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Adoption Blog: Melting Pot Family

Adoption Versus Kid Thing

I feel like I have an unfair advantage for this question with both biological and adopted children. I attended all the classes offered and read all the recommended materials, as well as ones I found on my own, to prepare for any special needs my adopted daughter might have. I knew her early childhood experiences, about which we would never know the full details, would leave a lasting imprint. However, having two biological sons, I also knew that childhood is childhood, and any two children will share many of the same challenges and touchpoints.

We recently relocated to Europe. My daughter hadn't had night terrors for some years, but, when we moved, she began waking up for no apparent reason in distress. We were faced with the question: Is it an adoption thing or a kid thing? I will never know for sure. And I tend to over index on the adoption answer in ambiguous situations. 

I was concerned that this transition to a new home and school was bringing back hidden memories of other transitions that might not have been positive. We kept her bedroom door open at night; we left a light on in the bathroom and in the backyard. Our boys refer to it as a Narnia light since it is a solo lamppost in the middle of the yard, which does look like it should take you to another world. We also read her extra bedtime stories and let the family pup sleep with her.

I explained my concerns to my eldest, who is a high school sophomore. He is very connected to his little sister, as seen in the photo of the two of them playing pat-a-cake. He patiently listened to my explanation of how memories from early years can be hidden and triggered by seemingly unrelated events. He looked at me with a look I get too often these days; it appears to be a mixture of pity and amusement. He said, “I remember having night terrors, too. Couldn’t hers be just like mine? Why does it have to be related to her being adopted?” 

I find this son, in his very direct manner, often gives me good food for thought. I don’t know if he is correct. But since both he and his younger brother also had these childhood nightmares, I know it might just be a kid thing, and that is comforting. And, fortunately, my daughter's night terrors only made a brief reappearance. But all the rituals we put in place to make her feel more comfortable seem to be here to stay. 

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Well you might know the answer when she’s older and can look back on it. Although I bet she’ll remember all the comforting things, especially that the pup slept with her, much more. I do love that your son is a good sounding board for you.

By Barbara Herel on Wednesday, April 03, 2013 at 9:33 pm.

Thanks Barbara, I do look forward to hearing from her more when she is old enough to express those thoughts and emotions.  I hope she will remember the conforting efforts too.  Yes, always great to have your kids help you see possibilities you didn’t.

By Ellenore Angelidis on Friday, April 05, 2013 at 6:17 am.

Because I can’t know what caused an ‘issue’ I generally treat it like a kid thing.  Also, I can’t change the fact that my son is adopted.  I won’t ignore it and will discuss it with him, but two things stop me from really getting into adoption as an issue.  One I have NO frame of reference for what it is like to be adopted.  While I have read books and belogn to various lists, I will never have that deep down knowledge.  So I just react like a parent with a kid that is going through a period where he’ll need some extra help from me or someone else.  Second, children (and people in general) react to things so differently.  Despite what may have caused an issue we will still have to learn to deal with how to comfort or control the resulting behaviors in order to become a productive member of society.  So while I’ll have compassion for any issues he may experience as result of being adopted; I’ll still look for ways to modify behaviors so he can be happier too.  After all I can’t change the past, only move forward to the future.

By justaminion on Friday, April 05, 2013 at 4:58 pm.

Thanks justaminion,

I appreciate the good advice and perspective.  Appreciate you sharing.—E

By Ellenore Angelidis on Saturday, April 06, 2013 at 6:33 pm.

So glad you wrote this.  Our two year old was adopted from birth.  Lately she’s been waking up crying.  My husband thinks it has something to do with her being adopted, but then I reminded him that our bio children did it around that age because of growing pains and some more teeth coming it.

By Pam05 on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 2:35 am.

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By zoe8 on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 5:04 am.

I like this post, I have been going through something similar lately with my adopted son.  However, instead of ‘is it a kid thing or an adoption thing’ I am wondering ‘is it a kid thing or a special needs thing’ because he was alcohol/drug exposed.  I was told by the doctors and professionals, and have read a lot about this kind of exposure, and he’s been tested and one camp says ‘expect issues due to the exposure’.  BUT, every teacher, layman and other parent says ‘I would never have guessed, he acts exactly like every other kid’.  I am now afraid that if I chalk it up to disability I will be lowering the bar for him.  So, I’m chalking it up to ‘kid thing’ with an open mind.  Nice to know others have similar issues.

By imagine3399 on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm.

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Ellenore Angelidis

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