Want to read a beautiful story of love?
Hop on over the Love Without Boundaries today for a story that will inspire and encourage! Plus some amazing photographs.
Want to read a beautiful story of love?
Hop on over the Love Without Boundaries today for a story that will inspire and encourage! Plus some amazing photographs.
We had her picture on the counter of our kitchen for two weeks and we were quiet about her. The information of a little girl that Madison Adoption Associates was hoping to place in a family sat before us. Adoption was not new to us, in fact it is where we started as we built our family. We had two children, wild and hilarious boys, running around the house. Both were healthy. What did we know about adopting a child listed as “special focus”?
What did we know about special needs?
We knew we were overwhelmed. We knew we had a lot of learning to do. We knew we had to talk to doctors, and specialists, and seasoned parents. We knew we had to have faith in the Lord and trust in one another as well.
I remember one evening after we had said the YES to her I cried and cried to a friend about the “what if’s” and when the crying was over I straightened my shoulders and resolved that whatever we didn’t know would be ok.
Sure, there have been a few medical procedures we had not planned. Yes, there has been more intensive speech therapy than we knew to expect. It is true that she is sensitive in ways that the boys are not, some due to trauma of abandonment, and in other ways just because of her spirit. I don’t want to lie to you. Adopting a child labeled as “special focus” has had surprises and we have at times walked a road that led to exhaustion and tears together.
But, if your asking. If your asking me what is it like to adopt a “special focus” child then this is what my answer would be.
Last evening as the sun was setting on our farm my husband roared his 1947 Massey Ferguson tractor and the baby of our family, just 18 months old, went wild with excitement. He could hear it from inside and he wanted a ride. It was freezing outside. I bundled him from head to toe in warmth until he could sweat even in a freeze. As I put on my coat I noticed that she was there bundling up too. We walked out together and she took his little glove covered hand and bent low. With one hand around his back so that he could not fall and the other in his she walked him across the acre to their Daddy. She walked so careful, so tenderly, with such purpose. She walked that baby in safety and when they reached the tractor she turned to me and waved. And, from the porch where I had watched intently I melted into a muddle of tears.
You see, there were many things we did not know when adopting a special focus child. And one of those things was that we were saying that YES to one of the most compassionate souls we have ever met. We didnt know we were saying YES to a little girl who would bundle up, stoop low, and walk her baby brother across a frozen field just because she wanted to love.
Special focus children hold the hearts of Madison Employees in their hands. They are special focus because they tend to be more difficult to place due to their age, special needs, and medical needs. Madison offers grants to help place “special focus” children into loving families. I dont know what your questions are about special focus children, but I want you to know one thing for sure.
There is more to that child than the special needs glaring at you from the page, and there is more to you than the uncertainty you may feel in your heart about adopting a child with special needs. Bring their huge capacity for love together with yours and even a frozen field in February can be warmed.
A friend posted this morning on a private facebook page that she is very frustrated with her son. After many weeks of positive behavior she feels that he is sabotaging the good. He has a history of this. He has a history of sabotaging. Today, this morning, she is angry and worn and frustrated.
She asked for advise and prayer.
This was worth sharing:
Draw the closest to the child that is offending you. Draw the closest to the child who is acting out. Draw the closest to the child who is doing wrong. Draw them closer and closer. Whatever they are doing take it for what it is. You think they are pooping their pants on purpose? I know it will get to you. I know it will wear you thin. I know you will be angry. But, tell yourself that it is just poop. It is just poop. Just. Poop. And most importantly before you parent, before you respond, do one thing. Let go of the expectations, because they kill the progress. Don’t parent that child as if they know better, or should have learned already, or were setting out to make you mad. I know you feel like you can hardly handle another thing today. But, don’t say it. Don’t say outloud “I cant handle this.”. The child will hear “I cant handle you.” and the test is over. Make it clear. You pooped your pants. On purpose. I can handle this because your worth it. Someday you wont do these things and that will be fantastic for all of us. But, until then not only can I handle you…. I want too.
Some children do have sabotage behaviors. Regardless we will experience days when we want to scream that we cant handle it. But, we can. Reach out for loving guidance, listening ears, and support when needed. Strongly send the message that your love can not be sabotaged away by letting go of disappointment, rage, and guilt and parenting instead out of hope, grace, and love.
I get to see it. The process. Every year I sit with families who have not yet brought a child home, but are trying. They are filling out the papers, scheduling the visits, running to the appointments, searching for a notary (again)….right?!
They have hopes.
They have plans.
They have fears.
They have needs.
As they prepare and process and work diligently to adopt these adopting families have a great need for support. I think I may know someone who can help. I mean really help.
Despite the growing number of adoptive families many of us who choose to adopt do so without being surrounded by other folks with adoptive experience. Yes, there is the online community, true ,and this can be very helpful. But there is nothing like sitting across the table from another person and being able to hear their story and ask the questions of your heart. An experienced adoptive family can naturally build confidence and give wisdom to a family setting out. Every family will become seasoned as they journey through adoption past the process and into the parenting. But, how wonderful to have an experienced family help point the beginner to issues that they may not have yet thought about. Beautiful issues that must be talked about such as race, ethics, and healing from trauma.
Many first time adoptive parents are a wonderful bundle of nerves and hopes, excitement and energy. They are alive with great anticipating about “their child” and they have set out to do a wonderful and life changing act. A little table time spent with a seasoned adoptive family can help propel those emotions into prepared wisdom for the journey to come. And, it may help them to not feel so alone.
Alone. This is a word that I hear often from families who are in the process. The feel alone because their extended family does not understand or maybe even not share the excitement. They feel alone because they go to the government offices and physical appointments so eager and ready to bring this child home, but the secretary behind the desk doesn’t share that excitement. For her, it is a day at work. For the adoptive parent it is a day closer to child in arms. I remember it myself, the begging for an earlier appointment at the physicians. Yes, yes, they are busy but if we could just get our physicals accomplished quickly then we could finish our homestudy and move on…move closer… to a real living breathing flesh that needs our arms and love and….oh, yes I understand we have to wait and the next appointment is not for a month. Alone.
The process itself is so uncertain. “When will the call come…for referral…for travel…for court…for HOME……” Very few folks who have not adopted understand the weight of this wait. Nor should they. Those of us with experience, though, look how we can encourage here and point to what will come and help teach how this wait can be used for good. We can help just by being present, simply by nodding out heads with a shared understanding. Those who have not carried their child outside their body and had no control over months and years of their life often can not understand the hardship of this waiting. I remember laying in bed wondering if he was hungry, and if she was being held, and so wishing I could communicate love to them across the miles. I remember the tears and the hopes.
A new family, in the process, has many needs. And one of them is you and your stories, wisdom, and experience.
Yes, and thank you for sharing your experience online. Its fantastic. Many a night I have burned the oil reading and HAVE BEEN HELPED or ENCOURAGED so I do not want to discredit those blogs and online communities as they serve a purpose. If you can, however, get to know a family that is starting out. Make a connection and sit down together. May the bonds of adoption bring you new friends that you can encourage, support, and help uplift during their process. Because only you can nod your head knowingly as they share. You “get-it” and more than that your experience can help to widen their eyes and make them better prepared to welcome that child home.
You are needed to help those starting out know that they are not alone. And beyond that I believe with all my heart that our stories of the process, and the sharing of every day life as an adoptive family can make those starting out better prepared, more thoughtful, and bring them even deeper into an understanding of the difficult yet remarkably beautiful journey they are on for the sake of loving a child.
And, if your the beginner reading this and you feel alone ~ don’t. Don’t keep living that way, because there is a wealth of knowledge, understanding, wisdom and humor available to you in the form of an experienced adoptive family! Make a call. Send an email.
My table is open to you. And, I would bet most other adoptive families would say the same.
Our director posted this article on the MAA facebook page as she was touched by it and felt that this writer and mother hit the nail on the head. At MAA all of our families work through training with their social worker to understand that spanking a child who has a history of abuse, neglect, trauma, and institutionalization can bring on more trauma…more hurt…more distance. I think Dana, the author of this post, did a lovely job of raising this issue in a grace filled and honest manner:
Dear Christian Parent Adopting an Older Child,
MAA families and friends, I am so happy to share this blog post. I read it and my heart melted. In reading this I felt as though the writer and I had sat down and talked this through. She wrote my heart on this.
A beautiful read for all of us.
At a party a few weeks ago we were introduced to a family that had adopted one child. I had the opportunity to meet this little girl and chat with her for some time. Let me tell you that she was lovely inside and out. I don’t know her story or if she eats her dinner without complaint or misbehaves, but I do know that she came across as a young teen with the ability to communicate her thoughts well and a gentleness to other children. Her homeland is the same as one of my own children and so her parents and I began chatting all things adoption. There was the typical type of information exchanged about the when’s, where’s and so forth. My husband mentioned something about the “next time” and the couples eye brows raised.
“Your going to do it again?”, they asked.
We nodded. Currently our house is rather full and we have a lot of little ones so we are not doing it again today, but most certainly the plan includes adopting again. We don’t feel that our family is finished growing and we certainly desire to share this crazy love that we have under our roof with another child in need of that crazy love.
I guess we kind of told them that answer. That, yes, we plan on doing it again. My husband returned the question. It seemed like the right thing to do.
“Are you planning on adopting again?”, he asked smiling.
And this is where my, heart broke and I will tell you why.
“No, Oh never. We wont ever do that again. One was enough….”, They continued on and on as I tried to pick my mouth up off the floor. Now, let me explain. I was not upset that they felt their home was full. I get it. Each family knows when they have reached a healthy and harmonious capacity and no one but that family can judge best. No problem.
I was shocked because standing right next to them was this girl who they adopted with her eyes looking down at her feet and that light fading from her face. Here were her parents publicaly making it known how difficult their adoption had been, how hard the transition, and how there is just no way they would never do it again.
The words they used have long left my mind, but I will tell you what that young girl heard.
She heard “You were not worth it.”
And that breaks this Momma’s heart. Because all my children were worth it. They were worth the changed body and the stretch marks and the labor pains. They were worth the paperwork and the scraping savings and the months of waiting. They were worth every surprise and frustration and hope and sleepless night, every mile traveled, every lesson learned, every unknown and every tear shed. They were worth every moment of uncertainty and transition and chaos just for the chance to love them and watch them grow.
It is so important to have people to talk with about troubles. It is absolutely acceptable to state that you believe your family will not adopt again. It is absolutely acceptable to talk about frustrations, difficulties, and concerns. But, Momma’s and Daddy’s be care for little ears are listening. And little ears that have already had so much loss need to know that all you went through to bring them home was not only worth it, but that you would do it again if it meant loving them another day.
May we have friends and loved ones we can open up too, talk with, pray with, and seek wisdom with. May we find encouragement and support when needed. May we share our stories to inspire, teach, and help. But, let us not let our frustrations that come, and they do, tear down the self worth of the children.
We all have a hammer and can do one of two things.
May your story, whatever it may be, be spoken in such a way that it can build up the little ears that hear it.
Warm tears were streaming down her face and there I sat a little dumfounded. Just moments ago we were cuddling and giggling goofy. She is five and she spends her days being silly, light hearted, helpful, soaking in everything she can. She learns so quickly.
Why had I not wondered if she knew?
She knows about China. She knows about adoption. She speaks of “China Momma” by name. And we talk about “Cleffie”…her name for bilateral cleft lip and palate that was not repaired until she was nearly three.
I wiped the tears.
It all started out of nowhere. We were naming her friends. She loves to do this.
“Mommy, I love you, Daddy, Finn, Mussie, Charlie and all my friends. I love Marlee, Izee, Aden, Addison, Sophie……..” The list went on.
Then a tear came.
“I talk different them all of them.”, she said., , It was here she buried her face into my chest and sobbed.
I had not been ready for this tonight. The dishes were not finished, eggs still sat crusting up the pan. The other children were waiting for me to read and I could hear them getting restless., But, it doesn’t matter if I wasn’t ready. She was and this is one reason I go by the name Momma, so that when her heart is, sad it is my, arms that stop to hold her.
She cried and I rocked her., We spoke of her cleft lip and palate, her progress with speech therapy, how very far she has come. We spoke of being special, unique, and inspirational. We sang and I got silly enough in my version of “Let it Go” that she smiled again and the tears stopped.
There are days when all of this is heavy.
Raising a child with baggage~ the hurt of loss, the void of information unknown, abuse, neglect, special needs that continue on~ it can be heavy to bear.
I kissed her and tucked her in. We will no doubt have this conversation again and again., I believe her awareness now regarding how she sounds and speaks will only assist her in her journey of speech.
Its heavy to wipe those tears.
And at the same time I am full of joy to carry it.
Her hurt is heavy, but the hope I have for her is stronger.