Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's why we chose them

When we chose to adopt, all we had left at home was 14 year old Angela. We didn't want an infant or toddler. Dean and I are on the older end of the age range to be considered candidates to adopt. But there was more to it than that. We specifically chose kids who nobody else wanted. Kids who were too old to be "cute".  Kids who probably have more baggage than the younger ones. Kids who's chances of ever being adopted in their own country were far worse than younger kids with the same diagnosis.

We chose Axel. He was 10 1/2 years old at the time. He had lived in four different settings by the time we arrived in the picture. The previous 1 1/2 years had been in a foster home, but they were very much done with him and he would soon be headed back to a either the Kulina or Subotica institutions, where he had already spent 7 years of his life. We chose him for all the reasons everyone else had passed him over. He had Down syndrome, he was older, he had behavior that was difficult to manage. All those things made him perfect for our family.

We chose Asher. He was 7 years old at the time. He lived in a world of isolation, disconnected from reality. He didn't smile. He didn't laugh. He didn't cry. Asher merely existed. He wasn't cute. His tongue was gigantic from seven hears of sucking on it. We chose Asher for all the reasons everyone else passed him over. All those things made him perfect for our family.

We chose Abel. He was 10 years old at the time. He was hyperactive. He was destructive. His behavior was atrocious and the staff couldn't really manage him. He could not talk. He was still in diapers. We knew what his future looked like. It was dark and dismal. While we were there twenty 18 year old kids were transferred to one of the worst facilities in all of Serbia. It is where Abel was destined to go.

None of them have been easy kids. It has been work to add them to our family. Between the therapies, the behaviors, the teaching how to "be" in the world, it is work. But do you know what? At the risk of sounding like I'm bragging, it is work that apparently Dean and I do well.

Many people have asked me if I think any of our kids have RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). I think its an interesting question. Some people don't think it's a "real" diagnosis. Let me tell you, I lived with RAD long before we adopted kids. Time in a NICU, extended time in hospitals, traumatic births can all cause RAD. There are so many potential causes, and what doesn't affect one child can have catastrophic affects on another. That said, I think every child who comes through either the foster care system or from institutional care has *some level* of attachment disorder. It has taken Axel two years to feel like he's really attaching to us. Asher was much faster, and he doesn't have the passive aggressive behaviors so common among kids with RAD, but he is only ever-so-slightly more attached to us than he is to a random stranger at the mall. Abel is probably the one with the most attachment problems, though it could seem that way since he's only been home a couple of months. Thankfully we've been able to extinguish the most dramatic of his negative survival-skill behaviors (like flipping over furniture, attacking other kids, etc.) What we are left with is zero eye contact, minimal touch accepted, passive aggressive behaviors (which when combined with OCD which is oh so fun!)

And do you know what? If given the opportunity we would absolutely do it all again. Yes, we absolutely would. 


Tara said...

I love you so much! And your kids, too. :)

Ian & Ruby said...

I'm so glad these boys 'found' you - now they have a future, a family and a fantastic Mum. Way to go!

Imogen said...

Thank goodness you and Dean are in this world; the world definitely could do with billions more just like you xxx

Cindy said...

You two are amazing. You've blessed those kids and given them new life. A life worth living. Bless you!

Anonymous said...

I was just about to ask if you would write a post about RAD and experience with it! Thank you so much for sharing!