Why we embraced our kids' regression

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Author: 
Dr Azaria Marthyman
Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

“Daaaddyyy... I reddy for waaaiipe...!” My recently adopted child yelled out. “Coming!” I sang back. I look back now, years later, to those daily routines of officially being a bum wiper for my children as precious moments. They were opportunities for each of my children to know that I am dependable and committed, and that I love each one. In our adoption journey, those days of behavioural regression manifested by our adopted children were truly blessings in disguise which needed to be seized as the ticket to trust, bonding, and relationship building.

When we were first joined by our three newly adopted children, we were intrigued by the fact that each of them became incapable of doing various aspects of basic self care, whilst they were self-sufficient in these areas before joining our family. Although difficult to understand, regression is known to be a common occurrence and to be expected from adopted children after placement.

Regression is difficult to work through and can intensify the stress that adoptive families already experience post-placement. Vulnerable and dismantled to the core during the stages of regression, our adopted children deserve to be accepted, protected, and nurtured. They need consistent care within a safe and loving family, with consistent, realistic, and healthy boundaries. In this secure and predictable family environment, they can begin to heal, and to thrive physically, emotionally, and mentally.

There we have it: being a bum wiper is indeed a privilege that our adopted children bestowed for us to demonstrate our love for them during their stages of regression. As a family, we still joke about our shared parental title of “bum wiper,” but now that our services in this way are no longer needed, we have been affectionately retired from the years of faithful duty, and can no longer claim this title actively. Sigh...! However, we parents have numerous other duties that titles can do no justice to, since love in itself is the motivator that defies any need for recognition or titles.

Love in its daily expression and call to duty lends itself to no glamour in the eyes of most. Yet to the treasure seeker, each child is full of treasures to be revealed, but only when faithful parents help uncover them. Seize the opportunity that our children’s regression brings us and let us, as parents, be faithful and loving bum wipers!