Welcome to part two of our honest answers to tough questions about adoption! If you missed last week's post, you can catch it here! My hope is that this series will provide answers to some of the tough questions surrounding adoption - things related to the process, family, and bonding. This week, you'll find answers to the following questions:
how do you adopt when you already have children?
One of the most common concerns regarding adoption is how it will effect the child(ren) already in the family. The reality is, it WILL effect your entire family. No one will be untouched by trauma, grief, and loss - because that is the path children in need of adoption have walked.
Preparing children for the upcoming changes is critical - as is making sure that they have a support system of trusted people to talk to. One thing I wish we had had more training in was how important it was to support the children already in our family during times of transition.
Workers are, by nature, focused on the well being and needs of the child being placed in the home for purpose of foster care or adoption. While that child's needs must be met - it cannot be at the expense of ignoring your other children.
Friends, I will be real with you: this is hard. It is hard to watch your new child - and your other child(ren) struggle. It is hard to find a balance between walking through trauma with a child who is hurting, while trying to guide your other kid(s) in processing without being traumatized as well. Hurting people have a tendency to hurt people. It isn't always intentional - and it isn't always malicious - but it is true.
Preparing the child(ren) in your family unit by educating them in age appropriate ways about trauma and loss and grief is so important. By equipping them to empathize (not pity) the child(ren) coming into your home, you are strengthening them. Talk to them openly - and let them know they can talk openly to you about how they feel and what they're struggling with - even if it hurts. It's hard to listen to your child express deep grief and loss at the way life used to be, but it is critically important that they be not only permitted by supported in their grief and loss.
This isn't crippling the child. It's teaching them compassion and love. It's showing them that giving isn't always a one and done - sometimes it's a process - and sometimes that process hurts. It's teaching them that even if we don't like the way something FEELS all the time, we persevere and do what is right. And it is teaching them that beauty and hard coexist - especially in obedience to our Savior.
Our children are all incredibly close. They do not treat each other any differently than if they'd all been born and raised in our home. They are each other's best friends and biggest rivals! It has changed our children, when we have added to our family through adoption. But it has changed them more into the likeness of Jesus, and their tender hearts reflect a level of love and compassion and grace and passion for justice than I knew possible in children so young!
do you feel free to parent the way you think is right?
Usually. I know that's not wildly comforting, so let me explain.
Legally, once children are adopted, you are free to parent them without any additional input or governance by the state. Workers don't randomly drop by your home after finalization, and you aren't in any contract stating what you can and cannot do with your child. (Prior to finalization, rules vary by state. Visits are done by workers on a schedule determined by the level of need of your child. While sometimes inconvenient to schedule, we had good experiences with our workers, and our kids always enjoyed their visits!)
That said, because our adoption is transracial, it is obvious that our sons are adopted. The reality is, this has resulted in people feeling free to voice their opinions/concerns/beliefs/passions/disapproval - sometimes without much filter and/or with complete disgust.
We have had both well-intentioned and malicious individuals cause great distress in our family by overstepping even socially acceptable boundaries in an attempt to 'save' or 'baby' one of our sons. It is challenging to parent the way we KNOW is right in those situations, especially when race is brought in to the equation in an inappropriate or unjust way.
However tough it is, though, we have learned that consistency is absolutely crucial. We cannot back down out of fear of what other's think, or to save face just because an epic meltdown has ensued. Our children - all of them - need us to be their parents. That means lovingly discipling (not just disciplining) them - truly training up a tribe of little people to follow hard after Jesus.
what led your family to believe adoption was for you?
My husband knew I had dreamed of adopting since I was eight years old. He knew this before we courted, and had heard my whole dream of having a home that was a safe place - a shelter and haven - for children. Praise Jesus, he married me anyway!
My husband and I prayed a great deal before beginning our adoption adventure. We read (well, I read and told him about!) everything that could be found on adoption, trauma, parenting children from hard places, and legal processes. We talked it over with our family (some were in complete support, others questioned our sanity!) and found other families who had adopted to talk to.
And I think those are the key factors: Pray. Be in complete unity with your spouse. Research. (Several important things that I somehow glossed over the first time around: Love can NOT fix it all, and trauma triggers trauma! Address your own hurts, expectations, grief, and trauma so that you can walk through healing with your child!)
While I firmly believe the Bible MANDATES us ALL to care for orphans and widows in their distress, I do NOT believe God asks ALL to adopt! Adoption is more like a marriage than the biological birth of a child. Your child comes to you with a history that began before you. Their personality, genetic make up, and past experiences are completely separate from you, but must be embraced as part of the whole. Your commitment is to be life-long, and requires dedication to getting to know your child - their dreams, hurts, fears, past, and future goals. It involves compromise in finding ways for your lives to intertwine as a family!
on next week's edition of honest answers to tough questions about adoption...
Next week, I'll be covering questions about bonding and attachment. Truthfully, it's something I took for granted before our most recent adoption. By the grace of God, we have seen a lot of healing and redemption in our family recently! I am excited to share some of what I've learned and experienced as I continue to tackle these tough questions y'all sent in!
In the mean time, I'd love to hear from you! Are there questions I haven't covered that you would like answers to? Feel free to leave them in the comments! And then hop over to one of my social media accounts and follow along for daily encouragement and the occasional laugh!
Here you will find the musings of a homeschooling, work from home, adoptive Momma of 6! Adventures in faith, family, adoption, and training up a tribe of little people to follow hard after Jesus are spilled into these posts --- most often written with a cup of coffee in hand. I hope you'll stick around a while and find something - more likely SOMEONE! - that brings you hope!
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