Stop. Transition Time.

The transition from part time step-parent to full time adoptive mom and step-parent has been…well, I think the word tricky sums it up nicely! I’ve written before about how I’m not the parent I thought I would be, and that has been just one of many many things I’ve learned over the past five months. But the vastness of the changes in every. facet. of. our. lives. has been…p-ret-ty trick-y.

Before it all happened and became a reality instead of ‘we’re going to do this thing called adoption’, we knew in theory it was all going to change. But man alive, holy doodle, shiver me timbers. We, and I mean all 4 of us as well as ALL of us adopters and adoptees and families of, should receive medals in the transition Olympics.

It’s a hard transition for everybody involved; the kid/s, any sibling you may have hanging around, parents, the foster parents (plus any other kids they may have), the biological parents in some cases, respite workers, school personnel…I mean ev-er-y-bo-dy. Some it obviously hits harder than others and it effects everybody differently in many different ways. But today I’m taking about moi and just a few of the big ways the transition to being a mum has been.

Time with Gord – huge change numero uno for me. For us. (Plus going from oodles of time alone – and I love me my alone time, to squeezing in a few hours a week).

I’ve always shared Gord with Anthony, They came as a package deal and it was just the way it was. But because of the way our schedule works with Anthony – we either had the week time or the weekends just to ourselves every month. Our time together just the two of us was built in.

When Jonathan moved in that time disappeared, plus, we were simply too exhausted to do anything other than relay information like business partners. Now we are learning that full time child = need for planning and respite, something we are just getting our feet dirty with. These days we aren’t quite as tired as we were in those first couple of months and we are getting good at making sure we have time just us, but it’s been a very conscious effort on both our parts and continues to be so. Transition difficulty rating 9/10

Forgetting everything/it not being useful I’ve learned over the past 13 years – maybe one of the most difficult things I am accepting right now.

You see, we should have this whole thing in the bag: Gord is a social worker, he’s even worked in foster care. I have been working with kids with disabilities and their parents for over a feakin’ decade. Put the two together and we should be a dream team for our little Rocket. But in reality, not so much. Put the word adoption in front of everything and all that I know does not apply, goes blank or is not working.

It’s been hard. Admitting that it is hard, is hard.

In the scheme of things, we are still in early days so we do give ourselves a bit of credit. And as we’ve slowly been getting to know each other somethings are getting a tad easier. However, what we are learning is that the more he lets us in and lets us know him, the more complex it gets and the less we know. The more we love, the more he pushes. And all that we know and understand about behaviour does not fit. Throw in communication delays, make that severe communication delays, and we are often grasping for just an ounce more patience to keep on keeping on. Patience and wine. We are often grasping for wine too.

Although most of our intelligence has been thrown out the window, what we have not forgotten to do is how to advocate and how to ask for help, and in the end this may be the most important thing that we do remember. Transition Difficulty rating 10/10

The guilt. OH the guilt. I’m sure every parent is riddled with it and it comes with the territory. This I can accept. But there seems to be this extra adoption guilt.

There is a “I wanted this so badly but all I want you to do is go away for 5 minutes so I can pee/cry/think/talk on the phone/close my eyes/save my sanity ’cause kid you be driving me crazy” kinda guilt. There is a constant pull and push during this transition time (and we are very much still in transition around here) of I love you so much come here so I can hug the snot out of you versus I might just hide in this closest for a wee bit (all the while the guilty feeling of thinking, or even actually doing it, washes over me).

I wanted this. I dreamed about this. I hurt so badly when I thought I couldn’t have it. And now here he is, so when those thoughts and feelings start to appear the guilt cloud lingers.

It feels that as an adopter, you can’t complain, or maybe that you shouldn’t complain. That there are these outside expectations that you need to be wonderful, he is wonderful and sunshine and lollipops spew from you each and every moment of every day. Realistic or not, the guilt hath cometh. Transition difficulty 9/10

(I understand that this is totally unrealistic on a conscious level and that I mostly put it on myself, but try telling that to my brain)

There are so many more facets of transition that I could write about but you’d get bored and skim over them (ahem, you haven’t already have you?!)

What was the most difficult part of transitioning for you personally those first few months when you were first placed with your child/children? Please share!


14 thoughts on “Stop. Transition Time.

  1. There are so many ways in which we as adoptive parents, and our children go through transitions aren’t there? I can identify so much with what you have written – the change in time with your other half and the guilt…oh the guilt.
    But don’t beat yourself up about re-learning stuff. Yeah, adoption changes the way we do *some* things, but what you’ve learnt is valuable and I’m sure you’re using more of your ‘work knowledge’ than you know.

    Thanks for taking up the transitions theme and linking to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x

  2. Reading your post brought back all the memories of when Katie joined us. I had worked as a counsellor/youth worker and had more children in my house than a nursery but it is still a shock to the system. I will be honest and say it took me over a year to stop feeling guilty at wanting some alone time. I, too, waited a long time to become a parent and felt ridiculously guilty at enjoying some time on my own. I felt I wasn’t allowed to complain about being tired. That feeling does fade though and I now take better care of my needs. We’re just about to welcome our newest addition into our adoptive family and it means I will no longer have my days during school time to myself and there is a little part of me that is a bit sad about that whilst obviously being very excited at our new arrival.

    • I know these are uncommon things but sometimes they feel so big! I think we will get the hang of it eventually:) I’m excited to read about your new little one:) Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Your very eloquent comments about The Guilt really resonate with me too! I chose the life of a single parent, first as a foster carer, and now as an adopter as well! Sometimes when I hear my friends moaning about their husbands not doing enough around the house, or whatever, I want to scream, but I feel as though I always have to be ‘happy with my lot’ because I chose it and I went into it with my eyes as open as they reasonably could be (i.e. wide open, but mostly looking in the wrong direction!!). I love my kids, fostered and adopted, but, yeah, sometimes their incessant needs do drive me to want to hide in a cupboard!

    • Haha. It’s so nice to not be alone! When I complain I really do think about others and how they handle this, particularly single moms or moms who have partners who travel quite a bit. I seriously don’t know how you do it, hats off to you! My husband is amazing and helps out so much, I really do feel lucky and blessed .

  4. I hate to say that I still feel guilty when after a full day together, I rush them to bed and decide not to mention a story or stop for a long snuggle. Or after the holidays when I feel relieved they are gone, back to school. Rationally I know it’s ok because they are hard work, it’s draining, it’s intense but even after 6 years I can’t shake it. It seems to me that you and Gord are doing an amazing job, keep strong and keep finding little bits of time for yourself. xx

    You have written another great post and thank you for linking it with The Weekly Adoption Shout Out.

    • Aww thanks Sarah. After 6 years it sounds like you need to give yourself a break from some guilt! I wonder if it’s a woman thing, an adoptive thing or what…why do we put that on ourselves?!
      Thanks for creating such a great space to share:)

  5. The guilt was intense and when taken with the overwhelming pressure to always smile and never ask for help because I’d done this to myself, it was all very overwhelming. There’s not very much to smile about as you are cleaning up projectile vomit off the walls and everything within a 6 foot range of the screaming child, trauma-ing in his chair while you struggle not to scream and cry as you clean up the meal that took you 90 minutes to make, 40 minutes to slowly and painstakingly feed to your little GERDling, and all of 10 seconds to puke everywhere. It was awful. I was grateful during some of those early days that my child was still totally deaf because there were a lot of words dropped that I didn’t realize were part of my vocabulary.

    It took me longer than I expected to come to terms with being the mom of a child with exceptionalities. Despite being told repeatedly never to question whether I loved my son during those early days, there were many days where my 5 minute shower was 4 minutes of sobbing as I tried to pull myself together to face yet another day of diapers and puke and biting and scratching and medical appointment and therapy. Many times during those first few months, even though I knew it would come, I wondered why in the world I was putting myself through such misery for a child that I didn’t love and that seemed focused on hurting me. (I have significant scarring on my arms and hands from the teeth and scratching of those early days.) I knew that I would love him; I knew he was as terrified as I was; I knew he was acting out, just like I was, trying to find his footing in our family life, only his was physical whereas I shut down a bit, but I was used to being the adult and in control and the desperate fear that I’d never actually love him haunted me.

    I struggled very much with the terror of not being perfect. I was horrified when I found myself slacking off on therapy or the educational moments that seemed to be everywhere. It was hard to admit that sometimes the thing I was most grateful was bedtime. I resented hearing how amazing we were for adopting our little boy, I hated that everyone assumed we’d got everything totally together and wouldn’t give me a little room for mistakes or ask me if I could use a hand or a grocery run. However, once I realized that the parent that I felt I should be was very different than the parent that my son wanted, it was better. I realized that he didn’t want non-stop teaching moments, he wanted me to hold him and whisper and hum in his ear as he cuddled in my arms. He wanted me to give him free range in the bathtub, rather than restricting him to educational toys and practicing lines and letters on the bath walls with his markers. He wanted his feet and tummy tickled, not constant leg and tendon stretching and strengthening for his CP. He wanted a happy mommy, not the failed perfectionist that I was fighting for. Once I realized that, we began to connect and attach and his little forced giggle vanished into a full-fleged belly laugh when I would chase him around the house playing “monsters”.

    Yeah, so that’s pretty much way more info than you’d need, but that’s what it was like for me initially.

    • Wow, sounds like things were very intense for you for quite a while. It can all get overwhelming all too often and with little ones with special needs you’re right, there is another guilt on top – not seizing every opportunity to teach and drill and hammer in concepts. It’s tough to balance being therapeutic with just being mom. I can relate to your comment too about hearing how amazing you are; When I try to say sometimes how hard it is I get “but I can’t think of two better people…” if i had a dollar….grrrr. Haha. Thanks so much for sharing.

      • I don’t want it to seem that it was all horror and misery. There were lots of amazing and exciting moments, but I think a lot of the panic and fear was due to the intense amount of therapy that was needed immediately for a child that had been badly neglected in terms of therapy and supports. While my little boy’s foster family had loved him unconditionally, his social worker had simply ignored all the medical needs that he had and focused on how cute he was and that was it.
        It is hard to bring a child to therapy, some of which were painful and hard for him, and you have so little trust and attachment in the bank, as it were, and you just see the sorrow on your kid’s face and you hate yourself for doing it, but you can’t not. It was just a really bad situation to be flung into with a tiny little child that was struggling, but the GERD had to be dealt with or a feeding tube was impending, etc. It was bad, but, part of it bonded us and part of it helped me just let go and mostly, it’s our story and, while there are parts that I wish I could redo, I would gladly do it all over again because the end result is far more amazing than anything I ever imagined.

  6. Transition – i think we live and eat and sleep and breathe it as adopters – the challenge is to allow us to get into the rhythm of the swells and the times of respite and guilt and tiredness and the fun. Heres to the exhilerating mountain top breathtaking moments, where the uphill climbs have been worth it. and the wine. and the cupboard.

    • I like how you worded that…I don’t think we can put transitions in a box, it flows and is in constant change. Even when it’s easy going it’s still present and evolving. And the wine is like a constant that keeps us grounded! Haha. Thanks for reading:)

  7. Pingback: The Box | Grey Street

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