They won't thank you later, believe me

Being adopted isn't a condition.

Yes, I concede various aspects of adoption can be the cause of a range of emotional and psychological issues. But, it isn't always.

People always talk about triggers, well here's one of mine. Every time I read about some adoptive parent consulting lists and/or books by various "experts" on being adopted and then diagnosing their kids, I am triggered. Do you want your kids to have these problems? Sometimes it really seems like it. Is there something to people parenting only adopted children and as a result are not aware that many of these so called adoptive child behaviours are regular old everyday things kids do when they're in a pissy mood after Christmas, they are being picked on in school for something completely unrelated to being adopted, they're reacting to YOU having the February gloom or just being stressed out about whatever?

Why can't kids who are adopted just be treated normally?

Hmm...wait, perhaps normal no longer exists. Adoptive parents aren't the only ones assigning behaviour disorders to their kids, seems like all kinds of parents are doing this these days.

What is it? Is it because you don't want to look at yourself and think long and hard about what you're doing, or not doing?

Is it because your precious little son or daughter isn't living up to what your expectations of them are in school, or in how they socialize, how responsible they are, what they're interested in doing in activities, how many times a day they feel like giving you a hug?

Attachment disorders, reactive attachment disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorders...what the hell?

We're all aware of the power of suggestion, aren't we? We're all aware that medicated kids are easier to parent at home and monitor at school, aren't we? We're all aware that normal kids do not walk around like zombies doing exactly what they're told, answering politely every time they're asked a question, are born knowing it's wrong to lie, to steal, to bite, to bully. Always keep their bedrooms neat as a pin, jump to help do dishes after supper, and never ever forget to use their inside voice.

Why aren't we aware that all of this comes with the territory?

Parenting isn't easy people. It takes patience, consistency, determination, understanding, compassion, and TIME. It needs to be done without ego and a thick skin.


  1. Good post. I like your points that sometimes people might just be assuming it's adoption related and when it's reality it's just normal stuff. Sometimes, I feel that has a Mom to children that had their parents split and one is a teen that I mistake his issues as being as a result of the divorce but in reality when I talk to other people.. they all know what I am talking about with the teens.

  2. I kind of feel the same way about most parenting books, actually.

    "It needs to be done without ego and a thick skin."

    So true.

  3. How can normal exist when you can buy sanity in a bottle? There's no market share to be exploited when people are reasonable and develop normally. That's just this cynic's view.

  4. It also needs commitment, serious commitment to a child's development and healthy growth.Not a job for the self-obsessed or too busy.

  5. Applause!!! My mother seems to have always had the nagging sensation that all my rebellious teenage antics must have had something to do with adoption. Nope.

  6. "Applause" Thank you thank you

    I don't know if my mom thought it had to do with adoption or not but she definitely thought there was something wrong with me.

    One of the most liberating moments of my life was finding a counselor or therapist or whatever on my own (my mom would take me to people she knew of in a family services agency and family doctors) only to be told, um, Campbell, has it ever occurred to you that it might be your mom that has some issues? Doh!

    What a day! :D

  7. You are right... it isn't always. I think this is one of the most difficult parts of parenting. I often ask myself "is this regular kid stuff? is it sensory? is it attachment? is it only child stuff?" Sometimes I probably overreact. Sometimes I don't. That's what parenting is - and some will say we do too much; some will say we do too little. It's a balancing act, and all we can do is our best.

  8. Actually, that is one of the primary reasons that psychologist and psychiatrists cringe at things like WebMd... because children, especially those entering, in, or just out of puberty, are the most difficult to diagnose - even when the diagnosis is "they are normal, get over it".... That and while it helps children that are truly ADHD, BPD or a number of other things, most of the time parents worry so much that they create the child's issues. What a world! Help those that need it - the kid that absolutely can not focus enough to work on anything, the one that has outbursts so bizarre that there is no answer for the problem, the ones that simply can't connect - then let it go! OY!

  9. Thanks for this post. I appreciate your perspective as as adult who was adopted. Sometimes with our kids, I just think that there is so much we will never know/understand about their lives and we just have to accept that. Labeling won't help.

  10. "Is there something to people parenting only adopted children and as a result are not aware that many of these so called adoptive child behaviors are regular old everyday things kids do"
    I have read a couple of these AP/FP posts and they are describing MY 12 year-old, borne of my womb, who's most traumatizing experience has been scoring a 6.75 on bars. Sometimes kids are just kids, even the ones who are adopted or in foster care.

  11. With internationally adopted children, especially post-institutionalized children, the word ‘normal’ needs to be stretched. Life in an orphanage is less than optimal for any child. The ratio of caregiver to child, the sub-standard diet, neglect, physical or sexual abuse...can produce a different normal. Children will develop survival skills (that are normal under the circumstances) and subsequently those skills produce behaviors. Is it normal for them to rock or bang their head? Yes. Is it normal for them to self soothe? Yes. Is it normal for them to hoard food or objects? Yes. Is it normal for them to sexually act out? Yes. Is it normal for the child to scathingly resent the adoptive parent? Yes indeed. And on and on it goes.

    Adoptive parents need to be prepared to accept the ‘normal’ child that they bring into their family...whatever that normal might look like. They need to be prepared to keep everyone safe as their child learns to adapt to a new kind of ‘normal’ in their family. Sometimes it is not a week long process but a many years process.

    It can be confusing and frustrating and I understand the desire to turn to labels. Unfortunately, in the school system, documented labels garner your child extra support. Tempting, but branding a child with labels should be a last resort at best.

    Understanding and researching the possible trauma components is important. Meeting a child where they are at and not expecting them to step towards you, without built trust, is important. As you said TIME is of the essence. As is very purposeful parenting.

  12. I absolutely agree with Diane. You definitely need to stretch out the definition of "normal" with post-institutionalized children. Just because you bring them into your McMansion and put them in good schools does not mean they will be like all the other kids at the bus stop. My daughter hoards food, is VERY manipulative, is behind academically, has lots of speech problems, and has weird self-soothing rituals at night. Is she "normal"? I think so. She doesn't have anything clinically "wrong" with her. She was half-starved for a year and a half, she had no one to give her one-on-one attention, she was not given the opportunity to learn to walk, etc. She is still catching up. She will always have scars from having spent that time in a Russian "baby home".

    My son DOES have something "wrong" with him. When there is something "not right" you know it in your gut. Deep down, you know. It is a sickening, keep-you-up-at-night feeling.

    My other kids are "normal" kids. They have their issues, they have their challenges. They fall into that broad spectrum of normal. And it is broad...

    I think too many parents compare their kids to other kids. It is hard not to do and it is natural. However, they all develop differently. They all learn at different rates, they all have different skills and abilities. There will ALWAYS be "that kid" who seems to be good at everything. You can't compare your kid to that kid. I know so many parents who EXPECT their kids to get straight A's, play sports and excel at them every season, play an instrument, take every honors class, etc. So much is expected out of kids today, is it any wonder the number of kids with "disorders" has skyrocketed?

  13. "Do you want your kids to have these problems? Sometimes it really seems like it."

    Sometimes I wonder if the wealth of "information" (much of questionable quality from questionable experts) across the internet leads some (not all, but some) APs to diagnose their kids before they even arrive. Being prepared is one thing, watching a child and then jumping to one conclusion or another after a single incident is another.

  14. I appreciate this post. I really do.

    For me the challenge is that, in an effort to be enlightened, I read a lot of adult adoptee blogs that seem to WANT me to believe that "being adopted" is a lifelong state of malcontent. It's good to be reminded that I might be projecting someone else's experience onto my kid, who may or may not feel this way.

  15. I can see how it would be a challenge to keep it real Kristen. It's a bit of a catch-22 isn't it? Thanks for commenting.

  16. if it weren't for such labels, i would not have educated myself about 'normal' behaviours of kids from abnormal circumstances. there are definite patterns. but do they apply to everybody who has had the same circumstances... no.

    knowing possiblities doesn't always mean shirking responsibility to deal with it, or support the child deal with it, at least for me.

    how to deal with stuff matters more.

    labels are ok to get eligibility to get support that is needed.

    medicating the label is a different issue. i don't agree with over medicating or chemical restraint.

    stuff i've read on therapeutic parenting would be beneficial for ALL parents, well actually their children....

    ALL adults need a good self analysis before they launch themselves on little people.

    I'm really liking your blog. You're going to be very helpful (on parenting) and for that I'm very grateful.


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