This is the second half of a conversation we had with Shane & Michelle Cobban, and their children Katie, Kelly, & DJ, about their experience of bringing Zachary into their family. See the first half here.
What were some of the challenges in your adoption?
The Cobbans felt like the most difficult part was all the paperwork that’s involved. The Cobban's didn’t feel like the travel, or education, or adjusting to the life changes were the most difficult, it was the heap of paperwork.
It took a long time to fill out the necessary forms and follow all of the procedures, and it was a lot of work for the Cobbans. But they understand the reasoning behind it and ultimately feel it is probably a good thing that there is so much paperwork involved in an adoption.
For the Cobbans, their knowledge of trauma has helped build patience.
Adopting a child has a unique set of challenges and obstacles, depending on the child. For the Cobbans, they had to prepared to deal with Zach's medical, trauma, and behavior needs. Fortunately, they had received education on trauma and were able to incorporate that knowledge into their child-rearing with Zachary.
Daughter Katie commented, “Knowing how trauma affects brain development means you can be more patient when he does things. Sometimes I’ve thought, ‘Why would he do that? Why would he think that was a good idea?’ Knowing how his brain has developed has made it easier to understand him. It’s also made it easier to communicate with him because I know things he will understand, and then I know there are things he won’t understand.”
Michelle has been very impressed with who Zachary is and what a strong person he has become. She has learned to communicate with him and can recall lots of joyful times. But she also remembers those times when she just did not know what to do. From her extensive reading, she knew that it was the adult’s responsibility to bring calm into any given situation.
She commented, “Sometimes things with Zachary feel like an emergency. One day the school called because he had kicked someone. And I remember feeling like, oh goodness, we have to get a handle on this, and it had already happened a few times.”
But she stepped back and thought it wasn’t really an emergency. She had confidence that Zachary would get through it, that he would continue to learn how to communicate. She knew their family needed to be calm for him—to help him grow and flourish, and letting him know they were in his corner.
Daughter Kelly has noticed how much Zachary has changed since they brought him home.
“Zachary didn’t really know how to dream. We would ask him, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ And he’d say, ‘I don’t know. I don’t want to be anything.’ And now he wants to be like seven different things. He really wants to be an astronaut.”
Zachary knows more about astronomy than the rest of the family, they joke. “We were just talking about how I knew all of the planets but wasn’t sure I knew the right order,” Michelle remarked. “Zachary knows all the moons of Mars and Jupiter.”
“He is a much different kid than when we first brought him home,” Shane told us. “What Kelly said is right. Seeing the development, seeing how he’s grown, how he’s matured. Yes, he has some issues and a way to go yet, but he has come a long way already. To look back, and to see where he’s come from, and to see where he is today, is truly amazing.”
The Cobbans share some of the best resources for adoptive parents. And some advice.
One of their best resources was talking with people who had already adopted. Visiting with them and trying to get a picture of what life would be like with an adopted child was key.
In terms of literature, The Connected Child was a great book for them. They have read it several times. Before the process, during, and after, they’ve turned to it for guidance.
When it comes to advice for adoptive parents, Michell remarked, “Sometimes when you adopt, people think your family must be really amazing or have it all together. But we are probably the most ordinary family. Realizing there are children who need homes and caring people to be involved in their lives is important. It really makes a difference for the child but even for us. Our whole family would say that adoption is one of the best things we’ve ever done. It has changed us. It has changed how we view people—and enough that I think all of our kids would like to adopt one day. Zachary asked us recently if we could adopt again. Even he would like to adopt! I would say to potential adoptive parents: ‘Just begin the process. Because it’s probably the most joyful, terrifying, exciting thing you’ll ever have, but it is amazing.’”
Katie commented, “For starters, my knowledge of our star system. I know more than I ever did before. All the planets. And their moons. I’ve learned what love feels like. You’re being a pain, but I still love you a lot.”
Her sister Kelly, too, had a similar feeling, “It is an unrelenting love. You are loving this kid who you just met, or who’ve you seen pictures of for a year. But pictures don’t do justice until you see, until you walk into the room, and you meet a sibling. And you don’t know them, they don’t know you, but you love them just the same.”
Real Wood Floors’ mission and commitment.
At Real Wood Floors, our purpose is to work until the day every child is home. We actively help to find ways for orphan and foster children to gain families and homes. Read more about our mission here.