headerImage

Thoughts On Adoption


Father to the fatherless, defender of widows- this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. - Psalm 68:5-6

Anyone who has any connection with adoption knows the verse above. It is a great verse. God does set the lonely in families and I love that. Adoption is first modeled by God, the only perfect Father. He adopts us into His family when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Romans 8:14-17).

Michael and I began our adoption journey in 2004 when we adopted our first child domestically. We then adopted our daughter from the Bahamas in 2006 and our third child from Ethiopia in 2009. All of these were amazing experiences and God was so faithful.

The first time I read the statement "Adoption is built on pain and loss" in some adoption training material, I was pretty thrown off guard.

What does that mean? Then I started hearing the word "trauma" a lot. What does that have to do with adoption?

Ten years after we adopted our first child, I believe I'm starting to truly understand what these phrases and words mean.

Adoption is wonderful, please hear me. I would do it again. It was God's plan for our family and I wouldn't change any of our experiences. I know God put each of my children into our family for a purpose.

But I want to share here that the trauma our children have experienced through adoption will cause pain and hurt throughout their lives. It doesn't go away when you adopt them. The journey is only just beginning. I ache for my children when I think about their birth families, so I cannot imagine the pain they feel when they think about them. It must completely overwhelm them at times.

I was foolish enough to think that my children experienced only a small (if any) amount of trauma since they were so young when we adopted them. I thought their adoption would somehow be easier because of that. I was categorizing their grief. Just because one child handles the grief from their adoption well doesn't mean the next child will, no matter how young they were. Each child is different, and I think we need to really tune in to that.

One statement I read on a site called, "On Adoptee Blogs" said this: "It isn't like there is a giant balance inside the adopted kids with pain and loss on one side and love and acceptance on the other. You can't just pile on enough love to tip the balance away from the pain. That pain might be like a splinter that resurfaces throughout their lives, sometimes hurting more and sometimes hurting less. Just because you don't want it to be there doesn't mean it will go away."

It is amazing how differently each of my children process their grief and loss. But that being said, they all have some level of pain. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the depth of it. I feel totally unprepared and unequipped to know how to help. My oldest child was diagnosed with Autism at the age of five, so he has an additional set of special issues as well as those that come with adoption loss.

My sons are typically very sweet and well-behaved in public. But I believe they often struggle with feeling out of control. They look to the safe people (my husband and I) in their lives to experiment with control and power and aggression. The behaviors that result at home (in their safe place) are not sweet and well-behaved. I don't think exposing my kids' brokenness in specific ways is honoring to them, so I'm not going to do that. But I do want to say that as they are growing up and stumbling through the process of dealing with their grief, it has been some of the hardest years for our family (I would say the last two especially). We have all been the recipients of their "processing" in many different ways. It causes a lot of stress and anxiety in our family.

I have learned to continually take my hurt, frustration and anger to God. I feel His peace every time as I pour out my tears and prayers and cries for my children, begging God to fight for them. I long to fix what is broken, but I cannot. Only God can do that. I recite this verse and it brings comfort to my heart:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. - Exodus 14:14

God values adoption and He models adoption for us, but it doesn't mean it will be easy. He never said it would be easy. What He did say is that He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Praise the Lord.

Sometimes I feel like we are a "normal" family, or I pretend that we are. We go and do normal family stuff. Other days I don't feel normal at all, and I just want to hide.

Maybe God's teaching me that it's okay to not be "normal." Maybe "normal" isn't so great anyway.

I think my family is beautiful and colorful. And yes, we are also broken. But sometimes God shows up the best, His glory is revealed the most, in brokenness.

Michael and I are so blessed to have each one of our children.

Over the years (especially recent years), by observing and talking with my adopted children, other people's adopted children, and talking to other adoptive parents, I've collected some statements and/or thoughts from an adopted child's perspective and then from an adoptive parent's perspective. I find it pretty insightful...


From the adopted child's perspective:
"I act out because I'm expecting you to leave me. Every time you show me otherwise, I learn to trust you a little more. I do whatever it takes to get your attention; good or bad, it doesn't matter to me."

"I don't think I am worthy of your love. I'm waiting for you to abandon me."

"When you are adopted, a part of you believes that you are unwanted. Something about you made someone else discard you, reject you. No matter how great your adoptive family is, this is always in the back of your head."

"I like to talk about my home country and what it's like with you. It makes me feel loved and like you care about where I came from."

"You will go along with me through this painful journey, processing my grief and loss. It's not going to be comfortable. And a lot of times, I don't even want you there. But I don't want you to leave either."

"I don't know how to initiate love and affection the right way. Please give me more of both, and teach me how to do it right."

"I am always in orphan-mentality vesus son-ship mentality. I need you to show me how to break free from this."

"I didn't love you at first sight."


From the adoptive parent's perspective:
"I have no idea what it's like to be in your shoes and that works against me constantly."

"I didn't know how self-serving I was until now."

"I get frustrated when my comfortable life gets interrupted by how challenging this is..."

"You still see the joy in life after all you have been through, and that humbles us."

"We will never leave you, no matter what. Never."

"Sometimes I forget what all you have been through. I forgot how God brought us together with perfect timing and amazing detail. When I remember this, it gives me hope."

Hope.

Hope is such a powerful word. God gives it to us so we won't quit when we want to quit. So we will choose to get up instead of give up.

I am so blessed to have my adopted children in my life. Yes, it is hard sometimes. Yes, I get angry over the circumstances and extremely sad over their pain. Yes, I want to quit sometimes. But I never will. Jesus is the reason I can say that.

Making new families through adoption is a miracle of God, and a work of the Holy Spirit. God calls us to love, because He first loved us. We live in a messed-up world, so adoption will have trauma and pain on this earth. But God calls us to love each other through the trauma and the pain. He will provide the grace and strength for each day.

Sometimes that is all the farther we can look. Just what I need for today, Lord.

Where God guides, He provides. It really is true.

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness in light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. - Isaiah 40:16

I encourage you if you have been touched by adoption in any way, please continue to educate yourselves and those you love about the pain and trauma our kids go through, and how we can help them through this difficult process.

A good place to start:

You can go to The Center for Adoption Support and Education website and read about the "7 Core Issues in Adoption."

Also, please click the adoption tab on the main page of my blog for a list of adoption resources.

I praise you, Father, for the gift of adoption. It has changed me more than anything else in my life, because it is so hard and so wonderful all at the same time. My children have changed me. I am a better person because of them, and because of Your work in my heart. Jesus, help me to love my children unconditionally every day, just the way you love me every day. Amen.

Sign up to receive Tammy's Blog Posts in your email. It's easy!
SUBSCRIBE
Click to watch our ADOPTION STORY

If you are an imperfect wife, mom, daughter, or friend, struggling to stay focused on God in the craziness and find joy in the heartache, then we have something in common. I am a recovering perfectionist and daughter of the King, slowly learning to fully trust the One who sees me just as I am, and is already pleased. I’m so glad you are here.

Archives
2014
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2015
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2016
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2017
 
© 2017 Tammy Gerber
All Rights Reserved.
Contact
Facebook /OneRainDancer