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!
THIS IS NOT A HANDBAG!!!!!
THIS IS NOT AN EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT YOU NEED TO JOIN!
THIS IS NOT THE LATEST ACCESSORY.
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!
"Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later, I'll give it tomorrow" - when you now have it with you!"