Why wait a year to tell the entire story – the whole truth – about our two weeks traveling in the Philippines? For one, I really don’t remember the last time I’ve been more exhausted than during those two weeks. I left with every good intention of blogging at least a little bit every day we were away, and within days those good intentions vanished into thin air. I was too tired to think straight, let alone type a coherent thought at the end of the day. And to be brutally, brutally honest, by the time we were ready to leave Legazpi, I was too afraid to blog. Days with Francis were not the sunshiny honeymoon period that I had expected and read other moms blogging about. We had our good moments, yes, but we had other times that just terrified me.
So now, one year later, why am I digging out all the dirt? Why rehash it all now? First of all, to be absolutely clear, I’m not trying to degrade Francis and say that he’s a bad kid. He’s not. Yes, he’s had his moments (doesn’t every kid?) but believe me when I tell you that MY son is the most FANTASTIC kid to ever walk the planet. (OK, you probably don’t. You think that about your kid. But will you give my kid a close second, then? Thanks.) I’m reliving all of these memories because, after speaking with a few pre-adoptive parents about our experiences, they told me that nobody ever told them this kind of thing could happen.
Everyone’s experiences are different. Every child is different. Every adoption is different. I’m not going to tell you that if you adopt an older child your adoption will look exactly like ours did. I’m also not going to tell you that if you adopt an older child that it won’t look like ours. I will tell you that if you adopt an older child – or any child, for that matter, you should do your research and be prepared.
Gregg and I were very lucky to have an arsenal of support in our first year as “trauma parents.” What got us through?
- An attachment therapist who didn’t just help Francis, she helped us cope.
- Despite the fact that Francis spoke fluent English when he came home, we had good people around who spoke Tagalog with him until he decided he was ready to stop speaking Tagalog completely. (He still understands it and will answer in English.)
- Family who would jump in and help with Francis or errands or housework when we needed a break.
- Members of the adoption community who were ready to listen and offer suggestions at a moment’s notice.
- The proper medical treatment.
- Love – it’s not enough, but it does help.
We have only been a family for a year, and by no means are we parenting experts at this point. I somehow doubt we ever will be. On the other hand, the transformation in Francis and in us over the course of the past year has been dramatic. He is no longer an angry, frightened little boy. He is our delightful, funny, charming, and outgoing son, who continues to inspire and amaze us each day. I have no doubt that as the years go by he will continue to grow and change, amazing us more and more each day. We traveled a hard road together the past year, but I wouldn’t change a single minute of it – it was because of this that I got to be Francis’ mom.