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

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“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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Friday, November 16, 2012

Focusing On Adoption part 3: After You Get Home

 Erika and Sarah in the Orphanage
 Erika and Sarah's groupa. :) 

I have wanted to spend some time sharing thoughts about adoption, since it is National Adoption Awareness Month.  This is my third post to share.  Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2. These are just thoughts from my heart.

When you get the call.... it is Sooooo EXCITING!   All the paperwork, all the waiting, all the praying, and more waiting is gone, and it is time to go and get your child.  This is the child you know is yours. 
There are many reasons for adoption.  There are those who just love children and want to provide a home and feel a calling to do it.  There are those who for whatever medical reason, cannot conceive children. There are those who do not WANT to conceive children, yet they want children. There are those who waited too long before conceiving and had a change of heart and decided they wanted children after all.  NO MATTER THE REASON.... Adoption is a TWO SIDED COIN.
It brings joy, but it is only birthed through trial and sadness. 
OUR GAIN was somebody else's LOSS.   OUR JOY, was wrought through another's sorrow and we MUST NOT forget that!
WHY?  Because something very sad had to happen in  order for us to be able to adopt. 
Our children have SUFFERED GREAT LOSS.  GREAT LOSS....  Some were neglected and abused, some abandoned, some left for dead, some so mistreated that recovery would seem a miracle......
And we parents come in ALL excited to bring our little ones home.  
DON'T be the Parent who gets all excited about bringing the child home and forgets to prepare for PARENTING THE CHILD!
That is like the Bride who prepares for the Wedding, but forgets there is a marriage that follows!

During all that waiting, EDUCATE yourselves!  Visit and talk to other adoptive families, research sights like www.beyondconsequences.com, www.empoweredtoconnect.org, and many more!
Read about the results of extreme neglect and deprivation. Read about the effects of no love or attention and for HEAVEN'S SAKES.... Don't fall into the trap of, "We adopted young so we won't have any attachment issues." OR "We would never adopt older children because they are more damaged!"  THIS IS FALSE!

Every person born on this planet is an individual with a different personality and set of circumstances. There is not ONE that is the same! Not one! 
HOWEVER, general observations can be made regarding human nature and neglect that we should ALL be ready to pay attention to and listen to.

After you get home, you will basically be strangers living under the same roof! Please recognize that your child has a story and a life that has been lived completely separate from you.  They need to be allowed to grieve and process what is happening to them.
Some children are delighted to be with you. Others, not so ready.
Slow and Steady, they will eventually be ready. :) 
BE PATIENT, TENDER AND KIND during this transition, keeping their worlds small. 
Have as simple a schedule as possible, but do things they can count on.  Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner at the same time each day along with bath time, bed time and wake up time, should be made  a priority!
A variety of foods, especially FAMILIAR foods for THEM should be served. 
Offering lots of snuggle and play times together to get to know each other is a must!  Lot's of smiles and I love you's whispered into their little ears will help to give them confidence, even though they do not understand what you are saying.

Be EVER SO CAREFUL to have a welcoming body language and tone of voice!  At this stage the slightest tenseness can lead to insecurity and a meltdown.

If you have adopted older children, PLEASE DO NOT FORCE them into some sort of counseling, forcing them to face things they may not be ready to face.  I feel so strongly about this! 
So many are too quick to LABEL our kids and those labels can be destructive. ESPECIALLY if your view of a label is that is what defines your child.  RAD, ADHD, ODD, PDD, PTSD, FASD etc....are LABELS. THEY ARE NOT YOUR CHILD.  Do not ALLOW Them to DEFINE them.  Just because somebody says a child with RAD cannot love, or a child with FAS cannot have self control.... I can say HOG WASH..... Yes they can and yes they do.  Do they learn differently? YES.  BUT THEY LEARN.   Do they LOVE?  YES THEY DO.... and guess what.... those labels disappear.
Or they become way less important.

As your children learn you are trustworthy, they will confide in you. TRUST ME ON THIS! It is true!

If YOU need counseling, GO.... get ideas, ask for help with your own temper and issues that will CERTAINLY come out with a new and stressful situation! 
But don't force this on your children.

You can do nothing better than to let your UNCONDITIONAL LOVE pour into your child.

Practice loving your child by finding 1 thing that you can admire about them. It could be their laugh, their smile or the way they walk or talk.  Focus on that and love it in them.  I remember Alli's laugh. It was so adorable. I focused on that for the first few weeks.  And just loved her laugh.  For Erika, it was her famous bright eyed expression....For Sarah it was her cute little voice and for Anna it was her beautiful blonde hair.....
Then I'd pick something else to love and admire and as I got to know them..... I love THEM FULLY just as they were. It doesn't take long.
There will always be negative behaviors.... ehem..... remember we have them too. :)
Try not to focus on the meltdowns, hitting, spitting, kicking, pinching, biting, kicking, or being called a stupid old lady from Texas. :)
If you focus on those, you will have a hard time seeing out of the fog of despair that sometimes surrounds you! :)  You MUST RISE ABOVE IT TO PULL YOUR CHILD FROM THEIR GRIEF AND DESPAIR!
Those are fleeting moments that DO NOT DEFINE your child.  IF you see those behaviors, REMEMBER.... PLEASE REMEMBER... YOUR CHILD IS FRIGHTENED, NOT EVIL.
With fear come many unwanted behaviors.  But as you LOVE your child, and get to know them and they get to know and  TRUST YOU, those behaviors will dissipate!  Yes, BE GONE!
And it is SUCH A JOY to get to the other side! Each little step is a step in the right direction! Don't LOSE FOCUS..... you are in the trenches of bringing LIFE into a child who was dying a slow and painful death.
HEALING HURTS.  HEALING ALSO REVEALS OUR OWN PERSONAL HURTS that WE never dealt with and neatly brushed under the carpet of our hearts.  
See this time as a BLESSING in your own life that you are now facing DEALING with past hurts!
It is TIME FOR YOU TO HEAL, so you can help your child heal!
Oh what a wonderful God we serve!  He LOVES us and is an example for us to follow! :)
He layed down HIS life.... We are to lay OUR lives down!


I guarantee you times will be hard.  Some of  you  might second guess your decision...  But Don't! Just because something is hard does NOT mean it isn't the right thing or that God didn't call you to do it!
He didn't change His mind! :)  
That is when we learn to depend upon HIM and HIS SUFFICIENCY.  We do this through HIS STRENGTH, not our own.  We embrace Sorrow and Suffering WITH our children for awhile, so that Joy and gladness can be planted into their hearts. :)

And the JOY that comes.... is indescribable.  It is incredible.  It is so deep and so wide and so rich and so full.   I cannot describe it. 
Both Mike and I were laying in bed this a.m. and he said he was the luckiest man in the world. :)
Honestly, I think we are BOTH so fortunate to have walked through the door that God brought us to.

Was it scary? Yes. 
To some, we were crazy! What about retirement?  Weren't 4 enough?  5 enough? 6 enough? SEVEN enough?  EIGHT ENOUGH??  
We'll be done when the Lord shuts that door. :) 

So when your child comes home, be patient, kind, full of love and forgiveness.... be diligent to walk alongside them and teach them tenderly the things of life. 
Don't forget.... after the adoption is where life begins.....

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