I Was Thinking...
I've been telling my husband for years that our adopted kids are going to be with us past 18. There were many times he wasn't so sure that was a great idea. Well, today our oldest adopted child chronologically turns 18 years old. What pressure comes with this number--it's crazy! She, like most 18 year olds, feels the pressure that society instills to figure out her future and move on it. Not to mention the pressure she's created herself with the many years of "promising" that when she turns 18 she's "out of here" because we're so hard on her and she would be better off on her own.
Here's the crazy part...emotionally she is about 12! We've made lots of progress, but she's still 12 most days! Fourteen on a really good day and a good day means she's really plugged into me.
So, does 18 mean we're done? Does 18 mean we've finished the job? We gave her all she needed? Does 18 mean she doesn't need the Safety Net as much?
Our journey has been ROCKY to say the least. I've wanted to be done many times before now. I suppose we could be done, send her on her way...we struggle with sending a 12 year old out in the world alone. It might be a relief for us, but she didn't ask us to adopt her, we pulled her out of everything she knew and everything she was "wired" for. The question is "Is she ready?" So, clearly a new chapter begins!
We could choose to be stuck in the question of "why us" or when can we be done", but it seems more important to ask the question, HOW can WE make this work?
So, I think the answer is that we need to BE THE BRIDGE between 12 and 18. We absolutely need to continue to be Intentional Parents with the new category of "adult" in our radar. We need to honor her needs as an 18 year old and help her achieve them while being emotionally 12. We need to keep actively parenting her. She deserves more time to practice trusting that we are her Safety Net NO MATTER WHAT!
This next chapter in parenting our daughter is not going to be any easier than the last. Actually, emotionally I think it could be more difficult in some ways...we need to claim our stuff about "18" and put it aside. Again, we need to educate ourselves in a new way, we need to find and use new tools that work for our daughter in this situation and seek out others who are doing the same. The biggest challenge is that we need to do all of this and we are TIRED.
So, we need HOPE to fuel us. WE need to ask the question HOW not why and we need to remember that we made a commitment and WE ARE STRONG enough to do this! WE ARE THE BRIDGE to her success and happiness! In all honesty, success and happiness was what we wanted for her when we decided to adopt...so we are just still doing what we set out to do in the first place - NO MATTER WHAT!
Intentional Parents have to make a commitment to parent their children for as long as it takes and NO MATTER WHAT!