Some Clarifying Thoughts On Our Adoption

Since starting this series, we’ve had a handful of concerns from friends, which is totally understandable since we’ve been focusing on the “hard” of adoption instead of the “beautiful” of adoption. I wanted to write a few thoughts to give some clarification and give a clearer, fuller picture of our adoption story and our family.

First, according to the state, we’ve had a “successful” adoption. The kids’ case worker, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and all four therapists shared with us over and over their confidence in how things were going. Two of those six told us it was the most successful placement they had ever seen. Two others told us they wished they could invite other adoptive families into our home to watch us for tips and encouragement. The five who knew our children before we did talked frequently about how unrecognizable our kids were from their lives before, namely their new joy and how relaxed they were.

I stated in a post earlier that I tend to focus on the bad because it feels easier, but my reasons for doing so here are deeper than that.

Though I was hearing encouragement from everyone around me,  I didn’t feel the truth of it. I only saw that things felt different than they did with our other children, and I hated it. I felt dirty and worthless, only able to see failure. And when I went searching for help from other adoption sites/books, I would at worst hear the words “struggle” or “difficult,” words which didn’t seem strong enough. Then I would read tips about how to make things better for me and the kids. It wasn’t what I needed because mere tips weren’t sufficient, and so I began to believe I was completely alone, the only adoptive mom who felt the way I did. No amount of telling me how “good of a job” I was doing was silencing the inner whispers Satan was throwing my way. I was convinced I was the least qualified woman to adopt.

Six months into our placement, I was at a Christmas party. Another mom who had adopted older children four years earlier approached me. She asked, “How are things going with the adoption?”

I stuck with my normal, safe reply: “Things are hard but okay.”

She looked straight at me, like she already knew there was more to that answer, and said, “It’s okay to say things aren’t going well. I always ask that question of other adoptive parents because I assume things aren’t going well.”

For the next hour and a half, I shared openly and wept. She wept with me and also shared her own difficult story.

It was the first time I realized I wasn’t alone.

After that, I started sharing more openly with others. And I found I really wasn’t alone. In fact, it was almost unheard of not to go through the emotional roller coaster I was riding.

So in my writing, I chose to focus on that side of adoption. The articles/blogs/books that give the “how-tos” or talk about the beauty and good are easy to find. And they’re helpful. But I didn’t think I needed to settle there. I wanted to write and share for those who couldn’t find hope in those resources.

This series isn’t for everyone. It’s for those in the trenches now, who–like I did–need to know they aren’t alone. It’s for those who are helped by seeing the real, raw inner workings of our hearts, and to read the truths that have been encouraging for us in the midst of mess and madness. I don’t want to write while looking back, but while being right there with you, less than two years into the process.

Second, we are aware of and have taken advantage of many of the most popular adoption resources out there. We have researched the psychological side of our children. We aren’t all discipline and tough love. We show much affection to our children, working to help them feel safe and loved. Having said that, our emphasis on this blog has been “raising kids in Jesus,” so our primary concern isn’t psychology but biblical truths rooted in the love of Jesus. Bill will be posting in the next few weeks about how we have tried to understand the relationship between psychology and the Bible in our parenting.

Third, you’ll read us referencing our daughter more often than our son. Our son was two when we got him while our daughter was six. Though we still see some effects from the adoption in our son, at this point his main issue is that he’s four, not that he’s adopted. 🙂 According to those closest to us, “He’s all Bell!” Though many of our feelings toward him are reflected in our posts and still apply, there’s been a vast difference between our child who doesn’t really have memories of his past and our child who has many. Both are a challenge for us on a variety of levels, but more of our emotional energy tends to go toward our daughter. She has three times as long of trauma as our son, and we often wonder if it will take her three times as long (or longer!) to really rest in her new identity.

Finally, as with all our posts, our goal is not to make us feel better about adoption. We don’t want to delve into what else we could do but remember what’s already been done through Jesus. We want to remember we’re loving these kids because we were first loved. And each and every time we mess it up, that screw-up was already paid for on the cross, utterly destroying any condemnation or guilt. We ultimately want to remember all our children already have a good Dad, and we want both our hope and theirs to be in Him, not us.

Here are all the posts in our adoption series:

  1. Getting Real About Adoption
  2. Loving the Unlovable
  3. Sin in the Adopted Child
  4. Support for the Adoptive Parent
  5. Broken-Hearted Parents
  6. Some Clarifying Thoughts on Our Adoption
  7. Examining Adoption Resources (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 1)
  8. Normal and Healthy? (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 2)
  9. A Matter of Foundations (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 3)
  10. The Sins of Neurology  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 4)
  11. Idol Swapping  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 5)
  12. Setting the Course  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 6)
  13. Another Way Forward (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 7)
  14. The Therapy Our Children Need
  15. Who Are You Calling Normal?
  16. Optional Adoption
  17. How to Adopt for Almost Free (And No Fundraising!)
  18. What About “Those” Kids?
  19. Trying to Make Them Lovable
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2 thoughts on “Some Clarifying Thoughts On Our Adoption

  1. Every morning, I pray for all of our grandchildren. I pray that they will come to know, love, and follow Christ with all their being. Three have already set out on that journey. For that, I am eternally grateful.

    I also am grateful for how I see both you and Bill leading, teaching, and coaching your children’s hearts, leading them toward the One Who has is pursuing them and Who has all the answers. I truly believe that HE smiles when He sees you, too.

  2. I want to say how much I appreciate your ‘tough’ postings and the hard work you are putting into these precious little ones. I already know you’re great parents, I’ve seen that first hand. I also know both of your hearts for our Lord and that you want more for your children than to feel safe and cared for and loved in your own home but more importantly in God’s gracious hands…I pray for your and your precious 8 daily

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