Thursday, December 20, 2007
Several years ago I joined several list-servs for adoptive parents. On a few of the lists I think I have been on for at least 7 years. I don't read them like I used to, as blogging as replaced them as my main form of support, but they still come to my inbox in digest form every day and every once and a while, I will glance through the posts.
This morning there was a post from a woman who has been on one of my lists who has a child that has been seriously mentally ill for a long time. I can't imagine how difficult their lives have been. This morning the post indicated that he was in ICU having nearly succeeded in killing himself. She was asking for prayers and support.
None of us know the journey we will put ourselves on when we adopt children. Each of our children are different. This morning I sit in a home with two adult sons. Each of them came to us at 11. One came as an angry, defiant conduct disordered kid who had been abandoned by every family he ever dared to love. Attachment disordered and distant, he was not interested in anything more than being "normal" and making sure he had what he needed. Bart spent a great deal of his time and energy for years teaching Kyle that family meant more than material possessions.
Ten years later I think he's finally figuring some of it out. He's home for Christmas and 99% of the time is a delight. He's a good role model for his younger siblings. He has a trip to England for a class in January and then his student teaching left and then he'll graduate from a great Christian university with a degree in Elementary Ed, certified K-8. He's a poster child for older child adoption. The picture above was taken in his practicum classroom last week.
The other adult son in our home also came at age 11. Having survived 15 placements in 7 years in foster care and a disrupted adoption separating him from his birth siblings, he came to us having almost every diagnosis you can have. He also has FASD which was never diagnosed. He was in the most restrictive educational setting available in our state in 4th grade, and he was diagnosed, amongst everything else, with Pervasive Development Disorder. He moved into our home from Residential Treatment and began to settle in.
Huge food issues were his biggest challenge, but he began to slowly settle in and gradually has made progress since. By 8th grade he needed no EBD services in school. He graduated on the B honor roll. He is enrolled in college now in a technical college studying culinary arts. Lately, with the Christmas season, he has been working 30 hours a week. He still has some issues, but again, the person he is today is so far removed from the person he was 8 years ago. Nothing but steady progress on his part, good choices he's made, and our commitment to love him forever. Another success story.
And then there are Mike and John, who you read about too often here. Certainly dragging us through very very difficult days as juveniles, and now Mike as an adult. Our commitment to them remains as strong, whether they are safe to live here or not. And while we know that the story is not completely written, at this point we rationally don't see great hope.
So we never know when we start out where the road will end. But we don't know that about anything. People ask me about children they are considering adopting and I point out to them, asking me to predict how they will turn out. Not being God, I have no way of doing so. But I remind them that the most difficult file to read for us was Rand's -- we anticipated he would be our most challenging child-- and he has turned out to be one of the easiest. And John's was the easiest to read -- and he has been one of the most challenging.
So people take the plunge, commit to a kid for life, and then ride the roller coaster. And sometimes the ride goes better than you anticipated, and sometimes it's worse. But regardless of the outcome, the things that happen during the ride, the little moments of joy, make it all worthwhile.