Am I Equipped?

Adoptive dad Andrew shares his fears and feelings of self-doubt and how he and his wife approach those challenges together

“I think the toughest part for me is my own sense of self-confidence. Am I equipped, am I able? And I think I have a lot of self-doubt in terms of caring for the needs of this child and feeling like ‘am I am I doing this OK?’ ‘Am I doing this all right?’ My wife is a huge supporter of me and encourager of me. And I think we need to be there for one another. And there are some days that we do it really well for each other and other days that we really struggle.

“Our youngest, who we just recently adopted, initially when he was discharged, it was uncertain whether or not he was going to be with us or if he was going to reunified with his biological mother, biological father. And so we were really up in the air and uncertain for the good part of the first year and a half of his life. And with that uncertainty, it was so difficult to move forward in a way that was helping him create and grow that bond that he so badly needed as a developing infant.

“Eventually, down the road, parental rights were terminated. And even though we had already communicated that we were, in fact, willing to be the adoptive resource for us, now, the questions on the table, are we actually ready to, willing to, able to meet the needs of this child along with the needs of our other children? And so my wife and I really wrestled for a long time with that. And I feel like we walked either side of the line collectively. Part of weighing out our decision and adopting him was trying to determine what does, what does our home look like without him? For us to imagine—not only my wife and I saying goodbye to him—but also to imagine what it would be like for our kids to transition him out of our home and say goodbye to him? It didn’t feel right to do that. The place in our home that he had created was so big that it didn’t feel right without him being there.

“I used to feel like I was a person that was very content and calm and could respond with a pretty level head and all of a sudden when I’m trying to manage the, the disciplinary needs of my kids, for example, kind of going ‘like, who is this right now? Who, who is this person inside me that’s making all this noise?’ I’ve surprised myself. Why am I yelling, why am I responding this way? Why is it that I can’t keep myself cool, but I’m expecting my kids to do that.

“As adoptive parents or foster parents, we’ll never have an understanding of what they’ve had to endure and go through. Um, if there’s any advice for me to give, it’s to allow yourself to step back from the situation and know that it’s not necessarily about you. The tough stuff that we go through, the behavioral stuff that we’re seeing, is a result of that feeling of ‘am I loved? Is this . . . am I safe, secure, cared for?’ And when we get down to the nitty-gritty and feel like we’re figuring out what we need to do to handle the situation, can we bring it down to a place of you’re OK and I’m OK and we’re gonna get through this together.”

Transcript

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