Reposted by request ... (Originally published June 2009)
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?
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
When an Adoption Must Disrupt
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.