Confessions of a Waiting Adoptive Mom {Coffee Break}

C and M Blog

Today is  my first, official, Coffee Break. The goal is to just write and forget all blogging rules. It’s good to have a break from the rules once in a while. Even better if it’s over coffee with some friends. 

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The wait hasn't been easy. Though we have waited far less then some families in the whole of the process. The reality is, the part of the process we're still waiting on should have been completed in 60 days. Two months. We are at 145 days. Nearly five months. The wait really has stretched my faith in ways I have never known.

When we first began this process, I knew God's hand was all over it. I had no doubts. He set everything up so beautifully. It was easy to trust when everything was going smoothly.

But these past few months have been, to the core, hard. I have had so many emotions fly around, including guilt for my own impatience and distrust. And let me tell you how real heart ache really is. Seriously. It's not just a figure of speech or some kind of notion. My heart has literally ached, hurt, felt pain, as the weeks and months have passed by and our daughter's are left asking us when we are coming to get them.

See Margaret up there in the picture (to the right). She's holding a phone in her hand. Talking to me. Asking me that very question. "When are you coming back to get us?" It was so hard not to cry giving her an answer that I really didn't have an answer to. "We are working really hard to come back very soon." How's that for an answer?

I have found myself glued to my email on days and weeks when I know we are expecting some kind of news. I've been stressed, irritated, and constantly want to eat chocolate. (Seriously).

There was one day I was genuinely angry at God and I have never been in that place before. I was angry at things that hadn't even come to pass. I was worried everything would fall apart on us and our girls would never come home. It was irrational, honestly.

There have been times I felt like the punch line of a bad joke. Or that I was in a nightmare I could not wake up from. Like God was going to break His promise. Even though my head knows better!

To make matters harder, we have watched more then one family bring their children home who were "behind" us in the adoption process. Am I happy for them? Absolutely! It's strange because I cry tears of joy for them and tears of sorrow for us at the same time, because here we are still waiting

"God, are we being punished? Tested? Are you not hearing our prayers because we have sin? What is it Lord? Why are we waiting so long?"

But their story is not our story.

And it's nobody's fault. I mean, not really. Everybody over there is doing their job. They are doing what they are supposed to do to make certain we have all the correct, legal documents, correct spellings, accurate information to ensure these precious girls are indeed orphans, and not trafficked. I am not against that at all.

It's just that, some aspects of this process have drug on unnecessarily and some have been necessary and it's hard either way.

One of the things I try to remind myself is that these girls are God's children before they are ours, and He has them well cared for. He really does. It's not ideal. But it's working for now, while we wait.

I haven't slept well and often find myself falling asleep praying and thinking about what life will be like when they are home.

God has truly knit our hearts together with our new girls, even an ocean apart. This time has not been in vain and that much I can see. And for that I thank God. Faith has never been so hard to walk out, I don't think.

I am forced to trust in what I literally cannot see. It's easy for me to trust the Gospel message. Why is it so hard to trust that God will see these girls home?

This whole thing was God's idea. It was His plan. And here I am trying to snatch it from Him and take it over. Be in control. Act like I know better. Like I know what's best.

So, this is some of what's been on my heart and trying to figure out the best way to get it out was actually stifling it. So here it is, pretty much unedited. That's what these Coffee Breaks are all about. And boy did it feel good to get out!

In addition, here is a song that has really struck me these last couple of days. Click here to view video.

Thank you for chatting with me over coffee. Feel free to leave a comment, and feel free not to as well! :)

Adoption and Child Trafficking

Today, I see children being advertised through websites and social media avenues. While some of these methods, I know, are used simply to get the word out about a particular child, usually older or with special needs, many times that is not the case. When we first started researching adoption, our eyes were opened to some horrifying truths.

Ecoliers sur le chemin de l'école

I speak specifically of international adoption in this case, because I am still learning the ins and outs of the American foster care system (which, to me, is looking just as ugly).

Educate Yourself

If you are looking into adoption, please, please understand what is involved beforehand. My hope is to be able to enlighten and educate people as much as possible from what I have learned. Sadly, many prospective adoptive parents (PAP's) jump into adoption blindly. They don't realize that trafficking can be involved which results in adoption becoming a money-making industry rather then an orphan care ministry.

And unfortunately, prospective adoptive families have [unknowingly] feed the problem of trafficking with their demands for specific types of children. They don't realize that they are contributing to the problem.

We want to help give already orphaned children a home, not create orphans.

Adoption as a Money-Making Industry

Adoption becomes an industry when you have prospective adoptive parents lining up for the same type of child: a baby, a baby girl, a baby boy, a child two years old or younger, a specific sex. Healthy. These are very common "wants" from families interested in adoption.

So what happens is people working with/for you, often through an agency and in country, go out and they find these children who will fit these descriptions. They bribe their biological parents into giving their children up. They lie to them. They pay them. They tell them whatever they need to in order to get them to hand over their child. Some parents believe they will see them again. Some have never even heard of adoption or know their child is about to be sent to America or some other foreign country.

Is this always the case? No, of course not. But unfortunately, it's rampant enough to know which agencies to avoid and what red flags you need to look for when going through the process or researching before you begin. It's happening often enough to need to be thoroughly educated and proactive about avoiding its trap.

Facing Reality

Orphan care and adoption isn't the beautiful picture I once imagined before embarking on this journey. It's full of beauty, just of a different kind. And it automatically begins with tragedy.

And the system is broken and the more the government tries to make the system work, the more broken it becomes. Tightening the reigns may help tighten up on trafficking, but it also drastically cuts down on adoptions. This doesn't help the children either.

It lies in the hands of the prospective adoptive parents to educate themselves on child trafficking and what red flags to look for within agencies, power of attorney's, and individual cases--even their own. Especially their own.

The pictures advertising these children? They often serve a purpose. To pull at emotional heartstrings and cause you to "fall in love". Once you're captured by that face, all you can think about is getting them home. Knowing a child's history, asking lots of questions about how they came to be an orphan, and not ignoring red flags are all important to spot trafficking.

The Power of Praying Specifically

Last week I wrote about not walking into adoption lightly. It was a very emotional weekend as it felt like our process was moving backwards instead of forward.

Ask, Seek, Knock

I won't pretend there aren't some real emotions involved in the process of adopting. It's quite the roller coaster and there is definitely some uncertainty involved. It lends us the great opportunity to trust God in new ways; in deeper ways. And it's interesting to me how we feel like we should be in control of a situation that God ordained in the first place.

But one email struck fear in my heart. Then another email set me into major overwhelmed mode. And I just grew paralyzed. I didn't know what to do or how to pray. I kind of just froze. And cried. A lot.

Pray specifically

For months I had prayed in a very broad sense as far as our process goes, because I do want God's timing, not my own. But, I also hadn't considered the schemes of the enemy, or of man, for that matter. I didn't stop to pray against these issues.

So, I grabbed a pen and my journal, and I began to pray specific prayers for signatures and correct documentation and people to do right by the law rather then coax people into bribing them with more money to do their job "quicker".

One of the emails we received stated our home study would need to be updated. It expires after 12 months, and well, it's coming up close to that already since we first had it done. This is an overwhelming process, including getting physicals and medical forms filled out for all the children and my husband and I. Then we also need to get new police clearance, a new background check, and give copies of new tax statements.

When I called the children's pediatrician office, I was surprised to find they were booked for the next month. We needed to have our home study updated before that. Was there anything they could do?!

The guy on the phone says that he will comb the schedule and see what he can find. He puts me on hold. I pray. He comes back and says that he is going to try to grab our kids' doctor before she goes in to see her next patient in order to work something out.

More prayer.

He comes back and says she will see all five kids on the same day. One of her vacation days. She is coming in JUST to see MY kids. Seriously, it was a miracle!!! Even the guy on the phone said it couldn't have worked out better! He needed to get supervisor approval and nurse practitioner approval and everything.

The next evening, we received some other great news of movement in our case! It was the first news of movement we'd heard in 3 months! I went to bed that night smiling.

God Speaks

Then, Sunday morning church. During our time of worship, we sang "Desert Song", and never before had that song struck me like it did that morning. The tears just fell. It was absolutely my prayer at that moment, in this season.

Our associate pastor gets up to preach, and he's talking about prayer. Prayer. The one thing I've been wondering about these last few weeks, but especially that weekend when at first everything seemed it was falling apart. He opens his message talking about how Abraham prayed to God, specifically, for Sodom and Gomorrah. Very specifically. In numbers. Considered some bold praying, that was there.

 

"God, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people? What if 40 righteous people are found? What if 30? 20? 10?" Genesis 18:24-32

God wants to stretch our faith as we step out and ask Him for the desires He planted inside of us, even if we cannot see what He sees. This is a place of revealing, and at times He will answer how we pray, and other times He will show us a better way. But how will we know unless we pray? Unless we ask Him, "Lord, what if..."?

God has revealed Himself to me in a way I desperately needed, simply because I took the time to ask Him, specifically. Not only did He answer my prayers, He also spoke to me on how to pray, and that praying specifically was not only allowed, it was wanted. He proves it over and over throughout scripture.

What do you need to ask God for, specifically? He wants you to ask, friend. He's waiting.

For further reading: James 5:13-20; Matthew 7:7-12; Psalm 34:4; Psalm 37:4; Mark 11:20-26

For another powerful testimony, check out my story of praying for my first child here.

Adoption Carries Uncertainty and Tragedy

Adoption Carries Hope.jpg

How Adoption Begins

Adopting isn't like being pregnant with a healthy baby and a healthy mama.

Adoption begins with the brokenness of loss and trauma, no matter what age the child is separated from their birth parents. It is always a felt loss, even if it doesn't come out until later in life.

Waiting

The process of waiting for our girls to come home cannot compare with what they have had to endure thus far. And while their story isn't as tragic as some, there is still tragedy involved. Any time a child is separated from their birth mother, it is a tragedy.

As we continue to wait, my heart swells with anticipation and longing to have them home. The uncertainty of when they will be here mixed with, will they actually make it here?, is enough to drive my mama stress up a notch. I wish sometimes I could switch it off and ease the pain, but God is molding this heart of flesh.

Motives for Adopting

As a mother with 5 biological children, our heart to adopt was not for ourselves. It isn't used as a way to expand our family and grow our numbers. It isn't some fad we're following, though it seems to be a popular trend among the churches right now.

I am not aiming to shoot down adoption, because there are plenty of instances when adoption is necessary, absolutely. But I fully believe that the heart behind why one wants to adopt is crucial as to how they will allow it to shape them and their adoptive children.

I cannot speak as a mother who has dealt with infertility, so I won't. And I won't particularly address women who are dealing with infertility.

But for families with biological children who are looking to adopt, I beg you to consider your motives for adopting.

Adoption is not meant to be self serving, and society has made the mistake of believing that the only people who adopt are those who struggle with infertility. That is absolutely not the case.

Especially in the international adoption world, that is hardly the case. Oh there are still parents who battle infertility who adopt internationally. But they are not the majority.

Aside from the issue of trafficking (which I will address in another post), adoption must be carefully considered because, even if you adopt a baby, that child has suffered tragedy and loss and the effects cannot be ignored or glazed over.

The Reality of Trauma and Loss

Children who have reactions to these traumatic effects will not fully understand or be able to communicate why they are acting a certain way--a way that may not be typical for a well-secured, fully adjusted, attached child.

A child who suffers from attachment disorder is literally missing neuronal pathways in their brain in order to function the same as a child who has successfully attached to their mother. It's nearly out of their control how they react to certain situations.

But a loving, willing parent can help a child cope, work to build attachment, and create those neuronal pathways. A parent must help them learn to gain control.

So many parents bring their children home, and after weeks or months of being home, their child is not what they expected. They share their frustrations and disappointment wondering how this could have happened. They were simply unprepared for the realities of tragedy involved in adoption.

Don't get me wrong, nothing can fully prepare a parent to handle very difficult and unusual behaviors in children. But the key is to know to expect it in the first place. It's vital we educate and equip ourselves so we have some idea of what to do. Often, parents cannot discipline a child who has suffered trauma and loss the same way they do their biological children.

Adoption is Hard

Adoption is far from unicorns and rainbows. It is a beautiful, but broken piece of a child's life. Beauty doesn't lie within the perfect looking family; it lies within the redemption provided by a gracious God. The story of our adoptive children is the story of us. We couldn't be adopted into the family of God without a tragedy happening first---which is the death of Christ.

To adopt is to embrace the tragedy and use it to help our children grow, not brush it under the carpet and believe that because they are in a loving home, it will just change them. It's just not that simple.

What God has imparted to us, may we impart to our adoptive children.

Resources

I will share our own journey, as our girls make their way home in the coming months. So much has been learned by reading other adoptive family's stories and reading extremely helpful books, such as The Connected Child and Thriving as an Adoptive Family.

Thriving as an Adoptive Family is more of an overall look of adoption. It covers many topics, but it doesn't offer a whole lot of depth. Still, it's an excellent resource to introduce families to how adoption can look.

The Connected Child is a much more in-depth look at specific behaviors of a child, what could be causing them, and how to practically handle the behavior.

But the stories. The stories speak more then any information in a book could.