Monday, July 21, 2008

My Family

Some of my family has found my blog, they were upset about my feelings regarding our relationship. I am sorry they are hurt but it is how I feel. I know many of you have relationships that have deteriorated since your adoptions and understand. Mine felt pushed away in the beginning and instead of sharing this with me and learning more about why it was so important, they backed away. I don't know how to make them understand that their presence in their life was still as important but that they had to respect our unusual parenting style with children as traumatized as ours were. Can outsiders understand? What have you done to encourage your family's relationships with your children but maintained the boundaries needed to help your children? I am at a loss. Obviously, either I am not explaining it right or it is impossible to understand unless you see it first hand.

Our children came to us highly sexualized. They tried to seduce any man that came within their sight, they humped anyone that slowed down enough for them to latch on, and they were willing to go home with anyone that seemed nice or had a nice car. We had to set extreme boundaries about who they could touch (mom and dad), who they could sit next to or on (mom and dad), where they could be in relation to us (line of sight), and who could give them things like food(again only us). I know you all understand the need for this but it does isolate our extended families to a certain degree. What aunt or gparent doesn't want to hug and kiss their new addition? To what extent is it our fault that they feel left out? How do we include them safely? How much do we share or force the information on them? What if they aren't interested in the reasons? I have deeply hurt my family and that was never my intention. They are exactly who I needed. I needed someone to talk to, someone to listen. I was so alone. My poor DH barely understood what our lives were like when he was at work. My sister, Kiki, only saw a glimpse a few times and was shocked. She had thought I was exaggerating. ( I have been known to be a bit over the top to be silly about things, not about serious things) Our lives are just so hard to imagine or maybe I am just really bad at explaining.

I can only hope they continue to read here and get to know us better.


Lisa said...

I am where you are right now -have been for years actually, and it hasn't really gotten better. My bil's girlfriend kept telling my 2 1/2 yo that she was so cute she was going to take her home and I asked her several times not to do that (it was just habit, not malicious) for reasons obvious to us. I explained to her simply why it was wrong but she kept slipping until my dh yelled at her (we never saw her again in our home after that, hurt feelings on her part/inability to explain sufficiently on ours).

My feelings are simple on this: WE are the adults, if our feelings get hurt once in awhile, we need to deal with it and move on. The important thing is that we maintain our commitments to our children (we made this commitment by adopting them) and do what is best for THEM at this time. The other adults in your life, who should be wanting to help you in any way you see fit, need to understand. Whether that means you giving them general literature on sexual abuse, rad, adhd, odd, bi-polar, etc. or you giving them specific examples of what is not acceptable - well, you have to do what you think is in the kids' best interests. The big thing for me is when family members tell me that "they're just being kids" when I reprimand mine for something. No, being a kid means (but is not limited to) saying something silly once in awhile - not 18 times in 5 minutes after being told to stop it 18 times. Being a kid means being affectionate with people you know and love - not someone you've never seen before. It is having the security of knowing who is who and who cares about you the most - not who acts or says they care about you at that moment. Also, having the security in your parents that you can spend the night with a cousin and obey the rules at their house AND behave properly - not going there and manipulating the bejesus out of everyone so they think your child is a saint (because no child is).

My son just got home from respite care for the second time (weekend) in 13 years. He ate (gorged) until he couldn't walk straight. He was hobbling around here like an old man, holding his stomache and his back and looking like he was going to puke at any moment. He does not have a "full" valve. He eats until he's going to burst, and then when that pesky pain goes away a little he eats some more. I have known his respite provider for 14 years, she's the ONLY person I trust him with, and she, with over 30 years of foster/adoptive care experience didn't see his eating as a problem. That tells you something right there. These kids have issues that make it imperative, for everyones safety, to keep them in line of sight.

I wish I had all the answers and that my family was willing to do the work it would take to be part of our lives. I can they can choose to become educated, or not. I don't think any one of us can explain it as thoroughly as we need to without going into every sordid detail and who wants that? Who wants people to look at their children in a negative way or keep their children away from yours? At least you're being honest. You could just unleash these kids onto them and let what happens, happen. What good would that do for any of you? I understand because I'm in the trenches like you every day.

Lisa said...

I am so with you. You are very talented at explaining. It's one of your best qualities (among many others). I, on the other hand, suck at it! I quickly gave up because it was just way too exhausting to be "splaining" all the time. So I refused to take J anywhere except with people who "got it". I even shopped 30 minutes away so I wouldn't have to run into people I know in the local grocery. Our life was pretty barren the first 1 1/2 years. Now things are picking up and J is able to maintain so much better than before. Slowly but surely the people who didn't get it are getting better. IMHO I don't anyone really gets it unless they are living it 24/7.

Mongoose said...

This doesn't answer your question at all but in my opinion, people shouldn't need an explanation for other people's boundaries. Plenty of people get offended by my boundaries (including most of my family), and the way I look at it now is, if you don't like my boundaries, you're welcome to leave.

So yeah, that totally doesn't address what you said. However, as to the question of "how do we include them safely", I say, give them the rules, and say "it's not about you, but that's the way it is, and it's not negotiable. I hope you'll choose to respect this." Something like that.

And as for the question "to what extent is it our fault that..." It's not. They control their feelings, like the rest of us. They feel left out because they choose to feel left out. They could instead choose to accept that you have to do what's best for your children and it's not about them.

Cognitive therapy: not just for the insane anymore!

Good luck. You know I always love you!


Anonymous said...

I'm delurking even though I'm not sure I have anything helpful to add here. I don't think we have done a great job at explaining to our extended family WHY we want things done our way, and without the why they seem to have trouble remembering the limits. One thing that I've found does help is to give specific suggestions for things they CAN do with the kids. For example, instead of sitting next to them on the couch watching a movie, sit across from or next to them (separate chairs) at the table doing PlayDoh, working on model trains, etc. It can be hard to come up with reasonable suggestions, but we are asking them to refrain from a lot of "normal" affection-showing, so having acceptable replacements spelled out is really helpful. Thanks for sharing so much of your family's story here.

momma-o-minnie said...

Well "I" for one has failed miserably at the family relationship thing - a decade ago my father decided one of my RADishes had "bad blood"... He didn't want him as a grandson. My mom refers to my youngest adoptee as "other people's problems." (biracial.) - I told them they couldn't pick or choose which were their grandchildren. It was years before we talked... took the Trade Towers falling before we spoke again. We've only seen each other a couple of times.
Some families understand, others do not. My parents don't want to understand, and it's their loss. It doesn't help that we live 400+ miles apart.
I pray your family can realize the issues you face on a daily basis and decide to support you instead of thinking of themselves and their feelings.

Maia said...

I agree with Lisa about her comment that WE are the adults and should act accordingly. Some of my extended family has also chosen to distance themselves from my nuclear family since we began adopting, and it does really hurt. But we get through it. After all, it's their choice.

Tudu said...

Thanks so much for your thoughts on this. I do need to make clear that I am not perfect, I tend to chatter on and on, I am sure it was boring to them, even my DH tuned me out b/c it was my every thought for months prior to their arrival and it continued for most of the last 2 yrs. With this said, I have a family of all women, beginning with my Gma, mom, 3 sisters, 6 nieces and of course myself and kids. We tend to over think and chat a bit too much about everybody's business. It is just too exhausting to continue to surround myself with people that don't get it. I'm not even mad anymore, I just want the drama to stop. We bring our own drama I can't be taken on everybody else's, too. LOL

Mongoose, I appreciate that you always say things I need to hear.

Alyssa's Mom said...

I only had this problem with one person - a very good friend. She was just the opposite though. She thought I wasn't hard enough on my daughter, I "needed to teach her respect" - REALLY???

I gave her the dvd "Circle of Support" and asked her to watch it. She never did. Her choice. I barely see her anymore.

Her attitude hurt me tremendously but my daughter comes first. Love me, love my daughter!