His Mercy

"His Mercies Are New Every Morning"

A Thought

In this life we can not always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.." :) Mother Teresa

Prayer Quote

“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis


I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

When Adoption Goes Wrong 20/20 Show

Mike, Uncle Bob and I sat down last week and watched the 20/20 show about difficult adoptions. There was a family featured who had adopted 2 girls 11 and 8 from Russia.
They provided every material benefit for their new children. That is, everything except for what they really needed.
The show never says if the mother was working full time or part time outside of the home, or if she was home full time. It doesn't speak about how much time Dad was home or if he traveled alot.
Those are important lost facts.

What the show DID document was two people who had everything they wanted except children. So they went and bought some. Those are HIS words, not mine. He didn't feel he got his money's worth.

After less than 1 week, 1 WEEK! he was following an OBVIOUSLY GRIEVING child around the house with a camera. How RUDE is that? He was saying things like, can you believe this? etc.
Uh, yes sir I can.
You just turned this little girl's world upside down and overwhelmed her with your stuff. You pushed AMERICA on her until she thought she would vomit. Congrats.

When she was under the bed weeping, why oh WHY didn't mom or dad kneel down and stroke her gently and tell her it was ok? Why didn't they lay next to her quietly and weep with her and mourn her loss with her? NO, instead, he pulled her from her safe place and subjected her to the "Video camera".

Several years ago when Sarah first came she had tantrums. She didn't know anything else. She had no coping tools in her toolbox. I got out a video camera and kept it hidden. I did not video tape her to tape her screaming, I got it out to tape ME, so I could see what I was doing that might be prolonging her tantrum. What I found was that she did not want to be alone. She was scared. She needed me to not hover over her, even calmly and ask her to stop crying. She needed me to quietly hug her and rock her. Once we did that, the tantrums stopped. Of course before I could do that, during her happy times I had to rock her too. She needed it. We got out lotion and I would massage her foot, her stump, kiss it, kiss her good hand and her hand with missing fingers and count them. Then I would kiss them and she would count my fingers and kiss them. She knew very well that her deformity did not bother me in the least and she could be totally open with me. Because of the good connection, when she melted down, there was a connection tool to calm her. It worked so well the first time that we did it, she didn't have another tantrum.

We did something very similar with Anna who was good for a nuclear meltdown every day for a while. Then it went to about 2x's a week and eventually disappeared altogether.

The first few weeks our Erika was home were amazing. This beautiful, smart, almost 8 year old who could not speak english, was able to turn on every appliance in the house, open the fridge, and get into EVERYTHING... she pretended to not be able to do things we knew she could do, and told our friend who speaks Russian we were treating her like a Pet Dog, making her stay in the house while her sisters go out to play. LOL

(she was mad because she had to finish her math)

The truth is: I was HAPPY to see that fighting mad spirit in her; in ALL of them. WHY? Because it showed me they had a will to live, a sense of self and a sense of injustice. It may have been warped, but it was there, Praise GOD it was there!

Our job was to love them through it. It wasn't personal, it was survival. It wasn't personal, it was fear. It wasn't personal it was being a KID, a very HURT kid, who VERY much needed to be loved.

I often hear people say that 'Love is not enough". Love IS not enough; but not enough LOVE is not enough either! LOVE and PARENTING as unto the Lord, IS enough though. It DOES pay off.

We adopted from Disruption. One of the things that was mentioned when we got Sarah was that she was not the personality type child they expected. They wanted a greatful, quiet child and they got a hyper child.

One thing I would like to say is : IF YOU ARE A POTENTIAL ADOPTIVE PARENT:

WARNING: COUNT ON THE FACT THAT YOUR CHILD, NO MATTER WHAT AGE, has been NEGLECTED, ABUSED, REJECTED and HURT no matter HOW wonderful you think their orphanage was.

BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS: God is GREATER than ALL of THAT! It doesn't have to be the end of the story.
It isn't for our girls and they have horrific beginnings;each and every one of them.

When your child comes home and lashes out, PLEASE don't take it personally. Look at their strengths and likes and desires and USE THEM to work with. Don't try to make a child different than who they are. If they are hyper, give them stuff to do. If they are quiet, let them read. LOVE THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE RIGHT THEN AND THERE! IN the moment and never EVER withhold your love.
If they act like a baby, baby them. If they want to pretend to be your baby, let them.
We fed EACH of our girlies bottles and wrapped them in blankets and rocked them like babies for months. It was not FORCED upon them, (this is VERY important) they initiated it, and we followed based upon each child's need.

ALSO: Plan on things getting broken, messed up, and your house getting messy. Plan on them not understanding hygeine. This is something they will need to learn. It isn't their fault and they should not be shamed.

PLAN ON THEM HATING AMERICAN FOOD, so get used to making borscht, cabbage, meat, oatmeal, etc. Give them comfort foods.
I always look at things as if I were them. If I were a little girl and was adopted by a family from China, what would I do if they tried to force me to eat steaming hot rice and raw fish? I would probably throw up. Then, what if they thought I was being manipulative because I threw up and tried to force me to eat. Then I would sit there and they would say I was being defiant. Then they would try to punish me and I would cry and they would say I was having a melt down. Then I would not want to be around them for fear they would make me eat that awful stuff. They would take me to a counselor who would then say I had RAD.
The counselor would recommend they hold me even if I didn't want to be held. They would expect me to love these strangers and if I didn't, they would say I needed attachment therapy.... and a new cycle of "facing my problems" would start.
It would be all my fault and I would start to question my sanity. After all, now they say I have PTSD and other things and now I need medication. Then I start having side effects from those meds, so they give me another one, and now I have RAD, ADHD, PTSD, ODD, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. and the cycle goes on...... (I'm sure you get the picture)

This scenario is not far from what plays out in homes.

Counselors can be good and give good information, but they can also be terribly damaging. Some are NUTS folks. I mean that. NUTS! If we had followed what some folks have been told to do, I don't think we'd have the kids we have now.

You know, it is a "fad" to get counseling to "face your problems", to "deal with those deep down feelings".... what ever happened to letting the CHILD deal with them in his or her own time? WHY must we FORCE things. If you work on building a trusting relationship together, which takes TIME, those things will come out. Why do we fear our kids telling US things? Why must we force things to come to the surface before our children are ready? I am so against this, with EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING! If I were forced to deal with things I wasn't ready to, it would only serve to make me angry.

And where does Christ fit into this picture? Can't we lead our children to tell Him?
Why do they need an intermediary?

The couple featured in this show also did the most OFFENSIVE thing I have ever seen.
The girl's saw their baby brother beaten to death by his grandmother. The parents found out they had a brother, so even though they were having problems with their present adoptive children, they adopted a boy, to replace their brother! NO kidding!
That is SICK! You CANNOT replace somebody brother by buying them a new one~! AND what about the poor kid that was to be the new brother? How fair was that to HIM?
No surprise, he has all the diagnosis mentioned above, even though he looked TOTALLY normal when they got him. They never mentioned the meds he was on, during the show, but I'd take a bullet that they are many.

I will stop with this:
Adoption isn't for everybody, neither is parenthood. Years of neglect and hurt will not be wiped away by bringing our children to America, fattening them up and giving them a new bike and clothes. It will take TIME, and no amount of counseling will speed up the internal heart clock of any child.
The best thing we can do is as the scripture says, "weep with those who weep, laugh with those who laugh, there is a time for each of these. It will be up to future adoptive parents to instill a sense of TRUST, and children cannot TRUST you if you do not respect them.
What I saw on this show was a total lack of respect of these children.

One thing I did notice about the little girl Leeza, featured. When the new adoptive mom and dad came into see her, they didn't stand over her, they knelt down to her and look up. This must have made her feel great. Somebody cared about her enough to not stand over her and tell her to come, but to kneel down and introduce themselves. It showed kindness to her, and gentleness.

The other MAJOR issue I had with the show was the showing of parents who had killed their children, and then showed the children's pictures, making the children out to be the problem. Especially in the case of interviewing Peggy Hilt. I won't go into detail on this, but I was so sickened they showed an interview with her. You can google her story and read the real facts. The other picture was of a child who had down syndrome and had only been home 2 months. What, are they saying he had RAD? What can an 18 month old do?

I think I have said enough. Can you tell I have an opinion on this? LOL I am not anti counseling. But I am anti FORCED counseling. I am for respecting our children's rights to be who they are. None of our children have withheld their pasts. They have all openly talked to us, but it took time to establish the trust for them to do this. No amount of counseling would have caused that to happen. But TIME, lots of time, and lovingly accepting them in their happy moods, sour moods, scared moods, moody moods, and loving moods, and respecting them as individuals is what will lead to true attachment and reciprocal love. For some it will happen faster. For others, not so fast.

For those of you waiting for your kids: PLEASE! PLEASE! EDUCATE yourself on Post Institutionalized children. One of the best parenting courses we took was through the Local Child Protective Services offices. Great classes. Read books, lots of them. Discern them, take the good, throw out the bad. And most of all Seek the Lord for His wisdom. James 1:5 says he will give wisdom to all who ask.


Stephanie @ Ralphcrew said...

Thank you for posting this! I think it so important to put yourself in someone else's shoes in order to understand them.

Shari said...
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Shari said...

This was very important to address! I agree with you 100%. What would those parents have done if their bio child had all kinds of problems that needed nurturing and worked through with unconditional love? We have a child like that. Of course, we weren't expecting him to have trouble, but the Lord gave him to us and it's our job to make sure he's helped and loved the appropriate way. Thank you for sharing. One thing I can't stand about the mental health community is they are always ready to 'label' a kid or adult who is struggling. Why?

junglemama said...

Christie, and you were afraid to post this why? What an amamzing job you did writing this. We are so much alike. May I link to it in my next digest?

Zack, Jenn and William said...

Thanks for your open and honest post. I didn't get to see the show but read a summary and read the posts by both you and Christine. I do wish that families would go into this with the right mindset and with realistic expectations. Like one commenter on Christine's post said, we are all called to support orphans, but I don't believe everyone is called to adopt.
The truth is that our children may come to us with a variety of baggage and burdens, traumas and stress: the magnitude of which we might never fully know. But God is bigger than anything that may have happened in the past. Through Him, we can help our children heal. We must recognize that their healing will come at different speeds, in different forms, and in different degrees. And some might always carry something with them from their past, but teaching them to deal with it is the key to overcoming its crippling ability.
Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly. I pray your words will reach those who might be struggling now with their children, and those who are preparing to adopt.


Anonymous said...

Hi Christine,
Of course you can. :)

Can I link yours as soon as I figure out how to use the link feature? LOL

Christie M said...

A follow up I'd like to ad to this:

I think the woman who ran the Ranch said something important.

"We make it easy for them to do the right thing, and hard to do the wrong thing."

I find that to be a key with traumatized kids. Keeping them busy doing right things, helping in the kitchen if they like to cook, letting them try new things without being scolded, helping the Succeed!

Our 3 year old son taught me that a long time ago. Had he been "adopted", he would have had a diagnosis a mile long... LOL
He was failing in SundaySchool. He couldn't handle being under a certain teacher and he would tell her no. I felt like he failed every Sunday, and it was my job to help him succeed. So, since I KNEW he couldn't succeed in that class, I pulled him out of Sunday School and taught him myself. I did that for about 6 months. Guess what? When he went into the 4's, he succeeded!
Yea. It was a simple thing, for a complicated kid.

I also want to say that I truly feel for parents who are struggling. I hesitated to post because I didn't want anybody to read this and feel "judged".
That is truly not my heart's intention. At the same time, I read a comment on the ABC website and a very angry woman posted, "you have no idea what we go through, and looking back, I wouldn't change a thing!"
I was perplexed by that. When I look back to just yesterday there are things I would change. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing hoping for a different outcome.

Anonymous said...


"We make it easy for them to do the right thing, and hard to do the wrong thing."
--That comment stuck in my head as well. Probably because it is my philosophy in concise terms. I love it when someone says what I think better than I can say it!!

We, too, had to hold screaming, grieving children who were just trying to control SOMETHING after their worlds had been turned upside down. I remember sore muscles and carefully using a calm, soothing voice. I remember that being completely against how I wanted to react!! LOL!!

I was also impressed that the woman from the Ranch pointed out something that I suspected: too much stuff is overwhelming!!!

These are kids who have spent time in orphanages being given "stuff" by well-meaning people (charities, individuals, etc) but that stuff never makes up for the fact that the givers went home and the child was there, feeling just as unloved as ever. I would be suspicious of gifts myself!

Anyway, just wanted to say that I agree with you completely. I think one of the best things an adoptive parent can do is to learn to predict how and why their child thinks in certain ways. It makes the good remedies make sense.

Christie M said...

Thanks Everybody for your thoughts.
Melissa, you and Steve have done an AWESOME job!

If anybody has not yet seen it:
I HIGHLY recommend "Martian Child"
with John and Joan Cusack. It is a based on a true story, and the DVD has a little documentary of the real child who was the reason for the book and movie. He is interviewed as a young adult. Great movie.

Oakie Grandfather said...
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Oakie Grandfather said...


I read this, went and looked at the complete program, and went back and read your post. You don't know how proud I am to have you as a daughter.

Jodie said...

You go girl! All I could think about the whole time I was watching that show was how many times you and Mike stopped what you were doing to comfort, rock, or massage someone! We do these things not just when someone is having a meltdown, but just because we love them! No amount of beautiful homes and/or posessions can take its place!
Christie, I found my blog/password info. Ha!Ha!
your sis, Jodie

Christie M said...

Thanks dad.. :)

Putting the FUN in DysFUNctional said...

Hi, I came over from Smiles & Trials. I am amazed at the insight that both you and Christine have with these kids. It's like you know what they truly need, or at least are very good at picking up on it.
I so admire the both of you.
Please understand that I am NOT making a comparison here at all, but we foster & rescue dogs, and I get so disgusted by people who adopt them and then say they're too hyper, too lazy, too whatever. It shocked and saddened me to read here that people actually do that with children, too. Unbelievable.

Debora Hoffmann said...

Thank you for posting about the show and about your own experiences with your daughters. This will help me tremendously as I become a mother. It's so easy for me to try to do things the way my mom did...but she raised birth children. Our adopted children have different needs, and I am trying to glean all I can to help them...and prayer, lots of prayer. I pray the Lord will equip us as much as possible before they come home, and will give us His wisdom and grace and love when they are here. I praise Him that He does so!

Kim said...

This same thing happens with at risk kids in classrooms. Teachers take their inappropriate behavior personally rather than looking at the reasons behind the behavior, finding creative and common sense ways to deescalate the behavior and then setting the students up for success in every way possible.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

I didn't watch the episode but your thoughts were very well articulated!

I just wanted to piggyback off of what Kim said about at risk kids in the classroom. I work at a summer camp that includes some kids with emotional issues. My favorite camper was a child that tended to kick us when he was upset, and more than once ran at me, fists flying. Was he a bad kid? Not at all. He had a lot of anger, and he simply didn't know what to do. We came up with a bunch of different ways to work on stuff, let off steam, vocalize when he felt things weren't fair. By the end of the summer his behavior had changed, and he said to me 'you know, this really is the best summer ever"

Unknown said...

Hi Christie,

I was just reading some old posts in your blog and I absolutely love this entry. It made me cry! You and your husband obviously have very loving hearts and your children are very lucky to have parents who are so invested to being attuned to their true needs, just as you two are very lucky to have children who are teaching you such beautiful life lessons. Thank you for writing this blog!

Christie M said...

Thank you so much Paula. :)

You Are Still Holy