*Names, dates and locations have been changed to ensure the privacy of all involved.
My name is Mary, I was adopted from China right before my 13th birthday and then readopted by my current family 4 years later. This is my story.
My first family came to China in 2012 and brought me to America to be their oldest daughter. I was very excited to have a family, but after living in an orphanage for most of my life the reality of learning to be a daughter was hard for me and the ability to help me heal was hard for this family. I started having trouble getting along with the family very early on. I could not understand the language. I was having a hard time communicating. I wanted to escape from this uncomfortable new environment, so I stayed in my room a lot. However, my new family was very big, 5 children and 2 adults, plus me, and they always wanted me to be with them. I rejected many ideas that were not normal to me. My first family and I had many arguments in the first five months, and those arguments never ended well. It left a lot of hurt on both sides, especially with the language barrier, cultural differences, confusion, and misunderstanding that took place in those arguments.
Five months went by and one day my parents told me that in one week I would be going to this new place. They explained to me that this place was for adoptive children who struggle to get along with their adoptive families. I just remember that I did not want to go, but I had no choice. When I realized that I was going no matter what I asked my parents when I would return…Their reply was that they did not know, and that it all depended on how fast I could learn. I was scared, but before I knew it, I was living in a different state with a bunch of other girls who experienced hardship in their adoptive homes. When I first got to there, I was scared and confused. To sort out things, I would ask every girl her story, and how long have they had been living there. They all told me that they had been there for years and it hit me: I was going to be here for a very long time and this was a place that parents sent their children with whom they didn’t want to deal.
I had a hard time adjusting to life at this place. I cried a lot, and I felt that I like I was left alone again. The staff saw my pain and broke the six-month rule to let me talk to my parents on the phone. As time went on I saw girls that went home, but some went to new homes with new families. There were times, I did not hear from my parents for a very long time, and I would tell myself to prepare for rejection. I lived at this place for probably about a year and a half before I went home. At the end of one year I was on my way home; I was so happy that I was going to see my people and I was relieved to know that I was not going somewhere new. But I was home for about five months before I moved to live with another family.
During the five-months I was at home I felt very anxious all the time. I was so scared that they might send me away again. For instance, when I was arguing with them, I would say things like, ‘you can send me to a new home’, just to test the water. Before I knew it, I was on my way to a new place. This time was with no warning. My first family came to pick me up from school and dropped me off at this new home. I lived with this new family for an entire summer and never heard from my first family. We did not contact each other. Then one day at the end of summer my parents called me and told me that I would never return home. They suggested that the family I had spent the summer with might be a good fit for me. I didn’t know how to respond, I cried so hard on that day. My heart hurt so much, I had never felt so broken in my entire life. When my parents suggested to me the new family adopt me I thought: I do not want to be adopted again. Having a family, in my view, hurt too much. Luckily, this family let me live with them for free and were willing to wait for me. This family waited for almost a year before I agreed to become their legal daughter!
Adopting an older child is hard. When an older child comes to live with a family, the child comes with years of their own mindset and habits. Remind yourself that you get the whole package. Therefore, parents, I do advise, please do not have a very high expectation of your child. Please be mindful that your child has not had the experience of a family lifestyle, and make sure that you have a good relationship with your older adopted child before you try to voice into their life. Also, once you two have built up a mutual bond and trust, please teach them your roles as their parents. This one is so essential. I believe if parents teach their duties to their children, many of their problems will be solved. Also, learn how your child feels love the most.
I do not recommend adoption dissolution because I struggled a lot from it. I have a hard time trusting and believing in people. My brain goes to an automatic mode that people will hurt me when I encounter new relationships, or leave me if we have arguments. But that is just my experience. However, if you are adopting a child from another family, please make them feel secure when they are acting out. Let them know that you are there for them. Also, please help them solve problems when they are going downhill. The main thing is, let them know that you are always there for them no matter what! Dissolution ultimately became a beautiful thing for my healing but it was a lot of work. If you are adopting a child from a broken adoption please be prepared for what is coming.
Parents: if you are having a hard time with your adopted child be patient and do not act out in emotion in response to your child’s pain. Think about why they are acting the way they are. Is the child testing you? Did something trigger them? Do not pressure them to talk if they do not want to, leave them alone and wait until they are ready.
Adoptees: if you are having a hard time with your family, please communicate with your them. Communication is the key. Let your family know that you are upset, and please try to work through the issue with your parents. If you do not feel secure or safe to talk with your parents about the issue, then please talk to someone you trust. I also strongly advise you to speak to Jesus and read the Bible. Maybe, even write it down and have your parents read how you’re feeling, but I beg you not to hold it in.
This is my story. I was adopted, sent away, brought home, sent away, and finally readopted by a family working with me to heal and learn to trust. Adoption is hard and it affects many people who are involved. Please do not rush into adoption out of an emotional response, seek education and be prepared to help your new child heal.