Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Conflicted

I sometimes feel that advocating for adoption and also advocating for a realistic picture of what adoption looks like are at odds with one another. I know first hand both the joys and the difficulties adoption can bring to a family. The trick is to communicate the joy while being realistic about the difficulties. It is a fine line to walk, it seems.

I want people to adopt children. Really, I do. But I also worry about some families and wonder if they really know what they are getting into. I'm sure it stems from one too many, "I didn't know it was going to be this way" conversations. The majority of people have the best of intentions when they adopt. They know there is a need and they want to help. It is a good thing to want to provide a home and a family for a child who does not have one. I don't doubt their motives. 

It is so easy to look at the smiling face of a child, a child who needs a family, and to imagine onto that picture a personality. A personality which is charming and loving. A personality which is added into the family structure with little disruption. Maybe even a personality which is a bit sad at the changes which have occurred. It is a little more difficult to imagine that smiling child in the picture screaming and kicking. Or whining at every turn. It is more difficult still to imagine that child recoiling at your every overture or trying to injure you. And until you have witnessed a full-blown rage stemming from unimaginable fear, you cannot imagine what it would look like, much less that smiling child in the picture behaving like that.

Yet this is the type of behavior that many parents of newly (and not-so-newly) adopted children witness. There is a reason why some agencies have the rules they do... one child at a time... home a certain length of time before bringing another home... no disrupting birth order... no virtual twinning... no adopting past the age you've already parented. It's because these are the types of things that can add to the stress of adopting a child. The rules are in place because responsible agencies want families to be successful. They want the family to remain intact, disruptions are not good for anyone.

I know the reasons for the rules, yet sometimes it is best for everyone if the rules are bent a bit. We've certainly bent the rules a couple of times. I do have three nine year olds after all. What is good for one family is not necessarily good for another. The converse is true as well. What is bad for one family is not necessarily bad for another. And here's where I really struggle. How does anyone know which it is going to be?

I vacillate. What if a family is really called to adopt an older child when they only have young children? Or what if a family is really called to adopt older children when they've never adopted before? Or what if a family is really called to adopt out of disruption the first time out? I know God can do anything. But I also know that there are a lot of broken people out there who did feel called to adopt and for one reason or another (they weren't prepared for what it would be like; they knew but couldn't believe that would be their experience; there might have had a chance but there was no support) the adoption disrupted. I know that God can redeem bad situations, but no child needs yet another loss in his or her life.

I want families to adopt. I want children to find homes. I want parents to go into this whole messy business with their eyes wide open... or at least as open as they can be. I want people to be honest about their adoption experiences. I don't want adopting out of disruption to have to be the next "big" country.

Because adoption is messy and hard, but it is also wonderful and miraculous. And those miracles aren't only about children finding homes and parents finding children. Those miracles are about people allowing God to take over every aspect of their lives and turning it upside down. Being turned upside down can be unexpected and scary and confusing, but in the end, at least I found, that what I thought was upside down was really right side up.

6 comments:

Molly said...

For Josie, (who is my oldest child, and adopted out of birth order, so two hurdles for us) I think it was really healing for her to see Huck as a baby, and how we treat babies, and how she should have been treated. It softened her in a way.

thecurryseven said...

I completely agree, Molly. I think the best thing for both TM and K. was to have G. and L. born. We have talked about what they missed and how it wasn't right that they missed it. On some level, it made it a little more difficult for TM, though, because he couldn't imagine having left either of them in the orphanage.

So, I know that exceptions to the rules work... and work well. But, maybe I've just heard bad stories recently, there are other cases where it didn't work well at all.

Conflicted, conflicted, conflicted. I'm glad I'm not the one who makes these decisions. I should probably focus my energies on figuring out ways to help support adoptive families rather than get my pants in a know over how adoptive families are created. :-)

e

Donna said...

I am with you, Elizabeth. I want every child to have a home, but I also want every child to have a home that is well prepared and able to meet their needs. I worry about the "take a number" families but I worry even more about the "it won't happen to us" families...because it can and it does and there really is no vaccine. The growing number of disruptions is sad and frightening, and while I hope that agencies can be open minded, I also support their rules; they are only trying to increase the odds of success, not just for the family, but for the child.

Janet and Kevin said...

We have found that our adoptions are absolute miracles from God! But, they have been hard and messy at times. So much is written out there about the adjustment of the child, but truly not enough is written about how a family is to cope with the "hardness and messiness" that often comes with the miracles! I agree with your statement that you feel "conflicted" about urging people to adopt. So, so glad we have and can't imagine our lives without our three littlest, but there have been points in each process where the going was rough. We have found the support and stories of other adoptive families, such as yourselves and others, to be invaluable in helping us get through those times. God has given us each other to help along this road, and I love it!

janet and gang

Christine said...

I am so excited to have found your blog. My husband and I are in the midst of pursuing domestic infant adoption!

thecurryseven said...

Donna, it must be even more difficult for you since you are caring for these children before they go to their families. You must wish you had a say where they ended up.

Christine, thank you, welcome, and how exciting!

e

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