Sunday, March 17, 2013

Adoption is not for the faint of heart.....

Recently I was contacted by a set of parents who needed new info for their referred child.....they had less than 24 hours to make their decision.  The file was over a year old and they had a couple of photos of her.  She was institutionalized since birth and is currently 26 months old.  Her special need was "autistic features"

These parents were not scared of the autistic diagnosis...they just wanted to see where she was on the spectrum of severity.  However, I heard fear in their questions...  why is her head flat?  Why does she have a red mark around her arm like she was tied?  The other comment...."I have no idea how parents do THIS more than once... Adoption is hard"

I told them... Adoption is not for the faint of heart.

My main point of this e-mail is to say that adoption comes with many unknowns.  The unknown of timing, the unknown of cost, the unknown of what child you will make a part of your family, and the unknown of the extent of special needs your child will have.

I have brought home 8 children from China who were listed as waiting children.  Each time our family stepped forward in faith, we knew the medical file we received may or may not be valid.  We only once had a video of a child and even it was deceiving. There are always holes in the information and  the information you receive is usually very general (like the developmental milestone page)

On his gotcha day, I was given my son, Jonathan, along with an echocardiogram and told...He has a heart defect "Do you still want him" 

 On gotcha day, I met my 11 year old daughter, Piper, and as we left the 2nd floor of the civil affairs building, I was told, "She cannot do steps"  I carried her two flights of steps on my back to just get out of the building. We lived in a split foyer home and in her file "can do steps" was checked.

On gotcha day, my husband met our 6 yr old son, Elijah, and realized he cannot form words correctly and cannot be understood when he speaks.  The box marked "can speak 2-3 word sentences" was checked.

On gotcha day, my son, Joseph, was brought to me barely alive. The child I received photo of was at the BOTTOM of a slide, was pictured standing in the middle of a playground, and was pink.
Joseph was the picture of death-- purple and gasping for each breath.         

I have wondered recently.... why?  This is the age of digital cameras...this is the age of computers.  WHY are these files so empty and WHY are we not getting the full "picture" of our child to be?  Sometimes I think the files are worded and purposely left empty to help the child get a family.  Sometimes I feel the file is filled out by someone who really doesn't know the correct diagnosis but fills in a blank with a guess.  Sometimes I think they are filled out correctly and then the "higher ups" remove needs that could potentially be hidden until the child is being parented.

Adoption is not for the faint of heart. Adoption is a gamble.  Adoption has many unknowns and you have to be willing to accept it.  I don't feel it should be this way but, frankly, we enter into adoption knowing it will happen this way.

When you are adopting think of these few things....
--I will love my child not matter what.  
--I realize there may be many more issues to handle than what is in the file
--I realize these children did nothing to make them the way they are...they were born into an unfortunate situation and given less than they deserved for whatever period of time they were without a family.
--You cannot control many of the unknowns of adoption.
--You can prepare yourself as much as possible by educating yourself about the effects of being in an institution.
--Your child is not cured just because they have had surgery.
--You can prepare yourself by realizing that bringing a child into your family through adoption will be very very hard.  It is not rescuing the child and making everything ok.  It is taking them from everything they know and removing them from what they feel is security and home. It will take along time for them to acclimate to your home, family, and our country.
--Your family may go through come rough times and it affects the other children in the home as well.
-- Your trip to get your child will be exhausting and full of difficult times.  It is not a vacation.

Once you can wrap your brain around all of this... 
Strap your big girl panties on and stand tall....

--- YOU are about to do one of the hardest things in your life with the BIGGEST blessing on the other side. 
--- YOU are about to be the hands and feet of Christ to a child.
---  YOU are about to show others the possibilities of infinite love for a child even if they are not "yours"
---YOU are about to show others in your family, church, and community what unconditional love is.