I’m having to give back a dog I adopted today. We’ve had her 5 months and it is totally and completely heartbreaking to give up this sweet and beautiful dog. Like truely the most stunning dog I’ve ever owned, with different colored eyes. And we LOVE this dog, but she’s too neurotic and has experienced more trauma that I am able to deal with. I’ve been trying to make it work, but I just don’t have the time that she needs, and our crazy house of 5 kids is just too much for her, she’s constanfly running and jumping.
The last few days awaiting a foster home to open up for her, have been devastating to me. I wonder if she knows what’s coming. I wonder if her new family will be as patient as we were with her anxieties. I bet she’ll mourn the loss of us, while we are all sad…but a bit relieved, I bet she’ll just be sad.
It’s silly when you think about it, she’s a dog… she’ll move on, but I have 3 kids in my home who’ve all experienced this same thing more than once. And, as if crying about the dog wasn’t overwhelming me enough, it morphs into sobbing for my kids. Which is worthy of my tears.
You know, adoption is weird. You read me on here saying it’s hard, but you don’t really get it, you can’t. Not unless you’ve walked it. The movie Instant family did the process loads of justice, but it was only 2 hours till the ending when all was happy and good. In real life that takes 1-2 years just to get to the courtroom, but the real journey isn’t over yet. And I know NO ONE with that level of assistance and support that those parents had in the movie. And many (most people I know, myself included) aren’t even going through the state, so there’s zero training, support, or assistance- emotional, financial, or otherwise.
In the movie they have this scene where the kid is in the middle with string connected to all their relatioships, and the case worker goes around cutting the strings, removing their closest adult connection, best friends, safe place, home…it’s heartbreaking. I don’t think I could handle that level of loss all at once as a fully developed and secure adult. And we naively believe for some reason that we can bring these wounded people into our homes, and love will be enough…but it isn’t…
It takes HARD work and TIME. A friend of mine in a blended family told me recently that her counselor told them to not expect it to feel exactly the same for 7 years, and there’s tons of research to back that. When she said this I almost wept at the heaviness of it all. I have an 11 year old who we adopted as a toddler, and it probly took every bit of 3 or 4 years for her to feel exactly the same. Yet, here we are 8 years later, and I regularly forget that she hasn’t always been ours, she forgets, we all forget, because she is so much our child that we can’t fathom life where she isn’t. But it took years, and she was a toddler!
And you know something else super weird that no one tells you, it takes a year or two for a new child to smell the same as you. We all have our own individual smell. It’s DNA, and as mom’s, we known our kids smell…it’s some kind of animalistic instinct we possess to identify our young, and tons of research has been done to prove it. You may think it’s as simple as all using the same soap and detergent to have the same smell, but it’s not. It’s literally everything from DNA, the air in your home flowing through your pours, to the food you eat. And…as adoptive parents, hard work and LOADS of patience means we can litterally rewrite and rewire DNA during those fornative years, and again during the hormoneal years, to reconnect pathways that were missed during the normal developmental process due to trauma! How crazy cool is that?!?! So, does the smell change because of DNA and environment, or do we just get used to it? I don’t know…but either way, lots of parents agree, it takes a chunck of time for a new person to smell the same, weird huh?
Bottom line, amidst all the heartbreaking, HARD, and just plain weird, it is also amazingly rewarding. I got to look a little girl in the eyes the other day as she cried about why no one had wanted her and why she had been given up, and I got to look at her and say, “I don’t know. All I can promise is that I want you, I chose you, and I will always be here for you”. It is the most good and powerful thing I have ever said to someone else. I am neither a Holy Roller, nor Saint (though around the world people think this when they find out our story), nor crazy person (despite what some may think). But if I’m this sad over a dog being misplaced and rehomed, how could I not be more heartbroken over the life of a child? My children.