Hopefully this will be a cohesive post. My thoughts are pretty jumbled on the subject as I have children I gave birth to and an adopted child and what I've learned and lived is all rolled up together in both sets of issues.
The key point: Our child's views and realities do not belong to us.
I read a post over at a friends blog about a mother who spoke out recently when her son died. He had a drug problem. And she has been crucified in blogland and her parenting questioned. Her worth as a parent and person has been questioned by others. Because its HER failure....
I have raised a son to adulthood. It was not easy. During the most important years dad was always deployed. This resulted in lots of anger and acting out. It resulted in incidents. And that first incident? It about killed me. I was feeling really broken. I was feeling like a terrible parent. We were beating ourselves up and discussing what to do -- and Hubs made the comment that we had failed. Where had we gone wrong? What should we have done differently?
And while pondering together I had a revelation. We weren't bad parents. There is nothing we could have done to prevent this (outside of never letting him leave the house). The things that I would have done different if I had it to do over again -- I don't think they would have changed the outcome either.
Because bottom line is...
Your kid is a separate individual than you.
They have their own personalities.
They will make their own decisions regardless of the teachings/parenting they have had. It is all in THEIR hands.
And that is the way it is supposed to be.
I know, I know. You are sitting there saying, "We knew that already!"
Well so did I.
Or so I thought. But just like faith -- believing something and living something are two different things.
Now jump forward a few years and add adoption into the picture.
I spend a fair amount of time reading the blogs of adult adoptees. As an adoptive parent this is very rarely a pleasant experience. (Not that it is necessarily unpleasant either - it is just reality and not pretty when you look at the true realities of adoption.)
And reading one adoptee's site is always painful for me. Not because of what she is saying about the evil adoptive parents and the industry....NO. It's just her thoughts and feelings and her life. It's real. It's all about her thoughts of what could have been, etc.
And it reflects the inner life my daughter lives/will live.
And no one can change it. Not her, not me, not anyone.
And its not even my place to try.
But you will have the people come out of the woodwork and say that adoptees need to get over themselves. Be grateful for all the good they had. Like the good cancels the bad.
My daughter has a life that pre-dates me. And she doesn't need to be grateful to me! Her personality is not to be bound by MY reality (sunshine and rainbow and adoption is so grand!). HER reality is that she has a mother other than myself. A mother that did not keep her. And no matter what she has with me -- it does not cancel out what she lost. What could have been.
Get over it?
So adoptees are supposed to amputate part of who they are because its ungrateful not to?
That is sick.
Because our children - adopted or biological - are not bound by what we give them. Or what we teach them. Or what we think they should feel.
They are just a separate person that we have the gift of loving. The gift of raising (if we are lucky).
And they don't belong to us. They only belong to themselves. Our boundaries and teachings and love, etc., is only valid in their lives as long as they allow it to be valid. They can turn all of it off whenever they want.
And it doesn't matter what you taught them. It doesn't matter what you gave them. It doesn't matter all you did for them. It doesn't matter what YOU feel they should think or do.
It's all up to them.
So please. Don't treat your children like their reality is what YOU make it. Don't tell kids why they should think like you and then be surprised when they reject your standards. Don't tell an adopted child the good cancels out the bad.
Respect the fact that they have their own reality. And whether that reality reflects good on you or not as a parent....is not up to us. And don't let yourself fall into the trap of letting their choices define YOU as a parent or a person.
And for goodness sake people....get rid of the word "grateful". Not a single one of our kids ASKED to be born or adopted to us. They don't OWE us ANYTHING.
****Just to be clear - I'm not saying we shouldn't parent or teach or model or be anything less than a 100% involved parent. I'm just saying you do not have control over what your child ultimately thinks. You do not put the thoughts in their head. They don't owe you certain behaviors or thoughts. They are not your robot. They WILL make decisions you would not have made. They will feel whatever it is they feel, whether you agree or not. They do not OWE us certain behaviors or thoughts.
And let me assure you, if you can really embrace this reality and live it...
it actually makes all those bumps in the road so much easier. Because you learn to respect your child on a different level. You learn to allow them their mistakes or feelings without tying yourself and your feelings up in the situation also. You learn to start building that person-to-person relationship sooner alongside that parent-child relationship. (Notice I said ALONGSIDE...not IN PLACE OF.)
So parents...get over YOURSELVES.
And find a whole new depth in your relationship.