ChristmasSelfieOne year into the first adoption, sibling girls from India, we felt like things were going pretty well. “Why not another?” we asked. “Maybe this one will be a boy.”

Turns out it would definitely be a boy –we wanted our kids to have a common cultural heritage, so were returning to India, and the government of that country could not fathom that a family might freely choose to raise three daughters. It also turns out – though we could not yet have known it– that his adoption would have to be the last.

More than a decade has passed, and I have often wondered how things might have been if only I had known. What if we hadn’t so blithely believed that having already adopted two older children (6 and 3), we knew what we were doing? What if our eldest daughter’s problems had been less about other problems and more about attachment? Would that have given us pause? What if we’d known how to read between the lines of the placement report and subsequent updates? Better yet, what if we hadn’t had to read between the lines at all? What if the orphanage and placing agency had simply been honest that this kid’s physical special needs were actually the least of his problems?

And don’t get me started on all the “what ifs” that showed up later. What if I’d listened to my gut and kept our son out of school another year? What if I’d known how to explain to the school, the social worker, the judge that this child’s behaviors had nothing to do with his present circumstances, but were rather the product of his body remembering a past most people would shudder to imagine?

I know I’m not the only (adoptive) parent who has asked these questions. I know I’m not alone in spending sleepless nights looking for answers that never come. That is why I’m here. About this time last year, I hit rock bottom with my son, again, and was forced to make what felt like impossible decisions. ATN was there to help. I believe in giving back, and writing, something I sort of know how to do, seems as good a way as any.

So, here I am. My name is Laura, I’m a college professor (French and Spanish) in Kentucky, and I am a now-single (circa 2012) mom to three who are now 20, 17, and 14. I suppose I could count myself lucky that of the three, only the youngest has attachment issues, aka full-blown RAD, but in truth, that last bit mostly makes me terribly sad and occasionally more than a little mad. So if you’re a parent reading this, know that I get it and am on your side. If you’re a professional, maybe you’ll see something here your clients won’t, or can’t, put into words. And if you’re a family member or friend, maybe we can help you understand.

I do ask readers to be patient, especially at first. This is a new role for me, particularly the managing part – I already have a blog, Les Pensées du chat noir, where occasionally I write about my life as a mom, so the writing part is probably somewhat under control. For the rest, I’m still finding my way and getting to know the other ATN Voices, most of whom are far more seasoned at this than I can ever hope to be. Therefore the plan is to start small, maybe a post a week, then we can see how it goes. Meanwhile, please browse the archives, visit the ATN website, and stay tuned. Oh, and if you have a story to share, we want to hear it. Just leave a note in the comments below.

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