What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Abigail.
Am I the right mother for this child? Is this the right family for this child? Is this the right child for us? These are the questions I often hear in the adoption community. These are questions adoptive parents ask themselves when the children begin to exhibit emotional problems and difficult behaviors. These are questions that haunt adoptive placements. And I have the answer. In a word, “no.” I am not the right mother for anyone. I am not a saint or a savior to my children. I’m a curly-haired, highly caffeinated, slightly befuddled woman on my best days. On my worst days? I’m grumpy and discombobulated and I serve cereal for breakfast instead of pancakes and bacon. I spend all day herding chickens only to realize at 2:00 AM that one of the 6 had a psychiatrist appointment I completely missed that day. I am not perfect. My kids are not “lucky” to have me. I read to them and snuggle them and kiss their boo-boos. I help with homework. Sometimes I bake cookies. Sometimes I burn the cookies and show up late to football practice. I soothe intense tantrums. I am used to my children flying into a rage at me the moment they realize how much they love me. I sing crazy off-key songs to soothe their fears over showering, going to school, or unexpected spiders. I have been hit, kicked, bitten and scratched. My love and super-parenting skills do not cure disorganized attachment or reactive attachment disorder. I can’t wipe away my childrens’ past traumas or banish their nightmares. I can, however, make hot cocoa at 3 AM when my 14-yr-old son wakes up sobbing that he is afraid of his closet. When they came into our home they started to fall apart. their past wounds and hurts all came out. They disclosed information about their pasts that they’d never spoken about with their social worker.They admitted how hard it was to sleep at night and sought our help, whereas in foster care they simply dealt with these fears amongst themselves. Yes, they fell apart when they began to trust us. They trusted us enough to let us see their hurts and their distress. They trusted us to help them to find healing. No, I am not the “right” parent for my children. They have PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. They are traumatized beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. How could I possibly ever be enough? How could we meet all of their needs? Isn’t there someone out there better qualified to raise this sibling group? In a word, “NO!” The right parent for any child doesn’t exist. It’s a myth, a lie we tell ourselves, the Santa Claus of adult culture in America. I am not a hero adopting these kids. My husband and I are not saints as so many have told us. On my best day, I’m just a normal parent. No, I’m not the “right” mom, but I am their mom. And that is all I have to be. No one could ever love them this much. No one would ever try as hard. I am not perfect. I am not a super hero. I am something more. I am “mom.”