Monday, October 4, 2010

The Reason

A question I get from time to time and one that has been coming up more frequently is some variation of this:

Did Buddy's adoption cause his sensory & emotional issues?

Some people ask it in an accusatory way, a way of hinting that by choosing to adopt we have inflicted harm on our children.

Some people reverse it, assuming that his minor issues are the reason his birth mom chose not to parent him.

Then there's the ones who say it sympathetically, implying that because he is adopted, Chris & I aren't to blame for any problems he faces....because any issues he has must be the result of what they assume to be a birth mom's poor choices/ a foster mom who spoiled him/spending 9 months in country not as wealthy as ours.

Here's the thing - I really, truly appreciate that people in our lives are trying to understand the types of issues we are facing with Buddy. I'm glad they are asking questions and finding out what they can do to help. Its wonderful to know that so many people care about us and want to support our family. So I don't want this post to make it seem that I resent in any way people's questions or attempts to reach out to us b/c that is so not the case. In fact, I've started this post many times, only to hit delete, because I don't want to embarrass anyone or hurt well-meaning people's feelings.

But I think its important to say, in no uncertain terms:

Buddy was not placed for adoption because he was "damaged" and being adopted did not cause his developmental, sensory and emotional issues.

That's not to say that there aren't attachment issues related to adoption or that children do not experience a grieving period or that adoption has absolutely no impact on a child's life. What I'm saying is that Buddy's needs do not exist simply because he was adopted. And I don't want Buddy or anyone else believing that to be true.

The truth is, we don't know "the reason" for the struggles Buddy faces. As far as I know, there's not one definitive answer as to what makes a person brave or jealous or shy...or in Buddy's case, anxious and suffering from sensory integration issues. What we do know is that Buddy had feeding and sleep issues the entire time he was in Guatemala, before he was adopted. We also know that Buddy's birth mom made an adoption plan long before he was born, not because of any of his specific characteristics. Yes, I think its reasonable to assume that being adopted at 9 months of age intensified some of his security and anxiety issues. However, not all adopted children have these problems. Plus, we've met many children just like Buddy who aren't adopted, who were born in the US, whose mothers took prenatal vitamins and received excellent medical care and made sure their babies had tummy time each day and did all the other "right" things.

So no, I don't think adoption is "the reason" Buddy has some special needs. I don't know what the reason is. I don't even know if there is one specific reason or just a whole bunch of little reasons. I've sort of realized the "Why did this happen to my son?" is much less important then the "How do I help Buddy be the best Buddy he can be?". And while I understand the need people have to try to identify the "whys", I just want to make it clear that the list does not begin and end with adoption.


  1. I totally agree and get this. I know that my son is a stubborn kid....but I do believe the experience of his adoption has magnified some of the characteristics he was born with. It doesn't begin or end with anything. It just is, and you're right, the important thing is how to raise a happy, healthy child.

  2. well said, kristen. who can really say why *anyone* has the struggles/issues they do? you're right, all you can do is help buddy be the best he can be. and i have no doubt that you're doing that!

  3. I find it so interesting/annoying how people feel like they have to "solve" each other, or find the root of their problems. What happened to just taking people for who they are, where they are? Do we really need reasons for everything?
    You're doing a wonderful job, mama.

  4. Perfectly put! Don't we all have struggles?! You recognize buddy's needs and are helping him work through them. What more could anyone ask for?

  5. My 8 year old has anxiety issues and sees a therapist every 2 weeks, and his pregnancy was totally normal with all the vitamin taking and check ups etc, normal birth and everything else. People are people, and they are all unique, a combination of genes and circumstances. The absolute CORE of being a Mother is to continually try to find the answer to the question you posed, how do we help our children be the best selves they can be?

  6. Very well said, Kristen. So much of the "why and when" is irrelevant, it's the "how do we support our child now" that's important. You rock, mama!

  7. I completely relate to this post. As a parent of a child who is both adopted and faces challenges, I don't really care "why" on most days. Most of the time what I care about is how I can be the parent that helps my child the most. I'm glad you didn't delete this version. :)