I am a little out of practice! I have not written here since January. It isn’t that there has not been plenty to write about, there is just not much free time where my brain has enough energy to put thoughts into a coherent form. I was talking with my counselor (psychologist) today about some issues with Levi and the dearth of good resources for parents with adopted kid issues. She said that I should write a book! I may just do that. 🙂
It is hard to know how to share some of the struggles of adoption. I wrestle with the decision of what to write and how much to say. The thing is, it often feels very private and personal. And yet…we need to be honest about adoption. Adoption is wonderful. I love it. God loves it. It is a good thing. There are children all over this world who are without a family. I firmly believe that the best place for a child is to be with a family. If they cannot be with their own family, they need another one. That is just the way it is.
I have talked about a person’s motivation to adopt before. If you are considering adoption there are a lot of things you should ponder long and hard. I have written a post on adoption related books that are must reads for true and needful information before and after going into an adoption. There are no fairy tale endings. That is not to say that things cannot be wonderful and that there aren’t a lot of blessings for you and your child in adoption. But, you have to be realistic.
You see, you go into adoption the first time (at least we did) with a lot of enthusiasm and frankly, rose colored glasses. You read about issues associated with adoption and you think, that won’t be our experience! And, it won’t be your experience. Not exactly anyway. There are as many difficulties in adoption as there are children who are adopted. You really need to assume that there will be difficulties. Maybe lots of them. Ones that may take years to work through, or they may never be conquered. I am not being melodramatic, this is fact.
The girls have been in our family for over four years. They are a daily blessing and we love them intensely. We are still dealing with learning issues and problems that undoubtedly stem from early malnutrition, trauma, and who knows what. Our hope for our girls is that they will learn what they need to function as independent people and have fulfilling lives. This is not an insult to them. This is fact. Our expectations for our adopted kids have to be adjusted from our typical parental expectations.
I often read a blog, Urban Servant. It is written by a mom of eight adopted children. She is very honest about her children’s struggles and I know there are many adoptive parents who are so thankful for her honesty. We can’t be a support for each other – as adoptive families – if we don’t share our struggles as well as resources we have found.
The other piece of this is our Christian walk – our discipleship to Jesus. Being a disciple means that you are following someone. You are emulating their life and you believe what they believed. Have you ever thought how absolutely scary it is to say you are a disciple of Jesus? I have said that I am a follower of Christ, but I do not think that I ever, until very recently, considered the full impact of that statement.
Think about the life that Jesus led. Did He have a lot of acceptance on earth? How was He received by His own people? Was His life a walk in the park? How did it end?
I could write a book to answer those questions, but I don’t have to! Just read through one of the gospels, say the book of Luke, and they are all answered. Only a handful of people accepted Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. Many followed Him around, but most of them just wanted what He could do for them. His own people thought He was a blasphemer and should be killed and eventually they had a part in His death. His death was the most horrific event you can imagine.
Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 16:24-26
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
In another place (Luke 14:25-31), he tells the crowd who is following Him – waiting for another miracle or another meal:
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
So, let’s recap those facts. To be a follower or disciple of Jesus we need to 1) deny our own desires, 2) Be willing to lose our life, 3) Hate our own families (This doesn’t really mean to hate them. It means that we love them less – or do not put them above our devotion and love for Jesus.), 4) Bear our own cross, 5) Follow Jesus, and 6) Count the cost.
That is a pretty good list for how you need to think before going into adoption. It is really a good list for ANY Christian. And, yes, it is a bit scary to think about it. Thankfully, if we belong to God through Christ we are not asked to do all of that on our own. Unfortunately, as Americans, we tend to think in terms of everything in life turning out with a certain good/happy conclusion. The therapist I was talking with yesterday said that most Americans go into adoption thinking that love will conquer anything. That just isn’t accurate. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t adopt – it means we need to be realistic about it.
A friend was recently speaking at our church about the ministry she and her husband have devoted their lives to. She talked about making a commitment to the Lord that she wanted to give all of herself to Him and to His purposes for her life. I remember making a similar vow to the Lord many years ago when our bio kids were very young. I did not take that vow lightly. However, I had no idea how it would actually play itself out in my life either.
I feel like I am rambling here and please forgive me as I kind of work through all of this as I write. You see, my life is not neat and tidy and separated. I don’t have my Christianity over here and my life as a mom of adopted children over there. It is all entwined. I am muddling along trying to do the job the Lord has asked of me and I find that I am failing miserably much of the time.
I have found in the last six to nine months that I have been feeling beyond exhausted. I have felt like my energy was being sucked out of me both physically and emotionally. I have actually pictured in my head that scene from “Princess Bride” where Wesley is having the life sucked out of him by that machine.
Last Sunday as I sat before the service began I was again thinking of the “life sucking” machine. All of a sudden a verse popped into my mind.
Philippians 2:17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
It occurred to me that my thinking was very self centered and negative. If I could just change my thinking to a positive and remember that my life is not my own, but has been purchased with great cost and that it is my act of worship (gratefulness to God’s gifts) to give of God’s grace and mercy that He has given me to others – willingly and with joy.
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I realized that the correct attitude as a believer is to be filled – with God’s love, grace, and mercy through His word and the Holy Spirit – and then to willingly pour it all out into the lives of others. It was more of an attitude correction and looking at the idea of what is going on in my life in a positive way rather than a negative.
I am sure I will have to remind myself and have an attitude check on a regular basis! But, I was so thankful that the Lord opened my eyes to my heart needing to do an about face. That is always a good start.
All that to say, Levi has been having a hard time adjusting. We began to worry last fall when we weren’t seeing signs of his attaching to us as we had seen the girls attach. We began to look for resources and talk to professionals. We just got back the results of Levi’s testing and we are indeed dealing with RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder – as well as some other issues. In talking with psychologists we have relayed situations and have learned that there are good and positive signs that Levi will have some kind of attachment to us and will hopefully be able to have attachments to other people in his life in the future.
There is a very long and difficult road ahead of us. We have complete faith and trust in the Lord that He will guide us. We also have complete trust that the outcome will be the Lord’s sovereign and good will for us and for Levi. We would greatly appreciate your prayers joining ours as we tackle these issues.