Today, I am going to take the opportunity to talk about my adoptive mom and dad. I don’t do this often because I worry about misconstruing a word or putting a bad taste on their tongue. This post is going to be about them, however, it’s not going to be about bashing them or naming the things that I hate about them. A few years back, when I was first adopted, my adoptive mom asked me what I expected or wanted from them. She wanted to know what I expected of her, as a mother. At the time I didn’t have an answer because I didn’t know what to expect of anyone. I didn’t have the greatest examples growing up so I think I expected her to hurt me, just like everyone else. I think I expected her to love me the same way my mom showed me love: abuse, neglect, and fear. Honestly, I still don’t really know what to expect because I know that once I do start expecting things of people I disappoint myself. This question keeps running though my head, what do I expect of my adoptive parents, because I have the same question for them: what do you expect of me? Right now I am going to take a minute and instead of answer what I expect from them as my parents, I am going to twist the question into: what do I want, or wish for, them to understand about me. In this I find expectation. It’s not a deep yearning type of expectation but rather a quiet calm yearning of truth. My brain doesn’t function like a typical 20 year-old. From the time I was little, I was subject to things that most people will never endure causing the wiring in my brain to not connect correctly. Most neurotypical, aka normal, 20-year-olds are capable of adulthood all on their own. They like to go out with friends, to party, they do well in school, and are easily regulated. Due to the trauma I endured, I struggle with that. I have a hard time successfully functioning at the same level as a “normal” 20-year-old. Regulating is something that sometimes I don’t know how to do alone and does take me a few hours. Too much stimulation can throw me overboard. I believe that when they adopted me they truly thought they were adopting a “normal” 17-year-old rather than a trauma-ridden little girl. The wires in my brain needed–and still need–rewiring in order to function neurotypically. I wish that they could understand that. I wish that they could understand the difference between logic and emotion. I know so much about the disorders I have. I could probably give you a run-down better than most therapists could. I’ve done my research, so yes, logically I know the things that I need to do to change the things in my life that aren’t working. When I was first Dx’d with RAD I did research, I know what caused it and all that mumbo-jumbo! The problem is: even though I know those things, the symptoms I have, when I am emotionally unstable the logical part of my brain turns to mush. It’s like when you study for hours so you can pass a test, you go in to take the test and all the sudden everything you just studied is suddenly erased from your memory. I know that I push people away and logically I know that is not okay, but emotionally I haven’t learned to allow them to come close. It’s not natural for me. I have to work at a conscious and subconscious level just to politely talk to someone I feel unsafe around. It’s hard. So even though I know all these things are wrong logically, emotionally I haven’t learned to do otherwise. My adoptive parents, as do many others, believe that because I know all of this stuff logically and can speak so wisely of my disorders that I can just fix it. But I can’t–not over night. It will take time to learn that it’s okay not to live in fear. I am working every day towards a balance of the logic and emotion of myself. Eventually, my logic and emotion will work together. I wish my adoptive parents could truly understand this. I wish that they could understand, and not take personally, that I do have a family other than them. I know that throughout the adoption I have let my adoptive mom know that I already have a mom, and I do, that she will never replace. I’ve said it out of anger and revenge…but it’s something that is real to me. My mom raised me for over half of my life, despite the lack of truly mothering. She was the first person, and last, that I called mom. She may have hurt me, but I still love her and she will still be mom. I know that it’s really hard on my adoptive mom to hear that I have a mom, for me to call my mom my “real mom”. I know that my adoptive mom wants more than anything to be what my mom couldn’t, but she can’t. She can love me and support me as a parent should, but she will never replace what I lost when I lost my mom. She will never fill the missing pieces that my mom took with her. For me that’s okay. I wish that they understood how important my real family is to me. It’s not a personal attack against them. I don’t just decide to yearn for my real family to spite my adoptive one. I can care for both at the same time, but to one it looks more like a defensive attack to not attach. I really wish they understood that that’s not the case. I wish that they could see how hard I really work. I wish they understood that it’s okay to go backwards, in fact, it’s almost crucial as a part of healing to do so. One of the most beneficial things to my healing thus far has been rocking. Bailey often rocks me, in a rocking chair, at night and helps me to calm my system. I know I’m not two or three but that was an important developmental stage that I missed. So even though I’m 20, regressing back to infancy or toddler-hood has proved itself miraculous in my healing. Too many parents, including mine, are too afraid to allow this. I wish they would understand that it could lead to tremendous healing. These are the things that I wish they understood and I think to some degree they do. I just wish they understood at a much deeper, emotional level. I know that my adoptive parents love me. I know that the choices they have made were done out of some from of love. They are not malicious, harmful parents. They are parents who have done the best they can. They are traditional parents, but they love me. They are great parents. We struggle, I’m not going to lie. I believe that there is a mutual misunderstanding that creates a barrier. Maybe now instead of parents asking us what we expect of them, it would be more effective to ask what we wish they understood.

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6 thoughts on “Understanding vs Expectation

  1. I think you are pretty amazing. You have a very real and knowledgeable understanding of yourself and your conditions/diagnosis/disorders (all horrible words!). Even though your emotional development and re-wiring are needing time and work, from what I have read, if anyone can get there – you can. Being held and rocked, feeling safe and protected and loved is such an important thing – make that happen whenever you feel the need. It’s so good for the soul, no matter what your age!
    I’m not sure if you’ve read it, but I loved the book The Brain That Changed Itself. Made me feel like anything is possible, especially for people/kids who have suffered trauma, abuse or neglect.
    Another book, I think your adoptive parents should read is The Primal Wound. It has really helped me as a foster carer to better understand the trauma of being removed from the bio mother/family, no matter what might have happened, no matter how young they are when they come into care.
    (not a librarian!)

  2. You seem like an amazing man. At 20 years old you appear to have more figured out than I did at your age and I am doing pretty well at 45 right now. My wife and I have fostered two children who we eventually adopted. They are having some problems adjusting and I am sure there are times when they think… “who do these new parents think they are?” I do pray they will be well adjusted when they grow up and the only way I can see to do that is love, love, love. With discipline, discipline, discipline. And above it all, God, God, God. You see, they cannot become the great Godly men we desire of them unless I am a great Godly man that they can talk to, look up to, and emulate. I will subscribe to your blog and pray that you also become a great Godly man and if you ever want to talk outside this blog, I am available for that as well.

    1. Thanks for reading and subscribing to my blog! : ) It means a lot! I think it’s great that you have taken on the world of adoption. If I could offer one piece of advice, it’s this: don’t be afraid to go backwards and allow them the space, with boundaries, to struggle. Don’t expect nuero-typicallism (yes, I think I just made a word up, hehe) I have no doubt your children will turn into wonderful young men. Good luck on your journey. Thanks again for subscribing to my blog and for the sweet comment!

  3. “I know that my adoptive mom wants more than anything to be what my mom couldn’t, but she can’t. She can love me and support me as a parent should, but she will never replace what I lost when I lost my mom. She will never fill the missing pieces that my mom took with her.”

    Thanks for sharing. Even though I am the product of an infant adoption and never knew my first mother until I became an adult, I can relate to what you’re saying here.

    1. Thanks! : ) I’d say I’m glad that we can relate, however, I’m not sure if that would be a good thing! It’s a sad relation because both mothers are mothers, just holding a different part of the heart! Thanks for reading!

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