Normally I have no problem answering this question. I always have a book (or two or ten) to recommend, but this time I realize I was stumped. On one of our adoption agency fb pages, someone posted a question as to what book people would recommend to prepare this family for adopting the first time around. Most of the books I usually recommend were mentioned (they are numbers 90-94 on my top 100 books list), and I was trying to think of any others I could add.
What I wanted to recommend was a book that prepared a family for the possibilities of what adoption would bring to their family. While I don't want to scare anyone away from choosing adoption, I also think that going in fully informed is a good thing. (I will also say, that sometimes no amount of books or classes or first-hand accounts can prepare you for what it is like to adopt a child who is damaged from trauma. Until you have lived it yourself, you just cannot know.) I was wanting a memoir that would share the real difficulties, but also the joys of engaging in such a venture. I have read plenty of adoption memoirs. While some have some hard bits, none that I have found has ever come close to mirroring our own experiences, and many fall into the 'they lived happily ever after' formula.
I am missing them? Are they out there? Or are the parents who are in the throws of therapeutic parenting just too worn to take time to write their experiences? It is also possible, that there are so few people who have come to the end of their adoptive parenting journey that there is not someone out there who is able to write about it. My secret fear is that those who have come to the end are so done in by the process that their journey would be too painful to share. And I know that those in the middle of such a journey are doing well if they make it to the end of their day and everyone is still alive and possibly even fed.
I don't want to cause fear because there are plenty of adoptions which are pretty uneventful things. Sure there are some bumps along the way, but that is true in parenting any child. Raising children opens you up for moments of unhappiness regardless of how the child joined the family. But sometimes I hear first-time adoptive parents talk as they wait to bring home their new child and I worry a bit. I worry that they are unaware of some very real potential problems. I worry that they don't know how this new child could change their family. I worry that they have no idea how much they must be willing to change who they are if they are to successfully parent a hurt child.
Because we don't like to talk about this. We want children to find homes. All children deserve to be raised in a loving family. The truth about how hurt some of these children are can be scary and might cause a child to not find a family because the family was scared away. There is still a lot of shame out there as well when you are parenting a hurt child... that in some way the adoptive parents are to blame. It's not the case but it makes it difficult to really share what life is like. "Good parents" wouldn't have a child with so many distasteful behavioral issues. This is a load of, well, you can fill in the blank with whatever level of swearing you are comfortable with. Adoptive parents are the ones living with the damage caused by other people and other circumstances. And since very few talk about what that behavior looks like, not a lot of people know or understand. We can do things which help or hinder the healing of that child, but the child would behave the same way in any home.
So a book that describes the roller coaster that therapeutic parenting is... the joys, the frustrations, the fatigue, the hope and hopelessness, and how very few people start out their journey having actually signed up for it is what I'm looking for. One that really shows the ups and downs. Because in the journey, it's as if you thought you were in line for the tame kiddie roller coaster, but somehow you got on the great big giant scary one instead. That's the book I want.