I will be examining the relationship between an adopted child age 7 and the adoptive parents. These three people are in different crisis at different times in their lives. A topic we will discuss further in this paper. To do this I will explain this by using real life experience, and the thought process that goes through each of the people involved. Erikson’s psychosocial stages will be research based of Knowles text Human Development and Human Possibility: Erikson in the Light of Heidegger (1986).
Erikson’s stages are all said through virtues. To help explain what each virtue is, Erikson talks about each stage of the crisis, relationships, and malignancies. In my case, we will talk about Initiative vs. Guilt. This would be known as the preschool stage, but in my situation I will be talking more about my interaction with other children and parents rather than the age portion. The relationship I will be discussing is between myself “adopted child” and my parents.
In all honesty I would have to say trust vs mistrust should be thrown into the mix here, for myself personally. You may not know I was born in Vladivostok, Russia as Alexandra Mikhailovna Kolupaeva. I was born to Alexandra Ivanova Kolupaeva and was the youngest of 8 children all of whom were also put up for adoption, the area I was born in was very impoverished. Needless to say we did not eat well in the orphanage, nor did we receive any medical or dental care. For a Fact I had never seen a Dr.
, or a Dentist until I moved to Seattle. My sibling and I were all separated once we arrived at the orphanage. I was at the orphanage for 4 years from what I had read in my paperwork. From what I could remember, I was young when I was put in the orphanage that I was deprived of a loving/caring relationship with any adult. Being hugged as a child was something I would try to avoid at all costs. Unfortunately I was physically abused so every time an adult went to hug me, I was prepared to be hit. The deeper we get into this paper the further our relationship between the child and parents blossoms.
Erikson’s theory of Initiative vs. Guilt, he states that it is vital for children to interact with children their own age; so they can learn right from wrong. It can be detrimental to a child who has not interacted with children their own age.
It is no small secret that the area of Russia I grew up in was poverty-stricken. I don’t know if you can even call it growing up. I was told that I was with my mom for 18 months until the day she couldn’t take care of me. My earliest childhood memories are of the orphanage. I had one older sister that I knew of but since we were different ages we were not in the same orphanage. Not only did I have lots of anger but I was filled with pain, abandonment and betrayal. Not being around any of my family members, probably caused me not to understand the family dynamic when I was adopted.
My parents knew what they were getting into when they adopted me. They had adopted a child (my brother) a few years before from Romania, so they knew that it would be hard for me to adjust. They didn’t know that because I was older that I would be emotionally closed off from any contact. I had completely shut myself off from any affection or anything that involved family. It made it hard for my parents to help me understand that they were here to love me and give me a better life. They came to terms that I would never fully grasp the understanding of family nor want to make that bond which made them sad/worried about me down the road. My parents knew that they couldn’t give up on me, they were determined to open my eyes to show me the value that I had in myself but never knew.
My relationship with my father was better than with my mom. From what he had told me, before I even spoke English he took me skiing and loved it which made my bond that much stronger with him. My mom had feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, dependency, an absence of acceptance and the ability to deal with me (Tibbits-Kleber and Howell). Despite my brother came at 4 ½ years old from Romania the bonding however were not as hard to overcome. I believe that due the age difference at arrival I was more prone to distrust. I didn’t want another mother to fail me.
Ever since I could remember I was taken from my moms hands at 18 months old. I do not remember anything about my mother. I didn’t have a connection with her for all I knew, she was dead to me, she had done the one thing that made any child feel alone in the world. I didn’t fully realize what she had done to me until I was adopted and my adoptive parents told me that I was taken away. My mother believed that what she was doing, was the best thing for me. She wanted me to have the chance at a better life than what she had. My parents had told me that because my mom was sick and very poor, that she couldn’t provide a stable home for any of her kids. At that moment in my life I was filled with so much anger, hatred towards her that till this day I can’t forgive her. I had lost all trust in any adults that tried to care for me.
When I came to Seattle in 2003 I didn’t trust my new mom, I had the idea that she would abandon me as well. I always thought that the reason my mother had surrendered me was because I was the problem. Little did I know it was because she simply just didn’t have the funding to look after me and that she was sick. I didn’t understand why someone would give up their child for alcohol and yes I knew she was sick, but still. Why put a kid who didn’t do anything wrong through all that pain that will endure further down their life. Looking back there was no way that I could come to the United States and automatically fit into an American family and culture.
Coming to America was a whole new experience for me. From living in an orphanage in a small village, I took my very first plane ride to the capital city, Moscow. My new dad gave me a set of headphones and let me listen to music on the plane. I got to stay in a hotel, wear American clothes and see a big city. It was a whole new world, it was a culture shock to the nth degree. Being part of a family, adjusting culturally, learning a new language, integrating into a new school, learning academics was new for me.
Since I was seven years old I would be experiencing the virtues of Hope and Purpose, for the sake of being adopted I had to relearn everything that a baby would learn as they were growing up. My mother always had hope that one day she and I would have the bond that my father and I had and still have till this day. As Knowles puts it, hope is the perception of the world as an invitation to live (Knowles,1986). The means to open up, whether that is by being vulnerable, fearful etc. I would do everything in my power to stay away from this virtue of hope. I didn’t want to let this person that I barely know have a relationship with me. The desire to understand and make sense of a “damaged” child and provide care was intense for my parents (Hull). I had the commitment and resilience on not having to make the effort to know who my parents where or what the world had to offer. Resilience is the understanding of two things; elasticity and recovery (Whilst). As I have been growing over the years not just as a person, but also my beliefs in faith and relationships. My relationship over the past has dramatically taken a turn with my mother as with my father. I have become closer to my mom and fully understand and take into heart everything that she has done for me. I now realize that all she wanted was the best for me and to show me that I was worth saving. For that reason, it is because of her that I have come to fully forgive my biological mother. It is not easy to be a mom and especially to someone who was adopted.
Before my brother and I came into my parents’ life, they had tried to have kids of their own. Being unable to have their own, they decided to go through the process of adoption. Frankie had been with my parents for approximately 2 ½ years when my parents felt that Frankie had bonded with them and vise versa, and it was time to expand the family. My mother has always told me that she didn’t want to raise an only child because she married one. My mom felt that it was important for a child to learn how to share and play with others. This began the adoption process of me. They decided to contact the same agency and look for either a brother or a sister for Frankie. Knowles’ (1986) virtue of commitment is exemplified in my parents’ adoption of Frankie and their second adoption, which was me. Frankie was a waiting child in Romania, abandoned at birth and living in a orphanage. He desperately needed a family who would love and nurture him and my parents answered that call. Once again my parents demonstrated the virtue of commitment when they answered the call to adopt me. Like Frankie, I was living in an orphanage (this time Russia not Romania). I too was waiting for a family that would love and nurture me.
When my parents made the commitment to adopt Frankie, they told only family and close friends. While this was an exciting change to their lives, they were extremely apprehensive about the change this would bring to their lives. Therefore they decided to answer the call but keep the news fairly private. When my parents answered the call to my adoption, Frankie was already in first grade and my parents let the school and the school families know of their plan. As the time got closer for me to come to America the school families threw my parents a large baby shower where all of the first grade parents were in attendance. The point being is that my parents with Frankies adoption were much more selective and restrictive with sharing the news, but with me, they were more comfortable having gone through the process already that they shared the news more openly.
My parents would be experiencing the virtue of purpose when they adopted me. Knowles (1986) describes this as the task for the sake of being active and on the move. Mom and Dad had felt that they had to constantly be on the go and take every action they needed to help me develop as a young lady. I could also put the virtue of commitment in this situation, because my parents were committed to teaching me the value of being part of the family. My parents had made sure that they knew that my brother and I were adopted and that we knew what adoption meant (Reinoso, 2012). Any time my brother or I had any questions, my parents answered as honestly and as openly as they could. They shared all information that they had access to and never shied away from the issue of adoption and what it meant to our family. My parents became fulfilled as individuals through adoption. Adoption was how they formed their family while we may not be blood related we have formed a bond that makes us a family. My brother and I grew up as siblings; typically, we loved and hated each other at the same time. We watched our for each other were outsiders were concerned, but suffered through the sibling rivalry of any other family.
‘Adoption creates good parenting, because you say okay, I don’t know who you are, so I will let you be whoever you are and I will just sit back and wait and discover what that is and celebrate it with you’ (Daniluk & Hurtig-Mitchell, 2003, p 396). It helped the parents find their identity within the kid. Their purpose in life as a care take or in some cases as rescuers for adopted children.
Being adopted has benefited both me and my parents. I have gained loving parents and a brother, they love me and look out for me, worship me, adore me. They have created a family unit that was otherwise was not possibly other than through adoption. It hasn’t always been easy, I know that at times I have tested their patience and vise versa. There were days I thought I would never fit in and i’m sure they thought the same way. I have learned that the mistakes i have made along the way, have a profound effect on who I am today. My parents’ love and guidance helped acclimate me to life in America.
It hasn’t always been easy being a part of a family unit, and there have been times when I rebelled but at the end of the day I respect that my parents are my parents and anything they did or said was only for my best interest. There were many stories were international adoption has gone horribly wrong for various reasons but I know that in mine and my brothers cases my parents love us and have nurtured us and want us to be the best that we can be. We have been integrated into the American culture to take advantages of the opportunities that come our way.