The highs and lows of adoptive parenting

Today we have a guest post from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. This is his experience as father to a 7 year old boy, and as a family they are undergoing attachment based therapy. They have been together as a family for 6 years now.

Joy…in that honeymoon period. Finally we were a family.
Deep grief, as he settled in and missed his foster family.

First words. First steps. So many firsts to celebrate.
First tantrums. First rejections. After all, this wasn’t his first separation, his first grief experience.

Content and settled. Sleepy head, all calm and restful. We watched him sleep.
The nightmares came. We held and rocked and consoled and soothed on repeat.

Nursery, school, friendships and play. All those things that children should have.
Endless conversations about bullying, disruption in lessons, no concentration.

Family time. Parks, days out, games and fun.
Always the fear of meltdown, losing control, how to help him.

A new therapy? Yes, we’ll give anything a ago – improvements!
He’s cottoned on. And the anger, anxiety, frustration, and negativity all come back, whilst the confidence, positivity, and carefree attitude have all but disappeared.

As a dad, I don’t know what is coming from one day to the next, let alone the weeks, months and years ahead for us as a family. This scares me – a 38 year old grown man. I can’t make sense of what my boy has experienced, and I struggle to help him handle his emotions.

How on earth does it make my 7 year old boy feel? – a child with limited life experiences, many of which have been challenging to him, in a world he doesn’t fully understand? How can I ever hope to equip him with all the tools he needs to decipher and make sense of himself, his past and his future.

Parenting is hard. Adoptive parenting involves more guesswork, strategic planning and psychology. But being that child – being my boy, is so much harder.

3 thoughts on “The highs and lows of adoptive parenting

  1. Jackie Sweeney

    I have a 7 year old boy, C, who has been with us for almost 2 years. We also have an 11 year old birth child too.
    When my birth child hit 7, the boy hormones started to kick in and he began to test boundaries and his emotions could swing quite rapidly. We see this in C but it has the added complication of tipping into him saying he is a bad person etc. He’s a bright kid who has been through many moves and he know this behaviour is a way of attention seeking too. We now acknowledge it but are trying to normalise it too but it’s a tricky balance. One game I did play with him is one I made up called the “I am good at” game. It has to be a positive. For example, first time out, C said, “I am good at being bad”. I quickly made up the rules and he began to get it. It might go like this. Best of 3!
    Me, “I am good at gardening”
    C “I am good at football”
    Me “ohhh that’s good I think you win that one. I am good at making Jam tarts’
    C”I am good at drawing”
    Me, “hmmm, think I might win that one as you can eat Jam tarts, I am good at hoovering up”
    C “I am good at writing”
    Me” ahhhw, that’s a cracker, you’ve just beat me with that!”
    Not sure if that may help break a situation. I sometimes catch myself on and give myself a pat on the back when things have been tricky but I’ve got through to him. It stretches your imagination, that’s for sure!
    Good luck.

    1. Amber

      Wow! That’s really wonderful. He is very fortunate to have a parent like you. Well, I have not adopted a child yet but, my sister was thinking of. I am really anxious about it. She too has a 5 year old daughter and wants to adopt one more. She has actually made up her mind. She is a pretty, little girl of 3. Now, I am fearing that the older one would get jealous of her little sister and won’t treat her nicely, you see, she is a bit much pampered. The little one is moving in coming Monday. So, I hope everything goes well. Thanks a bunch Jackie.

  2. Von

    “He’s cottoned on. And the anger, anxiety, frustration, and negativity all come back, whilst the confidence, positivity, and carefree attitude have all but disappeared.” -therapy shouldn’t be a ‘normalising’ process. Done right it will be effective. He has not had limited life experience but extremely complex experiences which is maybe why you are struggling. Adoptive parenting is the most difficult parenting experience anyone can have. Hope you’ve got good support and had good preparation and training.


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