Adoption

Adoption Terms

Adoption Terms

Adoption Terms

Adoption Terms Closed, Semi-Open, Open. These terms can be daunting. I’m not sure about the other adoptive mamas out there, but when we first embarked on the adoption journey, these terms were never tossed around.

After eight years of being in the adoption world, I am very familiar with each of these things, and I stop and look at what they each mean to my family.

Ethiopian Adoption

In an ideal world, my kids would have been parented by their biological parents. My two children’s biological mother would have had a great support system who would teach her how to parent correctly. My Ethiopian son’s biological mother would’ve been taught basic hygiene, basic first aid, garden, manage money, and live successfully in the country she loves.

Sad Reality of Adoption: International, Foster to Adopt, or IntraFamily Adoption

We live in a fallen world. We all have a choice, whether good or bad. The reality is that when bad decisions are made, natural consequences will occur. My two kids’ lives were riddled with all sorts of negative things. It has changed their lives and shaped who they are and their thought processes. My Ethiopian son had medical issues that could not have been avoided. A death occurred, and unforeseen issues came to the surface.

International Ethiopian Adoption

 With my son from ET, I yearned for open adoption. I knew things. I have a heart for his sweet mama and his brothers and sisters. Open adoption is impossible due to laws (ET and American) and the fact that an ocean separates us. This sweet family lives deep in the jungle. I have no way of getting them anything. So we hang pictures, talk about them, and watch videos. I want my son to know that she loved him so deeply that she gave him life twice.

Future Adoptions

I will still choose semi-adoption or open adoption with any future adoptions. One day, I would love to be chosen by a birth mom. To allow her to be in their child’s life in a controlled, safe environment. I would love for grandparents to be grandparents if that is an option. Aunts and uncles to still be aunts and uncles. I will say when red flags occur, changes can be made. Safety is a number one priority.

 

 

 

Adoption, Guest Blogger, Medical Issues, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome

Guest Blogger Big Daddy on Adoption

Guest Blogger Big Daddy on Adoption

Guest Blogger Big Daddy on Adoption

This post was originally written in 2017.

Guest Blogger Big Daddy on Adoption and his thoughts. After having three biological children, we decided to enter the realm of adoption. We believed our quiver wasn’t complete, so the decision was easy. What we didn’t realize is that adoption is HARD. It doesn’t matter what kind of adoption it is. Whether through foster care, international adoption, or one of your relatives, adoption is not for the faint of heart.

Adoption is Rewarding

 

However, adoption is very rewarding. Knowing that you have taken life into your home that otherwise was not wanted or was being mistreated, abused, or neglected is an amazing miracle. God intended for children to be raised by their parents, but circumstances sometimes do not allow that to happen. That’s why we took the plunge to care for the orphans.

Our Wild Ride to Adoption

 

As for our journey, it has been a wild ride. We have had a lot of good days and plenty of bad ones. But so far, we have stayed the course. We have tried to instill Godly values in our children while teaching them honesty, integrity, responsibility, and character. Sometimes we think that we are not making much progress, but honestly, we believe if we are consistent with the kids, they will turn out fine. Each child is different. We have learned how to parent each child with different behaviors and personalities.

 

At first, I was resistant to adoption, but after I met the little girl my sister-in-law and her husband adopted from the Philipines, my heart melted. I saw the love shown and given to her and believed I could do the same. So we decided to do it.

Our First Experience

 

Our first experience with fostering to adoption started pretty good other than the fact that these children were brought to us, and we knew nothing about them. It was hard, especially with Shay, because she was non-verbal at two years old. She never did warm up to me very much. Tay, on the other hand, was very happy and always smiling. Also, they were very sick, and we could not get them well.

 

Then the day that nearly broke us into the world of fostering/adoption happened. The kids were suddenly taken away from us by the Cabinet. We had no idea….one minute, we are raising these kids, and the next minute they are gone. We were told the reason but truly believed the social worker lied about us in a court hearing that we were not present at. I was furious, and it crushed my wife. To this day, she still has the scars of them being taken from us. We had to believe that the Lord had different plans for those sweet children and us.

Never Again?

 

At that time, we told ourselves we would not go through a horrible experience like we just had but decided to give it another go around. We started fostering D and G in the spring of 2007. At first, it was really good, but we learned quickly how many of these children in the child services system could be damaged. To find out the kids you just took into your home were previously abused is a tough pill to swallow.

 

Having to raise children during an investigation of abuse and ensuing court proceedings is not the way it should be. But the kids were safe, and we did our best to cope with the behaviors stemming from their past. We finally adopted them about two and a half years later. Since then, we’ve run the gamut of ups and downs with them. Some days are good, and some days are bad, but in the end, they are loved, and hopefully, they will be able to overcome the terrible start they had in life.

International Adoption

 

Our subsequent adoption was a foray into international adoption. My wife had always dreamed of adopting from the county of Ethiopia. After I met my new nephew from Ethiopia, my sister-in-law’s second adopted child. I was ready to go to Africa. The process was a lot of paperwork and a lot of money. (Not sure why it costs so much to adopt a child who has no home or no one else wants). Within a few months, we had a referral and got a picture of our son. It was amazing how we could love someone so much whom we had never met.

 

The anticipation was unbearable. But soon after that, we could travel to Africa and meet our son. It was an experience like none other. We met our son and spent three or four days with him. We went to court and were granted the adoption. The hardest part was leaving him there. But we were told that it should only be about eight weeks before we could return and bring him home. Little did we know then that eight weeks would turn into 14 months.

Huge Mistake Made by Home Study Agency

 

Our home study agency made a huge mistake, and the US government told us we did not make enough money to bring him home. How ridiculous is that? It’s a shame that money, or the lack thereof, keeps so many people from adopting children that need good homes. When we found this out, we desperately tried everything we could to get clearance from USCIS but were flat-out denied two months later. My wife was crushed beyond all belief. From December 2010 to about November 2011, she was just a shell of a person.

 

Yes, she lived and breathed, but that was about it. She was vacant. And there was nothing I could do about it. I believed that there was no way God would allow us to travel 7000 miles to meet a boy and tell him he would be our son, then him not ever come home. Not necessarily for our sake but for his. He was an innocent child growing up in an orphanage with 50 or 60 other children like him. But God made way for us to get our clearance to bring him home, and in December 2011, we brought J to his forever home. We were made whole.

Here We Go Again

 

After we brought J home, we thought our quiver was full. But God had other plans for our family. In November of 2015, we had an opportunity to take in our great-nephew, H. His mother, our niece, had been in trouble with the law and could not take care of him. H had been living with a man who believed he was the father. He had troubles of his own and agreed for us to keep H for a while. We decided to file for emergency custody of H mainly for his safety at the time. The man he was living with turned out not to be the biological father, and we were granted temporary custody of H.

His Biological Mom

 

His mother got into even more trouble later and was facing a lot of time in prison. She made a tough yet mature decision to terminate her rights and allow us to adopt H. I can’t imagine how hard that was for her. I am very proud of her for sacrificing for her son. H invigorated our family with joy. He has so much energy and is very sweet and funny. However, in June, he was diagnosed with an extremely rare neurological disorder called Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. He has been through a lot, which has been tough on him and us. But we take it one day at a time and trust in God for healing and comfort.

Adoption is Tough

 

So those reading this and considering adopting do not have preconceived notions of lollipops and rainbows. Adoption is challenging and not for the faint of heart. But the rewards are unending. Giving a child a home and stability is a beautiful thing. Whether they know it or not, children crave structure, discipline, and a sense of worth.

 

That’s the beauty of adoption.

 

Adoption

Our Story of Falling in Love and Adoption

Our Story of Falling in Love and AdoptionOur Story of Falling in Love and Adoption

 My husband and I met in the spring of 1993. We quickly fell for each other. I remember walking into the game room, where we both worked, one evening before school started. People lined up at the counter, and I saw this man, in these faded blue jeans, with this butt that made my heart pitter-patter. He was tall and had eyes that were the color of the sky. He had a hat on, so I did not know what color his hair was, and I noticed his bottom lip all stuck out because he was chewing tobacco. I fell in love, and I did not even know his name. Swoon.

The Kid Question

 At any rate, that is the year we met. We were engaged by the fall of that same year and married in June 1994. When we talked about our life, I asked him how many children he wanted. He stated that he wanted one, maybe two. I said that I wanted four. I also told him my desire to adopt, and he was NOT for that. He felt he could not love a child he did not see grow in me. I decided that I would let God deal with him on that, and I would stay out of it.

Life Now

 Fast forward 22 years later, and we did not have one, two, or four kids. We were blessed with six children. We have three children who were born “under the heart” and three children who were adopted. We have adopted from our local foster care system, and to add the icing on the cake of our family, we adopted from Africa. All of our children were “older” child adoptions. The Lord profoundly changed his heart.

Contentment

 There was a day, back in October 2015, when I was in the bathroom, and I was thinking to myself (and yes, I speak to myself, and I answer myself). The prayer that was lifted that day was one of thanksgiving. My heart has always yearned for my children, but we could not have any more biologically. We could not from our local foster care system because our home was deemed “full,” and we could not adopt internationally because of finances. 

We had had two separate opportunities to adopt privately, but the birthmothers made other choices, and now those babies are with Jesus. There was nothing more to do. My quiver was full. We had six kids. Our oldest was in college, our second was finishing up her high school year, sprinkled in some behaviorally challenged kids and a hard-of-hearing kid, oh, and homeschooling them all, and our life was complete.

God Laughs

 While I was in that bathroom that day, I uttered these words “Lord, I finally am content. I’m content with myself, my life, and my family size. Thank you for finally giving me that peace about being finished bringing children into our home.” I can imagine God, upon His heavenly throne, chuckling at my “contentment.” He was fixing to throw me a curveball the size of Montana. Almost immediately after my revelation, the phone rang. It was my oldest sister, Kim. 

I was surprised at her phone call on a Saturday morning, and instead of saying hello, I asked her what was wrong. She was panicked and straightforward. She and her husband, Joseph, were out of town, and there was an emergency with two of her grandchildren. She requested me to get to where they were and keep them until she and Joseph came home. 

Well, she did not have to ask me twice. My husband and I loaded up our kids and drove separately to have enough room for everyone. We got to where the children were, and there they stood, amongst complete chaos and sadness.

Damage Control

 I plastered on my “it is going to be okay” face and whisked them off to Bob Evans to eat. They were filthy and hungry. We made our way to the bathroom, and I cleaned up their precious little faces. We sat to eat, and boy, did they eat. The rest of the weekend was much like my very own three-ring circus. There was damage control, lots of hugs and kisses, snacks, movies, rocking, and soothing their weary little souls. 

We made it to church without any incident on that Sunday. My sister came back into town that afternoon to pick up the beauties. Their world was fixing to shake, and they needed that solid foundation of my sister and Joseph. Oh, do they love those kids? Gracious.

Carnage

After they left, I looked around at the carnage of the house. There were toys strung from here to high heaven. Clothes, barbies, shoes, Polly pockets, animals, trains. Anything and everything we could find made an appearance, and it spread throughout my living room. 

There were half-eaten sandwiches, purses, and stickers galore. I plopped down on the couch with a sense of accomplishment. We all survived. I was pleased I could help in this challenging time, but I was so glad my sister took over.

At It Again

 Again, contentment. Again, pleased with feelings of peace. Again, God laughed. Furthermore, He rocked our world. Only a few weeks later, our family changed. Remember Bart wanted one or two, and I wanted four? Remember how we ended up with three biological kids, then five, then six, and then done? 

Remember? 

We added our seventh child, 21 months (let that soak in for a moment. I had not had a toddler in 9 years, and I am over 40 people!), sashayed into our home. He had beautiful curls with these green eyes. He was nonverbal and loud. Holy moly, he was loud. We took in my sister’s other grandson, her youngest grandbaby. 

 

Adoption

Falsehoods and Truth of Adoption

Falsehoods and Truth of Adoption

Falsehoods and Truth of Adoption.

Let me start off by saying that ADOPTION is a beautiful thing!  It has been a desire of mine since I was a child and the Lord saw fit to bring this desire to fruition.  Yet there are some Falsehoods and the Truth of Adoption.

There are several things that people do not tell you about adoption that I wish I had known, way back when…but it still would not have turned me against adding to my family through our domestic and international adoption.  I just believe that I would have been better prepared.

You will automatically love this child.

I wish this were true but there are times when that connection is just not there and love is a CHOICE and not a FEELING.  There are times when adoptive mamas go through post-adoption depression just like mamas who give birth can struggle with postpartum depression.  It is tough.  If you feel like you are struggling or want to sleep all the time.  Maybe your emotions are all over the place or you are struggling with loving this child.  Please, seek help.  There is no shame in talking to a doctor or a therapist.  There is no shame if you need medication to get through this emotional hump.  You are still a good mama.  Relax.  Breathe.  Trust the Lord.  Ask for help.

It will be an easy transition into your family.

Any adoptive parent will tell you that this is a lie lie lie.  I will say that it was much easier with Little Man than it was with Gigi and Catfish.  There is a honeymoon period.  It can last for days (or hours) or months.  When it is over, it is over….that is when real bonding begins.

You have to be rich to adopt.

With the help of friends, family, yard sales, craft shows, and grants….you can adopt.  You do not have to be rich.  In the case of foster care adoption, there is no cost to adopt a child from the foster system and the need is great!

You will love this child(ren) differently because this child “did not come from your body.

Again, it does not take birthing a baby to be a mom.  It takes the next lifetime to be a mom.  I love ALL of my kids DIFFERENTLY.  It is a fact that I do not love them the same.  Yet, I do not love one more than another.  I just love them differently whether they are grown under the heart or in it.

It is easy to adopt

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…..uhm….no.  International, domestic, private, family, foster care….adoption is A LOT of hard work.  A lot of dedication, a lot of paperwork, a lot of tears, and a lot of emotions.  Those who tell you differently are on medication.

All children in foster care have some kind of physical, mental, or emotional handicap; that’s why they are classified as “special needs.”

Special needs can include several different types of kids.  Children who are of a different race are special needs.  Children over 3 are special needs.  Sibling groups are special needs.  Boys can be considered special needs just because they are boys.  There can be mental or physical needs, as well….but my son, adopted at the age of 4 was special needs because he was black, a boy, and over the age of 2.  He is perfectly fine.  My other 2 children are considered special needs because they are a sibling group.  There are additional needs from those 2 kids, but far, they are just fine.

Natural parents do not care about the babies they surrender to adoption

My son’s mother loves him.  My children’s mother loves them.  They love in their own way.  They were relinquished for different reasons.  Both moms wanted a better life for their children.

The infant does not experience her separation from her mother

There are implicit memories (from birth to 3) and explicit memories (from 3 on).  Whether a child can verbalize or physically remember or not, they will always have those memories.  That loss and grief will always be there.  Regardless of age.

The adoptive family will be the only family the adoptive child will know

Uhm, again…no….These kids will always wonder where they came from and what their story was.  Do all you can to find out for their benefit…even the hard stuff.

Your identity is tied to the adoptive family and not your past

An adoptive child’s identity is founded on their heritage and their past.  They adapt and learn new ways, but their past is a huge part of who they are.

Adoptive families make up for a child’s loss

Again, that loss and grief will always be present.  It should be talked about and openness needs to be encouraged.  A child should never be afraid to talk to a parent about their hurts, fears, and confusion.  It does not mean they do not love you.  They just want to know.

The adoptive child never thinks about their biological family

Yes, they do…all the time.  They just very well may be afraid to verbalize for fear of hurting their adoptive parents.

You should sugarcoat the truth to make it easier on the adopted child

Nope.  This information should be sought after if you can.  It should be delivered in 100% truth as the child can understand and their complete past, what you know, should be completely told to a child by the age of 12.

Adoption damages a child

I don’t believe it does.  My children, though here for different circumstances by their biological families, know they are loved and they are safe.  They also know that their families loved them the only way that they could.

Adoption means waiting years for a child

I was waiting for a year for 2 of my children.  It took 2 years for my other child.  It all depends on what you are open to.  The more open you are to a child of God, the sooner it could be a reality.  If you are tied down to a newborn, blonde hair, blue-eyed little girl…your wait time will be longer.

Children must be placed with same-race families in order to thrive

We are a trans-racial family.  Our family tries to keep his heritage alive by listening to music, reading books, and having pictures, and things from his country.  Also, we try to get together with fellow adoptive families from Ethiopia.  We do the best we can knowing full well that we can never replace a first-hand experience he would have had had he stayed with his biological family.

Single people or people over 40 cannot adopt

Not true and not true 🙂  Age does not matter.  I say if the Lord is calling you…be obedient.  You won’t be sorry.

James 1:27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Matthew 18:5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask and I will address them.