Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Answer to What is a Good Reason to Adopt?

I figured I should at least take a stab at my own question.

My personal answer is similar to Yondalia's. We started doing foster care because there was such a need and then we realized we were pretty good at it. And then we concluded that it would be nice to not have to say goodbye to kids, and started adopting instead. Once we got going, we figured that if we already knew what we were doing, were fairly good at it, and had empty beds, with all the kids waiting we should keep going

I think that the journey to adopt has to be headed into with eyes wide open. And there should be a combination of reasons for choosing a difficult path. Some of them are selfish, but not in the ways that most people might think. It meets a need in me, for example, to make a difference in someone's life -- to do the right thing -- to contribute to society -- to do what I feel God has planned for me. I also am very grateful for the life experiences I have had, the ways I have grown, and the incredible people I have met through my journey. But I was a whole person before I became a parent. I didn't need a child to complete me. I'm not saying that this is even a bad thing. But if that is someone's goal, disappointment is certain if they adopt from foster care. The child is not going to give back in the same way that a birth child or a child adopted at birth MAY be able to.

I also believe that there needs to be the knowledge of what we as people can do. I met with a man and his wife recently and he said, "When I read the case file I was worried about how bad my life would be if I agreed to parent these children. And then, a few days later, my thinking began to shift, and I started to worry about how bad their lives might be if I didn't agree to parent them. We have the ability to do this. We can provide them a home. And so, even though we know it will be hard, we need to do so."

The focus of older child adoption must be on the needs of the children. And I think that my frusration and anger in my post the other day has more to do with the crazy myth that is out there that if you get young kids with no diagnosis then life is going to be much easier than if you get an older kid with multiple diagnosis. And the fact is, it doesn't always work out that way. In fact, sometimes it works the exact opposite.

If we head into adopting a young child with the idea of what we absolutely can't handle, we just might get it down the road. And then what? You roll with it, right? And so why not know what you're getting into...

Just a few of my undending thoughts.

I guess my main point was this. Don't not do something because it looks like it might be tough. It can end up being the most amazing journey.

Our most recent adoption came at 12, the oldest kid we ever adopted and he is so awesome at 13. He has not a single issue. And our hardest kid came at 20 months.

So.... sometimes you gotta just do it. Don't assume that the ones that look the hardest are impossible. A kid that's been in foster care for many years is going to have a lot of diagnosis and a lot of paperwork. But currently may be in much better shape at 14 than any kid you get now, at age 4, is going to be in 10 years.

Hope this is making some sense.


Monica said...

Great post. My first child that I adopted I got at one week old and adopted at 2 1/2. He will be 5 in December. He's a joy and a sweetheart and is also extremely strong-willed and sometimes very challenging to parent.

My second adopted child came to me at 10. We barely hung on though some extremely difficult, violent, destructive times but she was adopted this summer at 13 and is doing amazingly well considering all we went through.

My third (almost) adopted child came to me right before turning 15 with her one year old son. I remember telling the social worker that I liked her very much but I thought her needs and issues were a bit over my head otherwise I would keep her long term. She is now 17 (18 in April) and a senior in HS and preparing for college next year. We will be finalizing her adoption in the next month or so and I am "granny" to her now 3 year old son. She's the easiest, most cooperative of the bunch.

I still look at teens on photolistings and think that would be soooooo hard and they most be so hard to place, but my experience adopting teens has been positive despite the challenges.

flacius1551 said...

Sorry to be a pain. I just think that the definition of tough varies so wildly and it is hard for us to understand where the boundary between tough and impossible is in others. For instance, what you do every morning with early rising would not just be tough for me, it would be impossible. I am pretty sure I could do that unless someone held a gun to my head and maybe even not then. I would never (and this is key for adoptions) do it voluntarily, even if it were the key to something else that I particularly valued. It is just not on the table. I think older child adoption is like that for some people, and that's fine. My suspicion is that indeed most people are interested in it are already not worried about "tough."

linette said...

I think people should adopt because they believe God has called them to adopt. I think that when people adopt they become whole people themselves and not look to the child to "complete them". I also think that in the example of closed adoptions it is important to remember that it is a Triad relationship. Then bio parent makes a choice the birth parent makes a choice but often times the child has no choice--especially in the case of an infant. I think that it is the responsibility of the adoptive parents, the birth parents and the courts to put a process in place that will allow the adopted child to reconnect with his or her biological family when they become adults or if they need medical information. As a child who was adopted in infancy, I have many questions and no answers. My adoptive mother feels very threatened by my need/desire to search. And I talked to a birth mother who said that she signed that papers and she thought she would never be contacted again and then she was found and she was not happy about the upset it caused in her current. Family. I am a big believer in consequences for actions. The word has a negative connotation but sometime consequences can be good. I find it very unrealistic that a woman can give birth to a child and then truly expect that the child will NEVER EVER resurface. The adopted child has a right to know who they are and where they come from. It does make a difference.