On his personal blog about adoption, fatherhood, and lessons learned, WACAP CEO Greg Eubanks shares about the relationship he and his youngest son have been working to recreate.
With his son’s permission, he offers a few thoughts, with hindsight and from a trauma-informed perspective, on how important it is to build connections with our children and to be kind rather than right.
I was lucky enough to travel back home to Texas during this past holiday season. Like so many others, I enjoyed time with family and friends. I also had the chance, though, to connect with an adoptive family I’d never met. In 2016, however, I met the boy who would become their son. At that time, he lived in a Chinese orphanage and he was waiting. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that he and his new family lived in my old hometown. I was “all in.”
So, of course, I invited myself for coffee. When we connected, we talked about the importance of support for adoptive families.
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
As I write about this encounter, I want to rewind a bit to that period of time when I was an adoptive parent, struggling, and grasping desperately for bootstraps that weren’t there.
My wife and I were struggling, and we couldn’t figure out how to make anything better. We had also determined that we were alone in our situation.
So many in our circle didn’t seem to be able to grasp our reality. Maybe they had elevated us, unfairly and undeservedly, to an heroic status so often assigned to adoptive parents.
Maybe we were acting out of a protective instinct for our children, wanting others to see the best in them. Probably, we are the types who find it terribly difficult to ask for help. Regardless, we didn’t tell anyone for a long time how bad things were.
Now I find, I’ve changed my mind
Eventually, we reached a point where we had to tell someone. We chose transparency and vulnerability. We chose poorly, because the people we entrusted with our “secret” didn’t know how to react. So they receded into the shadows, and we felt more alone than ever.
Here’s the thing, though: Our need for support didn’t go away. We needed someone to listen, to understand, and to acknowledge that this, too, shall pass. We needed someone to point us to the future where hope resides. We needed someone to climb down into the abyss with us and say, I’ve been here before.
Help me, if you can
Which brings me to coffee, and these new adoptive parents who were about to become friends. As we spoke, I confessed how much I once felt like a fraud. We told stories of our experiences, failures, and shame. We discovered that these feelings are common. And, we discovered they are undeserved.
Though we spoke briefly of an impressive, evidence-based model that is providing hope and support to many adoptive families, most of our conversation was confessional. We imparted no wisdom. Far from it! We simply shared our experiences and found out how unremarkable they ultimately were in the world of adoption. What we were trying to say was, “we’ve been down here before and know what it’s like. But there is a path that leads out of this place. Maybe we can find it together.”
Not just anybody
It is because of experiences like this that I write my blog. There is a reason why I fight through my instinctive self-talk that chides, “No one cares what you have to say!”
Finding the right type of support can be such a difficult, seemingly impossible, task. I am convinced that there are others out there who feel alone, ashamed, terrified that they are forever lost in a wilderness.
You are not alone. You are not a failure. There are others like you. Like us. So, reach out. And, be reachable.
Reprinted from WACAP Now Blog: https://wacap.wordpress.com/2018/04/05/when-families-say-help-i-need-somebody/
The World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP) is a non-profit, domestic and international adoption agency established in 1976. We've placed nearly 12,000 children into loving homes across the United States and provided humanitarian aid to over 250,000 children worldwide. WACAP's mission to find families for children goes beyond placing healthy infants with parents. At WACAP, we strive to find families for each and every child we hear about - regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, number of siblings, or any other individual needs they may have. WACAP's vision is: a family for every child. WACAP offers grants for many adoptions. We are currently seeking families for children from Bulgaria, China, Haiti, India, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and U.S. foster care: firstname.lastname@example.org.