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Monday, April 23, 2012
Called To Adopt . . . Or Not?
I get quite a few personal emails from blog readers (and I LOVE it!). Some readers write to encourage me. Some write to say how much of an encouragement my blog is for them. Many write to share their hard stories, and to ask for prayer (and I LOVE to pray for you all). And ... some write to ask questions.
A few days ago, I got one of the "Here are a few questions for you ..." emails, and realized that there are probably more than a few readers with the same questions. So, I thought I would answer this one publicly. Here is a short excerpt . . .
So what questions should I ask? Is my concern legitimate? Do ALL kids from Ghana come with attachment issues? Did you know that your kids had problems when you adopted them? Reading about your disruption really made me think twice about adoption. Can you help?
This is definitely a TOUGH letter to answer. These are GOOD, yet TOUGH, questions that are being asked . . . and I honestly don't have all of the answers.
First of all, I am sad that the stories that I share on my blog may cause some families to choose not to pursue adoption.
On the other hand, I am glad that the stories that I share on my blog may cause some families to choose not to pursue adoption.
How can I completely contradict myself like this?
Because it's true.
There are some in the adoption community that get very upset about my transparency. They blame me for causing families not to adopt, and therefore causing orphans to "never have a forever family". And, I don't take those accusations lightly. I truly wish that our Adoption Story had a "happily ever after" ending . . . I wish that everyone who heard our story could get excited about bringing home an orphan. But, that is just not the story that we are living . . . and I cannot pretend that adoption is easy.
However, I blame the "Fairytale Blogs" (who choose not to share any of the tough stuff) for creating a Fairytale mindset about adoption: "Love will heal all wounds. All the child needs is a Forever Family."
So, while I am sad that this Mom is scared to adopt because of what she has read on my blog . . . at the same time, I am glad that my stories have caused her to ask the tough questions. Make sense?
Any person pursuing adoption should be nervous.
Any person pursuing adoption should be asking the tough questions.
Any person pursuing adoption MUST realize that they have NO IDEA how an adoption can change their life and the life of their family (for the good . . . or for the bad).
Is My Concern Legitimate?
Absolutely. While parenting some adopted children may be "easy", there are many, many stories just like ours (or much more difficult). The reason that you don't read as many of these stories on blogs is because the mothers often stop blogging when things get out-of-control. I have been in touch with many moms who cannot keep up the facade of "life is wonderful" after the adoption . . . or they are just too beat up and worn out to even think about blogging.
Do All Kids From Ghana Come With Attachment Issues?
Oh.My.No. I would actually expect (though don't have any statistics) that orphans from Ghana (and Africa in general) have statistically LESS attachment issues than from some other areas of the world. Why? Because many of the children are fully loved and cared for by their birth families, but are given up due to extreme poverty. Many of these babies have been carried on their Mamas backs (which creates bonding and attachment) until they arrive at the orphanage. Sadly, our Little Miss experienced MUCH trauma during the years prior to her arrival at the orphanage.
Even our 2 adopted daughters . . . both from Ghana . . . both born in the same village . . . biologically related to each other . . . have completely DIFFERENT "stories" . . . completely different trauma experiences . . . and, therefore, completely different attachment issues.
Did You Know That Your Kids Had Problems When You Adopted Them?
We had no idea what we were walking into . . . the journey we were about to take with our adoption.
We were told that the older brother (whom we had to find a new family for) was "wonderful, helpful, responsible, his little sister's provider and protector", etc .. We were also told he was much younger than he actually was. After we brought him home, we discovered a very different story . . . a very scary story . . . and a situation that had to be resolved by finding him a new family (which we are in touch with, and which has been a good thing for him).
We knew nothing of the trauma that our Little Miss had experienced.
We knew very little about Reactive Attachment Disorder (R.A.D.) and had never heard of Oppositional Defiance Disorder (O.D.D.)
Reading About Your Disruption Really Made Me Think Twice About Adoption.
I'm sorry . . . and I'm glad.
An Adoption Disruption is HARD on everyone. It is not something to take lightly. Yet, the possibility is something that many families, sadly, must consider.
Just as there are many reasons that a biological family must come to the decision to give their child up for adoption, so too there are many reasons that bring an adoptive family to the position of making that same decision.
Sometimes a child's medical needs are too great . . . too overwhelming.
Sometimes it is determined that it would be best if the adopted child did not have any younger siblings. (It is simply not safe to keep such a child in a home with younger siblings . . . due to physical or s*xual abuse situations.)
Sometimes the attachment disorder is so severe that after many years the adoptive parents have nothing left to give . . . and the adopted child has not an ounce of attachment to them.
Sometimes the family situation has changed (due to death or divorce) and the remaining adoptive parent cannot begin to deal with all of the special needs of the adopted child.
Now . . . sometimes these situations arise and the family is able to get help for their child in a Residential Treatment Center, rather than finding a new family for them. (In our situation, we felt it was far better for our son, to find him a new family than to have him placed in an RTC. Every situation is different, with different needs for both the child and the family.) There are Residential Treatment Centers that are focused solely on Adopted Children with Attachment Issues. I know a couple of families who have moved their children to a Residential Treatment Center.
Yet . . . while Adoption Disruption is HARD, I must share with you that I personally know a couple of families who have adopted children that were previously adopted by other families, and the new adoption is a BLESSING for both the child and the new family. There are some WONDERFUL stories of successful adoptions after disruptions. It truly can be the very BEST option for everyone. I absolutely believe that sometimes an Adoption Disruption is God's will . . . God's best . . . even though it is very, very painful for all involved.
Can You Help?
To sum it up . . . all I can really suggest is that you seek the LORD about this most life-changing decision.
We KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that the LORD called us to adopt our children . . . all 3 of them. We have never wavered on the fact that we stepped out in FAITH . . . the LORD called us . . . the LORD provided for the adoptions in a miraculous way . . . and we brought all 3 children home from Ghana.
We believe that the Lord's ultimate plan was for our son to find his "forever family" with another family. For whatever reason, they were not ready to go to Africa to find a new son; but they lovingly opened their home for J. when the time came for us to find him a new family. We do not doubt God's sovereignty in this most difficult situation.
We believe that the Lord called us to be the family for Little Miss. It is HARD. It is NOT FUN. But, we continue to seek HIS will . . . HIS guidance . . . HIS wisdom, as we walk this difficult journey.
If we had only adopted Sarah . . . our adoption story would be so very different. We would be able to tell everyone how "easy" it is to adopt an "older child". But, for whatever reason, the LORD chose to give us a more difficult story to tell. And, we believe that He does want us to tell our story (and not to sugar-coat it).
Should you adopt?
I believe the answer can ONLY be found as you seek the LORD for HIS will for your life and the life of your family. When it is HIS will, than there is nothing to fear (even though you may be embarking on the most difficult journey of your life).