After we met S & J for the first time, we spent about 3 weeks doing “transition visits” with them. We would spend a day with them on the weekend and another weeknight with them. Then we had our first weekend overnight visit with them (this visit involved a trip to Urgent Care when S had an unfortunate incident on the monkey bars – everything turned out to be fine, though).
On May 25, they officially moved in with us – this was our “Gotcha Day” or in DHS terms, this was our “placement date.” Since it was “Placement Day” we got to sign some more paperwork (just in case we hadn’t already done enough paperwork!) for the girls’ social worker and our social worker.
S & J were excited to be in their forever home, although we also got to experience a lot of “growing pains” and a LOT of attachment-related issues during that time (we are still working on the attachment issues). In order to respect S&J’s privacy, I am not going to go into great detail in this blog about the “fun” things that we have experienced with S&J, but we were well-prepared to expect those things to happen (meaning: we weren’t shocked when they happened). Being prepared doesn’t make things any less exhausting or frustrating, and we have been reminded many times that when things get rough, we need to think back to our original reasons for adopting. This means going back to a very idealistic place in your mind when you are, in reality, in the trenches of some hard hard “stuff.” For us, we remind ourselves that every child deserves a loving family, and that we are capable of providing that family, even if it’s not always “sunshine and lollipops.” We also know, based on some of the things that have happened since placement, that we were 100% meant to be matched with S&J – we know we are the right parents for them.
Adopting children who have experienced trauma requires you to do a lot of soul-searching so you can handle the not-as-easy times. You need to be prepared (just like any parent – including biological parents) for some very tough moments. I find myself reading a lot of inspirational quotes, spending a lot of time on the phone with my mom, and I also feel like my faith has been taken to a new level (in a positive way). Once S&J are in bed at night, Eric and I sometimes spend 5 or 10 minutes laughing together about the silly things that they have said or done that day. Sometimes we will spend that time talking about different approaches and techniques to try out to handle their challenging behaviors. Sometimes we will just turn on the TV and veg out.
Along the way, so many people (therapists, social workers, our friends and family) have told us that Eric and I need to put our relationship first and that we cannot forget to take care of ourselves. Eric and I try to give each other at least one “night off” each week so we can see friends or go to the gym. We have many family members and friends who are willing to spend time with S&J so Eric and I can have a date night. I honestly cannot imagine going through this journey without their support and love. I am so very grateful and I know that Eric and I are so lucky to have all of these supportive people in our lives.