Monday, April 13, 2015

Telling the truth in the face of adoption

  • Before I start I want to mention a little bit about our own personal story.  We felt 100% called to bring Elliott and Lance home at the same time.  God renewed that belief over and over throughout the process in so many ways.  It has been hard, but it has also been beautiful and we are so grateful for the children God has allowed us to parent.  We would not have done it any other way because this was right for our family.

 Bear with me here.  Some of you are probably NOT going to like what I'm about to write.  That's ok, I'm going to write it anyway.  Not because I don't CARE about your feelings or opinions - I DO! I care so much that I've chosen to write a post that may be offensive.
 I want to talk about the adoption community.  You know that community because you are probably a part of it. THANK YOU for being a part of it. THANK YOU for caring so much about the plight of the orphans. THANK YOU for your time, energy, pennies, dollars, and emotions. It's a painful cause to be passionate about, but YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!! Those pennies, sharing those little kids faces, telling their stories DOES make a difference. If you stop shouting for them who will?
  The part I'm worried about is when members of that community cover over things in order to convince someone to adopt "just one more."  I've heard so many stories of "one more", you know what I'm talking about?

  "It's only a few thousand dollars more to bring home ONE MORE and you will be saving a life - you just need to do it."
  •  Bringing home two children at the same time is cheaper than going back a year later for the second one.  -  Being able to take individual time to rock them to sleep and cuddle them is priceless.  Emotional therapy because you don't have time for them is expensive! 
  •   Let's try:
     Instead of "It's only a few thousand more to adopt a second child at the same time!" Maybe try "If God is telling you to adopt another child, no matter when He is calling you He will provide."  BECAUSE HE WILL!!!
  "What if one dies while you are bringing the first one home when you could have saved them both by bringing them home together?"
  • If God is telling you with absolute certainty that you are to bring both children home at the same time - DO IT! He will provide.  IT WILL BE HARD.  If it is because of your own desire to "save" them take a step back - it's NOT UP TO YOU!  

    Psalm 139:16New International Version (NIV)

    16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
        all the days ordained for me were written in your book
        before one of them came to be.

     Here's another little dose of reality - if you are bringing home children with significant needs you need to be on top of your game that first year especially.  If they are medically fragile, they will need lots of testing, lots of medical intervention and therapy and there will be surprises. Some good and some hard. You MAY need to spend weeks beside a hospital bed 5 hours away from the rest of your children and spouse - including the second child you brought home at the same time.  You need to think very seriously about whether or not your spouse is prepared to do a middle of the night ER run with all of your children while you are watching your other child get blood transfusions in the PICU and making decisions about picc lines.
  "You have the room to bring home another child - it's your duty." 
  •  You probably do have the physical space for another child, or two, or three, or more.  Do you have the time?  Children need individual love FROM THEIR PARENTS!! If you have 5 kids and each of them gets just a half hour of your individual time a day (reading them a book, painting nails, playing trains on the floor, cuddling before bed time) that's 2.5 hours a day - no big deal right?  AWESOME, now who's watching them the other 21.5 hours, who's making them meals, changing their diapers, giving them baths, taking them to and from doctors appointments and therapy, who's doing the grocery shopping and laundry? It is possible, but it's hard and we need to BE REALISTIC!
  •  Let's try:
      Instead of telling people that if they have the room it's their DUTY to adopt more kids.  Encourage them to seek out what God is calling them to and remember that God tells us "care for widows and orphans" He does not outline exactly what that looks like for every person.  It may look like bringing meals to widows on a regular basis, it may look like donating $10 a month toward an adoption, it may look like providing respite care for an adoptive family, it may look like adopting 5 kids, it may look like adopting one.
  "Look at Mrs. Jones! She has x amount of kids and SHE'S DOING IT!"
  • Yes Mrs. Jones has a lot of kids.  Yes, she posts some amazing pictures and stories. FACT - you are not Mrs. Jones and this is not a competition. Here's another thing we really need to take into account: Just because Mrs. Jones posts about rainbows doesn't mean she doesn't see storms.   When you have a bad day and rant and rave to your kids do you promptly go on facebook and tell everyone?  When you go through the whole day never finding time to get dressed or clean the bathroom do you post selfies of that? Ummm....I certainly don't! I doubt Mrs. Jones does either.

  STAY WITH ME HERE!The other concern is when the needs are down-played.

  "Oh that syndrome? It's NO BIG DEAL!
"Some therapy and modern medicine WILL TOTALLY FIX THAT!"
  •  This one is probably going to shock you...brace yourself.  MODERN MEDICINE DOES NOT FIX EVERYTHING!  It just doesn't, be prepared for that.  Some kids will come home not being able to walk and with western medicine and lots of therapy will be able to walk and talk and write and lead totally normal lives.  Some kids won't be able, sometimes you will see very little improvement - assume that if you are bringing home an involved child they will be involved forever and rejoice over any milestone.  It's not fair to say that you are ok with an involved 2 year old when the truth is you will not be ok with an involved 30 year old - because someday that 2 year old will be 30 years old. KNOW THAT! 
  "That attachment issue? IT WILL BE FINE! Just show them love." 
  •    Attachment issues are real and EVERY child who has suffered neglect or abandonment WILL have them.  They will take more than love.  It will take diligence and more patience than you ever thought you would need.  Sometimes YOU will not be able to help them overcome these hurts on your own.  Sometimes you will need to spend the money, take the time, and travel several hours to get them the help they need to heal.
  •  Let's try:
     Instead of "Love will heal whatever attachment issues they have."  Try "There are some great resources available for adoptive parents and parents looking into adoption if you are serious about adopting make the time to learn about it."
  "A non-mobile child? She'll probably be able to walk once she's home."
  •   Having a non-mobile child is a game changer.  Suddenly you will find that your back will hurt from picking them up and putting them down all day.  You will smash your fingers getting their heavy equipment out of the trunk of the car and it will take you an EXTRA hour to get in and out of whatever building you are visiting.  You will lug the wheelchair out, secure your child into it with all 5 safety measures, push it across the parking lot, maneuver it through the single door of the office building only to find that there is no elevator and your options are either go UPSTAIRS or DOWNSTAIRS.   You will, at some point, need a  handicap accessible van. 
  •  Let's try some things:Instead of "A non-mobile child is no big deal!" say something like "This is a beautiful child who will need a lot of care."

  The fact is that there are 153 million orphans world wide. YES! They ALL need families.  HOWEVER, we need to be honest with one another because these are children! They are real people with real souls and real issues.  They are not a hobby or a habit.  You do not collect them and set them on a nice showcase just to look at every now and then.
Can you tell I'm passionate about this?


  1. I think that you are right on the money. We cannot save the world on our own strength and wisdom- without the guidance, direction and strength of the Lord. If we are doing it out of guilt, duty, obligation, expectation or even logic and love that isn't submitted to and seeking the will and provision of the father we will struggle and we might even be allowed to fail. It is Him who works in us and through us - those who know the Lord are simply tools in the masters hands. "Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me?" - Steven Curtis Chapman - God is God

    1. Thanks so much Brandalyn. Love that quote!

  2. "You will smash your fingers getting their heavy equipment out of the trunk of the car and it will take you an EXTRA hour to get in and out of whatever building you are visiting."
    oh how true this is!! LOL, my life!

    Thanks for this post...I do think this needs to be discussed. We, as the adoption community, can learn to encourage with different words. WE, as special needs adoptive parents, can tell more people the truth of how hard it is at times, not just the joyful..."look he smiled" without saying this smile was for a fleeting moment, right before he kicked me in the chest, started hitting himself, crying uncontrollably and then vomited all over me, again.

    1. Oh my goodness Anna!! You made me laugh - it's absolutely the truth! We post the pic of the smile, but not the rest of the chaos ;) Thank you for being real!

  3. Yes!! So much yes!!! So many things I've thought and discussed but never had the guts to say. Not everyone is cut out to parent a bajillion kids with varying special needs. IT'S OK! Quality over quantity.

    1. I hear you Natalie! I debated so much over posting this or not because I was worried about how people might take it. At the end of the day I realized it just really NEEDED to be said.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this! <3 My husband and I are just at the very, very, beginning of planning an adoption. I sometimes feel like there is pressure to say you will adopt a child with more difficult special needs, but we have to be realistic. There are some needs that I just couldn't meet, and still take care of the children we have already, as well as take care of the home. It would be unfair for us to adopt multiple children that have need of multiple therapies, unless we are sure we can provide the money and time to take those children to all of their appointments, as well as care for all of our other blessings. <3

  5. Honesty is so important! These encouragement and reassurances while well meaning can lead a family down the wrong path. Ultimately the family and child/children can suffer. Disruption happens when parents aren't prepared for the reality in adoption. Thank you for speaking truth!