Several years ago we adopted three children. We are no longer their parents. This is the story of what happened.
The Desire to Love
When we got married in 2006, Katie and I hoped for “as many children as God wanted.” After many months of not conceiving, however, we suspected we had a fertility problem, and with the help of NaPro technology, we conceived in 2007.
Baby John Thomas quit growing at six weeks in utero and soon miscarried. We were deeply saddened, a grief that was compounded by a near-fatal hemorrhaging and hospitalization for Katie following the miscarriage.
Nonetheless, we were hopeful to conceive again after Katie recovered. Yet, after over a year with no subsequent children, we started talking about adoption. Both Katie and I had been open to adoption from our first days of marriage and thought that a family of biological and adopted children would be beautiful. Given that we were having difficulty conceiving, we also saw the possibility that God was leading us to grow our family through adoption.
We prayed about it, talked about it, and took the initial steps to inquire into the options. Ultimately we decided to move forward with adoption classes through the State’s foster care system. Adopting through foster care appealed to us because these were children right where we lived who needed families. We didn’t have to fly to another country to find them; they lived “in our backyard”, in some sense! Foster adoption also was much more affordable than international or domestic private adoption.
Over the course of several months, we took the classes to be certified as a foster-adopt family. We continued discerning whether this was our Lord’s calling, and we believed that it was. We felt at the time that the classes equipped us to be ready for any situation we may face with adoption. We knew that children who came to our family from foster care would have emotional wounds, but we felt deep joy that we would love them in Christ and welcome them into the family of God.
In November 2008, we got a call from the foster care agency informing us that twin seven-month boys needed a foster family with the potential to adopt. We were overjoyed! We met their current foster family, had meetings with the various case workers, and the boys came into our home in December 2008. For this story their names are Louis and Terry.
Louis and Terry were cute as buttons. They had unique personalities in spite of being identical twins. Louis was extroverted and liked to try new things. Terry was introverted and careful. They were both very chubby, and loud noises frightened them. In their seven short months outside the womb, they had had three previous placements. We were their fourth one, which bears some explaining.
Their biological mother had drugs in her system when they were born. Due to this, and also due to the fact that she had lost her older daughter due to neglect, the twins were removed immediately by the State.
But bio mom stabilized enough that six weeks later, she entered drug rehab, and the twins were removed from the foster family and placed back with bio mom in drug rehab. Less than two months later, however, she dropped out of drug rehab, and the boys were removed again. But the original foster family had received another infant placement in the interim, so a new foster family was found, and Louis and Terry went there. This family was foster-only; they already had grown children and grandchildren, and felt called to foster children in need
Four months later, we were chosen by the caseworkers to foster-adopt the twins. And, so it was that at only seven months of age, we were the boys’ fourth placement. It is hard to imagine the confusion that they must have gone through, not knowing who was “momma and dadda” during that time. They were each other’s sole constant.
When they first joined our family in December 2008, the twins were non-relational with us. They avoided eye contact. They did not hold onto us or turn to us when they were scared or hungry or tired. Because they were our first children, we did not realize how abnormal their behavior was. But also we expected that it would take time for them to connect with us, so we played lots of interactive games, did “baby wearing” where we carried or held them often, and showered them with affection and care. We had good hopes that they would learn to trust us.
Five months later, in the Spring of ’09, we found out that we were pregnant. We were shocked and guardedly hopeful, but, by God’s grace, that baby survived. Just a few months later, in July 2009, we were able to finalize the twins’ adoption.
In September of 2009, we were happy and hopeful for our family’s future. We had precious twin boys and another son on the way. The twins were starting to show small signs of bonding to us. They seemed to be opening up more, a beautiful sign, and it felt as if we were becoming a family.
In October 2009, two months before our son was to be born, we got a call from our caseworker. She told us to sit down.
She said, “You don’t need to answer right away. But are you willing to foster-adopt the twins’ sister?”
Katie and I were floored. The twins had a sister named “Alice” who was just 10 months older than they. She had been in the custody of an aunt for her first two years, and was now being removed from that woman, due to neglect. The caseworkers did not know what state of health Alice would be in, as the foster mom had evaded Child Protective Services, living in different dodgy households, and likely using drugs. They planned a surprise removal of Alice the following week and wanted to know if they could bring her to our home as an “emergency placement”.
Our caseworker told us we had twenty-four hours to decide if we would foster Alice, with the strong likelihood that we could adopt her. Katie and I didn’t know what to do. We talked with extended family members and friends, prayed together, and ultimately decided to say “yes”. Everyone pointed out the obvious good that bringing the siblings together would accomplish. The three, who had lived apart thus far in their lives, would get to grow up in the same family, and that made us happy.
We shared our affirmative decision with our caseworker, and a few days later, Alice brought to our home as an emergency placement.
Alice arrived with the caseworkers and CASA volunteer. She was 2 1/2 years old, panicked and screaming, too thin, and had a large dirty bandage covering an infected open wound. The foster mom had failed to give Alice the antibiotics she needed, and now the infection was an antibiotic-resistant staph infection.
She cried for hours, not sure who to latch onto. She refused to eat or take nap. After four hours, the caseworkers had to leave. Alice screamed and ran for the door, and they did their best with us to calm her. Then it was just her and us.
Alice gave us what we thought was a hopeful sign, when the same day of her arrival she went up to Katie and started calling her “mama.” Later we realized that any woman she met was “mama,” as she called Katie’s friends “mama” as well. We took off Alice’s filthy clothes, her too-big shoes, her dirty bandage, and began caring for her. We got her the medicine she needed, clean clothes, and good food.
She devoured scrambled eggs and milk like they were nectar and ambrosia. We just kept feeding her. We had learned in our classes how many neglected and abused children are deprived of food, constantly hungry, and will even hoard food in their rooms, afraid they won’t get anymore to eat. Alice acted like that, but we were not alarmed. We would just keep giving her all that she needed, so she knew there was always enough.
That evening, the twins, who had spent the day with extended family, arrived back at the house. They were then eighteen months old, and they had continued showing signs of increasing trust. But, all of that ended abruptly with Alice’s arrival.
They both stood in stunned toddler-silence as she proceeded to have melt-down after melt-down, kicking and screaming and thrashing around on the floor. We kept her from hurting herself but quickly saw that trying to hold her to comfort her made her even more panicked. So we stayed close beside her during her meltdowns and let her know that it was going to be okay.
At long last, she fell asleep. That first night, Katie and I sat down in numb silence. We felt as if we had been hit by a tank. But, we felt joy that we had welcomed Alice into our home and hope that she would be our daughter.
By God’s grace, I have always had a great job, and for the twins’ arrival, I was able to take two weeks of paid paternity leave. The same was true for Alice’s arrival. I had two weeks off. And Katie stayed at home full-time. In addition, we hired a mother’s helper who came every morning for four hours. We were able to focus all our attention on Alice and her brothers and felt a confident hope that, despite her difficulty beginning, Alice would soon settle into family life.
Those first days flew by with learning about Alice. She was extremely volatile. Anything would set her into a meltdown of screaming hysterics, while the twins just stared at her. We ached as we watched them begin to withdraw into themselves. The signs of trust and connection disappeared.
And, already, we knew we needed help. We bought all the books we could find: ones by Dr. Karyn Purvis, Dr. Ray Guarendi, any that had the words “toddler,” “adoption,” and/or “attachment” in them. And we sought out therapists who could help us.
Two therapists, in particular, were recommended by adoptive parents we knew. We interviewed both of them. One practiced a more radical kind of therapy that we were not confident would be a good fit for Alice. The other employed a more conservative play therapy that focused on helping the child and parent to connect with each other. So we began to see her, and continued going weekly for many months.
In addition, we had each of our adopted children assessed for sensory integration difficulties, and, following a universal diagnosis of Sensory Integration Disorder, we began a regimen of sensory exercises. My wife, Katie, was quite the hero in all of this. She rarely left our home, devoting most of her energies to parenting our children and doing her best to draw them into love and trust.
Edmund is Born
Less than two months after Alice’s arrival, Katie gave birth to our son Edmund. It was a traumatic delivery where Katie, again, hemorrhaged and nearly died. I got yet another two weeks paid leave for Edmund’s birth, and we needed it. He was colicky and not sleeping well. Katie was weak and sick. And, with Edmund’s arrival, we now had four children ages two and under. We were barely able to stay afloat with laundry, meals, and sleep.
Still, with firm dedication we set out for each day’s challenges. We hired mother’s helpers to give Katie time to recuperate; we held colicky Edmund constantly, continued reading all the books we could, watching videos, and going to therapy with Alice. We received help from CASA workers, extended family, caseworkers, and friends. We were exhausted each day, but hopeful and felt like we were living in the craziness of God’s will.
By early 2010, Alice had calmed down to a degree. But she was still volatile, had frequent panic meltdowns in which nothing could calm her, and worst of all, we noticed that the twins began imitating her behavior.
In the ensuing months, our caseworker would come for routine visits. We described Alice’s behaviors but told her we were still committed to adopting her. The caseworker showed no indication that she was concerned about the situation or the children’s behaviors.
And so in April 2010, we adopted Alice. I felt confident that all three of our adopted children would learn to trust us and be secure in our love. We just had to keep loving them and doing the things we had learned to do from books, our training, the therapists, and doctors.
A New Place
At the beginning of 2011, we moved to a new city in order to be close to extended family. We hoped that this change would benefit everyone: more extended family would be around to help us, the new city had many services for children with special needs, and I also was able to work from home full-time, being readily available to assist Katie whenever needed.
Edmund was one year old at this time, Louis and Terry were two, and Alice was three. In spite of the work we had done, Alice and the twins continued to be emotionally aloof, prone to volatile outbursts, and they seemed to reinforce each others’ negative behaviors. In addition, their willfully destructive behavior began to increase, as their still undiagnosed mental illness began to manifest.
We sought out services and got Alice approved for early intervention through the public school system. We had learned, by now, how to best interact with her to keep her in her “green” zone, away from the displaced withdrawal of her “blue” zone and the explosive meltdowns of her “red” zone; our OT therapist called the “green” zone the “optimal level of emotional interaction” and we felt like we constantly walked on tiptoes to keep Alice in that zone. We tried to anticipate Alice’s panic meltdowns and work with her to communicate to us what she needed. We continued working with our boys as well, yet they remained emotionally distant and increasingly tempestuous.
The Family Dynamic Worsens
I noticed in July 2011 that the entire dynamic of our family was worsening. Katie was struggling under the daily assault of behaviors and meltdowns and developed chronic panic attacks; we now know that Katie was developing acute PTSD. The normal response from one’s children involves lots of love and affection in addition to the difficult times, but with the twins and Alice it was always the latter and almost none of the former.
Edmund was negatively affected by the frequent barrage of hysterical screaming and yelling from his siblings, and has developed chronic anxiety, as well as auditory sensitivity that we are now addressing through OT therapy. Alice’s behavior continued to exacerbate the twins’ fears, and their responses did the same to hers.
Providentially, we found out about a group of therapists who specialized in helping adoptive families and who would come to your home and coach you and your children. We immediately brought them in. They evaluated our family for several hours as we went about our daily life, and they told us what they saw was happening. It confirmed what we had long suspected, that the children were not connected with us. After nearly three years of being a family and giving every possibly effort to reach their precious hearts, we realized that our adopted children were still very much on guard against us.
Normally, this agency sent one therapist per week to model for the parents how to help their child to connect. For us, their recommendation was that two of their therapists came twice per week. They explained that having four young children, all close to the same age, with three suffering from these challenges, was an especially difficult circumstance, one that they had rarely, if ever, encountered. This was something that Alice’s therapist had also told us previously: she lamented that the foster-care system was not more careful about how many special-needs children they put in one family.
We were close to breaking at this point, but hopeful that these therapists could finally help us and our children. They came over, and we watched as they both modeled various ways of intervening when the children were acting out in various ways. As we watched, we realized that the only way we could do what they were showing us would be if I quit my job, we hired a full-time cook and cleaning person, and Katie and I both focused all our efforts on it. Even then, however, there was no guarantee that we could turn the dynamic around and help our children.
Our adopted children each had a severe mental illness, one that was not their fault and that was understandable in light of their early trauma. They each behaved with a survivor mentality, as if every adult was a threat to their safety and that the only way to survive was to be autonomous and alone. Those who sought to reach them and love them were threats to be attacked and repulsed. Their mental illness sought to sabotage all attempts at relationship and trust, in order to keep them safe.
The therapists were modeling the way for us to overcome this survivor mentality. We had been doing some of their recommendations already, ones we had picked up from books, videos, or intuition. And, we wanted to want to reach our adopted children. But, after three years of living in almost constant screaming and destructive behavior, seeing my wife falling to pieces and my biological son increasingly bullied and withdrawn, I did not know what to do.
It was at this time, in late summer of 2011, that Katie and I sought counsel from our pastor. We shared our agony and our weariness and asked what God wanted of us. As Catholics, we were prone to think that if something entailed suffering, it was probably God’s will. So we were not afraid of suffering, but we had begun to realize that our strength was failing and we asked our pastor where God was in all of this. He told us that he had always known that things were not going well; from the pulpit each week he could tell that we were just barely keeping it together. He was the first person to give us permission to re-discern our family, telling us that it was possible that Our Lord had placed these children in our care for a season and not as a “forever family” and, perhaps God was asking us to place them in the care of those who could meet their needs more fully. Just because we were suffering, Father said, did not mean that this was God’s will for us. If we had no peace and if our marriage was stressed and if Katie’s mental health was in shreds, these might be signs that God was not calling us to parent these precious children any longer.
For the first time, we began to consider whether we could give our children what they needed in order to thrive and live healthy, normal lives. Children who never learned to connect grow up to have severe problems, ones that make their lives full of sadness and pain. We did not want that for our children. We wanted them to have happy and abundant lives, lives where they could learn to love others and be loved. Without love, our lives are incomprehensible to us.
I was adamant that we could never “give up” our children. We had adopted them, stood there before the judge and said we would be their parents. How could we possibly stop being their parents? Would it do even worse damage to them, if they left our home?
But as summer gave way to fall, I observed the continued decline of our children’s behavior and our family’s dynamic. Katie was being crushed under it; all the children were suffering. Things were going from bad to worse.
I knew that making a decision while under duress was a bad idea. So we arranged for a long break, ten days, where the twins and Alice would be with extended family. We only had Edmund. For the first five days, we just breathed. We rested. We spent time with Edmund, who we realized was getting lost in the chaos. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and he was the least squeaky wheel.
After five days, we felt rested enough, peaceful enough to talk. We considered what the therapists had modeled for us and what it would take for us to really give it a go. We counted up our savings to figure out how long I could go without a job while we “went for broke” trying to connect with our children. We considered whether, even doing all that, it would work. We prayed, begging God for unity of vision and peace in His will.
And, we heard God assuring us that our work was over. We felt no grace because the grace was no longer there to parent these children. We realized that we were no longer called nor equipped to meet the needs of our adopted children. Their needs had grown beyond us and we had to love them enough to place them in more capable hands. So, we decided that we would find two families for the children: one for the twins, for they had never been apart, and one for Alice.
We had no idea where to turn to for this. No roadmap existed. How do you find adoptive families for children you adopted? It was so far outside the bounds of what was normal and accepted that it took us a while to even know how to begin.
The children came back from their visits, and we began in earnest to find families for them. We knew that they needed 1) experienced families where they would be the youngest children by many years, 2) families with extensive support resources, and 3) families who understood that they had special needs and would connect them with the help they needed.
As we started this process, we told close friends and family members of our decision. It was met with universal shock and concern. Understandably so. This struck people as so unthinkable that there was no possible explanation that could ever justify it.
Friends accused us of “abandoning” our children, “giving them away,” and giving in to temptation from the devil. One friend prophesied that we would resent ourselves, resent each other, and “regret this for the rest of your life.” Our pro-life friends thought that we were abandoning our children because they were not “perfect”, as if we were giving back damaged goods, and our devout Catholic friends warned us against “laying down our cross” and stepping off of the path of suffering that God had for us.
Long-time friends and extended family turned their backs on us and cut off communications. Some hinted at hiring lawyers and bringing lawsuits against us, to fight for custody of the children. All this meant that, during the most difficult time of our family’s life, we had little support from friends and family. Our family was imploding and, rather than receiving support in our grief, we were ostracized and condemned. At that time, we changed parishes; it felt good to be anonymous for a while and to avoid awkward questions.
The fact was that no one else saw what was going on in our family. They just assumed we were a normal family with young children like any other, with its share of (normal) chaos and difficulties. As if we would make such a momentous decision because we got tired of changing diapers and cleaning up spills! Or even because the children had (normal) tantrums and behavior.
But the condemnation did not matter to me, because God Almighty had placed these children into my care, and Katie and I knew best what they were facing in life, and what they needed to have a chance at a happy and healthy life. I was not responsible for what anyone thought of me, whether they liked me or despised me. As the father of my family, I had to ensure that every member could thrive and fulfill their human potential.
An important principle was involved here: I realized that if I could not provide for the needs of my child, I would have to find someone who could.
It had never occurred to me until this time that I may not be able to provide for my children’s needs. But that was the reality I was facing. It was humiliating and crushing, but it was reality.
Finding Their Families
We turned to those few people who were still talking with us. One faithful friend knew a couple who had fostered recently and were hoping to adopt. We spoke with them and shared our story. We met with them and continued meeting with them many times over the course of a few months, mutually discerning that they were a good fit to adopt the twins.
We worked with adoption caseworkers and attorneys to draw up the paperwork and take the necessary steps. Everything went smoothly and wonderfully. We couldn’t believe it. We had found this family so quickly, and they were superb parents. In the fall of 2011, the twins went to live with their new family. The twins made the transition cheerfully. They waved and smiled and never looked back as our hearts broke. We gave them some time to get settled into their new home and then visited with them as Uncle Devin and Aunt Katie.
Finding Alice’s family was more difficult. We knew she needed an extra-special family. We said no to many people who wanted to adopt her, not because they were not good people but because we knew she needed something specific. After much searching and praying, we found her family (or they found us) and in the spring of 2012 she went to live with them.
Both families consummated the adoptions a few months later. We have remained in their lives as Aunt and Uncle and stay in touch through phone calls, Skype, birthday gifts and visits. The children are all the youngest in their families by many years. They have older siblings who help to model behavior and provide even more love. They are, by God’s grace, connecting with their new families.
We moved back to Texas in August of 2012. There we began healing as a family. We were blessed with another child, our daughter Josephine, whose conception we saw as a gift from God, joy amidst our sorrow. When Josephine was born, our Catholic pro-life NaPro doctor had to perform a hysterectomy on Katie, to save her life, so we are now unable to have any more children.
On the positive side, most of our friends and family members eventually came to accept our decision and resume communications. While they were not able to fully understand what happened, they knew us and trusted that we made the decision only out of necessity for all involved.
Katie and I got married seven years ago, full of excitement and hope for a house full of children. But that will never happen, and we have learned to bless the Lord for His wisdom in it. Children are a gift. Every child is a gift. They are God’s children, whom we have the honor to care for and love.
Some Objections Considered
Katie and I remain advocates of adoption. That may seem strange, but we realize that just because we had a heart-breaking experience with it, doesn’t mean that others will. Children need and deserve loving parents and a home to call their own. Adoption is a beautiful thing.
Objection: “All toddlers have meltdowns. The behavior you describe is within a normal range.”
For reasons of prudence and justice, we did not divulge all the behaviors and details of our children. They may read this one day, and I want there to be nothing that they would feel ashamed of. None of this was their fault; they were born with drugs in their system; their bio mom abused drugs and alcohol while they were in utero.
So I shared what I felt was okay to share. I realize that all toddlers have meltdowns. I realize that babies and little children show affection in different ways, in differing degrees, etc. But having watched many children, and having two biological children of my own, I can tell you that the behaviors shown by our adopted children were not normal. And it is inadvertently irresponsible to tell people in similar situations that their children are “normal,” because they may believe you and not realize that in fact their children need special services and they need special training.
Objection: I would never give up one of my children
We know people with difficult children: bio and adopted. Many were aghast at our decision. They said they could never imagine doing what we did. And I hope that they never have to. In fact, most people will never have to deal with such a situation. Their children are healthy and securely attached to them. That was not the situation we were in. Our adoptive children never formed that secure attachment.
Consider the principle I mentioned earlier: if you cannot provide for your child’s needs, you need to find someone who can.
In the most common adoption scenario, a young, single mom decides her baby has the best chance with another family. She realizes that she cannot give the child what he or she needs. And so we applaud her loving act to place the child with another family.
In fact our situation was principally similar to hers. Except instead of one healthy, normal child being too much for the young mother to care for, we had four toddlers, three with severe mental illness. That was more than we, even as a couple, could handle without imploding as a family.
Why have we written this? Why not let it silently fade away, and along with it the pain and sadness. Since this experience, we have encountered other families to whom this has happened. Some adopted a child who sexually acted out against their bio children. Some adopted a child who sowed division between family members and fellow siblings. Some met financial ruin due to medical expenses, therapies, adoption and lawyer expenses in trying to find a new family.
All met with shock, dismay, and ostracization from friends and family. All for trying to do the right thing.
For Families Who Have Endured This
I have a small platform: this blog and a few other place I write. God gave me this outlet to share truth, life, and love with others. Sometimes that looks pretty; other times it looks ugly.
I have nothing but understanding and sympathy for the families who endured similar situations as we did. Most of them are still healing from it, still trying to help their other children heal from it. The effects are long-term, the wounds deep.
I wrote this for them, that they may know that there are others out there who understand. Other Christians, other pro-life people, other normal families who opened up their hearts to adopt and experienced sufferings from it.
Our story has a relatively happy “ending.” We are still healing and will for a long time to come. But other families have been destroyed from such things, including through divorce due to dissension sowed between husband and wife, with usually the husband–gone all day at work–not seeing what is happening.
For the Christian pro-life, pro-adoption community
We are still Christian, pro-life, and pro-adoption. While we won’t be on your next billboard, for obvious reasons, it wasn’t because we failed to be pro-life enough that this happened. Or pro-adoption enough.
In fact, through the very messy world we live in, we have come to see that it was by God’s grace that we were able to find the children’s new families. That in fact it is possible, even likely, that the only way they would have found these families, the perfect ones for them, was through us. I wouldn’t make such a claim if it were not for the words of the families who adopted them. Alice’s adoptive mother told us:
You guys saying yes to God brought Alice to our family. She belongs with us, but we could not have been her family at the time you adopted her. You brought her to the point where we could be her family. There was purpose for her being in your family. God brought great good out of hard times.
God will continue to bring good out of the situation and hopefully some understanding and grace from those in your life who haven’t known how to react to the situation.
Adoption didn’t turn out like we had planned it. Sometimes it doesn’t, but we can only do our best, availing ourselves of God’s grace, and leave it all to Him. (Also to be noted: months ago I asked the two families if they were okay with me writing this article; they both said that yes, they approved of it.)
We see that we took on too much. A few months’ worth of classes does not, cannot, prepare you to parent three toddlers with special attachment needs.
The caseworkers “should” have known better. But we don’t blame them (or anyone). The fact is they are overworked people giving of themselves in low-paying, high-stress work because they love children and want to help them. “Keeping the siblings together” sure seems like a great idea, doesn’t it? And if it had worked out, as it often does, it would have been celebrations all around.
With more wisdom, I would have been able to see that it was unwise to bring Alice into our home when our twin boys were just starting to lower their defenses and our biological son was soon to be born. But we were committed to loving radically, no matter the cost, and so we said yes. It is easy to see in hindsight that I should have said no, but that is another reason for this post…
For families thinking of adopting
There is a strong push in Christian churches for members to consider adoption. That is excellent. It is so needed. So many children need families. That said, adoption is an extra-ordinary action. Some say that everyone is called to adoption. At one time I would have agreed, but now I only say that everyone is called to consider adoption.
Among pro-life Christians this call to adopt often comes with no brake pedal. “Have children! Adopt children! Have more children!” And it is here that I think our story needs to provide a friendly decelerating effect.
If you have young children, you need to seriously consider whether bringing in one or more other young children into your family via adoption is a wise decision. Many adoptive children, even those not marked as having special needs, have special needs. And even if they don’t, they need extra love and care due to their situation. How well will you be able to handle a four month old bio baby and a six month old adoptive baby who needs all your attention?
What may it do to your family dynamic to adopt a three year old, when your children are four and two? Or adopt a five year old when your children are three and one?
If you have normal (high) fertility and plan to continue having children, will you have the time and resources to devote to your bio children as well as an adoptive child with special needs?
Adopting is not just like having another child. It’s a different ball-game. Do you know what challenges and needs your adoptive child will have? It is impossible to. Even a newborn or baby has lived in the womb for nine months, being potentially subjected to alcohol, drugs, intense stress, violence, and ugly noises. I don’t say this to claim that adoptive children all have problems–many do not–but to prepare you that they could and often do have special needs arising from their mother’s difficult situation.
I know that many Christian families will not listen to me. That is okay. We each must live our own lives and decide for ourselves what we will do. However, I wish that someone had sent this to me five years ago. There are children’s lives at stake with this. The health and well-being of families and many children.
Consider well whether you are diving into adoption because “it’s the right thing to do.” It may be a good thing to do, but whether it is the right thing for your family and for the child you are considering adopting is another story.
Are you spending the time with your current children that you need to be? If not, adopting a child will be adding fuel to a fire.
In the past two years, since making the decision to find other families for our adopted children, we have had many confirmations that it was the right thing to do. Katie and I both saw that our family was going to self-destruct, and if that had happened, no one in our family would have benefited. All would have suffered even worse. Instead, we were able to find two great Christian families that are perfect fits for the children. God had shown us what they needed. We couldn’t meet those needs. But other families could.
I did not want to write this but for a long time felt that I should. I was afraid of the backlash, of rehashing the trauma. If our friends and family–who ostensibly know us well–took it so poorly, how much worse would people we don’t know take it? But it just kept coming back to my heart again and again, and for the reasons I gave I decided it was time to write it. If we can help reduce the stigma on such decisions, help a family who went through it find fellowship in suffering, help a prospective adoptive family make a wiser decision, then it was worth it.
Here is a photo of all of us from July 2013 when we went to visit them and their new families. It is what our family would have looked like, had things been otherwise. But we are happy, because each of the children is now thriving.