TV Interview: Challenges of Adopting

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Interview for the National TV Channel – RTP1, show Agora Nós.

Excerpt:

“Whether the children
are biological or not, they go through an adoption process. Biological parents have to accept their children, because their children are strangers.

Obviously, when they are biological children, the parents can imagine that they’re going to be this way or that way. Therefore a connection is formed even before there is a real child and that child has already began to create a personality.”

D Nuno Cristiano Sousa,
what are the parameters…

…we won’t be talking about the adoption.
The parents are the ones that will.

What are the difficulties of adopting
and being adopted?

Aside from the obstacles, especially for those who already have children. How does that go?

There’s an element in our minds, whether the children
are biological or not, they go through an adoption process.

Biological parents have to accept their children,
because their children are strangers.

Obviously, when they are biological children the parents can imagine that they’re going to be this way or that way.

Therefore a connection is formed even before there is a real child and that child has already began to create a personality.

The thing with non-biological children is that there is confrontation with their past.


They can’t start from scratch and a lot of times the child lives in the shadow of the trauma of rejection.

So, the child is already marked by an event, it is already a part of their personality.

A lot of time the children see themselves as rejects that are going to be rescued by someone that took pity on them.And that, sometimes makes it hard to create a bond, to feel that the connection is out of affection.

It’s out of affection and it won’t end someday, right?

And that it won’t end someday.

Within those cases, what are the things that a mother, we are used to saying “adoptive mother”, but the mother is the one that raises the child, so…

What does a mother need to be careful about when it comes to the children?


-For instance, always thinking twice about spanking, or…
-It can be weird.


-It can be weird because mothers spank, it’s a part of it.
-Yes.

Yes, that is something that needs to be aware of, because every child is different.

-Mothers and fathers.
Yes, that is something that needs to be aware of, because every child is different.

Yes, that is something that needs to be aware of, because every child is different.

If there’s a child that suffered a lot of physical violence, other child may not have suffered from that, they may have suffered from indifference, and so on.

There isn’t a mold because a child is being adopted, so it’s a matter of being aware.

And realizing what are the child’s sensitive topics.

It is important to treat them normally.


You can obviously tell that children have sensitive topics that make them agitated.

You need to have sensibility when approaching that topic with a child.

But you should treat them like normal children, because that’s what they are.


You need to pay attention on how the siblings that came before are going to welcome that child.


Because a lot of times, the parents welcome the children that join the family,


but the older siblings don’t, they may not have the same sensibility.


-You have to manage the expectations, perspectives, ways of being…
-And essentially, equality.
-And equality.


Nuno, but every person adopts under different circumstances.

There are couples that adopt after already being parents. Some adopt on a second marriage because of age, or other matters.


And there are parents that can’t have children.


These three categories condition how the children are received.


These three types are different.


It depends on how the parents deal with their own traumas while being parents previously


or not being able to be parents. And how that transfers to their relationship with their children.


If the parents are ashamed of their own past while being “pre-parents”, that can condition the relationship.

for instance, if the person feels like a failure for not being able to conceive


and adopts a child because they are also miserable.


That is terrible for the relationship. It’s bad for the child and the parent.


-There’s no recipe.
-No
-Fortunately.

Ana, for you as mother, what are the good sides of the relationship that you created


and the ones that you had a hard time dealing with?


The good ones are almost every day, the moments when they look at us and say “mom, I love you”.


The hugs in the morning, the little kisses, all the affection that connects us.


The hard times are the same as every mother’s, no matter the type of motherhood the tantrums and etc.


Now speaking of adoption, I think the hardest part is the past,


-You were not there.
-Exactly, I wasn’t there.

So, there isn’t an eraser that can erase what is in the past.


We have to learn how to deal with the past, the memories,


and not demonize the biological parents and the mistakes they made that led my daughters to an institution.


And that’s a big challenge.


Especially when we hear that they miss them, we need to know how to deal with that.


And that’s not always easy, because we think “why do you miss them? Why am I not enough?”


-And that is hard, but it has to be done.
-It must be really hard.


It’s a matter of humility, because you have to accept a child that is already “unpacked”.


It’s different from a child that is ours and it’s still “packed” and doesn’t come with a past.


It’s a lesson of humility, to realize that the child has love for their biological parents.


I think it must be really hard to manage that.


-Because it is difficult.
-It is difficult, of course it is.


Also, because we as adults, have access to what happened before and know the bad side and the reason why everything happened.


But I think we need to be careful with what we say to the children, because they are not old enough to understand, they might understand when they’re older.


In their minds, they had parents that were good, but hey don’t know why they are not their parents anymore.


How old were they when their biological parents stopped being legitimate parents?


When did they go to the institution?


They were two and three years old.


-Two and three. And they have memories.
-They have memories.


-The oldest one has memories, and associates everything to a judge.
-That was bad.


That was bad and decided that her parents couldn’t…


-…be with them anymore.
-Are all of you seeing a psychologist?


The youngest one is, the oldest one is not.


And what did you say to them, so that you don’t tell too much, but also that you don’t hide information?


That is something that we learned before they joined us.


All the information that Santa Casa da Misericórdia gave us.


They have to know the truth from the beginning.


The adoption has to be something that is a part of our lives and never be hidden.


But very carefully so we don’t demonize the past.


We can’t say that we are the good ones and the others are the bad ones, because it’s not like that.

-Also, in their minds that’s not true.
-Exactly.


Very good, Ana. Oh my God, we had a great conversation today, right?


Nuno, thank you so much for coming to Agora Nós.


-Your clinic attends to other cases, right?
-Yes, a lot.


And Ana, may you have a very happy life with all the ups and downs that every family has.

There are no perfect families and that is wonderful, right?


Thank you for coming!