Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Set Expectations with Other Family Members With a Kinship Adoption

For most first time parents its not a question of your ability to raise your own child. However, what happens when you have a child at 17?
Many parents will complain of all the advise they receive as a new parent. Seldom are their rights taken from them by their own family without ever bein given a chance.
Knowing how to care for an infant was something that always came quite natural for my oldest daughter. In fact, she required very little help at home. The first couple weeks went smooth as she did all the cares of her newborn child. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case at just two weeks old when she started to take baby out into the public and around other family.  Not everyone had as much faith in her and the baby's father as we did. At just a few weeks old both my daughter and her boyfriend, the baby's father, were already feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
When baby would cry and the young parents would try to comfort her, someone would take the child out of their arms.  A time that should have been a time for bonding was being taken from them over and over again. It seemed whether it be feedings, naps or even changings, their place was being taken away. The two parents often came to us with frustration. Imagine someone else removing your child's clothes just so they could dress them with clothing they purchased? Nearly daily my daughter would come home crying feeling inadequate. As every first was occurring and holidays came and went the two parents soon became extremely agitated as they had no say. Even buying Christmas and Easter dresses were out of the question. Things like bringing your child to see Santa or the Easter Bunny for the first time. Would you still feel like you were the parent?
At just over one year both parents had all been broken of their abilities and made the toughest decision a parent can ever make.... They asked us to adopt. Our daughter, who still lived at home cried for weeks on end as she conceited to the ground work others had laid out for them. We again tried to reassure them and asked them to give it some time to truly make sure this is what they wanted. Yet time and time again they came back to us with the same question. After several months the 4 of us sought an attorney and finalized the adoption.
Over the past several years I have heard countless remarks from both families and friends questioning how they could remain together and just "give her away" or "hand her over"? Does anyone realize the love and thought process that actually goes into a decision like this? My daughter loved this child more than life itself. Yet they both wanted more for her. Something they just couldn't offer.
Years later, My daughter and her boyfriend are still together. They have been for almost 7 years now. They still know they made the right decision for them and for her.
Being a foster parent Ive cared for many children in my home. Many times I honestly wondered how some of them survived until help arrived. There are plenty of parents, not just teen parents,  who can't even care for themselves. Some think their good parents, others just don't care. Some are abusive or neglectful. Others turn to drugs or alcohol. So why do so many people judge them for their decision? Too many just sit back and pretend everything is ok.
Continuing on...We, my husband and I, love this little girl so much. She is no longer our grandchild but our daughter. I couldn't love her more if I'd given birth to her myself. If we were to have adopted a stranger people wouldn't think twice about it. Yet, for some reason,  people find it necessary to assume we were forced to adopt. For the record, if I could have I would have had 10 children and both my husband and I always wanted more.
Moving along... this is now our child! She has been for many years now. Please quit asking us if we need a break or if we feel stuck at home.  I'm also pretty sure we don't need any ones parenting advice. I not only have a collage education in Human Services but we've raised 4 other grown children whom we're very proud of. Not only did I operate a daycare out of my home for many years but I was dually licensed with the foster care even then. My husband and I served as both Boy Scout and Girl Scout Leaders, attend church, and volunteer as much as possible. Between the two of us we clock over 75 hours of parenting classes a year. For anyone who questions our abilities or our parenting I would love to hear it. Before judging everyone else though my advice would be to take a look at your own shortcomings and parenting. Believe me none of us are perfect. What works for one parent may not for another. Just as sometimes you need to parent or care for different children with a different parenting style.
Wait, there's more to be said. Please do not call me Grandma or my husband Grandpa. Do not call us by our first names to our child. We are her parents and are her Mom and Dad. Yes, kinship adoptions do change the family dynamics! We have three other grandchildren who we love very much. We reserve Grandma and Papa for them. Do not call her birth parents by their first names or talk down about them to our daughter. Doing so hurts her feelings and could cause lifelong resent. I can't believe how many people will actually ask if my older daughter is still involved or sees her? Of course she is and why would people even ask!

Do not expect things will always remain the same. Things change. Lives change. We all live busy lives. Although we try very hard to keep her involved with all her family that's not always possible. She is a very busy little girl. We do allow her to see her birth fathers family but sometimes its hard. Often I feel as though they resent us and too often I feel my daughter and her boyfriend are the in between. Another reminder that not everyone will accept your role as parents. I often feel like I need to explain myself if they ask to see her and were busy. However, this is not visitation. There wasn't a divorce situation. It was an adoption. I need to remember I can only do so much and please so many people.
I hope continuing to share our story and all the ups and downs  can put a perspective on kinship adoptions. With open communication they can be wonderful. However, I suggest making clear rules and boundaries right from the start so everyone knows what is expected. I wish we would have set those boundaries earlier on so we wouldn't be feeling stepped upon now.



Tammi, You and Rick have done an Awesome job with Her.. don't let anyone make you doubt that.. Her birth parents should be praised for their ability to make one of the hardest decisions of their lives.. The decision they made was for HER, not them.. this was not a selfish decision. It was a honest one. May God bless you all, Sal

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