Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Dear New Adoptive Mom,

Congratulations on your new little person. I am always happy to know that a child has a permanent family. I am also glad that so far your transition has been easy. That's great. I would not wish a difficult transition on anyone. It is hard on the parents and harder on the child. But in reality, two weeks is still a pretty short period of time. I've been at this for over nine years now, and have earned more experience than I ever wanted. It hasn't been an easy day today, so maybe it is my own fatigue and fear showing, but I'd like to share some of that experience with you.

Resiliency and an easy transition are not the same thing. According to the Mayo Clinic, resiliency is "adapting to adversity." It is the "ability to roll with the punches. When stress, or adversity, or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief, and pain, but you're able to keep functioning -- both physically and psychologically." At two weeks into this adventure, all you know for sure is how your little one deals with shock. Because she is in shock, and frankly, probably so are you. It's a big change suddenly having a new family and it's a big change suddenly having a new child. You may not feel as though you are in shock, and your child may not act like it, but you probably are. In a month or two, when things have settled down, then you will begin to get to see the level of your child's resilience. This is when the new has worn off and the realization dawns that this change is permanent. And maybe, your child really is very resilient. If so, be grateful, because this is a very great gift.

But here is where I start to get a wee bit tetchy. Sure, some parents and children do have an easy time of it. It is the preferred rainbows and happy trees scenario... the one everyone hopes to goodness that they have. And just because it is fairly rare for everything to be absolutely awesome, it doesn't mean it is not a valid experience, because it does happen. It is one of a myriad of possibilities.

I will admit that I start to squirm a little when people start to hint that God must really love them because of this ease. I will also admit that in some of our experiences, it has been very difficult to take God at His word and be thankful in all things. It is very difficult in the moment to give thanks for a child who is physically hurting you out of his own fear and pain. Yet, looking back there are things I can give thanks for through all of that. Important things that were vital to me growing as a Jesus follower. As hard as it was, I can look back and say that God must really love me to allow me to go through that. Redemption looks all the better from the bottom of the pit.

And I will continue to tell my story. I will continue to counsel families looking into adoption to be careful to count the cost. I will continue to share the hard parts and the unlovely parts and the parts that I wish we didn't have to live through. I will continue to do this even if it means that someone may be scared away and say adoption isn't for them. If just hearing about the hard is too much, then what happens when life becomes too hard and they weren't ready for it? What happens to the already broken and damaged child? The truth is hard. Adoption is born out of loss and trauma. You cannot have the one without the other. While we all wish we could love the hurt away, that's just not how it is.

Redemption is costly. It cost Jesus His life because we were broken and damaged. Adoption is costly. Hurt and pain are not easily healed. It takes time. It takes sacrifice. And sometimes it takes an almost inhuman ability to keep moving forward. But Jesus has our backs and keeps moving us forward when we think we can't possibly move ourselves.

So, new adoptive parent, please do not discount or belittle the hard stories because they are not yet your story. Who knows? I don't have a working crystal ball, they may never be. But I've also seen children thrown off the rails unexpectedly for a variety of reasons and you just can't predict who that will be and when that will happen. Does this mean you need to live with a constant dread that your perfect story is going to end? No, of course not. That way insanity lies. But, it is always good to know that life can be turned upside-down in an instant. This isn't an adoption-thing, but a life-thing. My point is, do not rope your child into a certain scenario. Give him the freedom to express his full range of emotions.. even the hard stuff. Even the stuff you would rather not hear. The always perfect child adoption story can sometimes make it difficult for a child to break out of the mold if they need to.

I do wish you all the best.

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