Older Child Adoption
Last week I sat down and watched “The Dark Matter of Love,” a documentary which covers the often very emotional first year of a family who adopted three children from Russia. I think it should be required viewing for everyone considering international adoption, as it shows some of the very clear realities of facing language barriers, learning to trust, and how very exhausting it can be for both the kids and parents to try and knit everyone together as a true forever family.
I think many adoptive parents, especially those who have adopted older children, will recognize at least one moment in the film from their own lives. For me, it was a scene where one of the little boys is throwing an all-out temper tantrum, screaming and raging on the bed. I flashed back to when my own child would do the same, and I would wonder how I could possibly ever help her get through the grief and trauma she had experienced by being orphaned. I will readily admit that I took a moment during that scene to give thanks that those much harder days are well behind us.
Five years ago, I wrote a blog about called, “The Adoption of Older Children“. At the time, I only knew a handful of people who had adopted children aged 10 and above, as the majority of kids from China were being chosen at younger ages. With the changes in Chinese adoption in the last few years, now I’ve lost count of the families I know who have made the decision to adopt kids close to “aging out.”
Through listening to their stories, however, I am a whole lot wiser about the realities they have faced post-adoption. And I have realized that there is no clear way to know in advance just how smooth or rocky the transition will be. I have seen 13-year-old kids who lived in very hard conditions come home and blend almost seamlessly into family life, while other kids who seemed so open to adoption really struggle with emotional regulation gone awry, showing their fear, anger, and grief in a myriad of different ways.
Meg Montgomery, one of the social workers who volunteers for LWB, wrote the following to me this week, “The brain is a very powerful thing, and each child will be unique in how their brain interprets what they have physically, emotionally and psychologically experienced.”
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer