I was so delighted to hear that adoptions have opened up again for Kazakhstan and Krgystan. The sad thing is that Kazakhstan is not allowing single moms to adopt right now. Really ticks me off.
In that country, as in so many others, single motherhood is viewed with great suspicion. In case you don't know anything about adoption, in Michael's adoption I had to prove that I was financially stable, get tested for TB and AIDS and every other STD [several times, because they had to be recent tests and there were delays], produce documents proving I was mentally sound, and swear I wasn't gay. I can't recall exactly the requirements when I adopted Alesia because it was 8 years ago, but they were pretty similar to Kazakhstan. Now, requirements for adoptive parents are actually more stringent.
I read somewhere that there are more than 700,000 orphans in Russia. Many of those children are not adoptable, for various reasons. I met several kids when I was adopting Michael that I inquired about advocating for, and I was told they had siblings and would have to be adopted with the older siblings, according to the laws of Kazakhstan. So they never get adopted.
Most people who are interested in adoption want a baby. They won't even consider a child older than a toddler. They certainly don't want an older child with older siblings. It's heartbreaking.
I understand the reluctance to adopt older kids, though. I truly do understand.
My hope is that people who read this blog won't take away a negative view of older child adoption because of what has happened with my daughter. Yes, she dropped out of school and is living with an older man in an unhealthy relationship. I am not happy about it. I cry and pray, and cry some more, all the time. I try not to dwell on the mistakes I made. I try to remember that many kids raised from birth in loving homes rebel and go wild once they turn 18 and can get away from Mom and Dad. It's not uncommon. It is SO hard, though, as a parent.
I don't know how to react to people who say to me "Well, you didn't get her until she was 13. All the damage was done." That implies that my adopting her made no difference in her life, which I know isn't true. It also unnerves me to think those people view me as some sort of naive nitwit.
If you had asked me two years ago, I would've told you I had a beautiful, sweet daughter. We had normal teenage issues, but she was a good girl.
I still think she's a good girl, with a good heart. The difference is that now she has let herself be coerced into doing a lot of unhealthy things, by people I never would've approved of. She also lies to me all the time. She texted me yesterday and said she was "fine."
To me, "fine" means in school and/or working, being healthy, not using illegal substances, not hanging out with unsavory people. To her, it probably means she has a place to sleep and food, and she doesn't have to work. How she is living, I don't know, and I don't really want to know. She won't tell me the truth anyway, so why bother asking?
I couldn't wrap her up and refuse to let her go out in the world once she turned 18, though. I had to let her go. I had no choice.
Most teens at 15 or 16 go through a phase where they are trying out their own identities. Being patient during this time is hard on a parent. It's particularly hard if you don't have the strong bond and shared history you establish by raising a child from birth. I was always terrified that my daughter would turn to drugs and prostitution like so many of the girls from her orphanage.
After she left here and lived apart in the fall of 2010, she came home saying she wanted me to trust her, because she felt like I didn't. She had done several things over the years that made it difficult for me to trust her. When she was living here between November 2010 and June 2011, I made it a point to act like I trusted her. I didn't go in her room unless invited. I told her she could go out at night with friends I didn't know. I paid her for jobs done around the house. I let her use my car. I tried to give her some space, hoping it would engender good choices and good feelings. It didn't work.
I realized later that she had played me. Basically, for her, my house was a place to get some food and shower, and then she was going out to be with friends. She went to school for a while, and tried, but she had a whole other life, a secret life, that I didn't discover until after she had stopped living with me. I knew from her erratic behavior she was probably smoking pot. I knew she was smoking cigarettes. I just had no idea that those things were the tip of the iceberg.
However, I want to reiterate: there are plenty of kids who are not adopted, who didn't suffer early childhood trauma, who behave the same way.
I actually had people in my general age group contact me privately and say "Dee, I went through a period of teenaged rebellion, too. I dropped out of school. I did a lot of stupid things. Eventually, I turned things around and I am fine now. Just wait. Be patient."
Ah, patience. Not my strong suit.
As any parent will tell you, though, patience is something that is thrust upon you, whether you want to learn it or not. If you are so hard-hearted as to not develop it, you shouldn't even be a parent.
With kids from relatively normal, stable homes, you usually see teens or young folks who learn their lessons. Eventually they realize their parents aren't total idiots.
I rebelled a little bit, but as a 14-16 year old, mostly. I stayed in school, then held down a job successfully, and was never arrested or anything like that. When I was 21 I was preoccupied with establishing a good credit rating, and having a decent career and falling in love.
My daughter has spent years dumping memories of abuse, and thinking of next week as the distant future. She lives in the moment, literally. She thinks she doesn't need to conform to the world. She can do exactly as she pleases. She hasn't learned otherwise, yet.
However, if I were to say her adoption was a mistake I would be lying. God told me quite clearly that she was my daughter. He helped me overcome many obstacles to bring her home. He never promised me that raising her would be easy, though.
I don't actually know anyone who has raised a teenager, biological or adopted, and said it was easy. But is it worth it? Yep.
My daughter is in God's hands, and that's how I sleep at night. Keep praying for her, though. Prayer is the best investment in the world.