One thing I was not prepared for as I entered the adoption world was the supervision nightmare that awaited me. When the newness wore off and the dust settled, the supervision issues were probably the toughest for me to handle.
I've spent the last couple of days pondering my supervision issues, trying to determine why they made the top of the list. I think I have an answer.
In the beginning people tell you about a "honeymoon" stage. It's the period of time when a child first comes. They're feeling out the situation. They're more pleasant and compliant. They are listening to you and saying exactly what you want to hear. I've had this stage last only a few days and I've had it last a few months, it's completely dependent on the kid.
How does that tie into supervision? That stage gives you a false reading of what this kid needs. It makes them seem almost trustworthy. The problem is, as soon as the honeymoon ends, real life shows up and it's not that pretty. This pleasant, compliant kid becomes incredibly sneaky. Lies are rolling off her tongue. Things come up missing. She's never where she is supposed to be.
Let's stop here for a moment. Is this who God created her to be? No, of course not. But this is what trauma and loss have built. Is it her fault? No. Will she one day be able to shake those habits? Yes. Just as hurt and neglect leads to distrust in a child, love and security can eventually lead to trust.
But like I've said here, here and here, time is a key component to your success. It took a lot of years to build that wall around them, you won't be able to break it down in a week.
Let's look back at Hannah's arrival. She didn't give me much of a honeymoon, but there was one. It took me a little while to catch onto her because I was so new and naive to the process. Once I realized what she was doing, I had to keep my eyes on her at all times. The kid was sneaky and so convincing with the lies that just poured out of her. And if you've ever been in that situation, you know how hard it is to keep going. It's at this point you start to not even like her.
Did I really just say that? She's nine. How can you not like a nine-year-old? Especially one who's been through so much. I told myself from the very beginning, our story was going to be an honest one. No one needs to hear how I've got life all figured out and how this adoption stuff is a walk in the park. Because I don't and it's not.
The solution to our problem continues to be the most unpopular word in the room: Time. I'm sure by now you're tired of hearing that time is what makes the difference, but it is. Learning to be honest and kind and considerate are not qualities that come quickly, but they do come. Until then, you have to keep your eyes and ears on them at all times. I've found the only way to change the behavior is to catch and correct as much of it as I can. It's the consistency that helps them change. If their old tactics still work, there is no reason for them to be any different.
So, your new one shows up at your door wearing their honeymoon mask. After living with them day in and day out their mask comes off and you see where you are starting from. You see it. The ones living in your house see it. No one else does. Welcome to the second part of the supervision nightmare. The one we will talk about tomorrow...