Thirteen children and thirteen stories, each different but with a common adoption thread.
As we brought our children home there were other things (many things) to focus on. We needed to get to know each other, like each other, and eventually love each other. We needed to learn how to live as a family. On top of this, each child had to completely learn a new language and then we had medical needs that needed to be dealt with.
As these issues fell into place we moved on to the academic issues. Some of the children learned quickly and were ready to jump in to their education while others have learning challenges that are ongoing.
Early on, talking about each child’s past was not high on the priority list nor were they ready. To be quite honest, we weren’t ready either. We read the books and watched the documentaries. We talked about adoption but held off on the tough issues surrounding adoption. We knew the tough stuff would need to be talked about in the near future. We waited until we felt the time was right.
Our family has always been very open. Our older children talk about everything with us, we call it processing. They come over for dinner and we chat on the porch before and after we eat. It is an honor and a privilege to be so trusted by our children that they want to share their serious issue with us.
With our adopted children, we want to talk about their story at a time and in a way that is comfortable to them, keeping in mind that each one has a different comfort level. We want to keep the door open but we don’t want to push them through it. We have found that our children each have their own unique understanding of their past.
For some, it’s water that rolls off a duck’s back while others deeply mourn their loss.
Sometimes, it has to do with their maturity and cognitive capacity. Our younger children see no need to worry themselves with the past. While the older kids feel more burdened with it. Our cognitively disabled kids deal with the here and now – When is dinner? What are we going to eat? Their focus is with their present survival. Some kids worry while others see no need to worry.
We often talk about their adoption day and our time in China. We talk about how they felt when they met us. Of course, I can’t resist telling them that they took one look at us and wanted to say, “Excuse me, excuse me, Mam? You must be mistaken. I thought I was getting parents, not grandparents.” It works every time and we all burst out laughing. We talk about the children that struggled in the beginning and really wanted nothing to do with us.
Of course, now they love us so they laugh when they hear how they acted. Laughter is the best medicine, it opens doors and makes a pathway for further conversations.
Sometimes the tears flow because no matter how good the explanations sound to us, it’s just not enough for the child. We want nothing more than to wipe away all of our children’s tears. We want nothing more than to heal their hearts in record time. We want to have an answer for all their questions but we don’t… So we need to give it to the one that does know. We need to trust God that He will walk this path with us and together we will figure it out.
Even though we are “been there done that” parents, this is our first time with helping our children to process the adoption and abandonment issues. We don’t know exactly how to handle it. Our plan is to love them through the uncertainties. Encourage them to talk about it and be available whenever that might me.
We pray with them and we pray for them. We hug a lot and we shed tears together. I’m an easy crier so sometimes they stop what they are saying and look at me… I know they are thinking, “Why is Mom crying, again?”
Just as adoption will always be part of our lives so will processing and embracing their stories.