What if your adoption dream is to save an orphan or rescue a child from an abusive home? While this is an admirable goal it cannot be the sole purpose for adopting. First of all, undoing the damage of a traumatic history is not easily accomplished. Secondly, when parents envision themselves as the rescuers, their child is stuck in the role of victim. Both parent and child are squished into a box and become limited in their ability to function optimally.
Orphans certainly need parents and it is appropriate to adopt them. However, it is essential to acknowledge the trauma the child has experienced. Whether they have been abused, neglected or abandoned, their wounds must be healed. Just changing the environment will not heal those wounds nor will feeling sorry for them. It is essential that they do the hard work of healing and grow into capable adults. It is a process that takes time and careful attention and will depend on your loving, knowledgeable support.
Before you adopt, be fair to yourself and the child. Do your research and learn what you are getting into. Even children adopted as infants experience grief and loss and this will influence them as they grow. For children in orphanages this is even more devastating and traumatizing experience because they have not had the opportunity to bond or attach in a significant way. Traumatized children, because of their experience with abusive or neglectful parents/adults are emotionally guarded and vigilant. As adoptive parents step into the role formerly held by the abusive or neglectful parent/adult, it will be challenging to create a trust relationship. It is important to be prepared for these difficulties.
These children can grow to be capable, happy and attached to their families. However, it takes commitment, consistency, and perseverance. Most of all it demands love, compassion and acceptance of who they truly are not who we expect or wish them to be.