>Older Child Adoption Adjustment: Niches

>You know, this world of older child adoption is weird.  Ok, I guess the world of adoption itself can be strange and ok, ok, the world of parenting in general has it’s oddities.  Ok ok ok….maybe it’s just my kids and our house.  Ok ok ok ok! It’s me!  It’s always me.  Geez!
 I’m weird, and a dorky goofball who has to overthink things and even so Still can’t figure them out to my satisfaction.
Hence, I have to post and blather on so you all can take pity on me and throw me a bone and pitch in some ideas.
So, now that we know what we are dealing with today, are we ready to move forward with today’s post?  Yes?  Ok, then….

I’ve been thinking about how to talk about this…not because it’s all so profound or important, but as you might gather from my disclaimer in the paragraph above, it’s all about me and I’m stewing about this but it’s a delicate subject.  It’s also the same subject that I have a chronic, just-below-the-surface rant simmering.  I’ll spare you that, you can go here for my lead in on that one if you can’t stand the curiosity.
But in the past few days or weeks, I’ve decided that it comes down to niches.

Yup, that’s right: niches.

What I mean by that, is that I think we all want a niche.  We are surely all so doggone quick to slot everyone else into a niche, aren’t we? Well, I sure am…..really I think we all do it all the time, I know I do consciously or not.  Sue me.  It’s true.  It’s kind of how we make sense in a shorthand way of our world…that’s my theory anyhow, today at least, and I’m sticking to it.
Anyhow…..I think this slotting of things and folks into niches is not just the slick snobbery or critique that it seems on the surface.  I think it has a lot to do with the yearning to connect.  I think it is probably socially quite primal.  Us, them, other….and while my thoughts on “other” do factor in here, they are also sometimes a rant and also really too big for this post.  Another post, another day.  Lucky you.  But, today I want to talk about the inclusive side or concept of niches.
 
Meaning, today I want to talk about one particular niche: older child adoption.
And I’m telling ya: this niche…it’s kinda lonely.
This niche has little sub-niches.  Honestly, being a very visual gal, I see it almost as sort of a cave/niche (yeah, blog) system.  There is this big sheltered cave: adoptive families, and then there are the big warm welcoming cozy caves connected to that: the domestic, the international, the babies, the toddlers caves, the various countries….heck  you’ve already got a nice little cozy cave city to check out and circulate through and set down and stay a spell (as they say here in the south).

But then back in the beyond of these nice cozy lit up niches and caves, carved and polished smooth and well fortified with gleaming information and supports, are some other niches that are smaller, not as many are back there hanging out, and if they are, it’s so busy and so tough or so unique that there isnt’ a whole lotta room, in fact, I’d say they don’t even really see each other too much.
And one of those niches is a newly carved out niche, and it fits a family of ten it seems…..but it’s far from being polished and it’s got rough walls and a few nice smooth spots of support but really, it’s feels kind of empty; kind of smallish.
That’s our niche.
That’s my niche.
It’s the niche of “older international adoption of teen with developmental delays.”

Zoom!
See how fast that niche cleared out? See how all of those who were kind of peeking in quickly withdrew and moved on? Not because they were mean or threatened or uncaring…but just because they instantly saw, um, no common ground there.  Hard to sit down and get comfy and compare notes or stories or tools because they don’t have that toolkit.
When I add in, “and with a background from hard places“….well, that just scares most anyone else off too.  Not everyone….this gal is one of the bravest women I’ve seen in the blogosphere.  I love her.  Her niche is overlapping mine, close enough that I find comfort there too.  Go see.
As one of the gals from our agency put it, when I asked if they had any connections to folks in the same or similar boat…”um, noooo, that’s a pretty singular niche.”
Right.
So, that’s why I’m thinking of niches.
Because I want to compare notes with brighter minds who’ve gone before me, who have tools and ideas for this niche and our particular snags that surely would be common if there were others in this niche too.

I want to connect with others who have adopted a teen (preferably internationally so we can talk about language acquisition) who has developmental delays.

Now I can also go off on one of my numbered rants about the loneliness of being in this niche, and not being able to say it out loud.  Having to whisper “developmental delays” out of some sort of weird political correctness just chafes me.  It is what it is.  It’s not a judgement, it’s not a slur.  It’s objective and shouldn’t be a stigma and if you saw her smile you would never think otherwise.  She’s a teen, with all that entails.
She is a moody hormonal teenage girl who has a caring bossy sweet devout selfish intense stubborn sensitive nature.
Like, um, most teenage girls.
She is exhausting and good.
Like most teenage girls.
She is manipulative and wants to get her way and preferably go shopping as often as possible.
Like most teenage girls.
She has developmental delays and we didn’t raise her from birth and thus learn all about this for the past 13+ years, only for the past year, so that is why my map is limited, and my toolbox is sparse.  It’s why it can be lonely for us all, working with that.  It’s frustrating and glorious both on any given day.  Maybe often even at the same time.

But this niche is lonely…I don’t know anyone else in this niche.
I wish I did.
And yeah, before you get all lofty, we still venture out to all the other niches because our family walks through and fits many many different niches and labels and communities.  We live in them all. Messily.
I don’t even want to leave this niche; I want company.   I want to make this niche beautiful with the companionship and shiny ideas and successes of others who’ve rested here too.
I’m not sure they are out there.
If you are, and you happen upon this blog, please drop me a line and say hello.
Our niche is actually a pretty friendly place.

Actually, I lied up there.  Misspoke, perhaps.  But I would love to leave this niche.  I would love to only have wide open streets with sunshine and walk away from every harder stony niche forever.
But that’s not gonna happen in this life.  Because we create our own niches to define our comfort zones…it’s when the niches are thrust upon us or we into them, alone, unwilling, that we find ourselves, ok, myself, out of sorts and feeling lonely.
So, I think the trick is to stop whispering.
To move that niche if it’s darker or not comfy or lonely.
 Really, I suppose….If it’s my/our niche then we define it and we open it up to company and ideas and other contributions of beauty and support and I learn to see and create the beauty within it.
So I will continue to wish for companions in this niche, but I’m trying to move it to the sun….and maybe, here in the blogosphere someone else will see  a sunny niche where real life is said out loud, not in a hushed whisper, and decide to stop by and stay and visit for a spell.

7 thoughts on “>Older Child Adoption Adjustment: Niches

  1. >honestly…. i get it. i know, not as a mom, yet. i get the loneliness though. a whole latta people moved on from my niche of "questioning things" and i've felt pretty darn lonely for a while now. but. as a sibling? i remember and i've been there, and i'm still there, watching my parents, helping my parents. with their older adopted developmentally delayed teenagers. it's lonely and it's hard. not many people "get it" or "get" my family or our unique struggles. so just know i'm still here. and you're a hero of mine, for sure. i'll probably go cry now… loneliness has been a theme lately. love you. b

  2. >I read this post over the past weekend. Thought about it for a time. I am a Mama to five children, two not so "children" anymore, 22 and 19, and my youngest three range in ages between 10 and 6. Our youngest daughters were all adopted, one at the age of five. Not really an "older" child adoption, and, surely not the "healthy infant" adoption. What I'm trying to say, and, just know over the computer it will come out all wrong:( is none of my children have really fit into the niche of another, but, they do fit into the niche of family:)My suggestion, is to get out of your niche and look for others who are in need of sharing their niche, too. Consider the upstart of an adoption ministry at your Parish, or, a ministry for parents of preteen/teens. No, they may not understand what it is like to parent an older child who comes from hard places…..OR, maybe they just will. Teens are teens, they all come from hard places at one time or another. Maybe, they will be walking a road unfamiliar to you, but, will be so thankful just to have someone, anyone listen and share their journey. Maybe their will be parents in your church with a teen who might have learning differences, or possibly their teen has challenges much greater or less than your daughter, yet, the binding thread for all of you in any particular ministry will be Jesus. He understands what you and your family is going through, He will lead you to the families who can minister to you and you will be amazed at how your beautiful family will be asked to minister to those in a particular ministry. Not sure if any of this will be helpful, but, just felt the call to suggest the possibility of stepping out in the upstart of an adoption ministry at your Catholic Church and/or a ministry for parents with preteen/teenaged children.

  3. >Found your blog through our son's orthodontist's blogroll. They and we have adopted from Ethiopia too. Theirs are younger but one is special needs. Ours is an older child adoption (12 when he came home, now 15). I understand the feelings wholeheartedly. It feels like everything is a struggle and I sometimes wonder if it will ever not be that way. Our son struggles in school and possibly some attachment issues too. I don't have any words of wisdom, but wanted you to know I understand and wish for the same kind of support. God bless,Gena Beammom to Abrham(15), home Jan. 2008

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