In this post, I'd like to talk about two items on the "R.A.D." list because I feel that they are branches on the same tree.
#2 Lack of eye contact on parents' terms
#4 Not affectionate on parents' terms
The key words are "on parents' terms." You could fill-in-the-blank with almost anything; the point is, if it's on the parents' terms, adopted kids aren't likely to comply. This is because it is all related to one issue, CONTROL. I could generalize the entire adopted population in the following statement, but perhaps I should stick to what I know and tell you about what my experience has been, rather than lumping all adopted kids together. The fact is that our girls resent that we are in authority over them. I can hear some of you parents out there saying, "My kids aren't adopted and they resent my authority, too!" I get it. Authority is an issue with all kids. Manipulating the person in authority over them, in an attempt to gain control, is also an issue with all kids. I hear ya. The authority thing isn't unique to adoption. However, it is most definitely the root of all of our issues.
Our girls will often sabotage a perfectly happy experience because a) they aren't in control of the situation, b) they aren't the center of attention, c) it wasn't their idea, or d) all of the above! For them, it's all about what they choose, what they decide, it must be their way. Sounds similar to the behavior of a 2 or 3 year old, right? That's because it is. I believe that removing an almost teenager from a structure-less environment, where she has been "free" to make her own choices from a very early age, and placing her into a home with parents, rules, and expectations is VERY MUCH like the "terrible twos" stage of early childhood. Tell a two year old she can't have her way and what do you get? A complete and utter melt-down! That is also what you get when you tell a not-so-little girl living under my roof that she can't "have her way."
To say it has been a struggle would be an understatement. It has been exhausting trying to search out ways to maintain our parental control without living in an absolute war zone. Sometimes the war is explosive and there are "casualties" and sometimes (like our present situation) it is a "cold war" and her retaliation is silent, very literally silent; like "even if you try to engage me, I'm going to look right through you - SILENT," and the silence can last for days on end, accompanied by a miserable scowl of course! Because, THIS is her response to parental terms.
When you want her to engage at the dinner table, she will not. When you want her to join in a family activity, she will not. When you want her to look you in the eye when you speak to her, she will not. When you want her be ready to leave the house in 10 minutes, she will not be ready, because it will take her 12 minutes to be ready. She will not do things on your terms, because SHE MUST BE IN CONTROL! SHE will decide when she wants to engage you at the dinner table. SHE will decide when she wants to enjoy family time. SHE will decide when to look at you, when to speak to you, and when she's ready to leave the house.
There was a time when I was "lured in" and fell right into the traps she set for me. But, I have since learned that all of these things are an attempt to manipulate me into a power-struggle. As difficult as it is at times, I have to avoid the traps and simply look past her rude behavior. Most of the time, Blaine is the one to confront her about her behavior. The reason for this is because there is mounting tension between her and I and it's rare that we can have a calm exchange (relating to her behavior). He is, quite literally, our mediator and I LOVE him for that! Hear me when I say, I COULD NOT DO THIS WITHOUT HIM! So, when you pray, pray for all 4 of us, and then say an extra prayer for Blaine, he definitely needs it!
Thank you, yet again, for allowing me to pour my heart out. Writing about my experiences is very bittersweet for me. I don't really enjoy regurgitating all of the "not-so-pretty" details, but it is so helpful for me to get it out! Once again, I hope that my honesty has been helpful for some adoptive mom out there. And please just know that, even though I sound defeated as I write, I full-well understand that God is the author of this story; nothing has happened (nor will happen) by accident. I know He has a purpose for us, but the struggle is real, and it is daily. My dad said this in his sermon just last night, "You must walk through difficulties to experience God's faithfulness." God is SO faithful and He encourages me daily through His word. He gives me strength sufficient for each day and I that's how we get through, one day at a time!
Until next time, God bless...