We adopted my oldest daughter from Russia when she was fifteen. She’s twenty-three now and I marvel at how far she has come. Emily has intellectual disabilities but she has learned to communicate adequately in English. In fact, she has her own blog where she talks about Russia and relocating to the United States. Many of her entries are quite revealing. Yesterday my daughter sent me her weekly blog article that she needs me to post for her (the format is rather complicated). As I read through her article my heart went out to my wife, who is usually the person who takes one for the team when adopted kids aren’t fair in our family. Emily’s blog article was filled with statements like: “My dad teaches me…” “My dad tells me…” “My dad helps me…” There were general references to her mother and her family and the importance she places on both. Even so, if you knew my wife and me while reading the article, you would immediately realize that there are times when adopted kids aren’t fair with one parent or the other.
It seems to me that if our home was going to experience a situation when adopted kids aren’t fair, their sights should be aimed at me; not their mother.
Amy and I have a fairly traditional marriage relationship. She always wanted to be a stay at home mom. She’s the nurturer. She’s the one who will put a band aid on a scrape while blowing to make the pain go away. That’s not my department. I’m a “wait ‘till your dad gets home” kind of dad. It seems to me that if our home was going to experience a situation when adopted kids aren’t fair, their sights should be aimed at me; not their mother. In the case of our home, as with so many others that experience times when adopted kids aren’t fair, there is no logic if we only look to the present. Even so, my daughters come from a practical (if often brutal) world. Their emotions, psychology and behaviors have developed from very practical real-life experiences. The primal parts of their brains received the priority in development because that was what was required for them to survive. Everyone knows that the primal brain’s major concern is not equality and that is the reason there are times when my adopted kids aren’t fair. The Russian social worker who removed my daughters from their first home claimed it was the worst home environment she had ever seen. All of my daughters can show you scars inflicted by a demonic first mother. The abuse she dealt to her children was active abuse and the children understood that her brutality was a constant threat to their well-being and even their lives. My daughters learned from the earliest moments of their lives that their mother was dangerous to their health and lives. Some professionals have claimed that understandings of being unsafe with a mother can even begin in the womb.
There is an evolution that parents go through when adopted kids aren’t fair with them.
Emily has blogged about her first father before and her vision of him is much different than the community’s was. The neighbors knew Emily’s father as a silly drunk that didn’t provide for his children. I guess it’s understandable for my daughters to put their first father on a pedestal. When one of your parents beats your head on the ground, burns you with cigarettes and throws your little sister on a wood burning stove, and the other is a silly drunk, who takes you for walks and teaches you how to milk cows, you are bound to see some differences. It’s no wonder my adopted kids aren’t fair when they offer more trust to a father than a mother. There is an evolution that parents go through when adopted kids aren’t fair with them and my wife was no exception. Her heart broke when she was rejected as a mother and nurturer. She tried harder and harder to gain trust but two of our daughters always trusted anyone more than her. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. I can’t tell you how many tears she shed over not being accepted for what she truly was. It took a while for her to get beyond those feelings.
When our adopted kids aren’t fair with their mother, she doesn’t worry about it.
Amy finally reached a point where she realized that she wanted our daughters to learn, even more than she wanted to teach them. That isn’t to say that she doesn’t teach them often and that she doesn’t always try. She does. But if Amy runs into a brick wall when our adopted kids aren’t fair, and they simply won’t accept her teaching, she cuts her losses. When our adopted children refuse to accept her teaching, she enlists other people that the children trust more. She shares history and personalities with those who help teach and even helps them to understand methods that have historically worked best with each child (though often not for her). Amy even gets excited with my daughters when they present her with something they have learned from someone else, when she has tried to teach them the same thing a hundred times. Isn’t that what parenting should be about? Shouldn’t we want what’s best for our children, even if they don’t receive it the way we wish they would? When our adopted kids aren’t fair with their mother, she doesn’t worry about it. She accepts where they are based on a very real history that they had with a mother they had before her; a mother who went through many of the same things that our adopted children did. Then she tries to do whatever will help her daughters the most, regardless of her wishes that they could trust her more.
Often, readers receive as much help from other readers in the comments section as they do from the blog article, itself. Please be generous with your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. There are lots of people who need what you have to share. This is your chance to help them.
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