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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Has Adoption Tested Your Marriage?

Many adoptive parents would answer yes, yes, and yes.  It’s not that adoption is “bad” or “hard”, although cases of the latter may be argued.  It’s 1,001 other things that may test you to your core, and that of your significant other.

As with all difficult situations, here’s hoping that the tests and trials can make you grow together, rather than split you apart.  But to have a helpless infant, toddler, tween or teen placed in your care, one who has an entirely different language, or outlook, or value system than you, can be a trial-by-fire experience.  Add to the mix a spouse who is pooh-poohing your concerns, telling you that you’re overreacting, or not seeing the warning signs that you’re seeing, and a nuclear explosion is pending in the relationship realm.

Sorry to all of our single parents out there (but you may need this info one day)….

Here are a few stressors that happily-marrieds need to be on high alert for after adopting:

1.  If there was shakiness in your marriage before, a very demanding child can add to that stress.  Children by nature are demanding and need you NOW.  They do not understand when a spouse feels shut-out by these constant demands, and can often lead you to be irritated with your mate, as well.

2.  If there was financial strain before, consider the exhorbitant cost of adoption, then cost of pediatricians, opthamologists, dentists, orthodontists, therapists, tutors (they will be behind in school), etc.

3.  Alone-time will be difficult to come by.  You don’t want to leave the child in the beginning.  The child is afraid of others.  Not all babysitters want to tend a non-English-speaking child.  Sigh. So much for dinner out.  So much for cuddling in.  Make couple-time, as well as family-time, a priority.

4.  The child may try to triangulate your relationship and pit one parent against the other.  They will cling to one and forsake the other.  Problem is, the child is not your mate.  Too much of this and the opposite parent withdraws and grieves.

5.  You may not be on the same page any more.  Benedetto and I were always on the same page (I’ve written about this, search “Same Page”)… until we had children.-! Then I suddenly became the wicked witch—too hard, too demanding, while he had a child as his built-in playmate….  (Things have balanced out now, but it took time, talk, and a few trials.)

6.  You may not “see” the same behaviors.  A stay-at-home mom or dad may want to physically or mentally check-out when the other returns from work.  If you bring them up-to-date on why Dmitri is not getting dessert tonight, they may overrule you.  The mate causes you to question yourself… again and again… and it becomes unhealthy.

7.  Your friends could change, whether gal-pals (wife), guy-friends (husband), or couples you might hang with.  They don’t “get” why you adopted, and now you can’t go out for a leisurely cup of coffee without being bombarded by dozens of questions, when you’d really rather just chill.  You sense the ritual shunning, and it makes you wonder about your choices in children and mate.  Irritability sets in.

8.  So you make a date to do something fun together.  All you do is talk about the child and his/her challenges.  The realization dawns:  you’re not that fun together anymore.  What happened to the rest of your life?

9.  One of you questions whether you ever should have adopted or not.  You can’t stand this, and it tears you up.

10.  You rarely talk about what brought you together as a couple in the first place, and you’re hard-pressed to think of a recent “good time” that you’ve shared.  According to top marriage therapists, the inability to conjure up happy times from the past, is a sure sign of the beginning of the end of a relationship.  Focus on the negative, and that’s what you’ll have.

The good news is, a new child can bring much joy to a relationship.  It’s dependent to a certain degree on the child, but also to your mindset.  Approach even the most challenging of children with the idea that “we’re in this together” as a couple.  When one feels down, the other can be there to encourage.

When a new child joins your family, may your embrace of him always include your mate, as well.  This is too big of a deal to let it slide.



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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Greg says:

    #3 check. #4 check. #5 check. #6 check. #8 check. #9 check. Is 6/10 good or bad?? The one year anniversary of bringing home a 14 year old Ukrainian girl is coming in one month. I feel like my wife and I are just starting to get our relationship back together. The strain this relatively well behaved kid has caused on our marriage has been UNREAL. Our faith is getting us through this. God blessed us with this girl and He meant it for good despite how difficult it can be. I wouldn’t change it for a minute but I would certainly tell any prospective adopting parents (fathers in particular) that it will probably be the most difficult thing you have ever done. And it is so worth it.

    • avatar admin says:

      You speak the truth, Greg! And we are grading on the curve today, so you guys are doing quite well-!

      Our kids also are pretty good for the most part, but the stress of it all can be very acute at times. All I can say is that men and women see things very, very differently, lol. One of our daughters had been giving me a hard time, refusing to get with the program of the moment, etc., and we were leaving the house. It was extremely cold, she didn’t want to wear a hat, so her father gave her one of my hat/scarf combos, one that I rarely wear. When I saw her wearing MY hat quite smugly and then wiping her nose on MY scarf, I became a little agitated, shall we say, and told him in another language off to the side that if he EVER gave away my clothes without consulting me again, blah, blah, blah. He told me to grow up, that I was the adult. And there you have it. May this be our biggest problem in life-!

      You’re right: our faith will see us through. Some perspective and a sense of humor help, too. 🙂 If I and my jewels disappear at the same time….

  2. avatar AP says:

    I think we can relate a little to almost every stressor you listed – some more than others. However, after having raised three older bio-children my spouse knew that he HAD to be extra supportive this time around or we would be sunk. It probably helped that I threatened the following if he didn’t do his share: 1. To have a nervous breakdown 2. Murder him 3. Leave him. And NOT take the kids.

    I’m only half joking! But seriously, kids need to see and feel that their parents are united. And our youngest two have needed that even more, so much more. It’s most likely the first time that they have seen what a normal (I use the word loosely!) and healthy relationship is like.

    And they are still learning every day ….

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