Thoughts on Disruption: This Much I Know For Sure

March 6, 2015 disruption, guest post, March 2015 Feature - Disruption 42 Comments

Continuing our series, Disruption in Adoption, today we are sharing a post from Stephanie, a mom who has personally experienced the devastation of a failed adoption. We are grateful for her willingness to share her story.

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18 years in the classroom as a teacher was easy compared to parenting three little ones at home full-time. Through their three daughters, God has revealed Himself most clearly to Stephanie and her husband Matthew. He not only worked a miracle in giving them their biological daughter, He continued to show Himself in mighty ways throughout adoption journeys in China and Bhutan that were anything but normal.

Nowadays she enjoys encouraging and connecting with other adoptive families through speaking and her work on the leadership team of We Are Grafted In and on the Board of The Sparrow Fund.

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disruptionpost1


It’s one of Oprah’s catch phrases. This much I know for sure. Following that phrase, she expounds on some epiphany, conclusion, or lesson she has learned. There are many things I know for sure. In most of those cases, it is because of personal experience or first-hand knowledge.

I know that the bottom of the Dead Sea is very difficult to walk on because of the large salt crystals littering the bottom. (personal experience)

I know that the pain of giving yourself fertility injections is nothing compared to the pain of being childless. (personal experience)

But, there are other things I cannot be sure of. I can only imagine how it must feel or be or what I would or would not do, but I don’t know for certain.

I think it would be great to have an amazing singing voice and perform for the masses. But, I don’t really know what that would be like and never will.

I can say that I would never move far away from my family, but I have never had to make that decision and pray I never will.

That’s just it. We don’t really know what it’s like to experience something without actually experiencing it ourselves. I can imagine how I hope I would react, what I hope I would think, how I hope I would respond all I want. But, until I walk through it myself, I really have no idea.

I have never been a very scandalous person. No huge public life dramas have played out in my life… until the summer of 2010.

What happened? We did not complete the adoption of the child we traveled to bring home because the child’s needs were greater than what the file disclosed and greater than we felt prepared or were even approved to handle. After that decision was made, while still in country, our agency locked a child off the shared list for us to consider. After much prayer and discussion and input from our support system, we accepted the referral and completed that adoption.

To say our adoption journey was difficult is understatement. But, by far, the most hurtful thing this momma dealt with were the misconceptions people in the adoption community had–and may still have — regarding those who do not complete an adoption and the opinions openly shared about “those parents.” Naively, I had no idea just how scandalous this was in the eyes of many in the adoption community. In reading what many other adoptive parents thought about our situation, it seemed as if the thinking was either you bring home the child you were referred no matter what, or you are a terrible, selfish person who wishes for that child to never find a family.

I can tell you that is not the case. This much I know for sure.

The sadness and shock we felt when the serious undisclosed needs became apparent was hard, but we had lots of supportive people walking us through the confusion. Discovering that we were not the best family for the child we thought was ours was hard, but we had peace about the decision, knowing it was the best for that child and us. We were simply not equipped to handle that child’s needs and knew that there would be a family out there who could meet those needs and meet them well. Facing the reality of not coming home with a child, the child who we had attached to at some level through video and pictures after almost 4 years of being in the process was hard. But, with the peace we had in our decision, we knew that if that’s what it came down to, it would be okay. We would be okay with coming home childless, if that’s where God led. Our family, our friends, our church lifted us up in prayer, listened to us as we processed through everything that was happening, and supported the difficult decision we had to make.

However, the comments about our situation (and about others who find themselves in similar situations) I read upon returning home, and still occasionally stumble upon as I scan adoption boards, pierced my heart and rattled me for days. I sat stunned at the broad paintbrush often used to paint parents who go through this as cold, heartless, uneducated, unprepared, only thinking of themselves with no thought or caring for what happens to the child.

The comments seem to center around the same logic: EITHER you are on the side of the child OR you disrupt. EITHER you parent a child who you know is not a good fit for your family OR you are declaring that child unworthy of having a family. It is not like that. It is just not that simple.

This much I know for sure: it is not an either/or type of situation. 

From the outside, it is not possible to know ALL the details of why parents may choose not to complete an adoption, to know all the reasons a family felt ill-prepared to meet a particular child’s needs. Those details are extremely personal and private for both the child and family. Absolutely, the adoptive parents want the child they are unable to parent to find a home, the right home. It’s the same thing we all want for all the kids on those lists. We want homes for every one of them. But, as adoptive parents, we have to make decisions along the way in a special needs adoption as to what needs we feel called to and prepared to handle. That is why agencies have parents fill out special needs checklists. Some of those reasons for choosing certain special needs and not others are personal preferences; but, some have to do with very practical things such as insurance, availability of services, etc. Adoptive parents who decide they cannot parent the child they were referred and, therefore, make the painful decision not to complete an adoption do so with the family’s and child’s best interests at heart.

Since returning home almost five years ago, I have been in contact with other parents who have also gone through the pain of an uncompleted adoption. And, there are certain common denominators that have been true in each of those situations. This much I know for sure:

1. The parents hurt and grieve over the loss of the child. In all cases, parents have prepared a room and bed and clothing for the child. They have lined up medical treatment and doctors. They have prepared the other children in their families for this brother or sister. They have packed, planned, and prayed for this child. In most cases, the parents have named the child. In all cases, the parents fully intended on bringing home that child.

2. The parents want the child they are unable to parent to find the right family. They pray for them. Often times, they actively advocate for them. And, sometimes, they even offer monetary donations to help the child receive treatment and/or diagnostic testing while that child waits for a family.

3. The parents have grief and confusion and heartache and disappointment that they need to process. While local family and friends do what they can to support these families, often times, the family looks to the adoption community for support and becomes isolated when that community (their community) shames them and sometimes even vilifies them.

4. Parents who are offered another referral while in country (as we were due to being an I-600 family) did not travel intending to “switch” or “upgrade.” Many times, it is implied that adoptive parents who come home with a different child had some “master plan” to get a better/younger/healthier/cuter child. When in most (if not all) cases, the decision is made to not complete the adoption well before the option of another referral is even considered. It is not a situation of “would you rather have this child instead?”

5. The parents receive a lot of negative comments on forums and blogs from some in the adoption community and, as a result, feel isolated, judged, and shut out. Online forums can be a blessing for all the sharing of information and personal experiences that help to educate families about adoption. However, the relative anonymity also makes it too easy for some to say hurtful and judgmental comments aimed at parents who decided they could not complete the adoption of the child they had traveled for. Most of these comments offer support and compassion for the child in a way that is critical and judgmental of the adoptive parents.

So, to the people who have said my husband and I were not prepared as adoptive parents, you are right. We were not prepared in many ways. 

We were not prepared to meet a child whose needs were far beyond what were presented and what we were equipped or approved for. 

We were not prepared to learn that the medical files we reviewed had not disclosed the other serious medical needs the child had that were not related to the main special need. 

We were not prepared to leave behind the child whose picture we proudly shared with family and friends. 

We were not prepared to find the child who IS our daughter in such a confusing way following God’s clear leading. 

We were not prepared to feel God’s presence so clearly throughout the entire process. 

We were not prepared to be given such a sense of clarity and peace about the decisions we felt led to make. 

We were not prepared for the outpouring of love, support, and understanding we received from our friends, family, and church family. 

We were not prepared to feel so alone, isolated, and criticized by members of the adoption community in cyber-land.

And, we certainly were not prepared to be judged so harshly by an adoption community that had previously been such a source of support for us. 

In the years that have passed, I have sensed that perhaps those in adoption circles are beginning to understand public shaming is not helpful. The demise of forums that offer anonymity has helped stem the flow of unbridled anger. Our experience has taught me that making assumptions of people in other circumstances is rarely helpful. I am reminded that in any given situation, it’s not as simple as either/or, because, this much I know for sure…

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

I never thought we would disrupt. Never. It wasn’t on the radar. It wasn’t in our vocabulary. At. All. Not even a little bit. We were bringing our child home no. matter. what.

Except that she wasn’t our child. We knew that without a doubt.

There has never been a doubt about any of it at all. No second guessing. Just hurt. Hurt for what had to happen, and hurt for the stigma that seems to cloud over us within the adoption community. Miraculously, we came home with our child, and the child-who-was-not-ours has found a family as well. Her family.

We couldn’t be more thrilled.

This much I know for sure.



42 responses to “Thoughts on Disruption: This Much I Know For Sure”

  1. Amy says:

    YES, YES, YES! Our next door neighbors have several China kiddos as well. They disrupted last year, and it was heartbreaking. Shaming was not warranted for. You better be able to bring that child into your home before you criticize and judge my sweet friends for doing so.

  2. Marjorie says:

    What I find interesting about this post is the author is doing exactly what she says others should not do. She’s making assumptions. While she might know the circumstances of her disruption and the state of her heart and mind, she cannot assume to know that for every disruption.

    This much I know… within minutes of meeting the woman who traveled for him, the decision was made to disrupt the adoption of a 25 month old boy. It was posted on-line that he was too sick for anyone to adopt him and he would need life long care.

    This much I know… 8 months later we traveled to adopt this little boy who is smart, funny, adorable and perfect. He doesn’t even have the expected developmental delays from institutionalization. The only SN we have found is reflux.

    I’ve been in the international adoption community since 2005. In that time I’ve seen many disruptions. Very few were because the child had undisclosed medical conditions.

    While I don’t think anyone needs to be publicly stoned, I do think adoptive parents need to discuss disruptions. All too often they happen because parents are unprepared for institutional delays and grieving. Severe undisclosed medical conditions are the exception, not the rule.

  3. sherri says:

    I have biological and adopted children from China. My biological children have medical needs that I am in no way prepared to handle. If someone had asked me if I wanted to parent these needs I would have said no. I would have said I’m not able to do that. But there is not a choice with biological children. And all of our adopted children, due to their history of trauma and loss, come to us with a blue print for mental and emotional madness that no medicine or surgery can correct. And there is no extended warranty for children. Just because they are what you can handle at age 5 doesn’t mean they will be at 15.

  4. Lynn says:

    Thank you for writing this! We went through a disruption last year and my heart is still broken. I LOVE the child I will never hold. I pray for this child regularly! You don’t understand until you are standing there making the most difficult decisions of your life. So many mommas hide because of the stigma. Just heart breaking….

    • As adoptive moms, yes, our hearts absolutely break for children without families. It is reasonable, you are right. But, I find your suggestion that it is “unreasonable and inappropriate” for families who have decided for whatever reason not to complete an adoption they set out to complete to expect support from the adoption community to be tragic. We should be the most significant support for each other with love big enough and deep enough to include everyone who is a part of the complex journey of adoption–waiting children, waiting families, families who make the hard decision not to parent the children born to them, families who make the hard decision not to parent the children matched to them, families formed by adoption struggling through their everyday, and families formed by adoption who are moving through life with less struggle or none at all. It’s not easy to love that big, but how awesome it would be if we did.

      • Stephanie, THANK YOU for risking your heart and sharing so candidly here with us. My heart hurts for the pain that the decision must have cost you and yours, for the judgement you received then and now, for the healing that had to come slowly and carefully following then and now. I know THIS – this thing called adoption is the messiest, hardest, raw-est thing I’ve ever done. That I’ve ever seen friends I love do. And I know I can’t do it alone. I need the Holy Spirit to do through me and in me what The Father calls me to do. Without that I am nothing. That includes loving “that big” as Kelly stated – loving those who disagree with me, with whom I disagree, my kids when they are at their un-love-able-est, myself when I’m at my most self-righteous or my neediest. We need each other to be JESUS to each other. So we can be Jesus to our kids. To the world. “We should be the most significant support for each other with love big enough and deep enough to include everyone who is a part of the complex journey of adoption…” YES YES YES.

  5. Denise says:

    I know that there are RARE situations where a child has significantly more severe medical needs than was disclosed. But over the years, my eyes have been opened to the sad reality that this is usually not the case.

    I think it is reasonable for adoptive moms to have a protective nature toward the child left behind more so than for the family that left them there. I think it is unreasonable and inappropriate for a family that disrupts an adoption to then expect support from the adoption community. I do recognize that those families will have sorrow they need to work through; and I hope those families find support within their family, churches, and personal friends. Those would be appropriate places to turn, not to adoptive moms, many of whom are diligently advocating for the children waiting, including the children who suffered a disrupted adoption.

    I would ask families who choose to disrupt for whatever reasons, to be honest about the situation. I have read a lot of phrases like these:

    “Discovering that we were not the best family for the child we thought was ours was hard, but we had peace about the decision, knowing it was the best for that child and us. We were simply not equipped to handle that child’s needs and knew that there would be a family out there who could meet those needs and meet them well.”

    But the real truth is no one can be sure that the child will eventually find the “right” family. There is NO guarantee that a disrupted child will even be listed again for adoption. Sometimes they are not. When they are, they now have the “disrupted” label adding to whatever list of special needs they already carry. I understand that a family may decide a child’s needs are too much for them to parent, but they need to stop telling themselves the lie that there is another family that will scoop that child up. Telling yourself it is best for the child is shoving your head in the sand to ease your own pain. I understand you are hurting, but you want us to believe it is best for the child to return to the orphanage, perhaps for the rest of her/his childhood than to be adopted by a family that is not “prepared” to parent their needs. I know enough about life in an orphanage from my own adopted children and the many other stories shared to know that most of the time, the child would be better off with the unprepared family than the orphanage. It boils down to the family feels the child is not a good fit for them, not that there is a better fit out there for the child.

    I am not trying to sound harsh. I know there is hurt. But it really does not sit well with me when a family who disrupted starts talking about it being best for the child.

    • As adoptive moms, yes, our hearts absolutely break for children without families. It is reasonable, you are right. But, I find your suggestion that it is “unreasonable and inappropriate” for families who have decided for whatever reason not to complete an adoption they set out to complete to expect support from the adoption community to be tragic. We should be the most significant support for each other with love big enough and deep enough to include everyone who is a part of the complex journey of adoption–waiting children, waiting families, families who make the hard decision not to parent the children born to them, families who make the hard decision not to parent the children matched to them, families formed by adoption struggling through their everyday, and families formed by adoption who are moving through life with less struggle or none at all. It’s not easy to love that big, but how awesome it would be if we did.

  6. Lisa says:

    Thank you, Stephanie.

  7. Caroline says:

    Stephanie: thanks for sharing your story with honesty and good humor. What an eye-opening read!
    NHBO team: Kudos to you for having the hutzpah to publish this series & work through this issue on your blog.
    Everyone: As a potential adoptive mom (hub & I are just in discussion stage at this point), I love reading all perspectives on this issue. It’s obvious even well-meaning, cross-pierced Jesus followers can feel differently about this matter. The need for adoption in our world is a result of sin. We are all broken, sinful people, and that fact causes devastation for the orphans (grieving, loss, etc.), the prospective parents (disruption, loss, grief) and all others involved (upset for family, church, adoption community, etc.). Sin is just ugly, nasty stuff (I know I’m preaching to the choir). I pray if and when we adopt, Christ’s grace infiltrates all areas of our story – whether disruption occurs or not. I’m not going to self-righteously say “I’ll never disrupt…”; it seemed that was Stephanie’s stand. I can only humbly pray, “Lord, guide our every step through the adoption process.” I hope my thoughts add to the discussion!

  8. What a joy to see this post from you Stephanie. I remember following your journey and praying so much for you in the midst of that very hard time. I remember the incredibly hurtful words that some people hurled. I’m pretty sure that we met on RQ and had similar timelines. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being willing to be vulnerable. The Lord will use them for good {and already has!}. The adoption journey has given us many new opportunities to say “this much I know for sure” as well. And yet there have been many things that the Lord allowed to come our way that we could never have been completely prepared for. More than anything, it has led us to our knees, kept us in a place of dependence on Our Savior, Jesus and taught us to demonstrate overwhelming grace to others .

  9. Marny says:

    This much I know for sure. There was a 16 month old little girl who had a repaired heart defect. Unbeknownst to the people who had cared for her and done her paperwork, she was also Deaf. Before you criticize them for not having figured that put, you should know that before we had newborn hearing screening in the US, it was common for kids in their birth families to be undisguised at that age.

    A family committed to her and travelled for her. When they realized what her caretakers had not, they left her there. 20 months later, I brought her home. I’m thrilled and blest to have her, but those almost two years of critical language learning time she will never get back. She’s doing well, but if she’d had that time receiving intervention, she’d be doing a lot better. This will probably impact her forever.

    This I know for sure. Families in the US get that diagnosis for their children everyday, and they don’t walk away. This know for sure, this was not part of some greater plan.

    • Marny says:

      Undiagnosed, not undisguised! Darn autocorrect!

    • Kenlyn Jones says:

      Marny,
      Exactly. No “opting out” period with biological children. How is it any different with adopted ?
      So sad to see someone try and justify disruption when there isn’t one. The child is either yours or they aren’t. You don’t get to decide later down the road that maybe they aren’t what you wanted or expected. Lord knows when we adopt the child doesn’t have a choice in who their parents will be. They take us faults and all.
      Huh.

      • Actually, there is an “opting out” period with biological children, though I would never call it that. But, there are parents who decide they cannot parent the child born to them for many different reasons. I would argue that most of us lift them up and support them…I sure hope that’s true at least. I am confused as to why there is such judgment here for families who decide not to complete an adoption for a child. ???

        • Marny says:

          When a birth parent in the US decides they can’t parent, a plan is made to place the child IN A FAMILY. In most cases the child goes directly from the birth parent to the adoptive family. When an adoptive family decides not to honor their commitment to a child, that child us thrown back into the orphanage system to an unknown fate. It’s not the same thing. It us NOT a decision made in the best interest of the child, and it’s deeply insulting to suggest that it is.

      • Karen J Moseley says:

        I want to speak here. In the U.S., there actually IS an “opt-out” period. There is a period of time after a child is born when that infant can legally be left at a hospital, Police Dept. and/or a Fire Dept.. It is done with NO kind of legal issues. This needs to be pointed out for those who don’t know. Sadly, there are way too many stories of dead infants found in rivers. Or delivered in a home bathroom and later found hidden in a closet. These are tragedies, that no one has to live with.
        So, yes, a parent does have the option to not parent the child they give birth to.
        My heart aches for all who live through a disruption. I cannot imagine the pain that each person must walk through after the decision is made. I certainly will not make judgement on those who make that choice.
        I applaud those who have spoken so bravely on heir own choice to not continue with an adoption. My thoughts and prayers are with both the adults and the children who will continue on.
        This Series has been eye-opening and is something that needs to be discussed. I can honestly say that I feel so very torn when I read blogs of AP who have brought home a child and then seem so unhappy with said child. It is painful to read and to see photos of those children who appear to be as unhappy as that parent. So, so much goes in to each decision/choice we each make. Let’s not judge or condemn each other.

  10. Yvette says:

    I really had hoped this post would have been more well rounded. This is adult focused without any focus on the child. An orphan is unlucky in Chinese society, when they are picked to be adopted, they become lucky. When that family deems them unadoptable that child is doubly unlucky. You can’t disrupt thinking there is a better family, you can’t go on this journey praising God for bringing you your child and then say He chose wrong. We know, we brought home our son after discussing disruption, he still is with us 3 years later even after discussing dissolution, to parents more capable than us. We now know the wild child who screamed at the grass in China, beat up our bios, and had no ability to connect actually has autism. Did I think I could parent that? NEVER all I knew was if we left him there he would be dead within 6 months. These are children not puppies, if we want society to treat our adopted kids like our bio then we must do the same – there is no return policy on birth.

    • Donna says:

      Thank you, Yvette. Perfectly said. What happens to these children after a disruption in country is no longer in the hands of the adoption agency or the people who left him behind. What happens to their hearts and their trust and their hopes is often disastrous. This is not part of God’s plan any more than the original abandonment was. Stop putting this on God. He has the power to redeem our failures, and disruption is a failure no matter how some try to sugar coat it. I also don’t think we need to vilify or demonize people who make this decision: they know they are weak; they know they have failed. We are all weak, and we all fail. Let’s just stop saying it was “in the best interests of the child.” Some of these children will never get another family, and they will never get treatment for their medical needs, and they will never have someone to guide them to their fullest potential, whatever that is. For a more child centered view of what happens when children are discarded over and over, all prospective adoptive families need to read this: http://www.chask.org/adoption/adopting-parents/stories-of-disruption/adoption-disruption-the-down-and-dirty-by-nikki-esquivel/
      This should not be a point of division in the adoption community: if the best interest of the child is the decision criteria, the choice will always be clear and it will never be disruption in country.

      • Leslie says:

        Late to this discussion but I’m with Yvette. Our youngest daughter wasn’t disrupted but thr family backed out after LOI and wait for it … the Mom had previously gone to China and disrupted another child. Thankfully they ended their adoption journey a couple of years later with no child. They already have 3 so kudos to them. What Yvette said is what plagues me. When CHRIST followers say “God chose this child for us” and other such stuff and then LEAVE THE CHILD how do they reconcile that. Was God wrong? Did they hear wrong? Or what? And yes this post is so focused on only one side. I was IN CHINA in 2010 when this disruption occurred. Many facts aren’t shared here.

        • Leslie says:

          I wrote this post as a NHBO regular contributor back in 2010. This son was one of two we adopted in 2010 the same time the writer of this article was there disrupting and receiving another child. How one does that I will NEVER be able to resolve in my heart.

          https://www.nohandsbutours.com/2010/08/08/adoption-reality-1-when-your-vision-is-not-your-reality/

          By the way our son today is 10 and wonderful in every way! So thankful my husband and I said YES and agreed back in 2008 with our first adoption that when we committed to a child with LOI they became ours. Four children from China later we are the blessed ones and it hasn’t been an easy road. Far from it but I’m so thankful for all six of our children.

          • Kitty says:

            Wow! A lot of judgement. Do you also judge all the American families who “could” adopt, but just never head down that road? We have adopted twice, and never disrupted, but I applaud parents who know their limits. It is a tough road. If a marriage is dissolved over really hard adoptions, is that okay? If the parents have their own issues they haven’t even recognized yet, and truly wouldn’t be able to parent safely, is that a good enough excuse? I think we can try to do all we can to prevent disruptions — but such harsh judgement doesn’t help anyone.

  11. Ashley says:

    First off, Stephanie I am proud of you for sharing your story. Based on comments here, supportive and unsupportive, as well as comments when you were going through that in 2010, I know this was scary.

    I also want to personally thank you for helping my husband and me. I don’t know if I have ever done that. We met in China while you were going through all of this. I remember sitting there hearing your story and seeing your pain and feeling all of my presumptions and judgements slip away. Like most adoptive/preadoptive parents I too always looked at disruption in a bad light. I assumed things about parents who distrupted. I assumed things about kids who had been disrupted. I assumed things about the staff or doctors who did the paperwork that wasn’t accurate and lead to a disruption. Then I met you and your husband while we were all in China, all of us wide eyed with love and fear for the journey that we had been on that had just become all too real. We talked and you told me some of what was going on. The pain in your eyes and in your voice was so thick and real we could have named it as the third person at the table. As I sat there listening I kept silently praying for you guys. My heart hurt as I heard what happened and the decisions you had to make. My husband and I talked about it later. About how wrong we had been with our presumptions and how you guys had opened our eyes to “how something like that could happen.” You became the real tangible face to the situation for us and we were forever changed. Isn’t that how it always is? Once you have a face, once you listen not just hear, once you see you can’t go back to thinking the way you did before. You just can’t. So thank you for being the one who opened my eyes to a place where grace and mercy and love and support are needed. Thank you for opening my eyes to thoughts and feelings that needed to change in me. Thank you for helping me to love others better.

  12. Vicki Vogt says:

    I have not interacted with the Chinese adoptive community on line for many years now, but it used to be huge part of my life. I remember so many situations like this and the discussions that always followed.
    One thing that seemed to be said often was that bio parents did not have a choice about whether they could parent a child with a scary diagnosis, so adopting parents should not be able to make that choice either.
    But this is one aspect of adoption that differs from giving birth. We are matched to a child based on preferences and our openness to special needs. Our agencies and social workers consider this to be vital to a successful outcome. If it wasn’t, why even ask? Why not just assign children randomly while reminding them that they should be compassionate enough to handle any child matched to them? So the family with 3 young sons hoping for a healthy baby girl should joyfully accept a referral of a 12 year old boy with CP? Maybe in theory, but a good social worker would be wise to question the probability of a good outcome in this situation.
    Adoption is hard work. We need to make sure that these kids are welcomed into families that are committed to their care and feel equipped to do it.

    • Marny says:

      But when does the commitment to the child “count”? If it’s bit when you accept the referral or sign the LOA, when is it? Is it fair to the child to hold their paperwork for 6 months, a year, or more and then look them over and decide you don’t want them? Maybe China should move to a blind travel , two trip process like some countries have. It doesn’t seem fair that the commitment of the child us absolute but the parents is conditional.

  13. Sharon says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with such a difficult situation. I am a hopeful and naive potential adoptive parent and I want to be aware of as many realities as possible. So thank you for your courageous honesty.

  14. Kenlyn Jones says:

    We all make tough choices and decisions when we adopt. My family was fortunate enough, yes FORTUNATE enough, to bring home a child that my head and heart fought the entire time I was in China about. His special needs were much greater than his file stated. He was like an infant. But he was MINE. And at the end of the day we did bring him home because he was our son.
    His name was Xavier William Jones. And we were blessed and honored to be this child’s parents for 2 short years before God called him home. And I thank God every single day that He allowed me the honor of parenting this child. Every child is special. Every child is broken. Every child is NOT just their file. So when you make that commitment to parent, you make the commitment to parent NO MATTER WHAT THE COST, WHAT THE SPECIAL NEED. Because as we learned with my son, “the need does not make the child”.
    If only more people would adopt to be God’s hands here on earth and know that the path is rocky and bumpy and full of pot holes.

  15. angie weldon says:

    i am glad NHBO is doing this series. its vital to talk openly about these real and difficult realities. but, i was so shocked to see such negative responses to stephanie’s post. that negativity is the reason so many of us (myself included) hesitate/refrain from being honest about the very difficult and heartbreaking realities of adoption. this is the harsh judgement that causes isolation, just like stephanie spoke of!

    • Kenlyn Jones says:

      Why are you shocked? When we have biological children do we have an “option out” period? No. We take what God gives us and we are thankful. No matter how hard, no matter how rocky. Because they are ours. No matter what the special need.

  16. Crystal says:

    I see pro child comments in this thread. Not a mother being attacked.
    Me, we, I….but what about the child left behind? They are prayed for and MAY get some financial support? Not enough.
    I parent a child left behind four years before our Family Day. I was shocked when I got to my hotel room and looked at the four year old passport.
    She is nine years old now and is sitting in her reclining wheelchair, wearing a spica cast, right now. She recently had a hip dysplasia surgery that should have happened when she was a preschooler. Meanwhile she has had muscle atrophy that will affect her ability to walk, for the rest of her life, due to her physical needs not getting early attention:( 5 years she waited for a committed forever family (including the year long paper chase). Gone!
    She is has been the easiest of our 5 adoptions. We named her Nora Joy which means light and joy, as we were told by an NGO volunteer that worked with her that she is such. She is beautiful and perfect and we are so grateful she is our daughter. There is a place in adoption for disruption/dissolution, but the child and their care should be the priority. If we, as an adoption community, could keep that our focus there would never be contrary comments in disruption threads.
    (I also have a teenager adopted 4 years ago @13.5 years of age that some would have disrupted in China. Her fear based, in country (normal)behaviors could have had me come home declaring her to be “mentally challenged” and a “danger to children in the home”. We would have missed out on a wonderful daughter and sister. But it shouldn’t be about us, should it? She is thriving and has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. Beauty from ashes.)
    If one is going into adoption with disruption as an option, please speak with your social worker openly about this. Mitigate circumstances that would lead to that decision, pre travel.
    The consequences for disrupting parents are feelings of “lack of support”.The consequences for disrupted special needs children from China are life long debiltations and great lack. Lack of medical care, of dental care, of mental healthcare, of pt/ot, of education, of food, of warmth, of protection, of parents/advocate, of siblings, of a home, of holidays, of love, of Jesus.

  17. Adult Adoptee says:

    The fact is, we don’t know what happens to children “left behind”. China, if they track long term outcomes of their orphans, certainly doesn’t share that data with the US. So we are left with fear, conjecture and our own value system of what is important, but no facts.

    For those that say, “I’ve been there and my child is wonderful now” have something known as “survivor bias.” It is extrapolating your own personal experience and values and laying them on another situation thinking the results will be the same. There are no guarantees that another child will turn around and be able to assimilate into a family like yours. Additionally, for those that think that APs should commit to a child “not matter what.” I completely challenge that notion as agencies have both medical checklists to ensure parents are prepared for the child’s needs entering their home AND China has a “harmonious period” in which parents and older children can change their mind. Why even have that period, if it isn’t an option.

    I do get the concern for children left behind. So I offer an alternative, which is to complete the adoption and bring the child here to the US and work with an agency to rehome the child. As the parents who rehome the child, they are now considered the birth parents and can work with the agency to choose the next family, negotiate visits and/or updates with the new family and ensure that the child does indeed get food, education, a home, etc. It is more costly of course, but it does ensure that the child gets a home, even if it can’t be the original adoptive parents.

    Stephanie- thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry you have not been met with more compassion and understanding.

    • Donna says:

      Adult Adoptee — I think one of the reasons that Stephanie has not been met with more compassion is that she and her husband did not do exactly what you suggest – bring the child home and make a reasoned and compassionate plan for her future. I do not agree with hateful and hurtful comments, but my sympathy only goes so far when a child was left behind to a very uncertain fate.

  18. Joanna says:

    What I find interesting is that people rarely vilify the Chinese parents who make the heartbreaking decision to ABANDON their child on the streets or elsewhere because they do not have the means to care for that child’s special needs in hopes that they will be found in time and taken to an orphanage to hopefully receive the care they cannot provide. Instead, the adoption community talks with compassion about them because, after all, that abandonment is what allows us to have access to adopt in the first place. Without them abandoning their children we would have to go somewhere else to adopt children to fulfill our own need to be a parent. How is it much different when an adoptive parent realizes that the needs are beyond them financially or otherwise? The financial is often the same for an adoptive parent as well as the ability to care for a child. Not everyone has the luxury of having a parent able to stay home all day. In my case I am it so I HAVE to work. And I have had to take on second and third jobs (beyond being a high school English teacher with a TON of grading and lesson planning every night) as well as caring for 3 children just to be able to keep paying the bills. They know that often times another family will step up who can handle those needs as was the case with another poster on this board. It is also hard to know what is wrong with your child in that 24 hour period you get even though you may know something is wrong in your heart. I did with my younger daughter. I knew something was not right, but I had no idea what. I had no idea how right I was until I got home and started our complicated medical journey. In fact, her needs would fill up half a check off sheet that agencies give out. For families who decide to dissolve when back in the states and the true status is known then another family who is prepared is found and that child gets the best care. I considered dissolution with my second daughter, but knew I would be vilified and that was a HUGE reason for me keeping her. It was not the only reason. In the end I could not walk away from her, and now I love her very much. But it was a hard decision and sometimes I question whether I made the right decision because this decision is destroying my older daughter I have had since she was a baby. People on here have said that medical reasons are rarely the reason for disruption/dissolution. I do not agree. Yes, I can only speak for my case, but because I walked the road of possible dissolving I talked with many families who did dissolve or who considered it and all their reasons were medical also. The “I want a child who is prettier or younger” as a reason for dissolving is from the old days of I-600. Certainly not today. Plus, the parents who choose to do this also know they are unlikely to ever be allowed to adopt again so I can’t imagine they make those decisions lightly. I know few people who have the financial means to blow 30 grand because they may or may not want to keep the child they have undergone paperwork hell in order to be allowed to adopt. My child has several syndromes that have the potential for developing major medical needs all throughout life and so far she seems to be developing just about every single one of them. She now has issues that affect her brain, heart, GI tract, speech, kidneys, thyroid, ears, eyes, cognitive abilities, behavior, teeth, liver, bones, etc. I am an older single mom and life IS HARD. Most nights we are either out doing therapies or doctor’s appointments. I worry constantly about losing my job because I miss so much school and I know I would never find a job in my field of education because I am at the top of the salary guide and no one hires people at the top in today’s cash-strapped schools. My older daughter does not have much of a life because she has to go with us to all the appointments and rarely gets to do any of the activities she wants to do. I have seen her turn into an angry, resentful child because of it, and that just breaks my heart. It literally tears me apart. I pray every day that somehow she will learn compassion and grow to love her sister. Sometimes I see signs and it gives me hope. Now……all that being said…….in the case of my second daughter……because I was willing to make major sacrifices to get her the help she needs she IS doing amazingly well even though she keeps developing more medical issues. Although her cognitive abilities look absolutely dreadful on paper she is actually making very good progress at school. Whether she will ever be able to live independently remains to be seen though. Because I do take her to therapies most nights of the week she is gaining so much in many areas. So even the medically-challenged children can go a long way. But because of all I have been through and knowing how much it has cost my family financially, in my case health-wise, and emotionally, I could never bring myself to condemn someone who made what they felt was the best decision possible for the child and their family. I know many will probably disagree with everything I have said and some may vilify me yet even now because I once considered dissolution, but I am now in a place where I can take it because NO ONE who rips me apart has walked in MY shoes….

    • Donna says:

      Birthparents: Joanna, I do believe that for many (but not all) birthparents in China, it is an excruciatingly painful decision that will be with them forever.I do have compassion for them in ways that I will freely admit I have a harder time mustering for those who disrupt in China (and I am making a distinction from families that have made huge efforts prior to choosing dissolution in the US). Why? Because I believe, after leaving here in China, working with orphans 24/7 and also talking to birthparents who are considering abandonment, that if birthparents had access to the type of healthcare and advice available in the US, most would not abandon. If birthparents had any idea what life in a state orphanage would be like for their child, most would not abandon. If birthparents had support groups, resources and information to help them raise their child, they would not abandon. And ALL of those things, every single one and more are available to adoptive parents who disrupt. Will I ever say that parents who abandoned their child did the right thing? Never, it is never right. Did they make the best decision they could given the information, resources and support that they had available? Possibly. So in the same vein I will never, ever say that disruption is the right decision, and I will also assert that given the medical, financial and social resources available to adoptive parents, disruption in China is never the best decision for the child.

  19. Wendy says:

    I would caution all of you who are so adamantly against disruption, saying “I would take the child no matter what.” God has a right – at any point in our life – to come in and change our path. When you say you will always do it no matter what because it’s always the “right” thing to do, you are in essence saying that you won’t be listening to Him any longer. You are making YOURSELF the child’s savior, not God, taking all the credit and all the glory for being so “good” even when it’s hard. I also think that there is a difference in biological children and adopted children. When you get pregnant, God and God alone placed that child in your womb. He put that specific child in that specific family. He is sovereign and makes no mistakes, ever. When you adopt, there are many, many humans involved in the process, and we are none sovereign and we all make mistakes. God puts specific children in specific families through adoption, too, but it is often in spite of our efforts, not because of them. Some disruptions are for the right reasons, some are for the wrong reasons. Be careful in your pride and judgement – only God has the right to do that.

    • Marny says:

      It seems very convenient to say that the decision to give the referral, PA, LOI, and LOA to the family was “human error” but the decision to re-abandon the child in China was God’s.

      God can make beauty from the ashes of broken promises that is disruption in CHina, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong.

  20. Lynn says:

    Amen Wendy, Amen

  21. Donna says:

    On the other hand, Wendy, this article seems to be taking the credit for following God’s plan to leave the child behind, but not a whisper that perhaps God was big enough to give them what they needed to bring the child home, that He could meet the child’s needs. Apparently God was only able to help them make the (comparatively) easy choice to leave her rather than the clearly more difficult choice to bring her home. God *can* do whatever He wants, but this I fine inconsisent with His character. Just my own thoughts.

  22. Tammy says:

    I know this is a much older thread, but wanted to kick my two cents in. In addition to adoption, my family is a foster family in the US. I used to be a naysayer…one of the people completely against disruption/dissolution. But, we had a foster child in our home with significant medical needs, caused and compounded by parental drug abuse, alcoholism, and neglect. This child was born in the US, was nearly four, and no one knew that, in addition to a long list of other issues, he had limited sight and very limited hearing. When his case came up for adoption, we decided not to adopt him, even though we DO want to adopt again (eventually). Our primary reason was not his (long) list of needs…it was the fact that our first son, the child we have already committed to, would not have had his needs adequately met if we made a long term commitment to our foster child. It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done…but it was the right thing for our family AND for our foster child, who went on to a family that was able to adopt him AND his little sister.
    Would I get the chance to choose SN if I were to get pregnant? No…but my birth children would not suffer from some of these very significant needs, either. Yes, these children need homes, but isn’t it better for people who KNOW they cannot parent a particular child to admit it in the beginning, rather than take the child home and resent the child?

  23. Mt says:

    There is a serious lack of emotional generosity in these comments.

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