I Commit Myself to Thee

December 27, 2017 Andrea O., complex heart defect, complex medical, disruption, November 2017 Feature - Preparing for Adoption, prepping for China, terminal diagnosis, undiagnosed SN 23 Comments

I commit myself to thee.

After the adoption of our youngest child and her immediate hospitalization from end-stage heart failure, I began to receive emails and messages via social media from some of the dozens of families who had reviewed her file. One of the families wrote something that shook my soul and has remained with me for the past four and a half years.

“If we had chosen to pursue her adoption and had found her in the condition you did when we arrived in China, we would have had to leave her there since we have no experience dealing with anything like this.”

I was stunned. I read those words as I sat next to my daughter’s bed in the CICU. She was on the ventilator and on ECMO life support. She was characterized as “the sickest 10% of the sickest 10%” of children that the hospital, one of the most experienced and highest volume heart failure/transplant centers in the U.S., had treated. My husband and I, just like that other family, had no experience being in that situation. Neither of us had a Ph.D. in parenting a dying child. We did not have medals in courage. We had not earned degrees in being separated as a family for months. We were no different from them.

“Had to.” What powerful words. I have reflected over and over on her selection of those particular words, how they served and fed into her narrative, and how utterly untrue I believe them to be.

There is always a choice. It may be excruciating. It may be laden with guilt. But to tell ourselves that we have none is just a way to exonerate ourselves from the responsibility of commitment that will follow if we choose to parent the child whose fate we, quite literally, hold in our hands. This is not to say that not choosing to pursue a particular special need is inherently wrong or immoral. But let us all own our choices, and not hide behind the facade of powerlessness.

We say, “can’t”, when really it is, “won’t”.
We say, “we are not equipped to”, when really it is, “we don’t want to equip ourselves to.”

Now before anyone jumps down my throat, let me be very clear that I absolutely do not feel that families should pursue medical needs in children that are beyond what they want to take on. They should not choose a child out of guilt, and they should not choose a child out of a romanticized vision of adoption.

But I chose to write “want to take on” versus “can take on” for a reason. I firmly believe that we must all learn as a community and as individuals to be brutally honest with ourselves, and to not tell ourselves that we are incapable of taking the hard road. If we don’t want to trek down it, that’s one thing. But own it. Accept it. And be sure to figure it out before committing to a child.

And I will go so far as to say, we should figure it out before reviewing files and holding children’s files up as we look desperately for reassurances that the child’s road will not stray from the one we wish to travel down, especially in the cases of agencies who only permit one family at a time to review files.

The difference between “don’t want to” and “can’t” may seem subtle, but it’s the subtleties that can make a huge difference in how we perceive our own capabilities.

If, as an adult, I tell myself that I can’t parent a child with an intellectual disability and the child I have just adopted turns out to be diagnosed with one, “I can’t” may become the convenient way out that I am looking for, as “can’t” removes the responsibility from ourselves. It takes our power away. It offers us absolution.

But if I entered into the adoption process telling myself that I didn’t want to parent a child with such a disability and then am faced with that diagnosis, I very well might just straighten myself up and tell myself that not wanting to take on this need is not a justifiable reason for breaking the commitment I have made. I may grieve. I may feel anger. But I may very well find the strength and resolve that I never knew I had.

It was there all along, of course, but it’s easier to find it hiding behind “I don’t want to” than from behind “I can’t”.

“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

We also need to cease attempting to separate a child’s written file from the possibilities that are inherent in their diagnosed medical need. For instance, if a family is considering the adoption of a child with complex congenital heart disease, they need to truly listen to experienced families and physicians and understand that the worst case scenarios may very well present themselves. No matter how reassuring the file looks, no matter how many updates are requested, no matter how many more tests are performed, it cannot be guaranteed that the child will not be sick.

This has been said time and time again by agency personnel and seasoned adoptive parents, and yet there are still families that submit LOI for children with the hope that those very real possibilities do not come to fruition, only to choose to disrupt when they do. Time and time again I speak with families who wish to adopt very complex children, but who simultaneously want assurances that the child’s road won’t be, well, complex.

When I was Rini’s advocate prior to deciding to adopt her, I heard the same declaration from countless families who had happened upon her photo on an agency photo-listing… a photo of a vibrant and lovely child: “We feel drawn to her. We believe God has chosen her to be our daughter.” And yet, those same families fell silent and backed away when told by cardiologists that her road would be difficult, that she was very sick, that a child like her might need transplant or not be a candidate for even that. There is no shame in that. If they did not wish to parent such a child, so be it. But did God only mean for her to be their daughter if the road was smooth? Or were they confusing God’s will with their own desires?

Years ago, I was participating in an agency webinar. The time was around 2007-2008, when the non-special needs process was continuing to slow to a standstill while the special needs program was gaining momentum. A prospective adoptive father was participating, and as the agency personnel were explaining to the families that there really was no need for families to sign on to adopt healthy, as-young-as-possible female infants anymore, but that there were many other children who desperately needed families, he said, “So it sounds like there’s no need for my wife and I to adopt from China then. We only want to adopt where there is a need. That’s God’s will for us.”

The agency person said, “There is a need. There are so many children who need homes. But the profile of those children is no longer healthy, infant females.”

He then stated, “Well, we really feel we are supposed to adopt where we are needed. So it looks like we should look at other countries. Can you tell us where there is a need for adoptive families?”

I was bewildered and frustrated. This exchange went around a couple more times. He simply did not want to admit that what he and his wife wanted was a healthy, infant child. Rather than state that, he kept trying to convince himself that there was no need for adoptive parents for Chinese children anymore, period.

I have thought of that conversation so many times over the years. Why wouldn’t he come out and say, “We aren’t looking to adopt a child with medical needs. We don’t want to adopt from simply anywhere where we are needed. We are looking to adopt only from where families are needed for healthy infants.”

There is nothing wrong with desiring that. So what would admitting that have opened up for them? What was so threatening about it?

What is the motivation to adopt?

A woman wanted to know if there were still lots of “heart warriors” available for adoption. She explained it was put on her and her husband’s hearts to parent a child with heart disease. However, there was a catch. They were only interested in females, under the age of two, whose heart disease had already self-healed. They were not open to any catheter-based interventions or open-heart surgeries. They both despised hospitals and were not open to spending any time in them.

So in a nutshell, they wanted a young, female “heart warrior” who was basically void of heart disease. Why heart disease? And specifically, why did she choose the term “heart warrior” to describe a child who for all intents and purposes, wouldn’t be fighting heart disease if she indeed fit the health profile that the couple desired? What did that term represent to her? What would it give her?

From where I sat, it was a dangerous desire. Yes, we all have the right to choose what we wish, but having an expectation of control is dangerous. Narrowly defining what we are open to within a need that has a very wide range of possible outcomes can be a recipe for disaster for a vulnerable child.

I liken it, albeit in a very simplified way, to a woman stating on a dating website that while she’s open to men who have a genetic predisposition to early hair loss, she only desires to see the profiles of men who haven’t lost their hair. That is fine, but where it becomes problematic is if she leaves him at the altar if he suddenly begins to go bald before the wedding, or she chooses to file for divorce if the hair loss begins after married life has begun. What would motivate her to be open to a spouse with a need, or the myriad needs that may present with the main one, if she wasn’t truly committed to living with what it could bring into her life?

Could it be that there are families who feel that adoption will somehow give them membership to some type of club? Do they feel that they are checking off a box on a list of good deeds? Do they feel they need to “give back” for the life they are currently enjoying? Could they be hoping to receive attention or accolades for “saving” a child, but intend to adopt a child whose “saving” will not be challenging, gut wrenching, inconvenient, or heartbreaking? Like the family hoping to adopt a “heart warrior” without heart disease, do they want to enlist in the army but only without the possibility of ever having to go to war?

What is the motivation to adopt, and to adopt a specific type of child? What would be the motivation to pursue a complex, cyanotic “heart warrior”, but then withdraw LOI months later when an update states that the child has significant delays, or for a family to choose not to proceed with the adoption once in China after it is learned that the child with complex heart disease is actually sick with heart disease?

What would be the motivation to pursue a child whose medical need is well known to be connected to various syndromes, including those with potential developmental/neurological implications, only to disrupt the adoption a couple of months after homecoming when it’s found that the child indeed has a syndrome that may have the cited implications?

Understanding our own motivations for adopting are crucial if the rising tide of disruptions is to change. I don’t have the answers, but I think the questions warrant consideration in the face of how many disruptions take place within the world of adoptions from China. I’m talking about the disruptions of adoptions in cases where children present with medical conditions, developmental/neurological issues, syndromes, et al that are within the scope of possibility within a particular diagnosis, however remote. And this includes the behaviors and delays that are to be expected in any child who comes from trauma, has experienced disrupted attachments, has lived in an institution, or has suffered the loss of a loving foster family. In a nutshell, all children in the world of adoption.

Every single one of my five adopted children have medical or other needs that we either were not expecting at all, or were within the realm of possibility when considering their main diagnosis. All of them have been affected to one degree or another by their tough starts in life.

I have sat in TAG meetings at my eldest child’s high school, listening to parents obsessing over SAT/ACT scores and university acceptances, and I have also sat in IEP meetings at the elementary school talking about my developmentally delayed son and my intellectually disabled daughter who approaches every challenge in her life with the brightest of smiles and a can-do attitude that brings tears to the eyes of her instructors. I have watched one of my children compete in state gymnastics championships, and I have watched another compete in the Special Olympics. I have listened to cardiologists deliver the best possible news, and I have listened as they outlined our choices for end-of-life hospice care for our child. I have children who will most likely live independent lives someday, and others who will probably bless us for the remainder of our lives with their presence in our home. I have children who have an expectation of a normal life span, and others who do not.

In response to a post on a disruption that occurred in relatively recently, I wrote,

“There’s a deeper issue here, I think. It’s not just about educating ourselves regarding what possible diagnosis may accompany a particular medical need. It’s about defining what love truly is, and what commitment truly is. These children are not a package that arrived from Amazon that turned out to not be what you expected, so you process a return and send them along. These are human beings, and we as the adults need to look long and hard at ourselves and decide whether we’ve got the guts, the willingness to sacrifice, the emotional and physical fortitude, and the belief is something greater than the fairytale life we envisioned, to move forward in adoption and parenting.”

Several years ago, I was heartbroken when a family who had pursued a cardiac child’s adoption for so many months left her in China in critical condition. It struck me deeply, as the child was in similar condition to my youngest daughter… emaciated, unable to eat, and in heart failure. We had been given the opportunity to back out while we were in China. We refused. Then China made the decision for us by blocking her adoption. We fought. We were terrified beyond belief. We were thrust into a world that was foreign to us.

We are so grateful that we were. I know how much God loves me by the trials he sent and how they have sculpted me and my family.

After that disruption, I posted the following on my Facebook page.

“In sickness and in health, for better or for worse, ‘til death do us part. I commit myself to thee.

I commit myself to thee.

Whether in marriage or adoption, there is commitment.

We did not expect to find Rini in the condition we did in China.

We were told we shouldn’t adopt her. When that didn’t sway us, we were told we couldn’t adopt her.

We were afraid. Terrified. But that type of fear is not of God. And we believe that, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is action in the face of it.”

A CHD was disrupted in China. There will be those who will view this post as my being unsupportive of the family that disrupted, lacking in empathy for people who find themselves in the terrible situation of meeting a child whose condition was far different than they expected. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Anybody who knows me would probably tell you that I am an extremely big-hearted person, full of compassion for others. I have a tremendous amount of empathy for the family. But I am also the mother of a child who was in the ICU and dying on the day we met her. We were given every opportunity to bow out gracefully, without blame, without judgment.

I commit myself to thee.

Fear is a very powerful force. I do not know the details of why the family made the decision they did. I heard through a mutual acquaintance that the adoptive father “…didn’t think he could deal with her being so sick.” And I do feel deeply for them. That decision was not easy, I am sure. But there is a child on the end of that decision.

My heart has been broken all day… it is broken for the feelings that the family will need to work through; for the horrible hold that fear has on people and its ability to control their actions; for the missed opportunity to witness the incredible evolutionary power of love and commitment and medical care; and for the lost opportunity to grow from pain, sacrifice, monetary debt, anxiety, depression, inconvenience, and the loss of the lifestyle that the family once had.

My family has experienced all of the above over the past two years. None of us is the same person we were before. Our hearts were pierced and torn and we have been piecing them back together. Now, they are bigger and stronger than they were before.

But mostly, my heart has been broken for the child.

My hope for the adoption community and for all of the children is that people will consider all possible outcomes long before they ever get on that plane to China.

There are always those who say, “Don’t judge! You never know the decision you will make when confronted with a child who is far sicker than you expected.”

I do know. I was that person.

I commit myself to thee.

People then say, “Everyone is different. We all have different strengths and weaknesses.” In fact, I have said that. But when push comes to shove, it comes down to commitment.

I commit myself to thee.”

Because if you are open to a child with complex congenital heart disease when she’s like this…

Then you are also open to her when she’s like this…

And if you choose to adopt her…

Then you are also choosing her…

…because we shouldn’t commit to an idealization of a child. We should commit to the reality of a child, even if that reality is a remote possibility.

Even if it is petrifying and feels almost paralyzing if it comes to fruition.
Even if it’s not what we were “open to”.

Because once we have committed, it should be too late for walking away. We’re in the trenches. We have the choice to truly and actively love.

What will your choice be?


23 responses to “I Commit Myself to Thee”

  1. Nellya says:

    So good. Thank you for sharing and for encouraging so many adoptive families.

  2. Lynn Marie Portanova says:

    Absolutely forever is forever! I commit myself to thee!

  3. Nancy Kaplan says:

    I cannot tell you how much I loved this post. All 4 of my older special needs adopted children from hard places have complex needs. They have taken me down excruciatingly difficult roads. Journeys I never would have chosen. This is parenting. You don’t love the child you hoped for, you love and parent and commit to the child you have.

  4. Lisa says:

    I agree with everything you have said…families should want to take a child for the right reasons and be honest with themselves on what they are willing to handle. Hubby and I were honest with what we wanted but our agency pushed us into a situation by downplaying issues we felt were serious. In the end we put our trust in them. But fortunately while we took on what we did NOT want to do…still this was our child and we love her and we dealt with all her special needs, we found out.,hey we are capable ..who knew. Except one pesky issue, even after I, the Mom did all her care, and cocooning for 2 years..yes TWO years…and hubby being home nearly 2 months after she got home.,,she beat on me unless Hubby was in her view. Ya most people are thinking RAD…but nope..she preferred me and sat with me and loved to play with me. Just don’t I dare do any of her care. Day after day We had therapies and help and it just stayed the same way. She also beat on other people too. Her Uncle, my brother was hit so hard in the head with a toy that he nearly needed stitches and nearly missed taking out his eye. She loved my Mom, her Grandma, but she attacked her too..my Mom is 81 years old. She has also attacked others for pretty much no reason. So here my hubby is doing a Fulltime job and caring for her every other minute of his life. Hubby is a strong, stalky but a super short guy. But she works with him easily and hasn’t ever acted out in all these years with him. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year we found out what was going on. Our daughter is non verbal and severely mentally disabled and she began to do simple sign language finally and signed my Mama to my husband. We were in a bad way one year ago as my husband got horribly sick. 30 years of perfect health and he ended up going to the E.R. But had to wait till she was sleeping to go. (Last time he left her to tend to a relative, she tried to throw herself out a window) He was super sick and got so thin, no one knew what was wrong with him. He had weeks he couldn’t take care of her because he was vomiting and running to the bathroom so bad he couldn’t move. He had to yell down the hallway for her to eat and let us change her diaper as she attacked us. Thankfully we got through that time but we realized enough was enough. Yes we committed to her, we want her..but death do us part was going to be me being a widow. All the years of hubby staying up late to carve out time for the other kids because she wanted no one but him, and demanded only him every single minute was slowly destroying him. Again she was REALLY easy for him, but him trying to work Fulltime and deal with her with no one to give him a break was destroying this once strong man. Yes commit to a child till death do you part, absolutely. But in our situation our daughter had to come second. Everyone was suffering. If I could have changed anything in my life or done anything to help her..I would have died for her. Our daughter was not someone who wanted to attack others, she just wanted the person who came to get her in China..my husband. Who she ultimately attached to as in her mind..as her mom. But sadly this is not reality…and it was not changing. This beautiful yet fiercely strong toddler grew into a tall young girl. I today weigh 98 pounds and am a bit over 5 feet tall. She fast was catching up to me and Her blows were at my face level. Hubby was fearful she’d seriously injure me. Deliberately? No..but she wanted her Mom and her Dad was her Mom. And she wanted him. Her security, and her trust was in him. All she could understand being like an infant mentally was that her Mom wasn’t there and she was terrified. So while I love your post, I truly do. There are those of us out here with really bizarre reasons things have gone wrong. Our daughter is now out of our home as we pray this new place can get her straight with what a mom and dad are and hopefully that will result in a healthier life going forward for her and us. Just know committing to a child should be every single persons intention. For those of you out there..just know sometimes hard decisions need to be made. I want my daughter but I also know I want my husband too, my others kids also deserve a Dad. And for me personally I first said the words till death do us part to my husband. I can’t sacrifice him much as he was doing that willingly. He grieves over her as we all do everyday hoping for a different outcome. In the end…every family is different. For mine we love our girl despite the issues she has…always…fully. But I can’t not won’t change what is. It’s out of my control. Only God can change things. Till then, I speak out. I believe there are those people who need to hear not all adoptions turn out as expected. But Andrea..thank you for showing what commitment should look like. I fully agree. I really do. In most all situations it applies, but in our case..it doesn’t. But oh how I wish it did! 🙁
    Blessings for your family. And so happy too your kids have the amazing Mom they do.

    • Ann says:

      If the adoption community truly wanted to help prospective adoptive parents prepare for the possible realities they face with adopting, they would welcome and believe stories like yours instead of forever patting themselves on the back for how committed they are no matter what. They haven’t experienced “no matter what.” My stories are similar to yours before disruption, including the loss of my Health directly due to adopted children, loss of family and friends, loss of all of our savings and into debt trying to help children who would not be helped, and the loss of everything we owned after two adopted children burned our house down—on purpose. Oh, and the boy trying to beat me up. But no one wants to hear or believe our adoption stories. I believe you and my heart goes out to you. I also believe you did the best thing for your family and even the best thing for your poor, broken child.

      • Andrea says:

        Lisa and Ann, I am so very sorry for your pain and the situations you are in. My apologies if my post felt like a condemnation of every disruption. That was not the intent. Perhaps I failed to communicate effectively, but the focus of my post was in addressing the disruptions of adoptions where children present with needs that are within the scope of what may be expected within their diagnosis…neurological damage in a cyanotic child, heart failure in a CHD child, chromosomal abnormalities in a child with midline defects, etc. These potential issues need to be honestly thought about rather than swept under the rug when a family is presented with a file. I’m referring to, for instance, families who “fall in love” with a beautiful child on paper with, say, complex heart disease and move forward with the adoption even though they are ill prepared for multiple surgeries, the potential for having to relocate for transplant, etc….all situations that are within the possiblity for the child. I’ve watched as families move forward with such children even after they have communicated that they lack the support and resources to deal with the worst case scenarios, only to be faced with them after the adoption. Hence, my question in my post regarding our motivations for adoption. I completely recognize that there are scenarios that families are blindsided by….medical and behavioral needs that completely overwhelm families. Those scenarios are outside the scope of my post.

        • Lisa says:

          No I did not take your post out of context. I wrote my story here and other posts too because I want people to be aware that an agency may entice families to fall in love with a child. So If i see a post on anything relating to dusruptions etc..i post as I dont know who is reading it. Your post was about death do you part which I agree completely with, I truly do. I feel like its my duty to help new adoptive families see other ways things fall apart. I love kids and want truly the best outcome and life for them and telling my story, I hope will lead to less families needing to walk away.

          • Andrea says:

            Thank you for sharing your story with the community, Lisa. I wish all the best for you and your family as you move forward.

      • Lisa says:

        Thanks Ann for understanding! I know how many people are villified when their adoptions go wrong.
        In the end, when faced with committing to this child…we did fully but there is no way I can sit idly by and watch the man I love who I’ve been with and married to for 30 years destroy himself. Here I am at home willing to care for her and she won’t let me do it. If it weren’t for my second oldest son who jumped to my aid and stayed by my side for the 2 1/2 or so years I tried to care for her I never would have survived. It pained me to see her freak out the minute my husband walked out the door. She’d panic. Bad. Hubby would return each day and she’d calm right back down. She loved to be with me and preferred me, she would sit right next to me long as she could SEE him. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think she identified HIM as her Mom. I finally said to Hubby I wont continue to stay like this and He ended up putting her in a Special Need Preschool and had to leave work mid day to bring her home where her wrath would continue soon as he left. My poor husband was driving her ALL the time, coming home to feed her and disper her, taking her to all her appointments and school and his work day was constantly interrupted. Strangely, he never got behind on his job even though he was at work less and less. But he was warned his actual presence at the office was needed and to this day I am surprised he wasnt fired. We ultimately ended up adopting two more kids and they are home with me and doing beautifully, but year after year she just continued to do what she was doing. I eventually didnt have her at all through the day as she went to Kindergarten. She finally began to do well while my Hubby began to finally get worn down, resulting in us agreeing that now was the time to change things. We just couldn’t deny that living this way wasnt sustainable after seeing all the other kids missing him so much and him missing out on their childhoods and how in everyway he was divided from the rest of us, It was a heartbreaking decision But, I was horrified actually when my toddler son (from China) came up to me as I cried in a chair after she left saying “dont be sad Mommy, she was mean and hurt me too”.,,his words literally shocked me as he was happy she was gone. This is the same child who tried so hard to love on her and like all our kids…she pretty much wanted none of them. All I can say is this. I dont tell my story to get people to not adopt..but its important for people to know there is a tipping point. I committed to my daughter and with all her issues, she’d still be here had she let me help and take care of her too but It would have been dumb on my part to let things get to the point where I had to bury my husband. I feel the majority of times, kids from hard places can make incredible progress and there maybe years of hell to walk through But eventually things DO change. Then you look back and think I am so glad I didnt give up and with our daughter, we did get to that point aside from this once pesky issue becoming a serious thing that was lterally killing my husband slowly. And ya, I lost friends and family but before she left I decided to allow my Mom to take care of her and she found out for herself after She was Attacked. New Adoptive families need to hear good stories and bad ones. I lived the amazing best case scenario adoptions twice…and one adoption that was worst case scenario. Irregardless, all my kids bio and adopted have value. These broken kids, some just are so scarred they need more then what any family can handle. But certain kids are better suited in an environment where there is a Fresh staff of people day in and day out to handle them. A physical need is VERY different then a mental need. If a child wants even if its just a little bit, their parents, families can survive. And if a child is deathly ill but is mentally wanting parents its hard but doable. Yes the child may die but love endures it. My child has little capacity to love or feel. She was brutally abused and its no way her fault, but still….she needs at least two parents to be there so each can her a break. She wouldn’t allow it. 🙁
        While my reply is negative sounding I still love her. She is a person behind her issues and I am glad she is loved even if she never knows what that means. Ann and others out there living through this…you are not alone and its not your fault. More and more people get divorced each day yet adoption disruptions and dissolutions are villified. People walk away from abusive marriages everyday and people DO pick their spouses. Flaws in people and aging are picked at but yes a person who dumps another person for stupid reasons, shame on them. But In situations where a person is in danger, and in our case people were in danger, sorry..i cant sacrifrice life itself of 6 people for the benefit of 1. We as a family unit want her, surrounded her, love her…fiercely but she is unable to receive any of it. We cant continue as it was. Yes we are still her parents, but we may/may not be someday. And until people in the adoption community look at the true whys…things will still remain the same! 🙁

  5. Lisa says:

    PS. We’ve had our daughter a long time so it wasn’t like we didn’t try hard. Our homestudy social worker (who is around 70 years old and doing social work of all types since his early 20’s) for our adoptions was the one who inspired us to change things . He is in full agreement on what we are trying/doing right now. He told us just last week when he visited that “a child can not have an exclusive relationship with only one person forever, that it wasn’t sustainable, or healthy for her, your marriage or your other children, as she ages it would get worse and that she would then deliberately attack people and Gosh forbid your husband is so worn out like last time, that he gets very sick and this time doesn’t recover…then what, where does that leave you?” Sad to hear. But he is right, even if it’s hard to accept. We ignorantly took advice from a person at an agency who never adopted and had just a few years of experience when we got referred. This time we felt confident in taking advice as this man has known us for about 6-7 years. He knows how well we have done with all our kids and yet, he felt we were in an impossible situation. For us, our commitment is so strong we don’t want to give up. Praying we don’t have too. 🙁

    • Kara says:

      Solidarity, mama.XOXO

      • Lisa says:

        Thank You for your kind words! 🙂 Being in the adoption community I want others to hear the good and the bad. I Love this site as it offers so many views on every aspect of adoption. Why I even post replies. Andrea brings so many great points for families to ponder and I am grateful she wrote her thoughts. People adopt for right reasons and wrong ones. Irregardless of How I may sound, walking through ALL I’ve been through has been a privilege. China does not have to allow adoptions but they do. Evaluating the many ways things fall apart is part of the solution to preventing this from happening in the first place. PAPs need to hear it all before they commit to a child. My daughter is severely mentally disabled and doesn’t fully understand what has happened, but I shudder to think of the kids who DO get it. What must they be thinking when they see new parents or worse get new parents and these parents walk away from them? It’s awful. Now again, we’re not talking about every child, some kids are violent and are seriously dangerous. Not talking about those situations. In my situation, My daughter wasn’t truly “dangerous”…yet. She could attack and injure others unwillingly and on purpose..but her acting out was just a desperate desire to have her Mom. She wanted someone, but yet didn’t know what that meant but the primitive desire in her she still wanted to be cared for and safe. Even a wild animal has that desire, and doesn’t have the capacity to truly love. This was our daughter. Her being in our family became dangerous because my husband just was running himself ragged. He is nearly 50 years old and has been healthy all his life. I on the other hand am the opposite but I have 2 grown bio kids who help me every single day and why I survived. I was sad to raise my 4 boys as if I was a single parent and I felt the effects badly with my health but at least I had help. Hubby was alone, handling it solo, just didn’t want him to continue to be a superman and while he is so nurturing and is a true natural…after years and years it was beginning to affect him and it was only the start of what was to come. Him getting deathly sick was our wake up call. Why I want others to hear our story! To learn from our mistakes! Our daughter is not a “mistake” but our choice to change our no to a yes was the mistake.

  6. Ellen says:

    I agree with a lot of what you said but there are times when saying yes is not in the best interest of anyone – including the child. There is a reason that agencies ask what you are able to handle. I understand some of it is preference but sometimes it is much more than that.

    I shudder that agencies will no longer have partnerships where they get to know the kids they are placing and can help ensure that the children and families are good matches for one another. We all know that files can be inaccurate and that can be shattering.

    As a widow, I knew I could not work and parent a child who would require multiple doctor visits and therapies. If I am going to support my family, I have to be at work. I can’t split myself into two and be in two places at once. Not all situations allow for saying yes regardless of the conditions.

    I said no to a child that my agency met and found her file to be very inaccurate. I wept over it. I sought the advice of parents who were parenting kids with needs that require a lot of medical and therapeutic intervention. Each one of them said the same thing – you can’t do this alone. I think there was great wisdom in their advice.

    I appreciate what you said but I do think you can’t paint the whole picture with one brush. Not all situations are possible and if the child ends up in a family who can’t meet their needs, it is not good for anyone.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Ellen, thank you for your comments. Nowhere in my post do I say that people should should “say yes regardless of the conditions,” or move forward with whichever file an agency presents. The very fact that files can be inaccurate is precisely the reason that families should have their eyes wide open, and make their decisions based on that understanding. What my post was attempting to address are the disruptions of children whose needs are within the scope of what may be expected within their special need and institutionalized background….neurological damage in a cyanotic child, heart failure in a CHD child, chromosomal abnormalities in a child with midline defects, etc. And I absolutely understand that nobody can do it alone. Would I have chosent to pursue children with complex medical needs if I were a single parent? Absolutely not. And that’s the crux of what I was attempting to communicate: soul search and be honest with your limitations BEFORE committing to a child.

      • Lisa says:

        I understood your post fully and you communicated it clearly. In our story it was OUR stupidity in not sticking to a NO when pressured to think too positively and unrealistically when our agency continued to make us think she wasnt “that” bad. We trusted them. I agree so many families do accept kids not thinking it through or live in a fantasy world that THEIR child wont be that bad.,they refuse to see truth. But I speak out saying what if its the AGENCY who sees things unrealistic and rosy? This is our story. Our story is one of trusting in the professional over ourselves. I mean, we were stupid yes. Responsible for ourselves but if we dont put our trust in someone, what did we know. If an agency calms our fears and says..oh i see this everyday and it wont be like the doctors say..who do you believe? Thats what I am trying to convey..the other side where we were realistic and the agency wasn’t.
        I do not in anyway want to throw agency people under the bus, our agencies heart was in the right place. But our next two adoptions were based in fact and what our instincts told us and because of this, we have two amazing kids we are the right family for. We went in adopting with a brand new prespective and I just want families to see another WHY that things go wrong. For them to be aware of not only their decisions but those trying to sway them to think unrealistically. Its wrong for families to go in with rose colored glasses, i sure didnt…and yes, kids with certain special needs could have other special needs too, files are inaccurate. But, agencues need to stop contributing to the issues, by placing kids with the right families to begin with Not just place a kid with anybody. There are signs from the beginning most ignore. Our no should have been respected, It wasn’t so I just wanted tp present a different side. But I do Love your prespective! 🙂

        • Andrea says:

          Thank you, Lisa, for your perspective. I unfortunately have witnessed exactly what you are talking about regarding agencies painting a rosey picture for families. I receive CHD files from agencies for my organization to review, and sometimes agency personnel will tell me that they told prospective families that the child “isn’t that sick” since the child isn’t cyanotic. I have to inform them that not all CHD is cyanotic in nature, and that we cannot ascertain the level of complexity/illness in a CHD child based off of coloring alone. This is exactly the reason my organization offers free cardiac file assessments to agencies and families.

          • Lisa says:

            I want you to know If I hijacked your post I truly am sorry. Your words are an invaluable source for so many families including mine. My story is not what you are talking about. You meant something else different entirely so I don’t want your readers to not get your message. Again, I do apologize. Don’t ever stop talking Andrea even if well meaning people like myself chime in. You are helping to educate and keep beautiful children like your own from pain. I truly again am sorry.

  7. Yvonne says:

    I so agree with your blog post. I’m disheartened by the disruptions I see. We have 3 internationally adopted kids – 2 with major needs but they are just as much our’s as our bio kids- it doesn’t matter we are committed to them.

  8. Mikayla says:

    I have never adopted but I have an interest in orphan care. Love this post! I agree with the author, and also Lisa’s comments. If there is something you can not handle, that’s fine. But please do your research before jumping to conclusions! If you have a feeling that you can’t handle a certain special need, do your research. Talk to professionals, parents, and most importantly to me, people who have your perspective child’s condition. A lot of people assume that they can’t handle a child who is blind and has no other disabilities. This is completely false! I am blind myself with no other disabilities, and I am just like other people my age. However, a lot of people are more scared of blindness than anything else. I know that you can’t imagine what you would do if you couldn’t see, but it is our normal. So the long and short of this is, check your motives. If you are adopting for selfish reasons or want a certain child for selfish reasons, don’t adopt or you need to change your mindset. If after doing good research and praying about it, you decide it is not in your family’s best interest, admit it.

    • Lisa says:

      For us we just wanted a child. No rescuing or accolades. Im adopted too and I love being an adoptee. Ive lived through a miscarriage, 2 bio miracle kids my husband was told he would bever have, being a foster parent, doing treatments because of my husbands infertility issues. Lived through it all. So ya check your motives, agree.

  9. Beth Drafts says:

    “I commit myself to thee” – fabulous, powerful words. Thank you for sharing, Andrea. I have followed your story for years and love to read your words and perspective. This post needs to be read by so many who are considering adoption or families who are waiting to be matched. Too many families are faced with disruption in China and it breaks my heart to know that a child’s life is at stake when this occurs.

  10. Rachel P. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    When I started advocating for orphans the Lord gave me one standard: Don’t ask Me to do anything you aren’t willing to be the answer for. This seemed fair enough, I’d feel a little hypocritical if I ask someone to be a family to a child I wasn’t willing to be one to. But I can honestly tell you there have been weeks I didn’t want to post the child the Lord had on His heart. Not because my heart wasn’t breaking with compassion for them, but I knew what I’d agreed to and I was afraid.
    In all the adoption comments we’ve gotten I’ve never heard anyone say: “We thought about adoption, but we were too afraid so we didn’t.” As sad as that would sound, there’s hope there. When we lie to ourselves and make excuses than we never change because we told ourselves we don’t need to. But if we’re honest with ourselves and with the Lord then we’re open to change and to face our fears. We can admit our weakness (I can’t) but then we can recognize our need for His strength. (Through Him I can! And I will!)
    He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
    1 Thessalonians 5:24

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