Tuesday, July 6, 2010

To Adopt or Not To Adopt

Reposted by request ... (Originally published June 2009)

Guest Blogger - Christine Moers

To Adopt or Not to Adopt

I have a very serious problem. Looking at pictures of orphans causes me to price airline tickets and find ways to sell all of my earthly belongings to bring them into our home. I don’t care for dogs. I tolerate our cats. Even adults can annoy me. Yet, show me a child in desperate need of forever, and I have an overwhelming passion to dive in without thinking.

Anyone with me?

I’m now a mother or five. Our first two came to us through birth. The third is African American and entered our home via domestic adoption (after waiting in a private foster home for seven months, because there were no waiting couples open to a child of color). Our two newest additions are Haitian. They came to the United States just over three years ago. Their first adoptive family chose to disrupt the adoption after two years of very painful struggles (they both have varying degrees of attachment disorder). We were foster parents for two years, somewhere in the middle of the last decade, as well. We’ve been around the adoption block a few times. While I still have to keep myself from photo listings, and my husband always fears I’d return from mission trips with another child in tow … well, I’ve learned some very difficult and valuable things along the way.

Will you allow me to lovingly share some thoughts with you on adoption? There are many who feel we should never, ever discourage anyone from adopting. I disagree. There are waiting children, but these children have special needs throughout a lifetime. Every single adoption (even infant adoption) involves pain and loss. Adopted children grieve their birth families and histories, even if those involved abuse and neglect. So, I’m not saying, “Don’t adopt.” However, I ask you to converse with God and determine if you are really ready right now to parent one of these children. If not, what will it take for you to get to that point? How does God need to work you over?

First and foremost, the very best place for any child is with their first family, if it is safe and loving. I know, I know … it seems as though if a child has to skip a day without food and cannot ever afford to go to school … well, they should be somewhere else, right?

No. No.

In case you didn’t catch that, it was, “No.” We need to support families who can and will parent their children. This is a struggle for me. I am American. We see certain things as basic rights and basic needs, when our greatest need is family. Take a few deep breaths and wrap your brain around that one for a little bit. There are no clear-cut answers, and it is organic with many, many factors. However, always, always keep this truth in focus. We should be supporting families first. Period.

Next, I ask you to consider a quote from Heather T. Forbes: “Adoption is trauma.” I realize I’m giving you all sorts or really difficult things to choke down, but really – adoption is trauma. Whether it was knowing a voice, heartbeat and rhythm of life for nine months that changes abruptly, or moving to a new country and a new language with new smells and sounds and tastes … adoption is trauma. This shouldn’t scare you, but it should make you more determined to acknowledge the losses your child has and will experience. It should spur you to learn everything you can to help your child navigate life with their very special needs and issues.

There are very few healthy babies out there waiting to enter homes. There was, but the need has shifted. There are a LOT of kids needing homes, but the job description looks more like this:

“Amazing child looking for family. Must love me forever. Have ability to be patient and kind, even when puberty hits and I scream, “You’re not my real mom!” Need not be jealous over the fact I miss my first family. In fact, you will need to talk about them regularly, knowing I’m thinking about them, even if they don’t come up in conversation. Must have determination to give me all I need, whether it is therapy, special parenting techniques, lifebooks, contact with my birth family or just holding me when I’m hurting and feeling loss … even though it takes a significant amount of time and effort. Cannot be easily provoked, as you may discover I have attachment issues, and will spend many days trying to make you hate me. It is required you be able to celebrate the good and teach me what is true about myself, even when I believe lies so deeply imbedded within my thoughts and heart. Requirement: must bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things. You are not expected to be perfect, but you are expected to never give up.”

Do you believe in the God who parted the Red Sea? Who turned water to wine? What miracles does He need to perform in your heart so that you can commit your life to a child who needs someone to be Jesus to them … by parenting them … even if there are some major difficulties and surprises along the way? This is what these children need. We serve a God who will turn us into just that, if we will let Him.

I could never, ever capture all I’ve learned about adoption in one post. So, in closing, allow me to be a lazy turd and just link to some of my other blabberings on the subject:

Painful Truth of International Adoption
Kids From the Hard Places
Open Adoption
When an Adoption Must Disrupt
Definitely, Maybe!
That Kid is Not “Bad,” He’s Hurt

Don’t freak out. Just stare it all in the face. Then stare yourself in the face. Then figure out what God is asking of you. Then throw up. Then do it.

Christine blogs at www.welcometomybrain.net

Tomorrow, adoption thoughts from adoptive parent, Kristen Howerton.


Karen Firstbrook said...

Thank you for saying the hard things.
We all have to recognize that adoption always involves loss. Hard, painful, tragic loss.
I pray I never minimize that loss in my child's life.
I pray that God will continually equip me for His calling. (And I know He will!)
Thanks for sharing,
Firstbrook Five

Steiners! said...

I love this. Amen. Eyes wide open. Thanks for sharing!

Kmarie said...

Love this post. SOmeone needs to say this on a more regular basis. Thank you for not worrying what other may think of you. I have thought of this many times and researched and you summed it all up perfectly.
Inspiring and realistic.
Enjoy your day and I pray you will continue to have strength to give perspective honestly.

Tim and Jen Pearson said...

I so admire all you adoptive parents who are able to articulate this experience so well! Your voices are needed and such a comfort to those of us just starting out with our adoptive children. Please keep writing!

Jena said...

wow, one of the VERY best blog posts I have ever read concerning adoption, true about the realities, yet hopeful at the same time... I love me some Christine...

Kathrin said...

First I need to make sure everyone knows where babies come from. It's sex, It dosen't need to have anything to do with love or wanting a child. I might even be sex with lots of alcohol. Having had sex and giving birth does not make a parent. I know, it does by law and by society and I think we need to change our view about that. Not every women giving birth is a mom, or wants to be one. Societys expectations are overwheling for many unreal for some, unfortunately but true.
So, should I tell my child your mom gave you up because she loved you so much even when I know love had nothing to do with it. Should I honor the birthparent? What for?

Secound I believe, no, I know many orphaned children have very special needs and not everyone is cut out to deal with that but I although believe that we should learn to love or accept people for who they are, spouses, bio kids, adopted kids, parents, ... That is what to me true love is all about. To be there, love, hold, cry, pray and be there for anything they need you to be there for.

Tara you decide if it's ok to post this, I do understand the pain not adoption brings but having been giving up, not been wanted, not been fed, not having had parents who knew you where the most wonderful little person God created.

familygregg said...


Christine said...


"First and foremost, the very best place for any child is with their first family, if it is safe and loving."

Emphasis on "safe and loving." Those are not negotiable.

My kids have all sorts of situations with their birth families. Some are full of true compassion and love. Some are tainted with abuse and neglect.

We give our children the truth, as much as possible, in age appropriate ways. I know children whose only picture of their birth parents are mug shots. Their adoptive mother lovingly and honestly works through those details as they grow.

I am currently helping one of my children understand and grieve why they do not hear from one of their first parents. It is hurtful and ugly. It is painful. It is so very painful.

Perhaps you were not even intending actually ask for a reply. But I didn't want to let a question go unanswered, if that was what you were searching for. Always feel free to email me directly at christinemoers [at] hotmail [dot] com

T & T Livesay said...

I understand what you're saying - not all birthparents have done things that we can easily honor ... the truth can be a hard thing and sometimes shielding our kids from truth until an age they can handle it makes a lot of sense.

Wounded people wound others. It sucks. I am so grateful to be witnessing redemption stories in many of the adoptions I am watching ... praying for God to redeem and heal HIS children.

Terri said...

Some children are clearly not wanted. My daughter's birthmother in Vietnam left her at the maternity hospital after giving birth, never taking her home or attempting to parent.

And I'm not sad about that,and neither is my daughter. She is far better off here than being raised in Vietnam. Here she has excellent health, a terrific education, loving family, religous freedom --all typed of freedoms she would not have under communism.
We teach her to honor her roots her roots in Vietnam, but we are not sad about her adoption and we do not consider it a tragic loss. In fact, we are thrilled.

Terri Urban

mrsbroccoliguy said...

Do you know that some hospitals in Vietnam take advantage of poor mothers - charging them fees they could never afford, not allowing them to take their child home if they can not pay? A child "abandoned" in a hospital in Vietnam may in fact have been loved - her birthmom may have felt she had no choice but to leave her behind. (Some hospitals were found to be selling infants to orphanages for international adoptions ... see http://www.brandeis.edu/investigate/gender/adoption/vietnam.html for more information.)

Christine, thank you for this blog post - I really think every adopter - especially Christians - needs to hear this before bringing their child home. And perhaps a few more times after that as well.

kayder1996 said...

This post and the responses are full of complexities. It is really important to not go into adoption with your eyes clouded by emotion. It's really important to understand what your limitations are and what situations might not be a good fit for your family to function. But on the other hand, I find it frustrating how few people seriously consider adoption as a way to build their family. It's not that I want the answer of "Should we adopt?" to be yes. I just wish a few more people asked themselves that in a serious way.

The same difficulties come about in how we choose to view/share our children's life stories. As someone with kids from Haiti, I went into adoption with certain feelings about those issues but have now found myself slightly feeling differently about it. I have struggled with how to fight that "an american life beats living a Haitian life" feeling. I have wrestled with poverty being a major factor in my children's placement in two different orphanages. But I also want to respect the right of a mother to make a decision for her child, regardless of why she chooses it. I also know that while poverty may be an easy scapegoat, absentee fathers, immaturity/youth, and new romantic relationships also contributed to the choices my kids' birth mothers made. I've wrestled with if we are contributing to a cycle of poverty by adopting and not investing in a family in Haiti. But I also realize my kids were placed in orphanage care before there was a family specifically assigned to them, that there is a good chance my kids might still be in orphanage care if not for us. For every kid that leaves Haiti (or a similar country), there is probably at least one other who doesn't leave and stays in orphanage care for the rest of their childhood.

It's hard stuff to process as a mom. But I think that's the real issue, that we as adoptive parents take the time to do some wrestling with all of these issues. While there may not be perfect solutions or answers, pushing yourself to view the issues through someone else's perspective is a good thing. And it certainly doesn't hurt to wrestle a little with God on those tough issues either.

Kathrin said...

I am with. Happy for you and your child.

of course, I always appreciate a comment or new ideas. In fact, I have learned a lot from you by reading your blog. I was simply speaking my mind.

Christine said...

Posting this comment for someone without a Google account - w/the Livesay's permission:

Hi. I found your blog and am thrilled to hear your candor. My husband and I are athiests, and have 7 children. 4 through birth, and 3 through Ethiopian adoption.

We believe in the goodness of humanity and wanted to help kids that were already on the planet when we decided to grow our family. We are struggling through the first year with our newly adopted kids...Erica aged 14 and Samson aged 11. They thought they wanted to come to Canada, but now are not sure......their friendships with the kids that were also parentless and in the orphanage were deep and irreplacable. Now they have parents, discipline, rules, school, and 5 siblings.

We speak with each other, share information with other 'same boat' families and harnass local resources to help them in their struggle, and keep an eye out for families who resemble ours.
They are afraid of the grief, and need to be continually reminded that thinking/remembering is an important part of accepting themselves as people, and that feeling the feelings is vital to content lives as adults.

For your readers who think my kids would have had a terrible life, I give you the quote from my daughter after being in Canada for 3 months...."(the orphanage) was my 'dream life' and I just didn't know it. I would have been fine if I had stayed there." She may, just, be right. (Charity would have paid for her post secondary education, her friends were deep and meaningful, and she probably would have been offered a job and room at the orphanage, until she married.) We have to live with that, and know, that should any of our kids decide to live in another country as adults, that we will still be parents.....just parents from across the world.

We know that the world is a better place b/c we have helped broaden the horizons and increase the potential of 2 fabulous human beings who can choose to make the world a better place, if desired. Not to mention, the rest of our family/community.


Heather Blake

Chelese said...

I love these posts! I think that this is what the Lord is talking about when He says "count the cost", not that we shouldn't do it, but that we need to really look this thing in the face and move forward into it.
As an adoptee and an adoptive parent I can say that adoption is trauma. It doesn't matter what the reason (good or bad)it is still a painful trauma to the child. Babies belong with their mamas first. I have a great relationship with my biological mom and of course with my adoptive mom as well, but there are certain things that I have had to walk through and that my children will have to walk through. We are broken people in a broken world. I know that adoption isn't for everyone , but I really think it is for a lot more people than they realize!


ali said...

love the comments on Christines post. i think, in our family, we go through a combination of many of the feelings you all posted about, but the true fact is, another commenter was correct in saying that adoption is built on loss, and is painful, no matter how you paint it for your adopted child. terri- you are living in a dream world if you believe that your child sees the situation as rosey as you do, or that she suffers no painful feelings. Vietnamese parents love their children. Haitian parents love their children. it may make it easier for you to think that she just walked out, and left her, without tears, but you may be incorrect. "better life here than there" comments, made by Americans, sure make us sound pompous. my Haitian son happens to be HIV infected and i hear that all the time. "he must be so glad to be here where he can get such excellent medical care huh?" "actually, no. he'd prefer to have his original family intact, HIV or no HIV". im rambling, but the fact is, those feelings of abandonment are there. whether the kids share them depends on how welcoming we are as parents, i think.

Amy said...

You totally nailed so many of the thoughts floating around in my head lately. I'm now off to read your links. Thanks for sharing:)