The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adopting from Haiti, Africa, or Eastern Europe? All photos taken from CNN site on Haiti....

I need to speak very boldly and very plainly to you! 





Haitian orphan

These are children.  They are children, JUST exactly like the ones that grew in your womb, just exactly like the ones that are sleeping in the bed right down the hall from you.  They are children who want and need all the same things your kids need.  They are adorable.  They are lovely, they are playful, they are scared, they are lonely, they are hungry, they are in crisis.  But they are NOT a trend!   

In addition, they are traumatized.  This doesn't mean that they will fall into your loving arms and thank you every day of their lives for plucking them out of their personal hell.   This means that the more stuff you shower them with, the more overwhelmed they will probably become.  They haven't likely ever had the amount of "stuff" that we possess here, so instead of being like a "normal" kid in Disneyland, they will most likely be too overwhelmed to appreciate it and actually have very little interest in any of it.  Or they might want EVERYTHING they see and not be able to handle being told "no".  Sometimes they can't go to sleep in a room by themselves (likely never had to even try.)  This does not mean that they need to be conditioned the way you conditioned your birth babies to self soothe.  This means they need comfort and closeness and reassurance that you will be here and that you will be in the room with them until they feel okay for you to be in your own room.  For some children, this will be 6 days, for others 6 months.  They need to decide, not you.  It might mean that you sleep on the floor in their room.  It might mean that they sleep on yours.  But it will definitely mean that you don't get to sleep as usual, at least for a while.  

Children who are victims of trauma are not always easy to parent.  It's dangerous to generalize because of course, there is always the exception to every rule.  But it's never a good decision to adopt a child because someone you  know has done it and you want to be a part of what they have found!  I'm glad that there is alot of publicity and many walls are coming down for orphans, particularly orphans of color.  But the danger is that this is a "bandwagon" that people want to hop onto. And once you hop on it, there's no getting off, no matter how bad it hurts.

I want to be fully honest with you here.  I have adopted three times and twice I brought home children who blended right into our family (with a LOT of expected attachment work) and have not looked back much.  But one time I brought home a child who is going to struggle with alot of things throughout his life as a result of the time he spent as an orphan.  Many things will be harder for him than they should be.  No amount of love or wishing will change it.  Alot of hard work is being done to help it be as easy as possible, but it's never going to be what it could have been for him.  The work we do every single day is not glamorous, it isn't something people say, "Boy I wish I could go through that!", and it isn't something I would have thought I could handle.  But this precious child has taught me SO much about God and His love and relationships.  Every single day, though, I wish I didn't need to learn the lesson.  I wish he could just get up and dress himself and do his own homework and talk in a normal voice and not move around in exaggerated motions and just brush his teeth without prompting 10 times and didn't have to take multiple (expensive) meds daily.  Every day I have a moment where I just wish I could have an "easy" day.  But then I have to pray and move on because I'm not living in easy.  I'm living in faith and trust in God to get me through.  I'm living with a kind of dependence I wouldn't have had without this special child.  God clearly put this particular child in my family to protect me from myself.  But He also gave me this particular child so that I could openly speak to you about the difficulties and also about the right thing to do in the face of those difficulties.  I can assure you, no one is signing up for the work that traumatized, unattached, alcohol affected children require.  No one is hoping for that when they dream of parenting.  But for some, that is what we get.  And if that is your God-given path, then I will tell you flat out that to walk that path in any way other than total humility and resignation is dishonoring and prolonging your heartache.  You may get home and realize that the child in your life is inconvenient, it might not be as fulfilling as you thought it would be to change poopy pants on an 8 year old, it's not very rewarding to have a child that shuts down every time they go to a birthday party because they can't handle the stimulation, it's overwhelming to have your new child and your other children all regressing at the same time and wanting every ounce of you every moment, and a whole host of other things that I or someone I know have experienced.  Truly, when I say you will be worn to a nub by adoption, I am not kidding.  I sat with Gwen in the hospital.  Yes, it's awe inspiring that she can adopt four orphans, at least one of whom was wounded and scarred physically for all the world to see, but I can assure you, there is no great energy buzz sitting at the hospital for days on end or changing bandages on a 3-year-old's head every day.  Gwen will be the first to tell you that it's not glamorous, but she is walking the path that God put her on.  I can tell you it's not glamorous, but I too am walking the road less traveled.  Sometimes it's lonely, but God!  But God didn't call you to be rewarded on earth.  He didn't call you to bask in the glory of your good works.  He called you to be HIS HANDS and HIS FEET!  And if you remember correctly, His hands were touching stinky, dirty, homeless, lice-ridden, unlawful and ungrateful people.  His feet were going into homes down in the projects where the hookers hang out.  And he's just asking you to love your own child more than you love your comfort, your reputation, and your sleep.

I DO believe that we are all called to love the orphan.  I believe that MOST people are capable of adopting and should adopt.  I believe that if you examine your reasons for NOT adopting and find that most of them are a matter of personal comfort, then you might want to challenge yourself to step up and take MORE of the reward that God wants to give you!  I believe that if everyone who is capable would actually do it, there would not be any true orphans in the world.  I believe that everyone who has adopted should have adopted, but I also KNOW that alot of people who have adopted should have done a better job and been alot more deliberate.  I know alot of folks who should have put themselves aside more (myself included) and quit hanging on to how they wanted it to be and start embracing how God gave it to them.  I KNOW there are alot of resources out there for folks, but many of those folks are too proud or too stubborn to grasp what is there for them.  Like addicts avoiding rehab, people don't want to face the help because they don't want to do the hard work that it will require of them.  Most people don't really want to change.  They want God to make them righteous right where they are!  They just want to continue on in their ignorance hoping that with time, the child will just conform to their ideals and life will be okay again.  I believe BOTH extremes are possible... that everyone SHOULD pray very specifically about whether they are being called to adopt, I believe that the answer to that question in the great majority of circumstances is "YES", and I believe at the same time that people need to not be adopting just because it's "trendy", but because they want to get down in the dirty trenches with our Lord and get DIRTY!  Dirty is exactly what it sounds like... you'll literally be worn to a nub, tired, sometimes bitter, sometimes smelly, sometimes you won't like yourself or those around you or sometimes you might not even particularly like God for what He is asking of you.  Some mornings you won't want to get out of bed, you will curse the sun, you will dread your day, you will go kicking and screaming like a three year old into the battle that you fought so feebly yesterday and know you will have to fight it again tomorrow.   But when you see heaven (and you will), you will no longer see through the dingy glass of the world, but face to face, and you will know that even everything you gave wasn't nearly enough! 

Proverbs 3:28
"Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later, I'll give it tomorrow" - when you now have it with you!"


V said...

amen to that. posting parts of this!

carolinagirl said...

O, so much of that post speaks to my heart. As hard as it has been to integrate emma into our family, i have gotten caught up in the wanting to "rescue" those children in haiti.

i have had such a hard time with our family change. i identified so much with the last part of your post. thank you for helping me feel like it's not just me. our friends don't really understand this reaction to adoption sometimes since "this is something we wanted for so long". i truly feel like we were meant to be emma's parents, but some days it's the hardest thing for me to take the crying and the outbursts, etc. part of it is because we are still trying to see where emma is coming from and second guessing everything about what she does and how she responds. adoption is very HARD. would i do it again, i think YES. i am not a very outwardly religious person, but the longer i lived with the idea of another child and then woke up one day and said, "we are going to adopt" to my husband. it had to be divine intervention. don't think though that i don't have my being down on my knees asking the Lord to show me the way and to show me what we are supposed to do with emma. she is adorable, she is precious, she is a dollbaby, but adopting a child is HARD. it is nothing like having a baby by birth. so i commend you for your post and your honesty and second that it can be a daily challenge. i am finding the rewards slowly but surely - some days they knock me over; some days i beg the Lord to reveal them to me. either way, i am glad that this process takes so long...'cause there are people out there who shouldn't decide to adopt and then be given a child immediately. it would never work.

thank you.

Adrienne said...

Yes Yes Yes, Ondrea! This post says so much of what I feel. Do you mind if I share it with my blog readers?

Hanging in there with you with the little guys who were scarred by their orphanage (and pregnancy/birth) histories,

Bethany said...

Wow, wow, wow, what a powerful post! Needed to be said and I couldn't think of a better to person to say it. I hope and pray that LOTS of people will listen.

The Fab 4 said...

This might be the most genuine thing I've read in a long time. I'm a mom of 3--bio, adopted, and just waiting for our older, SN child to come home. I didn't prepare my heart for the reality during the first adoption, and it bit me. Hard. The rest of my travel group looked like they were smooth sailing while I literally dreaded going to sleep knowing it meant another day was coming. However, this child is the most enormous gift. Indescribable. Awe-inspiring.

Thank you for your authenticity. I can't compliment it enough.

Lindsay said...


And thank you.

lori said...

Beautiful blog ... so well written, but unrehearsed. Raw and at the same time loving. You do a remarkable job at being real.

Kim said...


Mark and Sinziana said...

I truly love this post. I have shared it with some family and friends who love us, but don't understand well why we do certain things for our son, who we adopted two years ago from Russia. Thanks you!

Barb said...

Amen. The reality needs to be out there. Like you, I'd hate to see people adopt just because it seems trendy right now. Because they read on other blogs about how easy it was. It's not easy. People need to be prepared for that. Need to be prepared to put themselves aside. But is it worth it? Yes.

Lara said...

Yikes! I have two kids and my husband and I have prayed about adopting for years. We have finally decided we are going to and have started saving up. This post was kind of everything I've been terrified of having happen all at once. It's good to know and I appreciate your honesty. I'm glad it's a long process so we can have time to really prepare ourselves.

Candice Brett said...

I am so glad that you wrote this. I have been so concerned lately with this "let's do it too" attitude that some families have about adoption, as if it were the thing to do because everyone else is doing it and "i have to be like them" thing....I support adoption 100%; my sister Adrienne sent me the link to this page...I do, however, pray that families think and pray long enough to hear whether they are being called by friends, or officially being Called.

Amber said...

Thank you for sharing this! I just found your blog and I love it!

Bill and Myra said...

Thank you for posting this. You know we adopted two older children. One has PTSD but we didn't know it at the time. There are days when it is tough (like you have said). We adopted older children but we went in with our eyes open and did our homework about what we needed to be prepared for. Taking care of a traumatized child is tough and it does take the "right" kind of parenting and we had to do a lot of "studying" to prepare; our social worker was amazing and actually required us to do a lot of reading. I am glad we did all the reading and knew what we were getting into.

I appreciate your posts so much. You are honest and your posts are so heartfelt.

Blessings to you and your family!


Jennifer said...

I'm really unsure how to take this. I came to your blog from Adrienne's. My husband and I have 4 bio. children and 1 on the way. We've always desired a large family. We have discussed and prayed some about this being our last bio. child and then adopting. In my heart and mind, I've imagined that we would adopt 5 more children. I'm glad you showed me a new perspective on adopting, because I've never heard anyone speak of it this way before. But at this moment, I'm feeling extremely intimidated and honestly turned off by the idea of adopting. My life with 4 children, pregnant, homeschooling, etc., etc., is already so challenging that I cannot imagine adding the type stress and responsibility you describe. Obviously this will mean a lot more thought and prayer. I guess right now I find myself just thinking WHOA! Thank you for your honestly.

Melanie Hollis said...

OK, I have waited a few days to comment on this post because it is so raw and honest....truly, it is difficult to come up with words to add. I want to say this: I wish with all of my heart there were more believers who would make a choice to rid themselves of the world's trap and cling to following Jesus. He has made His expectations clear through His Word....we are supposed to get our hands dirty....loving those who are not easy to love...feeding the the poor...caring for widows and orphans. It isn't a matter of "do I want to", but a matter of obedience to our Creator and Savior. Why don't we love Him enough??? Why don't we love Him enough to stop worrying about our comforts and what we "deserve" out of life? It is all about love. I want to love Him more.

Amy said...

Amen. One of the best post I have ever read. Thank you.