Not long ago a pastor was praying over Nathan and I when he uttered words along these lines: “Satan doesn’t want this family to succeed so God be their anchor as he attacks them.” It was right then and there that I truly understood what a war zone our entire family had just entered. I always “knew” it would be hard to adopt a child, that there would be days I would get overwhelmed or the kids wouldn’t get along, and days when progress would feel limited, but it was in that moment I became aware that being under attack was going to be a permanent part of our story.
For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who shall separate us from the the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:31-39
Ok….like 5 people asked for it.
But since I am a stay at home mom and interact with exactly no one most days during the day
5 people is like a lot.
So here you go
my thoughts on older child adoption.
The question of how we “do” older child adoption
how the intricacies of that play out in our home
how their adjustment is
quite honestly sets me back a bit.
When asked about “Older child adoption” I have to wait for that “older child/hard to place” label that used to define them rise up from the recesses of my brain and come back into my frontal lobe….errr…cerebral cortex?…..I dunno….so that I can remember
because I truly don’t look at them as “older children”.
They just fit.
They fit perfectly into our family.
I don’t know that it is harder.
I don’t know that it is easier than adopting younger kids & cute squishy lil babies.
In the beginning in China it was fabulous.
They were old enough to somewhat have a grasp on what was happening.
All 3 came right to us.
(other than Joshua apparently thinking he was going to live in Italy….sorry buddy)
we were one big group of really, really excited people.
Yet, ironically, if anything illustrates the udder brokenness of these orphans
it is that moment
children should not be that excited to be handed to
and walk off
with perfect strangers.
But they somehow know.
They know that what is to come
simply must be better than what they have now.
Because when I try to picture my biological children being handed over to strangers at the age of 7
and the definite opposite reaction that they would have
it illustrates just how big a void these kids sitting in those orphanages have.
There is nothing like a family.
like a family.
Practically, older kids just aren’t as needy in the physical sense and since we were far beyond diapers and nap times this worked well for us.
They could walk, go to the bathroom, understand that it was time for bed, shower, dinner.
(Man I am SO good at charades now. If anyone ever wants to play, let me know. I’ll kick your butt.)
This I knew was a key to our families successful transition.
These kids were in the same phase of life that we were already in so the adjustment on our part was minimal. (Not to trivialize adoption itself but in this specific context(as it pertains to age) it was a minimal impact.)
I think had we chosen to go back down baby lane it would have been much more difficult (for us).
We just weren’t there.
Our hearts weren’t there.
Our sports filled evenings and weekends weren’t there.
Our older kids weren’t there.
I knew how to do 7 year’s old.
Our youngest 5 are all within a 21 month block of time.
The twins are 6 minutes apart.
Push em out, push em out, waaaaaayyy out!
Sorry, that was a throwback to my brief cheer-leading days in high school.
But I digress…
Jacob is 14 months younger than the twins.
Joshua is 3 months younger than Jacob.
Joey is 4 months younger than Joshua.
If we could do anything,
we could do the 6-8 year old age range.
I knew what their maturity level was, what would appeal to them, how to speak to them.
We were there.
Granted, some of it may have been lost in translation but I think the message is this…
Kids are kids.
Red, yellow, black and white they, at their core, are kids.
Experiences will color that,
Trauma will cover that,
Abandonment will change that,
Institutionalization will harm that
but somehow I could see right through all of that muck and mire
and I could see that underneath it all
there was a little boys heart.
I didn’t know how long it would take to unearth.
I didn’t know the hardships would come along
I didn’t know how much pain was in the process
but the heart
the heart is there
it’s just waiting.
It’s the uncovering of all of the “stuff” that comes along with adopting older kids that is where the challenge can rise up
So though I don’t change diapers
or warm bottles
or wake up for 3am feedings
and I don’t hurry home for nap time
I fight a battle that is larger than myself.
A battle that will consume them
if it weren’t for love.
I do sleep all night
They do go to school all day
but I have to be ever mindful that though their neediness doesn’t lie in the physical sense
there are still 3 little hearts under my roof that are still in a state of mending.
Because not only do I have my own parenting wisdom, tips, techniques and training to impart on them,
I am simultaneously un-parenting all of the bad habits, harsh words, and lack of love that they endured when I wasn’t there.
Have you ever tried un-parenting and parenting at the same time?
Pretty sure that’s not the word I am looking for.
It’s not just “Hey buddy, this is how we do this.”
It’s “Hey buddy, I know that was how things were done before and I’m sorry that happened, ~ hug ~ hug~ but here’s why that’s not ok. Now let me show you what we do. ~ teach. train. model. ~ hug ~
Then it’s “Good job! I knew you could do it!” ~ hug~
All whilst speaking Chinglish and having about 50% of what you are telling them get lost in translation.
8,000 times a day.
They will be 14 years old before we ever even break even.
They will be 14 before their time in our family becomes longer than their days spent in an orphanage.
This is a marathon.
I am not who I used to be.
My patience is bigger
My heart is heavier
My joy is tempered.
Just like a normal marathon
It takes an inordinate amount of energy
to bring these kids out of the darkness.
And if I’m being honest….
And if I’m being more honester. (yep I know, not a word)
it’s the reason I haven’t been blogging.
It takes SO much to be continually pouring love, encouragement, discipline, and training into these kids that I often find myself
And most days
when the sun has set
when 7 sleepy heads are happily snoring on their pillows
I have nothing left to give.
Are we happy?
Would we do it again?
No doubt, yes.
Is it the hardest thing I have ever done?
Are there moments when I think to myself,
“Am I being punked?”
7 boys? Seriously?
I vastly underestimated the amount of life training that they would need at their age.
A stove is hot.
You knock on the door before you walk into people’s houses, you can’t just walk in.
Walk on the sidewalk, not in the street.
Kindly do not remove the food from your plate that you don’t care for and place a big blob of it directly on the table.
Don’t walk down the hallway from your room to the bathroom stark neked. You’re 8.
Small things of course.
But when each and every moment,
each and every action
each and every transition
requires explanation it takes awhile to get the hang of that.
it took me awhile to get the hang of that.
But last I checked my goal isn’t to take up residence on Easy Street,
I think that is a crowded, overpopulated neighborhood.
be more like HIM
It’s what I want to do.
It’s where I want to live.
So is older child adoption really more difficult?
I don’t know.
Sonia and her husband John are an Air Force family with 7 boys. She stays at home part time and spends the other part of her time shopping at Stuff-Mart buying large quantities of food to feed said boys. Sonia’s hobbies include cooking, cooking, cooking more, cleaning, cooking, and cleaning bathrooms. They are navigating their way through life attempting to glorify God in all that they do — follow the journey here.
In the feeding of bottles
And the spooning of cereal
In the wiping of faces
And the wiping of tears
He is here
As cleft lips are kissed
And toes are rubbed
And smiles are coaxed
He is here
In the sicknesses
In the surgeries
In the uncertainties
He is here
In the lullabies that are sung
And the books that are read
And the prayers that are whispered
Pleading for health
He is here
And I find that this call to
During the seemingly endless & excruciating 18 month wait for our Joshua to come home from a Ugandan orphanage, there were so many times when I felt forgotten by my Heavenly Father.
I cannot remember exactly when I was following her blog. We were either waiting to travel for Joy, or had just returned home with Joy. Whenever it was, I do remember not understanding why this woman would travel all the way to the other side of world to adopt a little boy, but change her mind once she met him. She never detailed her reasons, but people on the adoption forums made their assumptions. I admit that I, too, passed judgment on this lady, albeit quietly, not on forums. But that was before.
Disruption is a dirty word in the adoption community. Opinions are very strong on this topic. Many adoptive moms say that they would never even consider a disruption. And, I have to admit that it never once crossed our minds. When we started the adoption of Yang in 2008, we knew that she had a variety of delays. But, I also believed we could work through them. I did a lot of research and reading preparing myself for this adoption. While doing the paperwork, waiting, and doing more paperwork, I never once considered that we would not bring Yang home with us. Never. We were prepared.
We traveled in 2009 and met Yang in Nanchang. She looked just like her pictures with the happiest smile on her 8 or 9 year old face. Her delays terrified me. I thought I was prepared, but hindsight, no amount of reading could have prepared me for the face to face reality of the disabilities. I filled out paperwork, but could not rid myself of this gnawing feeling in my gut, this fear. We were her parents briefly. My husband and I talked, cried, prayed all night long as I watched this beautiful child sleep. Without going into details, we knew that Yang’s needs were so great. We had to make a decision for our family as a whole, not just what I wanted. We had 5 other children back home to consider, each that would be impacted greatly in one way or another. We chose not to continue the adoption. Shortly thereafter, the emails and comments came.The adoption forums started their discussions and judgments about our decision, all without even knowing what was happening in our lives.
It was not an easy decision. I never thought I would be in this situation…having to make this choice. We once had to make a decision about removing our child from life support. We could see our daughter deteriorating before our eyes, but we didn’t want to accept it. We knew we were prolonging the inevitable, unless God intervened. With both decisions came grief and the loss of a child. The feelings were the same.
One lady on a particular forum stated that those who choose to disrupt are not “good human beings”. Another stated it was just a wrong decision to disrupt. These are both judgmental attitudes. No one knows what a family is experiencing. No one knows their financial or emotional situation. A serious, unexpected special need could be detrimental to a family financially. No one knows what is happening with the other children in the home. One child at home could be resentful of the new sibling that takes mom or dad away many days a week for various therapies. Everyone has to make a decision based on what is best for their families at that particular time. If Yang had been our first or second child, I’m sure the outcome would have been very different.
With China special needs adoptions becoming more common than non-special needs, there may be more disruptions. My hope is that the adoption community would be one of support and not one that tears down. If you’ve never disrupted, you cannot understand what a family is going through. It would be like comforting a mother who just lost her child by saying, “I know how you feel. Our child ALMOST died.” I’ve heard people’s “almost disruption” stories numerous times. It is not the same.
I’ve learned never to say “never”. You may say you know in your heart you would never disrupt. I’m glad. I hope you are never put to the test. I’ve learned that I have limits and am not perfect. It is very humbling to leave China without your child.
Cheri lives in Virginia with her husband, Mike, of 23 years. They have 3 biological children, ages 20, 16, and 11. After struggling with many pregnancy losses, they felt God was calling them to adopt a little girl from China. Upon returning home from their trip in 2006 to adopt Eva, they became more aware of the need of orphans. They traveled to China again in 2007 to adopt Joy. Always having the older children on her heart, but feeling incapable, Cheri felt an older child was in their future for adoption. In February 2010, Cheri traveled alone to Guangdong, China to adopt 7-year-old Ivy. Cheri started blogging to share her travels to China with friends and family but has also enjoyed sharing the ups and downs of adoption and family life.
This post has been being written over and over again in my brain several times over the last few months. Last night I couldn’t sleep at all over it, so it’s time to get it out and put it to rest so I can get some rest! Way to often recently, an ugly debate has been raising its head on social network sites and quite honestly, I believe it grieves the Lord, and fuels the enemy’s fire to steal kill and destroy.
If you have sensitive toes, you may want to stop reading about now. Because some things just need to be said.
First of all:
This is an argument we should NOT be having.
Disunity in the Body of Christ is a disgrace to the Lord. John 17:23 says that by our unity, the world will know that we are Christians and they would know how much we love people. Ephesians 4:13 says that unity is a sign of maturity. We are immature believers if we are arguing over this issue. We are NOT showing the world Jesus and we are NOT showing the world how much He loves them. If you want to talk to a family about their motivations behind one or the other, do it in private. I am 100% willing to bet that you will come to complete understand about their reasoning. At the end of the day, this argument only brings DISTRACTION from the real issue….every child deserves a family. And the enemy is having a party if he can take the focus off these children, and onto one another and ridiculous arguing.
No one child is more deserving than another.
I have worked for an adoption agency for 5 years now. The first three were spent in the domestic program. Over the course of that 3 years, I got to be in the delivery room 32 times to welcome precious children into this world. I took custody of 32 babies and handed over the majority of those tiny, squirming infants into the arms of adoptive mamas and daddies. I helped new parents figure out infant car seats and walked sobbing birth mothers out of the hospital and drove them home. Often times, the birth mom didn’t want to see the newborn. I spent many hours, in empty L&D rooms, with fresh newborns, rocking and praying over them, assuring them that they had a family coming. And they always did. More often than not, I was in tears as well just watching the process.
Those babies are just as orphaned as the ones in China. They are no more deserving of a family……and to say, “why go overseas when you can adopt right here in your neighborhood” is a very western, selfish, american, ugly, thing to say.
NO one child is more deserving than another.
I dare you to look at my children and say that they were less deserving because they were born in China. I bet not one person who has made that statement above would believe that if they spent one hour with my kids. Adoption is a picture of the very gospel….and to say one person is more deserving than another is a slap in the face to our call to care for the orphan. People who make this debate would never comment on a missionaries post and say, “why are you going to serve overseas when there are people right here who need Jesus?” Doesn’t that sound absurd? It sounds just as absurd when you ask it of the orphan.
Families go where God calls them.
Why did we adopt from China?
We had children there.
The Lord made that crystal clear.
We would’ve gone to China, Africa, Arkansas, or the North Pole if the Lord had asked us to. The Lord calls us the Body of Christ….we each have a function. If we were all called to the same place and the same thing, the world would be boring and lots would go undone. If we were all called to care for China’s orphans, the rest would go unnoticed. When families call me and ask about the process, the first thing I say, every single time, is “pray about WHERE.” Then call me back when God tells you, and we’ll move forward. Praise the Lord we are all called to different places!!! We get to be His hands and feet right here in our backyards and overseas!!! That ought to make us rejoice, not debate!!
Be respectful and prayerful.
People need Jesus. Children need families. Families need children. Before you take a stab at an adoptive parents motivation, consider what YOU might do. If you look around and you aren’t doing a thing, please keep your opinions to yourself. Adoptive parenting is HARD ENOUGH. Adoption brings baggage. Even to a two day old infant. It’s a lifetime process and is a beautiful thing. It’s a good hard. Instead of debating, we should be praying for one another. Asking the Lord what we can do. Holding the hand of a broken mama who’s birth mom has changed her mind, and the baby has to go back. Bringing dinner to the family who just came home from two weeks overseas and can’t get their days and nights turned back around. Serve one another! (1 Peter 4:10)
Put it to rest, friends. Give it up. Let it go. If you are called to this road, celebrate it with one another. It will change you…….and it’s not a glamorous life. Adoption changes the way you see the Lord, changes your checkbook and how you spend your money, and gives you a burden that some days is all consuming. If you haven’t been on this road, respectfully keep your opinions to yourself. Be the Body of Christ that we are called to be to one another and to a dying world that needs Jesus like nobody’s business. And if we are going to fight over something, let it be:
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.
- Emily and Jay have been married for 11 years and have 5 childen–Avery 8, Ally 6, Annalyse 4, Ashley 3, and (finally) our BOY, Asher 2. Ashley and Asher were adopted from China and were both special needs adoptions. Jay is an associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA, and Emily spends her days chasing toddlers and waiting in line at carpool. Her favorite place in the world is in her van, all alone with the worship music blaring! She would count it an honor to have you be encouraged at
My mother has a friend, an elderly man, who was preparing to go on a cruise. This first required a flight and before leaving for the airport the man, knowing that he might be walking on some uneven territory, grabbed an old cane, a walking stick that had belonged to his grandfather. It had sat in the corner, used only occasionally.
The man and his traveling companions stood in line for security at the airport. They noticed that those to whom they had entrusted to keep them safe were eying his cane very carefully, examining it from every angle. Suddenly, to the extreme surprise of the gentleman, the agent pulled on the cane and out whisked a very long, very sharp sword.
Chaos ensued. The travelers were rushed away, interrogated, but fortunately were deemed harmless and allowed to travel, sans the antique threat to national security.
It’s been dry around here lately. My heart, I mean. My spirit is parched.
Last November I spoke at a retreat on the extremely weighty issue of how God uses our suffering for His glory. I believed that God had called me to tackle this topic but the stress of it was overwhelming. After reading every book I could find on suffering, listening to every podcast, and pouring over every bible verse, and trying not to throw up in between sessions, I was drained. I had immersed myself in the Word for weeks and when it was all over, my sin nature immediately said “No more! Bring on the chick lit! DVR up the drivel! I need a break from all things deep and godly!”
It’s disgusting, actually.
About this same time, I discovered things about the adoption industry in Ethiopia that ushered in more nausea. Overwhelmed by information and confronted by the shocking ugliness of sin, plus accepting that bringing our daughter home is probably not on God’s agenda for 2012 caused my spirit to withdraw even more. Am I angry at God? I don’t think so. Am I jaded and cynical? More than ever before. Am I in despair? Yes.
Throw in the all the other worldly diversions and my bible has sat neglected for weeks.
My soul almost recoils at the thought of reading it. My short prayers consist mainly of, “I’m really sorry God. Thank you for loving me anyway.”
Oh wretched woman that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?
We’re experiencing the tension of being foster parents.
Our foster baby’s mom has come into the picture for the first time since he was born. He’ll start to have regular visits with her next week.
There is much tension in my heart as I want the woman who birthed him to know how much we love him and how we have done everything we can to protect and nurture him.
And, I want her to know that SHE is loved, because I know this life hasn’t been easy for her. She’s where she is in life because of some things that aren’t her fault.
And, I want her to know I’m not the enemy. That I want the best for him. Whatever and wherever that may be.
I want redemption for her: restoration for her body, her spirit, and her life.
But, I love this sweet baby boy who currently lives in our home. As all this has played out this past week, I’ve wanted to grab him and hold him and not let go.
And, I want to make her earn the right to see him because she’s left him for the last three months.
I want to grab her face in my hands and say, “Don’t you know what you’ve missed? Was it worth it?”
But, I realize that she has given me a gift for the past three months. And her gift is the result of a life that has been littered with heartache and devastation.
And there is the tension.
We need loads and loads of prayer as we navigate these new waters.
Leslie has been married to her husband Brian for a little over 2 years. They live in Montgomery, Alabama where Leslie works for a nonprofit agency and Brian is a student pastor. They are passionate about caring for the orphan and have helped start ONEfamily, an adoption, foster care, and orphan care ministry in their church. Their free time is made up of watching football, eating Mexican food, and spending time with their rambunctious puppy, Knox. They have chosen to adopt first and are currently fostering a little guy and awaiting a referral of one or two children from the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can read more about their adventures here.