Let me start by saying how much I have been encouraged by your Above Rubies magazine. I love your focus on adoptive families and the gift of life. As my husband and I were looking over the new issue last night, he said to me, "You should write an article featuring our story." I have been blogging for the last 5 years about it, but feel like maybe I can be a voice to those who have struggled with the same things.
We are an adoptive family. We are an multi-cultural family. All four of our adopted children are African American. My husband and I have been married for 20 years this year. After many surgeries due to endometriosis, we started the adoption process for our oldest. This was our first and only private adoption. Our son, Joshua, was born on December 21, 1996. He was born in another state so we anxiously awaited that phone call. But our hopes were dashed as his birth mother changed her mind. God took us through that roller coaster and after 5 weeks she changed her mind again and he was placed in our arms.
Twenty two months later, our second son, Nate, came into our lives at 5 months old. He was part of the foster care system and struggled with attachment reactive disorder until 5 years old. God's grace is the only way we were able to get through those years. But through those dark days, God called us to home school. The furthest thing is my mind was "being with that child" all day. But God changed my heart and showed me that's exactly what he needed.
Just over two years later, the department of family services called us and told us about a little special needs girl who needed a home. Esther was 22 months at that time. Since they knew we already had adopted African American children they thought of us. Esther had/has fetal alcohol syndrome and was failure to thrive. After one year of being our daughter, tests were run to rule out Autism, and it was discovered she had ACC (Agensis of the Corpus Collosum). In layman's terms, the central part of the brain in your Corpus Collusum. Hers is missing. This part holds 500,000,000 connectors to both hemispheres of your brain. We have been told she should be in a wheelchair not walking or talking. She "appears" normal to those who don't know her well. She struggles mostly with developmental/schooling delays and some social issues. But she is a miracle. Love is an amazing thing!
Now, having 3 children with a span of 2 years of age among them, I was overwhelmed for quite a while. There were many days of therapies and struggling to seemingly survive the emotional struggles. Little did we know that this would be a small part of the rest of our story.
In 2005, we received a phone call from a local pregnancy center about needing a family for a special needs 10 month old boy who would be placed privately. He had kidney failure as well as crossed eyes and severe developmental delay. He was like a newborn. We prayed about it and felt God's leading. Within two weeks, we had our home study done and were traveling 2 hours away to pick him up. The adoption laws in the state we live allow for the birth mother to change her mind within 3 days, if the child is over 6 months old. On the third day, we received a call from our attorney stating the unthinkable. She had changed her mind. This was a very tough place. My husband rose to the occasion and the next morning met our attorney and the birth mother at the train depot. They exchanged signatures for our precious Elisha that we had grown to love like our own. I am so grateful for my husband who used that opportunity to proclaim Jesus to Elisha's birth mom. Two weeks later we received a phone call from a deputy stating, "....there is an investigation into a little boy's death." Yes, Elisha had passed away in her care. I struggled with anger and resentment to the Lord. But eventually, He helped me to see that my sweet baby is with him and better off than the life he would have had. He also worked on my heart dealing with the idols that had formed in my own life.
The good news is that having Elisha in our home opened our hearts up to adoption again. In September 2005 a little girl was born and two years later she would become ours. Hannah was placed in our home after two years of foster care. She was a crack baby with lots of hurting places. But thankful we have been granted to raise her.
Adoption is a beautiful thing, but it is also messy. Our boys hit the teen years with rejection and identity issues surfacing. Anger became out of control. We chose for our oldest to attend a Christian boarding school for a few years to protect him from himself. These were so very difficult years. The ache that happened in ourselves but most of all him was so painful.
Hannah struggles with severe ADHD and outbursts of anger. Parenting adopted children brings a whole new set of issues. There is so much hurting and open wounds that seem to take years to work through...really until adulthood.
We have come to know the daily struggles that come along side raising adopted children. It can be a lonely place, where others don't understand. We have faced judgment on our parenting as well as struggled with fear of man...."what do people think?", which we still fight daily. So many times, adoption is viewed through rose colored glasses. It is so messy at times, but adoption is the brightest light we can shine that exemplifies the Gospel, for isn't that the picture Christ gives about our relationship with Him? Our parenting of these special kids has been greatly affected by grace. For how often do we spurn God's grace and parenting of us? How often do we choose defiance and rebellion? Yet, He keeps pursuing us. He keeps showering us with His love. He never lets go or gives us back up.