A Different Type of Adoption
Intrafamily adoption means that allows a family member to adopt a child. Honestly, this is a A Different Type of Adoption for my husband and I. It certainly was not on our radar 5 years ago. I mean, not even the tiniest blip.
Bart was “done” adopting children. We had 6 and 3 of those children are special needs. We were both at our capacity. It is hard raising children from hard places, especially when they are older child adoptions. Most of the time, these children remember specific things and that is stuff that we have to work through.
Add onto that, the physical needs, emotional, mental, and medical…it is hard. With international adoption, there is not after care. You just do it and find your own resources. With adopting from the foster care system there is SUPPOSED to be after care, but let’s be honest. There isn’t any. Again, we are left up to our own devices and even those are few and far between.
Never Say “Content”
I distinctly remember that afternoon, in October. My prayer time is usually reserved for breath prayers, using the bathroom, taking a shower, or driving. I choose to take the time when I can be fully present with the Lord.
My heart had been aching to expand our family for so long. We had had 3 failed adoptions, through different means and for different reasons. I was still mourning those losses yet still feeling incomplete. That day, however, I sat on the toilet and said “Lord, I am finally content with my family.” I thanked Him for each specific child. Their strengths, their joys, their personality, and the difficult parts. I praised Him for taking away that desire so I can be fully present with my 6 children.
The next day. The. Next. Day. My world began to spin a little faster. An incident occurred and my sister needed me ASAP. She was out of town, my parents were not available and I was the next in line. I needed no details. She called. I went, simple as that.
How It Unfolded
We got to the location and I saw my great niece and nephew, so young with my daddy. Their father was with the authorities and their mom (my niece…my sister’s oldest child) was not there. I grabbed what I could grab of their clothes and toys. Then, I loaded that up, along with them and we headed to Bob Evans.
They were in “freeze” mode, wild, dirty, and unsure. I wanted to make sure their little tummies were full. Once I got home, I washed every article of clothing and all their toys to get the smell off of them. Sweet K was full of questions, yet still parenting J. I told her that I had them both and that I would take care of them until Mamaw and Papaw came back to town.
That was the next day and still I questioned nothing just offered my support, some resources, love, and prayers. That night, Bart and I began talking about our whirlwind weekend and what the kids’ future could look like. Where was my niece? Was she okay? What happened? Answers trickled in slowly, but we never pressed the issue because that is not our job.
What About Hunter?
Yet, our mind went to our other great nephew. Where was he? Was he safe? Fed? Hungry? Cold? Scared? We talked to my sister. She told us where he was and that it was not an environment that he needed to be in but she simply could not add more to her plate right at this moment. She had to get things settled with her grandchildren and find her daughter.
B and I talked and prayed a lot. It was such a no-brainer. We wanted him. For now or forever. Whichever it would be. We wanted to be a safe haven for him, while my sister worked through the trauma of the other 2 and again, her daughter.
I called her and gently presented her with the idea. She was silent. Then she quietly said that the person who had him would never agree. I told her to let me worry about that. Since certain tests were not done and my niece was no where to be found, it was the only logical thing we could do. This person could not fight us.
We never wanted to take this person out of his life forever. Visitations. Phone calls. We encouraged that because as difficult as the situation was, this person loved Hunter with all that he had. We both respected that.
It wasn’t without a lot of tears of the person and his other children. That was a hard night. Hunter was 2.5 years old and a firecracker. He had never had structure in his little life. Those fat cheeks and wild curls. So independent and fierce.
He didn’t know us other than what he saw at family functions. I’m sure on some level he was terrified to stay with strangers. My kids scooped him up and played with him for hours. We fed him and he ate like a man-sized portion. Something he still does to this day. We gave him a long bath and let him play and then attempted to get him to sleep. That has always been a struggle. Again, he ran the previous roost.
Getting to the Point
To my point of this adoption, we still have a relationship with my niece. She writes letters and occassionally calls or does a video visit. Historically, Hunter has not responded well to anything. So with that being said, I save all his letters in his baby book. I want him to know that his birthmom loves him, though she made bad choices, that did not stop her from loving him.
With phone calls, I talk to her and give her updates. She doesn’t call often and we have not had a video visit in a long time. I don’t think Hunter understands that he is “technically” our great nephew and adopted. Adoption is so talked about, I don’t think he understands what it means.
How I Explain Things
How I have always explained it to him is that he was born in Mama Paige’s belly but grew in my heart. That she loves him, but wasn’t able to care for him so she allowed us to care for him. Today, we are having our first video visit in almost a year. I am anxious because I don’t know how he is going to react.
He has spent more time with my sister (his mamaw) and his bio brother and sister. They are educating him on all the things Mama Paige LOL. That isn’t a bad thing but Hunter is 7 and he is beginning to ask A LOT Of questions. It’s like it is finally registering in his little brain.
A New Bridge to Cross
Then we have the whole crossing the bridge of when she gets out. My prayer is that she can maintain, be a part of everyone’s life and be involved. Reality is that that may not happen. God is a miracle worker and I choose to believe that she will continue on the right path and that she does not become institutionalized in her mind.
What is that going to look like when she comes home? Family functions, holidays, her expectations, my expectations, Hunter’s feelings…there is just so much that swirls in my mind. Ironically, he will be 12 when she comes home. I share my children’s COMPLETE story with them by the age of about 12. The good, bad, and ugly. We share pictures, documents, answer questions, and give phone numbers to those I have established a relationship (aka parents if it is safe, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) with.
God’s timing is always perfect. In an ideal world, she will be with me when we sit down and talk to him. He will not play us against each other to “get what he wants” as he enters those teenage years. She will be whole and healthy.
Ya know, projecting good thoughts and not fears. Adoption is so beautiful. Yet, we are walking into the darkest period of a child’s life. Whether they are newborn or older. We are walking in with joy and a pen light shining light into a pitch black hole of trauma. Adoptive parents need to respect that trauma and work with it throughout the years. Please do not hide anything because the child will find out, one day. Honesty, even if it takes your skin off.
Prayers are appreciated for our visit this evening. We are letting Hunter dictate how long he speaks to her and what is said.