Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The hardest thing we've ever done

Bringing home Axel is going to be the most difficult thing Dean and I have ever done, either independently or together as a couple. At 10 years old, he knows some stuff. He's had some life experiences, and a lot of them were worse than we can imagine. Then we are taking him from the foster family where he has spent the past 2 1/2 years, severing those bonds (particularly with the foster sister) and moving him to the other side of the world with people he doesn't know, who speak a language he doesn't understand, who eat food like nothing he's ever had before, and who have four dogs in the house. (not the norm there).

My heart is just breaking for him today.

We don't expect that Axel is going to get off that plane, walk into our home and be a smiley, giggly boy who can hardly wait to get on with life. I'm sure we'll see some smiles, because kids are resilient that way, but I expect to see a lot of tears too as he remembers the family he lost. I have no idea if he has a good relationship with his foster parents. I know he's close with his foster sister, and that she looks out for him a lot. She is going to be hurting too. Someday, after he's home, I can tell you more of that story, but for now I'll leave it alone.

It's good that Axel can form bonds with people, it's just sad that he's being forced to break them. I feel like Dean and I have a *slight* advantage in this process, in that we have both parented children who are not biologically ours. It is different. It is not automatic. When parenting step children, you do not love them right away, and they do not love you. Sometimes it takes years before you feel honest "love" toward them. You CARE about them! And you NUTURE them! But that is very different than a mother/child love bond, or a father/child love bond. It just really depends upon the chemistry between you and the child. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not. I think that people are surprised when they bring a child into their home and that bond is not automatic, or in their eyes takes way too long to develop. Sometimes you love the child long before the child loves you in return. Sometimes it is the other way around.

Part of the reason this bond is different is because an older child comes with other people's habits. You didn't get to develop these habits, and they can be very annoying to you as a parent. It can be very difficult to not blame the child for these habits that they had established since they were small and suddenly you want them to change and do things YOUR way. Before you suddenly demand change, look to see if there is a purpose for the habit. If it's not hurting anything, don't worry about changing it. It will eventually evolve into something close to, if not the same as what you were shooting for. But if you force the matter you're just creating a power struggle over something that is not worth it.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to refer myself back to this post a time or two over the coming months, I'm sure, on those days when I become frustrated with myself, at my inability to be patient and understanding.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you have a good idea on what to expect...they don't really spell this out in the training courses, do they? Pre-eldest, I might not have a clue what to think of your words above; post-eldest, I agree with you 100%.