A Boy Who Waits: Meet C.
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I could write a lot about the joys of raising boys based on my own experience first hosting, then adopting, two brothers from Russia in 1998.
From the first weeks the then 6 and 8 year old brothers visited us up until today, now that they are kind, smart, competent (and handsome) young men 22 and 25 years old, there was never a time we wished, “If only we’d chosen girls.” Yes, even during the adolescent bumps that weren’t easy by any means.
I admit the first days of the hosting program were a challenge to us—an older, childless couple used to a quiet routine at home. These guys got loud when they were excited (and everything excited them!), moved fast, made the dog a bit nervous, touched everything, especially light switches and electronics. But they also were friendly, happy, very funny, open and cuddly, and they touched our hearts throughout any ups and downs we experienced as we got to know each other during hosting and later during the post-adoption transition.
They talked lovingly and glowingly about their birth mother at first, quite disconcerting until we realized that children who had established emotional bonds in their past had a great advantage in learning to love their soon to be mom and dad, not to mention grandparents, aunts and uncles, and little cousins. They were warm and loving, showing special affection and connection to me, their mom—yes, even during the tough teenage years when we exchanged lots of exasperated, often angry “I love you…but….” As with all families, we’ve faced challenges, some serious, as we’ve all grown up together, but we never doubted we love our sons, and they love us.
I’ve drawn a lot on our personal family experiences in the 12 years I’ve been the director of the Bridge of Hope hosting program run by Cradle of Hope Adoption Center. We’ve brought over 700 older children from Russia, Ukraine, China and Colombia to the US for visits to meet potential adoptive families, and almost 90% of them have found forever families here.
Probably 75% of families who inquire about hosting and/or adopting an older child are only interested in girls. One of the most challenging aspects of our work has been trying to counter the myth that girls are easier or better or more loving or less likely to present challenges than boys. After working with hundreds of families and children, I am convinced that it’s just not true.
We’ve come a long way in international adoption, far from the days we thought love, good nutrition, and sunshine were the tricks to raising “normal,” happy kids no different from our birth children. The fact is all our older adopted children—girls and boys—are the products of unhappy, unhealthy, neglectful, sometimes abusive or traumatic pasts.
How well children come through a difficult childhood is not primarily based on gender, but numerous factors that are not gender-specific. Just some of the issues--How severe was the trauma or neglect they experienced? Was an orphanage a haven or a further nightmare? What innate personal characteristics does a child have to foster resilience? Did the child have physical or mental handicaps that made him/her more vulnerable? Were there any people in the child’s life who provided love, bolstered survival skills, and offered hope?
All our children—and we as their parents and families—must understand that coping with adoption-related issues is not something over and done with in childhood, adolescence, or even young adulthood. As adopted children mature and their intellectual processing abilities grow, so do memory and new levels of comprehension and questioning, well into adult years. This is a lifelong process, for all boys and girls, men and women of adoption.
When we’ve talked with girl-focused families about considering boys, we’ve faced these myths and expectations, which are belied by our agency’s 24 years’ experience working with thousands of children:
Bottom line? When we embark on an adoption journey, we are signing on for a unique experience that requires stamina, flexibility, hope, unconditional love and strong faith, and tremendous understanding and drive to help our children to grow and thrive, despite whatever they faced in their lives before they met us. Boys, just like girls, need love and are just as capable of giving it, too, if they’re given a chance.
I’ve seen many families who after years of waiting for the perfect girl, decided to host a boy and found themselves falling in love in just a few short weeks. It does happen, all the time.
Mom of Two Young Men
We are a Hague-accredited international adoption agency in operation for 28 years, are very active in China, and can work with US families in all states. We have lots of waiting children and welcome new families who are open to adopting an older child or those with special needs. We work with married couples, single women and as of 3/1/16 with highly quali...Learn more, see kids, or contact agency 8630 Fenton St. Suite 310 Maryland
Part One of Two
A realistic look at International Adoption
Practical tips for new adoptive parents
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