really mad that I wasn’t worth enough to you for you to register my birth. (The Princess) I am really mad that everyone relied on me to remember when my sister was born. (Youngest Son)
*Even though my parents tell me you were not allowed to see me anymore when I went to the orphanage, I wonder if you didn’t come to see me because you didn’t love me anymore.
*I worry all the time that my new Dad will die, or that my Mom will be with other men. I freak out whenever my mom goes away on a trip. I hate it that my Mom and Dad are planning an anniversary trip this year and I am not going with them. I’m scared they won’t come back.
*I put up a good front in public. I’m a good Eastern European and the only emotion I show is when I want to let someone know they’re bothering me. Most of the time, people outside my family don’t know I’m any different than any other American kid – unless they hear my accent.
*You gave me no sense of control, so now I fight to have a sense of control. It’s hard for me to let my parents care about me and it’s hard to care about other people. I do care. A lot. But it’s very hard.
*I like it when people say I look like my Mom and Dad. I like it when people say I sound just like my Mom or that I’m as smart as my Dad. That’s okay. I don’t like it when you write my parents’ names in letters to me. They are my Mom and my Dad. Call them that. However, I also like it when people in my family tell me I’m as handsome as my Papa or as smart as my Babushka.
*I love my parents. They drive me crazy sometimes. I drive them crazy sometimes. But so do my brothers. My mom says all teenagers drive their parents nuts and all parents embarrass their teens. We’re a normal family that way. I love my parents and I still love you, though I don’t understand that.
*I don’t like telling people about you.
*My parents make my birthday special, but I always feel bad on my birthday, on other people’s birthdays, on holidays, vacations, or any celebration. You did that to me.
*I hate it that I don’t know my medical history or the truth about my first family’s medical challenges.
*Even though I know I’m forever home with my real family now, I get really scared that I’ll get sent back to you. I have nightmares about it.
*When I make poor choices, I wonder if I’ll make the really poor choices you made when I’m an adult. My parents reassure me that I can choose to have a good life, but I’m still scared I’ll be just like you.
*I need extra help because of the things that happened when I was little. I blame you, but I forgive you. I do this over and over again. Sometimes I do it multiple times per day.
*Even if I decide to search for some of you someday, you are not my real family. My home is here. I don’t come from here. I come from you, and so they cannot replace that. My beginning is with you. But remember my real home is with them.
I imagine some of these 20 things will strike a nerve or two with some of my readers. I ask you to consider the raw, traumatized, developmentally delayed, teenage emotion and thought behind these 20 things. They are from the perspective of my two particular teenage children who suffered a very traumatic background, and who are home only 4.5 years. These are raw emotions, but they are honest emotions. This is what being real is all about.