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Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Ugly Side of Adoption

I found this entry the other day while randomly flipping through an old journal:

“January 2, 2013

Today, sort of in passing and sort of without even realizing it, I prayed a prayer.

‘Do something great through me… No matter what it takes.’

I meant it when I prayed it, but my next thought was: ‘Uh-oh.’”

Dear Ashley from almost two years ago: that next thought was very appropriate.

You see we used to have the “ideal” family. I'll never forget when I was pregnant the second time and we found out we were having a girl and how perfect that was for us. We had our boy and now our girl to complete the balance. Two little picture-perfect blonde haired, blue-eyed beauties.

We always talked about bringing another child into the family down the road. Maybe adopt from Africa or Asia, a newborn who needed a home. We could do that in a few years, no problem.

I did not anticipate that later that same year we would move to a little town called Benjamin Constant and that shortly thereafter, when Raegan was just 4 months old, we would meet a little brown-eyed girl that would rewrite everything we knew about parenthood and ourselves. I will never forget the night I laid there in bed and told Richard I felt like we should pray about adopting her.

I had no idea--not the slightest clue--what I was praying for.

I remember discussing the challenges we knew we would face. The language barrier, the physical and mental delays, the criticism from the locals; we knew it would be difficult.

Those things now seem like child's play.

When you hear people talk about adoption, you hear about how beautiful it is, this Gospel picture. I say it myself. The idea of redeeming a child from pain and suffering and hopelessness is undeniably inviting. To be a part of bringing hope and life to a child is one of our callings as followers of Christ. Beautiful indeed.

What we do not hear a whole lot about, however, is the ugly side.

Without tragedy, there is no need for adoption. If something were not broken, there would be no need to fix it.

If it were not for the fact that something went terribly wrong, adoption would not be necessary. Be it death or abuse or abandonment, intentional or otherwise, there is a tragic reason this child is in need of a different family from the one that shares the same bloodline and facial features. There is a broken past with every single adopted child out there and it leaves a mark. Sometimes that mark is a faded scar that is barely noticeable to the untrained eye.

Other times, it is a gaping flesh wound that needs constant attention and care.

God chose to give us the latter.

And it has been ugly.

Because nothing prepares you for having to hold down that sought after child as she kicks and screams, “I want to go back to the street!!” And all because you are doing what no one else in her life ever has: you are loving her.

I will never forget googling “What if I don’t like my adopted daughter” and the relief I felt when articles actually popped up, announcing that these feeling of mine are actually common.

In August, she completed one year in our home—and the single hardest year of our life. I look back at the child who stepped into our home that Friday night. Her scalp was so full of infection that the doctors prescribed four different medications to heal it. Her teeth were little pieces of black and brown bone jutting from her infected gums. Her hair was brittle and orange in color from lack of nutrition. Her eyes were wild, pupils enlarged as she tried to understand what was happening, her body conditioned to remain in a constant state of fight or flight. She carried her small backpack full of dirty, hole-ridden clothing that a person would not even consider donating to Goodwill.

This isn’t what it should look like, a family bringing in another. It should be that her biological mother tucks her in at night, along with her 7 biological siblings, assuring them of love and care. They should laugh together and go on outings together and she should know the love of a family with siblings and parents that look like her, speak like her. She should know the value of discipline and should be taught consequence.

But we live in a fallen world where parents leave their own to roam the streets because they never knew any different themselves.

So our life as we knew it was destroyed that day. It was destroyed for the sake of redeeming this one. But we never knew what that would entail.

It has been painful.

No adoption is pain free. I am not referring to the hours spent at the courthouse or the paperwork that seems insurmountable. I do not mean the waiting game of home visits and Psychologist appointments.

Those are the easy parts, my friends.

The hard part is loving. And that is the part I never anticipated.

Shortly after our daughter moved in, the giddiness of having a new child wore off. It was like having a newborn to care for except that this newborn had been in survival mode for six and half years and thought she had a better idea than you of what she needed. The lies began and the manipulation commenced and suddenly, after just three months of having what now felt like a stranger in our home, we began to recoil.

“What have we done?” I would ask myself, remembering our “perfect” family of four.

I would scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and the pictures of perfect families would dance across my screen, almost taunting me. I would close the app feeling guilt, regret, confusion. Pain.

I often say if we had known what we were getting into before we got into it, we wouldn’t have gotten into it. And I know that is exactly why God does not often reveal His plans for us, because we would run away in fear of the trials that lie before us, not valuing the refining process that makes us a just a little more like Him.

Yesterday I looked at her as she sat across the table from me, unaware of my thoughts. Her hair is dark brown now and shines in the light. Her teeth, bright white and clean. We have had to buy her new shoes three times this year as her body catches up to the size it should be for her age. She is able to read now, something we had all but given up hope on as she didn’t know the difference between a letter and a number this time last year.

She is beautiful on the outside—a whitewashed wall.

Because you don’t raise yourself on the street for six and a half years with no consequence. So the lies and manipulation and disobedience flow so naturally to her that at times she doesn’t even perceive it. She resists our love. She has yet to grasp the fact that she no longer has to protect herself; she is safe here. So she hides behind the walls she built so long ago of self-preservation and self-focus and replaces each brick as we attempt to take them down.

There is a common perception out there that implies that adoption, because it is a concept based on the Gospel and because it is redeeming a child from their orphan status, is simple. Of course, we may be quick to admit that the process is complicated. The attorney and the judge and the biological parents or the orphanage and the paperwork and the waiting and the waiting and the waiting… that part is hard, but then—THEN—it’s smooth sailing.

“All we need is love.” Right?

Adoption is far from simple.

I see heart-warming adoption quotes on social media all the time, especially in this month of November that is National Adoption Awareness Month. In fact, not long ago I stumbled across my own “Adoption” board on my Pinterest that coincidentally I created about the same time that journal entry was written and couldn’t help but laugh out loud and what my picture of adoption looked like back then. Back before the long nights and tears and confusion and calling out to God.

Because once the Facebook pictures are posted and the excitement dies down over this new addition, you find yourself face to face alone with a reality that you did not stop to consider before:

Yes, the Gospel is a picture of adoption into the family of Christ. And the Gospel includes immense amounts of suffering. Without death, there is no redemption. Without pain, there is no joy in victory.

Over a year has passed now and mostly we are thankful that we have survived. In the beginning, all day, every day was consumed with teaching truth and consequence, faith and repentance, and trying to discern the truth from the lies. And now most days are still that way but they have become graciously spaced out to where sometimes we actually feel like a functioning family of five on some level or another.

Grace from Heaven.

Why do I say all this? Not for a pity party, I assure you. We are taught to rejoice in our sufferings because it is through them that we are formed more into the image of our Savior.

I say it, believe it or not, as an encouragement. I have read several blog posts and books this past year and the ones that encouraged me most were the ones that said something to this effect, ‘This adoption thing? It’s hard. You are going to fail at times. You are going to cry and ask ‘why?’, possibly often. You are going to feel overwhelmed. And guess what: sometimes you are going to struggle to love. But it is ok because you, on your own, can’t love anyway. It is impossible. But the good news is that through Christ, you can love unconditionally and without reciprocation. Hang in there. His mercy is new every day. And His grace is sufficient.’

So to my fellow adoptive parents, who find themselves overwhelmed and overcome and cringe when they see the idealized photos of adoption: do not give up. God has a purpose for this child and part of it is to refine you and teach you what unconditional love really looks like—messy. Another part—maybe the biggest—is to give you the slightest glimpse of the pain that Christ went through and the miracle it is that He can love us as He does. Oh, the miracle.

To those in the adoption process, do not let this discourage you, but also don’t write me off. There is a certain naivety in every new adoption. I know, I have been there and I believe that is also God’s grace measured out to us. Often God keeps us blinded to the realities of the trials we will face in order to grow our faith. It is necessary. “Oh, but you adopted an older child/out of birth order/foreign speaker. I’m adopting a newborn/young child/English speaker,” you may say. Irrelevant my friends. I know personal stories of children adopted from birth that have immense struggles. So listen to those who have gone before and prepare your hearts. Pray for God to prepare you in ways that you do not even realize that you need to be prepared. Pray for faith and endurance. Pray for peace and hope. You will need all of these as you embark on this journey.

For those who are reading this and have had a “smooth” attachment to your adopted child, hold your judgment. Instead of casting stones, throw up some prayers for those who adopted the more severely injured, those struggling to love, and those who dread another day. Be careful not to become self-righteous because your experience looks different. Rejoice that God chose to give you a child with less baggage in tow.

This adoption thing is ugly. It takes time for broken things to mend. It takes time for wounds to heal.
But you know what’s amazing about it all?


He gives beauty for ashes. And that, my friends, is beautiful indeed.





{UPDATE: You can read my follow up blog HERE.}




191 comments:

  1. May the Lord richly bless you for all you are doing in this little ones life. I pray she is filled with His Balm and can REALIZE what is really truth now [soon], so ALL can be healed of these spiritually battled times.

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    1. So amazing! We are 7 years in with two and 6years in with another. We have one who has been the object of my tears for the past 7 years. What have we done has been our question quite often. I will say I quit looking at good days and bad days. I look for the good moments. He still has moments, just not hourly. I have not always liked him. I always love him. I have not always been able to protect him but I have always been his advocate.
      Out of everything, I have taught them one thing! From the day God created them they were my sons. They just had a detour to get to me.

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    2. We adopted over 13 years ago. Two girls, 4 & 6. Raising the 6 yr old has been the hardest thing we've ever done. The lies continue to this day. Some of that original hurt cannot be undone despite years of love, help & devotion.This last week she became our prodigal daughter at 19 & has chosen to turn her back on our family. I'm exhausted & devastated. I don't understand God's plan in any of this. I'm broken hearted. I don't think adoption is portrayed truthfully in our society. It is more than tough & we raised 2 bio sons first. I've loved these girls to death. The younger one has been fairly easy. The older one has wreaked havoc on our lives & home.

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  2. This is beautifully written and so close and dear to my heart. Let us stop romanticizing adoption and tell the true, hard, real, beautiful tragedy that it is! We adopted 6, some with just abrasions but a couple with gaping wounds. Thank you from 5kids6months.blogspot.com

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  3. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    Going through all of that still with one of my four adopted children, more than seven years after she entered our family. Been through it with her brother before and after I thought I could not take it any more, God came through in the most beautiful way and totally unexpected ( I was privileged to experience something like the story of the prodigal son). Many of your words I could have written!

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  4. Thank you so much for this post, I was praying just the other day for God to help me with this unconditional love. I feel so close to giving up, like you said, I am one of those who wake up dreading another day. It has been 5 years and I keep praying that we can finish well. Some days it is just so hard, but posts like this are so well-timed, thank you.

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    1. I am in the same boat as you. These are tough, long days. Praying for you.

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    2. I appreciate your honesty. My daughter was one year old when I brought her home from Vietnam. She has been loved and adored, yet as a teenager started to reject our love and exhibit strange behavior. I believe she senses that the person who should have loved her the most, her biological mother, abandoned her. Therefore, she senses that she is unloveable and unloved and rejects others so that the inevitable will happen - we will get angry and reject her just as she rejects us. It is never easy. Our journey from the start has not been ideal, and yet, God placed the desire in our heart to adopt. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I can only do this - continue to love her, prayer for her and abide in Christ through time in His Word. I know He has a plan and a purpose for her and it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). Meta Nelson, author of Great Expectations: An Adoption Story and Devotional and winner of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards, Christian Inspirational http://www.usabooknews.com/religion/christianinspirational.html

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    3. Yes...I'm replying to my own post! I reread the article. So many truths in here. One that I pinpoint now is the mention of manipulation and lying. My daughter did not live on the streets and yet is deceptive and manipulative. On the other hand, she is emotionally fragile. I wonder if there is more to this tendency in adopted children, whether or not they experienced hardship in their past. My daughter was in four different foster homes during her first year of life. Perhaps this led to her sense that she could not rely on people, therefore, she is defensive and afraid she will be blamed leading to lies. Any illumination would be appreciated.
      Meta

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    4. I've been trying to figure out how to respond to this without sounding jumbled. I'm a 36 year old adoptee from the Philippines. I was adopted at 18 months and have spent much of my adult life in therapy trying to figure out why I am not more grateful for the opportunities I have been given. I have felt like I am missing puzzle pieces to who I am my whole life. Thankfully, and by (what I believe) the Grace of God, I have moved on from trying to fill my missing pieces with dangerous and/or unfulfilling substitutes. I feel as if I am one of the lucky ones. I watch fellow overseas adoptees struggle over and over again. I really think there needs to be an honest discussion about the ramifications of adoptions and honest answers from adoptees about how most likely being different, physically and emotionally, from their adopted families effects their lives. Don't get me wrong, I love my adopted family. But I feel that growing up as I did, expected to live as if being adopted as a baby didn't affect me, did so much harm. Of course this is just my perspective as well as opinion but I too appreciate this blog post.

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    5. You are not alone in your perspective. Almost 48 years old, have met much of birth family, and still feel puzzled. Being expected to act like I wasn't really adopted takes a toll. To this day I still feel like I am never "enough".

      Wishing you peace.

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    6. Thanks to adult adoptees offering their stories and experience for us to hear. As an adoptive parent if a seven year old, I think it's really important to listen to adults that can give us insight into their stories.

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    7. Yes! Thank you to the adoptees who are speaking out. I love to hear your perspective and I commend each of you for being bold and speaking your heart. I pray for hope and healing that only Christ can bring. Pray for us as we navigate this journey as well. We need each other.

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    8. Anonymous-you should not have to feel more grateful for the opportunities you have been given. Those opportunities came with a huge loss, a huge trade off. It does not mean you can't appreciate things, that you don't love your life, that you don't understand the gravity of how differently your life might have looked if you had grown up somewhere else. But to say that you should be more grateful seems to imply this unsaid ranking of gratitude, where an adoptee is never really quite grateful enough. I don't ever want my adopted kids to feel like they owe me gratitude. I want them to love me and their birth families, to know they are loved in return, and to know that they matter simply on the merit of being a child of God, created by Him for a purpose, that He has never left them and has constantly been at work in their lives. But gratitude...not so much.

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    9. As a person who worked in the field of child development and with children who had many emotional hurtles, I think those of you who have adopted children, have done an incredible and honorable act. I also know that its unbelievably difficult at times. You will be tested and tested and then tested again, because the most basic trust of a human being has been damaged/broken. Its what comes naturally to anyone of us who has lost or been betrayed by someone very, very close to us. When this happens to a child, the child has all those adult feelings of being betrayed, given up on, rejected, but doesnt have the adult mental development yet to have any clue in how to deal with these painful, enormous feelings. So you get the childs way to handle these feelings, the only way a child knows how to deal with these feelings and that is to act out, test you, reject you first, go back to what seemed normal (even if it was horrible conditions). The main thing I would like to say to you who have adopted a child carrying a lot of pain, is that its ultimately not about you ! I know, I know... it feels like its about you as a parent and the child probably tells or screams at you, but its really really not about you as a parent, if you are a patient, fair and a loving parent.

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    10. With our first adoption everything was great. Our daughter blended with us beautifully. With our second adoption, our youngest daughter it has been very hard. And I have finally let go of the fairy tale ending. There is still a ending just not what I thought it would be. We love our girls and we will never give up on them. What you wrote in your blog about God not showing us "His plans for us, because we would run away in fear of the trials that lie before us" is so true. And we to say that God has a purpose for this child. Teaching us does makes so much sense. Reading that God keeps us blinded to the realities of the trials we will face in order to grow our faith is something that I needed to hear. So Thank you for your post and God Bless you.
      Anne








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    11. I have done a very similar google search, "Help I don't like my child." I've learned to be very careful to keep on the mask with most friends. The truth is, even Christian friends want me to pretend it's the fairy tale. I'm very fortunate. She doesn't have RAD. She has FASD, and she will never have a mature mind. If I didn't absolutely know that Christ called us to this role, I would be utterly hopeless. As it stands, I'm very content just to be real....at least with the few who will let me.

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  5. Amen! Amen! And again I say Amen!
    Mom of 8, 2 homemade & 6 Storebought Special needs older. What if your Blessings come through your tears? Laura's Story

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    2. To everyone: As an adoptee, I would like to tell you just how offensive, while its accurate, being called "STORE BOUGHT". Yes we adoptees realized that we were "Purchased"... that in realized we are the commodity in the economic model for adoption. Just like Slaves were bought and sold in this country until the were emancipated. Yes, as an adoptee I know I am a "SLAVE" I was PURCHSED... but shame on you adoptive parents for laughing about this! Shame on you!

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    3. Absolutely agree with above poster. It's offensive. I have to say this post was eye opening for me and not in a good way. I was a gaping wound child...this was hard to read. I can see the truth in it...but truly all we wanted was love and a place to belong. I thank God for His mercy.

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    4. I wasn't an "official" adoptee (although I was raised by my biological mother and step-father). But, I was a gaping wound child and had some of the same wounds that adopted children have. Although I'm sure neither of those calling adopted children "store bought" mean it offensively, it really is insensitive. Children are not a commodity and that kind of label does reduce them to that. I have cousins, friends, and my father and his brother were adopted. I have never thought of or heard any of them referred to as "store bought". I also find it unreasonable to refer to adoptees as "purchased slaves". We have many friends that have adopted children and none of them think of or treat their children as slaves. To the anonymous poster above; I am so very very sorry that you feel that way! I hope that your situation isn't one that, in reality, mimics any sort of slavery. I know there are many truly beautiful adoption stories, and sadly some ugly ones. Just as there are for families with only biological children. My family is just embarking on our adoption journey. We pray daily for our children and us to be prepared for our new family member(s). And, we pray for the child(ren) that are meant to be a part of our family to be experiencing love, care, nurturing and for all their needs to be met daily until they can come home to live with us. I am grateful for friends that have truthfully shared the good and the hard parts about adoption. We are not anticipating easy, but are hopeful that we can share our love with someone that needs it.

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    5. $ = Humans = Trade in humans = Slavery I think we can all agree on that. When you exchange money for a human its slavery. How is adoption any different? You hand over money, you get a human. That is the basic crux of it. Its the economic model for adoption. You can fluff it up all you want, call it "fees" and use PAL (Positive Adoption Language) But I actually have my receipt in a folder and I had a 30 day return policy. We need adoption reform in this country, and we need to remove the $ out of adoption. Calling children store bought is just an expression of the commodification of children that taken place.

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    6. I'm so sorry for the insensitivity of this. I was going to delete the original comment, but I was afraid it would also deleter your comments and I want you to be heard. The adoption system is very broken. I am praying for healing in your lives and please know that the majority of the adoptive community does not view our adopted children as "store-bought". I pray that each of you find healing and I want you to know that is what we long for for our adopted children as well. That's what my post was about. I hope that you have never felt like a slave and I pray that you can see that our adoptive children come at a great "price" and we are willing to pay it not because they are slaves but because we know that they are so much more valuable than money and we are therefore willing to pay whatever it costs to make them our own. Christ gave his own life, the greatest sacrifice of all, to make us His children.

      I'm so sorry that you have been hurt by the system.

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    7. My heart just broke a little bit more. I have never adopted, mostly because I have never felt like I had enough to give. But I have friends who have adopted children, and have never ever thought of them as store bought. We ( as their extended family) have never seen them as not belonging, and although we recognise that they did not have the same beginning, there is no difference between them and any of the other children. They are simply all small people in need of love. I would love to see the system changed, because, if the fees were not so prohibitive, we would likely have looked more thoroughly into adopting years ago. However, it never occurred to me that the children who were being put up for adoption would see themselves as being sold, especially with a return policy. It hurts my heart for them even more.

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    8. I have tears in my eyes as I read his blog! For the past few years we have gone through things we never dreamed of! At the same time, God has molded us in ways that we never would have dreamed of. I am glad He is showing us so much! I love my girls with all my heart! I am so blessed to have them in my life!

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    9. "$ = Humans = Trade in humans = Slavery I think we can all agree on that...." please, I think not. Most do not view their adopted kids as property.
      Understand that for most people adoption is another way to help others, just as we send cash to various charities.
      Although we set some limits for what diseases or conditions we would accept we were careful not to pick any of our three adopted kids from a lineup. We took the first ones available that fit our general criteria, and with one, not even that.
      As for the "30 day return" policy...I would have thought that crazy 10 years ago but my experience has taught me that it is possible for someone to take on a child with problems far beyond their ability to handle. Terrible to have to return a child, but I understand why it happened to one of ours before she came to us, and it was the right thing for that single mom to do, and good that she recognized the need on the day she met her.
      As for the large cash required...who better to pay this than the adoptive parent? It signals a real commitment, for one thing. But besides that, these agencies have real costs that have to be covered somehow. Medical bills have to be paid, airline flights covered, lots of paperwork, etc. etc. Sure, I'm sure in some cases people are skimming but all of the people I have seen have just been ordinary people doing their job. When in Russia, I saw the local city adoption lawyer doing an outstanding job, God bless her. What a great woman. And I have seen others.
      Anyway, yes, we must pay cash to cover costs, but it is not a purchase any more than paying the hospital is purchasing a baby during delivery.
      Most of us are just struggling along trying to do our best to help, to do the right thing, to share a little love in our very imperfect way.
      Blessings on all adopted, adopting and those thinking of it.
      Pax

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  6. All the Yes's and Amen's in the world!! Living it alongside you girl. Praying for you family. Please pray for mine.

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  7. Thank you for this perfectly worded post. I struggle daily to love one of my adopted kids. Only by the grace of God have we made it this far. All that you've said is true. Thank you.

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  8. I have been on both sides of the adoption roller coaster. The first child was so easy going, she didn't require any real effort on our part. I like to say God used her to sucker us into our second adoption. I knew it would not be smooth, and overall we were given a pretty happy child. But we have had to deal with destructiveness, lies, and not having any sense of herself or her own worth. The first year was really hard, because I never had any special parenting skills... It was all learn as you go. Thankfully, six years later, she has calmed down and will now be truthful (as truthful as a 10 year old can be.) I know a little of what you speak... And my prayers are with you. I hope you have some friends who understand, and can give you encouragement. It helped me tremendously as I learned that it was not the end of my world as I knew it, but the beginning of my walk with God as He intended.

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    1. Thank you for this... "not the end of my world as I knew it, but the beginning of my walk with God as He intended.

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  9. Yes. Yes. Yes. Rowing my boat along side you, my sister. And bailing out as much water as coming in. There are more of 'us' out there in our struggles, and our honesty keeps us from the darkness of it all. Let your light shine, Momma!

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  10. Wow! I hesitated to post this because I was afraid of criticism. God gave me the faith to post it and I'm so glad I did! How amazing is He to give us others who can suffer along side of us for His glory?

    Is there some sort of forum or community for adoptive parents who face these difficulties? If there isn't, there should be. It's clear there are many of us.

    Thank you all for your kind words. My prayers are for each of us to find peace in His goodness and grace for each new day. This ain't no joke, y'all.

    Would love to connect with more of you. E-mail me at a.k.whittemore@gmail.com if you are interested in bouncing ideas, thoughts, encouragement, a listening ear.

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    1. Thank you so much for this post! I remember our first year. I cried every night. Why did we choose to do this? What did we do? And most importantly- can i give her back? Our family was perfect before and now it seems like a nightmare. Everyone always commented how our adopted daughter was so cute and sweet. But I never saw it. I found out that I have a cold hard heart and was capable of such ugliness I never imagined. Here was this poor little girl who needed a good mom and I did not want anything to do with her. And I felt so alone in this. Everyone else we knew who had adopted seemed so happy, but I was in severe depression. After 2 years of having her, I have found out- this is hard. I am going to struggle with being a good, fair, and equal mom to all my children. But I'm going to try every day to be better than before.

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  11. Thanks for this. I was just telling a friend about the time it took the love for my little ones to change from the love of any child to the love of MY child. Each of them has their own timeline and their own issues.

    I would do it again, but I am definitely glad to hear that others have sailed rough seas and that I'm not alone.

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  12. Oh, I am so grateful you posted this. We also brought our two adopted kiddos home when they were six 1/2, and they both have very difficult attachment needs. I've spent the last two years writing about the same feelings and struggles you've expressed so well here. Bless you...I'm praying for you tonight...and I just noticed your question above about a community for adoptive parents struggling through these same things, so I'm emailing you, too. :)

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  13. loving and raising my adoption children has been the easy part..... dealing with a broken system, a system without God was and still is the most difficult, live changing, painful part.. If you live in a state where the system and foster/adoptive parents work together please count your blessings.. the child that is hurt needs you!!!!

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  14. Adoption comes from brokenness, but it can bring healing. I am a little worried about you and your child based on this post. I am so glad she is healthy and physically safe with you, but it sounds like you both need some extra support, which may be very difficult to obtain while on the mission field. Please don't view her behavior from a sinner/saint, good/evil perspective. Understand that she may look like a six or seven year old, she may even be very bright, but in terms of emotional and behavioral development she may only be one or two years old (if that much), and she needs you to meet her where she is developmentally and base your expectations on that, not on her age and intelligence. Whether from trauma or innate biology, she likely has similar needs to a special needs child now, no matter how bright and capable she seems (and to have survived her past she likely had to be very bright). Everything your children learned easily about communication, behaviors and relationships, she will have to be taught, one baby step at a time. Please be gentle with her and with yourself. Are you familiar with Reactive Attachment disorder? After the trauma she has been through it may be an issue. Floortime therapy (a kind of play therapy to boost child development, designed to be done by parents) may really help--the book "The Child With Special Needs" by Stanley Greenspan explains how to get started.
    I also highly recommend the book "Transforming the Difficult Child:The Nurtured Heart Approach" by Howard Glasser and "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene.

    My special needs child was born into my arms and I had time to form a strong bond with him before I started struggling with his behavior. You have to do the hard work of forming an attachment while also dealing with her behaviors and needs. I don't know anything about you except this blog post, but I believe in the healing power of relationships. You wanted to help a child, you didn't sign up to become an expert in things like child development, attachment, behaviorism and mental health... but they are part of your life now and can help you a lot. www.livesinthebalance.org has some resources that may help with day to day discipline and communication.

    This link has some good ideas but assumes a level of communication skill your child may not have yet..... http://sponderworks.com/encouraging-thinking-and-cooperation-reducing-oppositional-behavior/

    There is lots of support out there, keep looking for it. It may shake up or contradict the "conventional wisdom" you learned about raising kids, but it will benefit your whole family. I wish you the best as you love, live and learn on this journey. Blessings.

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  15. I want to thank you for writing this and for fighting the good fight for your daughter. I cannot believe someone wrote what I feel. We adopted our daughter from an abuse and neglect situation at 6-1/2 years old and she is 15 now. To say that life has been turned upside down is an understatement. We have two biological sons as well. We are just at the point where we can start to see some light at the end of the tunnel and that is because we have had to make some hard decisions. She is in a school for troubled girls right now living apart from us.
    It is so sad to see what some people have done to their children and it makes me angry sometimes that we are left to pick up the pieces. Like you said, if we knew, we would not have gone down this road and God knows that. At the end of the day, His plan is perfect and he makes no mistakes. That is what I cling to. God bless you and your family. We are still in the "scary" stage but I am trusting my God with the outcome..
    Blessings,
    Patti

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  16. Still in the trenches if this myself and it's been 2 1/2 years home with our 6 year old. I dont think they ever forget the hopeless feeling and the need to stretch the truth to feel protected.....prayers to you my friend.

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    1. Have you considered that you got what you DESERVED? So many adoptive parents feel ENTITLED to a kid. To someone else's kid. They may pay lip service to the importance of adoption ethics, but they do not care enough to actually alter their behavior, i.e. not adopt that kid, not spend $20k that effectively provides the financial incentive for folks overseas to steal/sell/traffic kids into international adoptions.

      What goes around, comes around. Karma. Divine retribution, if you prefer.

      You deserve it. So do so so so many over-entitled adoptive parents.

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    2. Hi, Katie. First, I assume that you have some personal experience with the broken adoption system and that is why you have put such a strong response on here. I'm sorry for whatever you have seen and experienced and I agree that the system is very corrupt and I pray that there are some insiders who work diligently to fight that corruption.

      Secondly, it doesn't seem fair to say that an adoptive parent "deserves" a child with emotional/physical/psychological issues and more than a biological parent. We all hope and pray that our children will be strong, healthy and well adjusted. That's a normal desire for any parent, adoptive or otherwise. We personally didn't "pay" anything for our child as we adopted domestically in Brazil and here it is "free". So again, your logic that a parent would "deserve" a child with difficult circumstances to overcome doesn't hold any weight. I hope that you can see that, just like a parent who needs support for their special needs biological child may reach out and speak some hard truths about their family's circumstances, adoptive parents, too, are often in situations that are very overwhelming.

      I hope that you will be able to hear my words. I also hope that you will think about the hundreds of families out there who adopt out of love in their hearts with the deserve to truly save a child from orphan status. There are so many abandoned and abused children out there and we need to continue to fight for them, despite the corruption, difficulties, and trials it may bring.

      I hope you will think on these thoughts, Katie. Please choose your words kindly. There are real people on the other side of the computer screen and none of us know all of the other person's circumstances.

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    1. I was oh so grateful for this post also!! Oh my....you said it SO well!!! How thankful we are for His grace every day!!! He is so faithful to His children! Praise His name....!! I will try and email you sometime!!:) blessings and thank you for boldly sharing!!
      LL

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  18. Five and a half years into the RAD adoption myself. Still struggling frequently with the manipulation and full-on tantrums. I've googled "I don't like my daughter," had enormous sympathy for the family that returned their adopted son, wondered if I made the biggest mistake of both of our lives. But I'm finally seeing some growth. I treasure those days when we can laugh together and be a family. And after those horrible days where we both hate each other, we wake up the next morning ready to try again.

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  19. Beautiful. I want to write so much more, but I just have "beautiful". Your family's trials are our family's trials. God bless you for writing.

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  21. Adoption is a journey filled with mountains and valleys. Our family (3 children) wanted to 'make a difference' in our community. We chose fostering, with the option to adopt. Over the course of several years, God place the desire to adopt in our hearts. Just as we have been 'adopted' into God's family, we were blessed to adopt 7. The road has been filled with mountain top experiences as well as deep valleys. Through it all, God has been faithful. It has not always been easy, but God's grace has been our comfort during the challenges we face. I truly understand the struggles along the way.

    "It's not an easy road we are traveling together, and many are the thorns on the way. It's not an easy road, but the Savior is with us, and lightens every path on the way. No, no, it's not an easy road. No, no, it's not an easy road. But Jesus walks beside us and brightens the journey, and lightens every heavy load."

    God bless you as you travel this road. Be comforted to know that others walk this road beside you.

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  22. So sorry I didn't proofread that first comment well enough.

    To say "Let's stop romanticizing adoption" is like saying, "Let's stop romanticizing marriage." But, I fear that it is a lot more likely to happen, leaving children who have experience great pain, alone in it because potential parents are afraid.

    Anyone who knows our family, understands that we know the "hard side" to say the least. However, we also know the bliss of falling in love with a ten year old, and later a five year old, who fit into our family as though they were born into it.

    Adopting these boys could not have been easier and raising them no harder than raising our very easy biological children.

    The new emphasis on how hard adoption is, and how "troubled" and "issue-laden" adopted children are is making me feel I have to step out in defense of the many, many adopted children who were blessed with the resilience to move through the pain in their lives to become easily loved members of their adoptive families.

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    1. I know what you mean but i think we have both sides to consider. Adopted children can be as easy or hard as Abby bio kid. They can have as many or as few challenges. But we, as a family who has adopted 7, have seen how others romanticized our family without realizing the level of support we need to get through a week much less life. How these amazing over comers we are privileged to parent are not without scars just because they have a home and 3 square meals a day. So many adoption disruptions happen because we have that romantic ideal that is just not the case for most hurting children. If we dispel at least some of that myth perhaps more adoptive families would have a greater chance at thriving.
      www.seedsofhope-matt1720.blogspot.com

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  23. Thank you for your honesty. My husband and I adopted a 5 year old and wasn't given any help with what might come up. He left 6 months later, and I had 2 children to raise alone. Not easy in any circumstance but extremely hard when one was adopted with many issues. I keep praying that she will turn her life around but it is difficult. She is now 40 and living a life completely opposite of how I tried to raise her. I will pray for you and others who face the ugly part of adoption.

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  24. I'm reading this in tears as we are 7 months home with our son who is almost three. So many days I've wondered why the heck God thought we could do this, resented him for the chaos he brought to our previously perfect family of two kids and felt so guilty when I didn't like him. We are starting to see the beautiful side of redemption but I can identity so much with what you wrote, which is so hard to explain in words. Thank you for this.

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  25. Thank you for writing this. We adopted two little girls 5/6 and have been home about a year. Our transition has been very smooth, but I still found myself googling, "What if I don't like my adopted daughter." And, YES!! The thoughts of, "What have we done? We've ruined our perfect family!" STILL wander thru my mind, although much less frequently. Mothering is hard. Again, thank you. It's very good to know that I'm not alone.

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  26. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for posting, from another adoptive mother to 3 from foster care, including a teen. I'm a huge adoption advocate but I hate the candy-coating it often gets.

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  27. I have to say this is beautifully worded. As a grown adult that was abused myself, I worked through my pain and suffering by helping other abused kids for 14 years. I offered them unconditional love as they fought me verbally and physically (I have many scars where I defended myself as they put up more bricks as I tried tearing down their walls of self-protection.) Each child that has suffered does need to learn to feel safe and loved and yes it is hard. Thank you for your encouragement to those adoptive parents that are willing to take in these children that were born perfect yet their souls were destroyed and need mending through Christ's love.

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  28. Thank you. I believe that everyone deserves to be loved unconditionally because He has loved me unconditionally but I have walked out of my house and into my garage and told God, "I can't do this anymore. You are going to have to get someone else to love him."

    After particularly bad days/nights I find myself participating in the "If only's" If only I had a deeper prayer life, if only I was in the Word more, etc. because it is so hard to come face to face with the reality that I cannot love him as well as I should.

    Yet he is ours and we are his so we keep on.

    Your blog helped.

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  29. So very well written! We have adopted two boys who have gaping "flesh wounds" one of them we are no longer able to parent. This is Not what we had in mind when we thought adoption!

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  30. Living this. 5 years in... so very true.

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  31. Amen...been there on so many different levels with our 4 adoptive children...would love to know if there was a group of support for our growing families...a struggling journey we are given grace to deal with day by day and looking back we make progress but there is so much to learn and do yet and I am 12 years+ into this journey...

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  32. You are brave... and you are right! Thank you for speaking truth!

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  33. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for your honesty, your sincerity, for sharing your heart. I can't even begin to express how encouraging this was to me. Thank you for helping me feel a little less alone as I struggle to love and care for my son.

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  34. Yes, yes, yes. I do not know you, but I am standing right here with you, sister. The beautiful and the broken all tangled up together. Always.

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  35. Thank you for sharing this hard truth... our adoption ended after a year of struggling to survive the anger with other tiny children in the house and our social worker warning us to give our adopted child up... that is what finally happened. Feels like a complete failure and a death caused by my own shortcomings, but I appreciate you posting how hard it is... because we feel for your struggle and I am praying for you and your little one in tears as I type...

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  36. Your words are so powerful, so true, so Spirit filled. Thank you.

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  37. Thank you! Sometimes it is so hard but others are such a blessing! Nice to know we aren't alone in the way things seem to be going. We just adopted a sibling set of three making us a family of six.

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  38. Check out http://hopeathomeblog.blogspot.com/

    This is a great blog for adoptive families. This lady has raised adopted children to adulthood. SHe has had a long and sometimes difficult road. Her help is in the Lord.

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  39. Thirteen years down the road and the lies, manipulations etc are still happening. Drives me crazy some days. But you are not responsible for anything more than your part. Hang in there. Many of my kids that are now adults are doing well and have since thanked me for sticking with them and apologized for their atrocious behaviors when they were at home. Thanks for speaking the truth.

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  40. Home almost 4 years with the first child we adopted and I can so relate to the gaping flesh wounds. I think finally the wound is healing, but it has been a long.hard.road. with many moments I am not proud of along the way. Truly God has showed me many times over how He must feel when we are so unlovable to Him yet He still reaches out and offers grace and mercy new every morning. I struggled alone for so long thinking there was something wrong with me until I finally found a support group for other adoptive moms. Thank you for posting this publicly. It is often such a relief to others just to know they are not alone when the rose colored glassed are snatched off and stomped to shards.

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  41. Wow...just, wow. Thank you for saying exactly what I am thinking as I plaster a smile on my face as I hear for the I-can't-even-count-the-number-th time how amazing my husband and I are to be the living gospel to a child. I've learned that I have to pretend that we are as saintly as someone thinks (rather than showing the truth that we are drowning in doubt and fatigue), because people don't know how to react when I even show a glimpse of my crazy. I would not change a thing and love my daughters fiercely, but the parenting road of adoption is crazy-hard! I think this article should be required reading for adoptive parents. I feel like you've read my mind!

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    1. I lost my childhood best friend because I showed just a lil of my crazy and it didnt fit with her view of what this 'perfect Angel' needed and that I was in the wrong

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  42. Thank you so much for your honesty. I am an adoptive mom and will pray alongside all who are struggling in their families. Struggle comes in many forms as do blessings. Thankfully God deals uniquely and intimately with each of us. He loves. Your story is such an important word to any considering adoption and salve to those in it. Thank you so much and may God's blessings on you be richly apparent to you.

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  43. This post made me incredible sad and angry. I have read this many times, and have written a response more times than I care to recite. As an adopted child, I could not disagree with you more, because what you described says something about me. I am not anymore broken than any other human being as I am made in God's image. I am not more of a sinner because my mother did not give birth to me. You may not have meant to say that, but you did. I have read this again and again I read you are hurting. You hurt for your child and your inability to erase the pain she has suffered without you there to protect her. You wish you could make her whole, but remember no one is truly whole without the Lord, no matter what our stories are. I will pray for your family and for healing grace.

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    1. Amen! Amen! Amen! (Anon 8:35 11-11)
      As a (transracial toddler international) adoptive parent a US foster parent of many older children, and a Lutheran Pastor, I have a hard time with the "righteousnes" the author expressed here.
      I believe I am living out a calling from God to walk with, parent and nurture the children in my care, but I am NOT their savior! God did not desire the children to be in the situations they have lived. The children have all experienced trauma and pain, but they are no more broken than I am. The suffering some have experienced has been more than most people could survive, more than I'd likely survive.
      My calling to these children is that of patience, endurance, love - even when love feels impossible. I expect no gratitude for 'saving' these beautiful children of God...that'a Christ's redemptive role.
      Love is not enough! The author is right. Support of community, professionals, respite, the adoptive community, adoption professionals, healthy and ever learning adoptive parents... I hear her pain, her isolation, her pain...where is the rest of her community of faith? The family adoptive professionals?
      We cannot and should not romanticize adoption. Neither the 'perfect family' (i.e. biological) as there is no such thing. I have friends with two biological children who suffer in parenting far more than I ever have with my ever changing and growing family.
      We are all saint and sinner simultaneously. We are all ever trying to balance the right/wrong - good/evil in our lives...that's no different for the author's daughter. And just a year into the adoption, she's still in survival mode. My foster training has helped me to realize that kids, in their incredible resilience, generally need to live in a safe, stable and secure envionment 1-2 times as long as they were in their traumatic environment. For everyone trust takes time, for someone who has experienced trauma, trust take all the longer. She has potential...she too is created in God's image, she has been saved by Christ, she can experience healing, but getting there will not be easy, quick or painless...and if it's possible to put yourself into the shoes of your daughter, you'll begin to see her pain is as great or even far greater than your own. She's still fighting to survive!
      I am really concerned about the author and her family. Help, professional help is needed.
      In the mean time I offer what I can, which are my prayers for grace, patience, peace, forgiveness and healing

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    2. Uhhhh your a pastor and you pass such judgement. Im sure you have not experienced the significance of the attachment trauma and behaviors because those older children you fostered arent attaching ir feeling threatened by attachment. This woman ckearly had a child w reactive attachment disorder. You have no udea. May her pen be ger therapy because raising a child with emotional disturbance us truly gods work!

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  44. We adopted 6 children, and I have been where you are daily. It has been seven years, and I still think the unthinkable sometimes. I want so.badly to fix my children, but I can't. I catch myself just counting down the days until they turn 18. Heartbreaking.

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    1. I do the same at times "counting down the days until they turn 18". But what then? They will still be our children. They will still need support and guidance. I would like to hear from those with adult children about how that relationship looks.

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  45. Beautifully written. Thank you for having the courage to love when it's hard and the strength of conviction to share this journey! We have two older children adopted one year ago. For one the change was much easier than the other even though they are biological siblings with the same upbringing and the same story. But God continues to change me too through this and I am beginning to see His purposes.

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  46. this was pretty well written. As an adoptee i have struggled my whole life with sense of self worth and belonging. its not very often that the trauma of adoption is spotlighted. there will always be trauma even as a newborn, and has been swept under the rug and ignored in order to paint adoption as a beautiful thing for all involved, thank you for not giving up on this child, my heart breaks every time i read of a child being rehomed again because the family gives up.it only reinstills the message that you are unlovable and unworthy. some great reading to help you understand the adoptees side of things....the primal wound by nancy verrier, and adoption healing a path to recovery, by joe soll

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  47. As many have said already... Thank you for saying how I feel and encouraging the rest of us.I am at a point (8 years in to it) and I feel hopeless. My child hates me and the world. It breaks my heart. Only God can surgically wash the wounds and start the healing process. I keep praying for it to happen...

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  48. Thank you for this article showing your heart wide open. We are currently working with families who are adopting, and this article truly touches the realities involved in a realistic and good way. May God bless you and each of the people you impact as you continue to go forward! May He give you the strength and encouragement you need each step of the way.

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  49. Thank you for this. It takes guts to say this out loud. I have a blog too, but the last several months have been so all consuming I haven't even had time to write. I have 2 adopted and 4 bio. Its been very hard. I will just leave it here so you know you are not alone. www.composinghope.com

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  50. It IS hard, even when adopting a baby! Since adopting my son 26 years ago, I've become a firm believer in genetics! We just don't GET him, and vice versa. It's finally better, now that he's off on his own, but I've just never bonded to him, and with my biological daughter it was instantaneous and forever (she is my favorite person in the world--there's nobody I'd rather spend time with!). But he, not sharing our genes, has always been a mystery to me. So yes, adoption is hard, no matter the situation...

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    1. Yes I was adopted to and never bonded to my adoptive mother . I never accepted her , and to be truly honest the day she died was like a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders. I was finally rid of her and my adoptive family. All this stuff about gods will gift from god crap just turned me into an atheist . The do gooders at church just made me sick. I wish more adopters would be honest and accept that adoption sucks.

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    2. formerly, not a great supporter of genetics in human behavior, I am now. thank you for these honest posts. just wish I had had support like this when raising my daughter. thank you and keep the honesty coming....

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    3. Anonymous November 12, 2014 at 5:54 PM

      I'm really sorry to hear that. You're right. The church "do-gooders" are what Jesus called the Pharisees. We are all broken sinners and there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ, He is our only hope. I hope that you can see that one day.

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  51. As a child who went through similar things to your daughter, I can tell you that the black hole inside her may yet be filled with your love. In my case it took many, many loving adults to fill that hole, and a church family where pretty much everyone had to act as a parent to me while I lied and destroyed and hurt and healed. But eventually my walls came down; eventually I learned to trust. Your awareness of what she's going through and your willingness not to give up are her only hope. There will be light at the end of the long, long tunnel.

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  52. Amen & Amen! Your wisdom to all parties at the close is spot on. Thank you.

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  53. There are so many of us out there, trying our best every day to love these kiddos, but it's not us who ultimately can save them, it is only God. During the first few years, I thought I could do this, but now almost 7 years into it, I know I cannot, it is only by God's grace and His love that my child will be healed and only in His timing...I wish there was more education out there during the pre-adoptive stages to help naïve couples and families to know what they are getting into and how to handle it when it happens, I think that is a missing link. Anyway, very well said and thank you for opening up and sharing, it is always a wonderful thing when the truth is revealed.

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    1. wonderful and honest post. I also wish there were more pre-adoption information and support available. not to discourage potential adoptive parents, but to educate and provide insights as to available resources for them should they perceive their experience as a challenge.

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  54. We have fostered 9 children for different lengths of time. 4 of them are now carrying our last name! The youngest of our foster kids is about to get our last name also.
    Our story is different and the same. I wouldn't want to undo anything we have been through because of who we have grown to be today.
    Fostering and adoption is a family thing. Our kids are now involved in the process as they need to be. After all, this is a family thing.
    Anyone considering adoption, get ready to be more than you ever thought possible. God will reshape you and you will love it. The reshaping is tough, but the end result is awesome!

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  55. As a single adoptive & foster-to-adoptive parent who has been at wits end again and again, I too give thanks for the struggles our family has experiences - I hate the pain, the distrust, the anger, the trauma - but through all those things we've grown and learnes to flourish.

    In the moment they can be hell-on-earth. I give thanks for my church community, adoption profesionals, therapists (at one time our family saw 3 different therapists due to the needs present!), doctors, my family, and God for support, occasional respite, and love.

    I hold the family in prayer - may they recieve the help they need to experience forgiveness, love, and love.

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  56. Amen and Appreciation to You. This is spot on. We read and pray and prepare, but you never know what you're really going to get. Our sons are such amazing blessings, and we are so glad the God chose to give them to us. But truly, the never-ending hurdles make one's head swim, and those on the outside can not relate. Thank you for the breath of reality!

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  57. We adopted our daughter 16 and half years ago. She is 18 now and we struggle everyday with what she took with her from the orphanage. She has been in therapy since she was 5 years old. She does not have good friends, though she is loved by many. She does not do well in school and does not have a plan for the future of any kind, though she has been very well supported by her school staff and many professionals. I don't know what we'd do without all of this, but especially am thankful for the love we have for her from Jesus. Despite all of these sad things, she is still so much better off with us. By now she would be living on the streets and would have no future. That is reality. That is what adoptive parents need to know.

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    1. Because you purchased a child from overseas. You treated yourself to a thrill. You knew it was wrong, didn't give a damn and did it anyways.

      It's kind of awesome to see selfish baby buyers getting exactly what they deserve.

      (My three? Drug and alcohol exposed? Seriously neglected girlies, adopted from US foster care at ages 17, 8 and 6 years old? Were all college grads by age 22. Literally indistinguishable from my loved-from-the-second-she-was-conceived biological daughter.

      The fact that your girl has done so miserably is partly - not entirely, but a BIG partly -- your fault. Low standards and excuses. My adopted kids THRIVED, despite the worst possible start to their lives. Anything's possible!).

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    2. Hi, "Anonymous". First I want to say that I am so thankful that your three girls are well adjusted adults. That is really awesome to hear!

      I'm not sure if you know the person you replied to or if this was intended for myself as the original poster. I assume the latter? If that's the case, I want to share with you that we actually live permanently here in Brazil where we adopted from and therefore adopted through the domestic system and didn't "pay" anything for her as here in Brazil domestic adoptions are free. I can relate to you as my daughter also come from a background with drugs and alcohol and had a very difficult start, raising herself on the street.

      I think I hear from your post that you feel international adoption is wrong? It's true that there is an overwhelming amount of corruption in the international adoption system. I have heard of bribing and people stealing newborns to "sell" to adoptive families. So tragic I don't have words. I pray that there are people on the "inside" who are fighting for justice and reform in this system. However, I think it's good to remember that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of adoptive families out there who are adopting internationally for all the right reasons and they love and cherish their adopted children just as they would or do their biological children. That is certainly the case for us.

      This post to express the difficulties that many adoptive parents face. I think it would be good to remember that parents long to have strong, healthy, well adapted children, that includes adopted children. So when we come face to face with the fact that our adopted child has a very real emotional/physical/psychological issue, it breaks our heart and can be very overwhelming, just like if it were a biological child. So if a biological parent were to write a post talking the hard truth of how challenging and often overwhelming it is for their family to face these distinct issues every day, would you have the same issue with that parent? Probably not. My thought is that we need to bring light to the fact that just because adoption is beautiful doesn't mean it is easy. Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and many others are very real things that can wreak havoc on the lives of the children, but also the families.

      I hope that you will learn to have compassion for those whose children are struggling as well as for the parents who feel overwhelmed because they want so badly for their adopted children to FEEL the immense love they have for them.

      Also, it would be good to remember that, while it is easy to post an "anonymous" comment on a blog post and move on, there are real people on the other side of the screen and we should speak in a respectful way, even if our opinions differ greatly. We never know all the circumstances of anyone's situation but our own.

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    3. Meh. Praying that you get the help you need.

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  58. As I was reading this I saw so many of my own thoughts and words. What I was not prepared for in my role as an adoptive parent was what I would learn about myself. The journey is long, arduous and truly ugly, which makes the joy that does come in between all the more sweet. 11 years in and all six adopted siblings are still with us even though many of their wounds still exist. We are a family now. Improvement comes in baby steps. Thank you and know that you are not alone. God's grace continues to hold us up.

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  59. This blog post is everything I experience daily with my two who have been home for 1.5 years. Thank you! Thank you for posting!

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  60. This was wonderful! Thank you so much for writing it so honestly! I have printed it out to read again on bad days!

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  61. Thanks for sharing this. The comment about trying to start a support group for adoptive parents is a great idea. Today in this media-world some support and encouragement comes through communicating online with others, and having a Christian perspective is great. Your story starts out so much like our story - two healthy kids, a boy and a girl, yet this desire to adopt a child who needs a home. God did bless my husband and me by allowing us to adopt a little girl, a 9-year old whirlwind who became our oldest child, one who grew up on the streets of Mexico, fed from trash cans by her two brothers a few years older than them. When she arrived in our home, the "honeymoon" period did not last long! So much of our time and efforts were given to her and our other children suffered. There was little help 40 years ago, counseling efforts were always about what we as parents might be doing wrong! But our Lord was always with us, guiding and encouraging us through His Word and reminding us that He chose this beautiful little girl to be a special part of our family. Adopting her was the hardest trial we went through as a couple, even harder than my battling cancer a few years earlier. Our parents always loved her and supported us; what a blessing their support was even though they lived 100 miles away. Today she is wonderful Christian lady - married for many years to one man, has one son, served in our military for four years, is a registered nurse, ministers to people considering abortion through pro-life efforts, and is active in her church. Her life became meaningful and full when she gave her life to Christ as her Savior a few years ago. We praise God for His grace, help, comfort and guidance, and we always knew that God had called us to this ministry and would equip us with what we needed for each moment. He will do the same for you! Perhaps it will take years before you see positive changes, but with God's help you can keep doing your best to love and nurture this little girl he has blessed you with. Thanks for sharing your story and allowing me to share my story of God's grace. I know many folks will be praying for you and your family.

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  62. thanks for posting this. We have just recently taken in a child who needed a home from our own community. I already have 4 of my own and the older two have really struggled with the change in the family dynamic. The frustration, resentment, sadness, and anger from them makes me worry about our choice. While I know that I can trust God to get us through anything, it is truly encouraging to know that I am not the only one struggling with these feelings and worries about my family.

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  63. I love the anonymous comment from above that encourages you to step out of the "sinner/saint" view of your daughter's behavior. As a child mental health therapist, I would agree that adoption often comes out of suffering - whether suffering for the birth parents, extended family or adoptee. But your daughter is not "broken." I love the patience and desire to persevere through the difficulty I sense from your words. Developmentally she is probably very young, and it will take a while for her to feel safe.
    Secondly, as an adult adoptee, I want to encourage you to be careful with saying things like 'all adopted kids have wounds.' I was adopted at birth, and damn straight that made a difference. My adoption has impacted me, for sure. But I am a healthy, secure woman with fulfilling relationships. I grew up in a home where I never felt "less loved" because of my status as adopted, and I am more well-adjusted than many non-adopted individuals, thanks to the secure, loving environment I grew up in. When people look at me and assume I must be "wounded" because I was adopted, I know it's their own projection.

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    1. Your comment is great. While I agree that people are likely projecting wounds on you and others... many children ARE wounded. Because that isn't the case for you, doesn't mean it isn't the case for someone else. And I think adoptees need your empathy. One of my children does feel wounded. He feels different, broken, and worthless. I have hope that he can heal and that he won't carry those wounds into adulthood. The more his dad and I -- and all the other loving adults in his life validate those hopeless feelings, the easier time he will have healing.

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  64. Ashley, I don't usually comment on blogs, but I had to say thank you... you have put into words my thoughts that no one wants to hear. Our neighbors, friends, church members and even family want to emphasize how "wonderful" everything is.

    We adopted a 5 yo girl last year and on the outside she is a completely new child... truly beautiful (amazing what nutrition, hygiene and a dentist can do) and so smart she has gone from knowing zero english to above grade level. But the lies and manipulation are something she sees as her lifeline and cannot let go of. Of course we worried about her attachment to us but since we already had two "ideal" children who we loved beyond words, why would we consider if it would be hard to love her? No loving parent who is not in this situation can understand. You think your love is truly unconditional, but it is HARD to fully love and serve (much of parenthood is servitude) a child who does not love you back. Especially one who tries hard to find passive aggressive ways to hurt you because they are so hurt themselves.

    I am still an advocate for older child adoption but I would strongly caution a family who already has healthy children in their care. As the adults you are making this decision but the other children in your home will also have to live with the consequences. It has been the hardest 18 months of our lives. We will continue to fight for her but it would make it so much easier if we could be honest without judgement. Thank you!!!

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  65. We have been walking this extremely difficult road for 16 years now. It has helped us tremendously to look at adoption as a ministry God has called our family to, not as just another way to build a family. After having two birth children, we adopted five at ages 4-8 from overseas, from trauma backgrounds. Even at their present ages of late teens to early twenties, some of them are still struggling with many issues, including learning to trust (and this comes out in many ugly ways). But, praise the Lord, our kids are still breathing and God is still on His throne, so there is still hope!!!

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  66. Such a good insight into what adoption often is--a rocky road with plenty of need for prayer. After 5 bio kids and a rather happy family, we adopted older siblings (2 sisters, then 12 & 14) and then later added a set of twins (then 6) Now, 8 years later, I wish we had had the insight then that we have now. Adoption is a wonderful journey, but is definitely filled with struggles and prayer is what helped us through those rocky times!

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  67. Thank you so much for writing this. We are a few years into a difficult adoption, trusting the Lord for the grace to complete each day. Praying for your precious family as you honor Him!

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  68. Thank you for your honesty. As an adoptive mom of 14 years, I can concur to this side that causes embarrassment, shame and guilt. Not many can understand, but for those of us who do, an honest heart helps so much. God Bless. debbie...... www.momonassignment.blogspot.com

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  69. This just about broke me. In so many ways. I guess the largest is that I feel crazy for having some of these same feelings. When I try to articulate how I feel or the struggle we face I get the most inane remarks back... My favorite... "but she is so cute!!" I am left giving a blank stare and thinking in my head... what in the *%#%(&# does that have to do with anything? Yeah... Ok ... I get it... She is cute and adorable. That does not change the challenge we face every day, the sensitivity issues due to the drugs that were ingested during the pregnancy, the fact that she is almost 3 and is going through that defiant going to fight you in every way possible. The fear I have of the fact that she comes from a family of addiction issues. We got her very young... she was 20 months old... That doesn't mean that everything is peachy keen. Thank you for this. Seriously... Thank you!

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  70. Amen.
    We adopted a beautiful and broken 11 year old 8 years ago. God has loved him through me, because there were days and weeks when I didn't even like him - yet God has continually renewed my love for this boy. We eventually placed him in a therapeutic campus - far away. Not exactly my picture of adoption. Its been 2 years and he is finally healing and growing and maturing ~ making his way back home, most likely by the end of February. I have written about our story too because others need to know its not always very pretty. Thanks for sharing yours.
    http://motherofthewhat.com/category/adoption/

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  71. Thank you!!! Your post is a blessing to us that love the difficult to love. Adoption is so much more than the world knows. God has called us to suffer so that others may have their suffering eased. He covers this initially as He covered Mt Sinai with a cloud to conceal himself from the Israelites while He spoke with Moses. They were not ready to see God and He protected them. We are not ready in the beginning to know all that we will endure with our children so he protects us. As we experience our children's deepest fears, we realize ours. We take refuge in Him and we love because He loves us. Without Him we could not. Thank you for sharing honestly. It empowers us all.

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  72. Tears falling...
    Thank you.
    Sending prayers...

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  73. Thank you! I pray God gives you insight in every earthly situation!

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  74. I too had tears come to my eyes as I read your post and the comments from others. I AM NOT ALONE! Our children are now all adults but the process of raising them was difficult at times. I often wondered if we had done the right thing. I thought I was the only one who felt like this! I do get frustrated by well meaning people who praise our efforts in raising these children. ..don't biological parents stick with their kids through thick and thin? Why is it such a great feat when adoptive parents do it?! Still, it hurts when I hear that others are talking about our children. Rather than criticize I'd love to see them come along side and mentor them! Help reinforce the things we attempted to teach them. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your heart and journey. May God bless your efforts in raising your child for Him and may she find true love in Him.

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  75. Both of our adoptions were so different. Ike was adopted through CPS and no real hitches until he hit 18 mo old and the effects of drug/alcohol use prenatally kicked in and his learning was affected. THEN the roller coaster started and we are still on it. Our adoption of SW was not planned. A former student of mine, just kind of fell into our laps with the warning that "teens are really too hard to adopt-too much baggage". She took off like a rocket in our care-she was much easier and still is. I have a healthy respect for adoption where as the old pre adoption me thought it was all blue or pink fluffy blankets and everyone clapping. haha. Not so. Keep on loving them. That is what I keep chanting when things so south:)

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  76. I read this post, today, 11/12/14, on our youngest son's 22nd birthday. We have three adoptive sons, all were older and from another country. Bernie is estranged from us, so I sent birthday wishes by text. He has paranoid schizophrenia, and has consumed quite a bit of synthetic pot, so that his sense of paranoia is heightened. He arrived nearly 18 years ago. Though it's been extremely difficult, I praise God for being permitted to be in the lives of our three sons. Ladies you are not alone, and now, neither am I.

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  77. Hard to believe that the original poster would use this situation and write about it to make it worse by getting support from others that struggle. What she needed to do was write an affirmation of how wonderful it will be very soon if her attitude about it could change and hope can come in. Instead she is asking for sympathy for her instead of for the baby which would have been achieved if she talked about how poorly she herself had done it with her options and choices. We need to be the changes in this world. To the positive. Ask how to do it better instead of telling people how hard it is. Many children need parents, do not scare them away with this kind of writing. So sad.....I have adopted a sibling group of 4 and the oldest remembers her mommy. Yes, we have some issues with that, but I chose this, it is not her problem, it is mine to solve. Do not adopt unless you commit wholeheartedly. Amen.

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  78. Two sides to every coin. Please don't take this comment personally because I don't even know you personally. I'm not trying to judge you just commenting on what you posted. Not knowing your situation but I see a lot of "we" had a hard time in your post, and how difficult it was for YOU not to have that perfect family that YOU wanted. Me, me, me, I, I, I. Sorry but it sounds like you adopted for all the wrong reasons. Did you adopt to make yourself feel better or for the sole purpose of saving one of the least of us, a helpless child? It's easy to love a good child, but the hard kids are the ones who give you the OPPORTUNITY to find the true ability to love. No one is perfect and sometimes we don't know how to show love and discipline at the same time. For the sake of all your children please get some help and take some parenting classes. Remember that God sacrificed the very life of His OWN Son Jesus to save us, his adopted children, and not just the ones who were nice or pretty. In your prayers, consider everything you are willing to sacrifice to save another as Jesus has saved you. Your reward will be ten-fold and much much greater than that perfect family photo on Facebook. And keep in mind that this child will always remember you, good or bad, and when you are old and gray she may be the only one left to care for you. Choose wisely.

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    1. Hi Anonymous - Just curious -- how many wounded children have you adopted? My husband and I have adopted 4. It is hard! Don't judge until you have walked the road.

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    2. I'm sorry, but this is just so rude I couldn't not comment. Do you know there's someone on the other side reading your ugly words? Telling her not to take it personally because YOU DON'T KNOW HER then going on to telling her she needs parenting classes and basically calling her self-centered makes no sense. I'm 100% sure she didnt adopt to make herself feel better, just like she didnt give up a comfy life in the States and moved to the middle-of-nowhere in Brazil to make herself feel better. I'm pretty sure this woman has "considered everything she's willing to sacrifice to save another as Jesus has saved her" and the answer to that was EVERYTHING. Since she gave up a nice lifestyle to be away from her family and friends, to struggle with language barriers and many other things JUST to see people come to the Lord. In the future, please choose your words wisely as there's someone on the other side of the screen reading and being affected by the rudeness you write.

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  79. So, bottom line, let's all choose mercy over judgment and remember that God has adopted us all as his sons and daughers...(and truth be told, those of us who have given birth to our own flesh and blood have days where we don't like our children either!) like is a feeling/love is a choice :)

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  80. Thank you for your transparency and honesty. I'm sorry for the commenters who have chosen to judge and criticize rather than to see the redeeming love that truly comes through this post. Before bringing a 10 year old boy into our home, I remember a time with God when I realized that I needed to give up my ideal of the "perfect" family before we said yes; I needed to accept that our family's "look" might change. I thought I was prepared but I wasn't truly prepared. I choose each morning to love my son along with our biological children, our "Disney Land" adoption and our most recent special needs adoption. And most days I am again faced with a child who doesn't want me, his fifth mother figure; a child who is just waiting for me to leave him like all of the others. But that's the difference - I'm not leaving - and there's the hope that I also read in your post. We love because He first loved us. We choose to see the progress and the real child that's in there, wanting to come out. We press on. But we also need to be honest so that others know that they are not alone. We need to be vulnerable so others can walk alongside of us. We need people to pray for our homes and for our children. We need people to take a child or two for an evening or a weekend, to give us a much needed break. We need people to be prepared as they walk into adoption. Sometimes it's a Disney Land adoption but sometimes it's much, much harder than we could ever have imagined. Not being prepared, that's when families crumble and children are rejected and sometimes sent away - again. Families struggle and our children from hard places often struggle more but God is good and God is faithful. Thank you for speaking the truth of the journey but also the truth of God's love for our children and for us.

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  81. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are not alone. We've adopted 4 beautiful children and even though this path is laden with difficulties, it is worth it. Your story is similar to our experience with one of our daughters. I've had to fight through so much to pull her to a place where she feels safe and loved. Honestly - I didn't like her much the first year or so. But I kept my faith and had dear sisters in Christ who also had adopted hurting kids. The result-- 5 1/2 years later -- I am crazy for this precious girl!! I wouldn't trade a moment of the journey -- all the times we had to hold her while her rage came out, the counseling, the books we read, the doubts we felt, even the times she spit in my face or kicked me! I am wiping tears now because she is a joy and a very great blessing. Fight the good fight dear sister:)

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  82. The replies judging and criticizing the author leave me heartbroken for her. The author clearly loves and advocates for her adoptive daughter. This post, however, was about the struggles the parents face. It is ludicrous to think that we need to pretend that this journey isn't hard. So, if you have never adopted a child from a hard place, take the author's advice and throw up a prayer for any adoptive family rather than throwing stones at one offering support to the rest of us. This is EXACTLY why I have a group of friends in a similar situation, and we talk about how we need each other because each friend is a "safe place," meaning that we can lay bare our souls and our sin while knowing that the group knows that we love our children to the core. We can speak the truth plainly, as this author has, without fear of judgment. We can expect support, encouragement, prayer, or a shoulder to cry on without having our words thrown back at us. Don't you realize that each word or criticism causes us to build our own walls, feeling yet more isolated. And that is the author's point, right? That we would be able to speak with truth and say this is hard? That those of us parenting kids from hard places wouldn't feel so alone?

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  83. Thank you for sharing! It is so hard and those who have not been there simply do not understand until they have walked a mile in your shoes. We have grown so much closer to God through our adoption, but never have we been so alone. Those we thought were friends and fellow Christians have accused us of everything from "lack of faith" to bad attitude, to outright child abuse. They all want to tell us how we were doing it wrong. It's easy to sit in judgment when they have never stepped out in faith. We adopted children because we felt God was calling us to do so, because we wanted to be obedient. We know God is in control, but it has been very difficult. We are still waiting to see the end of the story that God is writing in our adoptive girls' lives. We love them and trust that His perfect will be done in their lives. To "Anonymous" I would say, do not judge us or Ashley. You have no idea of our trials and the tears we have shed over our children. Your "holier than thou" attitude does not help!

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  84. It is sad to hear the story of your adopted daughter. I was adopted as an infant. Even after 46 years, I still feel like an outsider looking in. They don't look like me, act like me, there are no real ties that bind except for the love I feel for them. My older adopted brother also couldn't be more different. From an early age he not only showed hostility and jealously toward me, but toward my family. He is abusive to all who have cared about him and demands that they take care of him. My parents are bewildered as to where they went wrong, having brought up us in in the church and gave us the tools we needed to be productive members of society. I do realize your situation with your daughter is different and bless you for all you have done to help and love her. Adoption is not easy choice for a couple to make...but remember it is also not easy for ALL the children involved.

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    1. So how do we as adopted parents make the path easier for our children?

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  85. Yes. This. Oh, Ashley, you've hit the nail on the head. This road is HARD and UGLY. We adopted a five year old girl five months ago. At first, we thought everything was fine, but we quickly realized she had huge gaping wounds. If I were to write a book about what has gone on since she stepped through our front door, people would think it was horror fiction because it is some unbelievable stuff. Thank you for speaking truth!

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  86. As the grandmother of an adopted child with OCD and other issues, I can relate to many of the things you face...at least a little because I live with them.I am very thankful for each of you who have adopted wounded children. I also have a daughter who has 2 bio children who are on the autism spectrum.They act like wounded children even though they live in a 2 parent loving family.There are times that my grand-daughter is totally out of control My brother-in-law and wife do foster care. They have been fostering for 12 years and are usually given the preschoolers who are the most wounded. They set clear boundaries and consequences from the very beginning. She told me that one time she put a child in timeout 25 times before he learned she meant what she said. He was only 3 but as she left the room she heard him say "Damn, she really means what she says." The next day his brother was out in time out and as he started to get up he was told"You might as well just sit there, she will just put you back if you get up". She said 'you don't argue with a preschooler'. Just make the rule and the consequence clear and carry thru after 1 warning.It truly helps to give them boundaries. I'm not criticizing ANY of you and I know this doesn't answer the core issue but I just want you to know that there are foster parents that are trying their best to make an impact in the lives of your future children. All this to say, Keep seeking God's will. You never know what an impact you are having on these children. Satan would love for you to give up so he could destroy them.

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  87. Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in a home as a biological child, with adopted siblings. Yes, what you say is true. Folks always talk about how great it was to adopt and how all the kids need is love. Horse radishes, there was so much more to it than most know. Thank you for talking openly and honestly about this. God bless you, and your family. Sending you love and support and prayers

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  88. Wow - I'm a missionary too and that's one of the most honest blogs I think I've ever read. Thank you for the encouragement that life is messy and hard. Really encouraged my heart today.

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  89. It's difficult to be continuously undermined by the "church family" but over the years God has used that to draw us closer to Himself. There is little if any compassion for the struggling parents; much easier to give high-fives and love on a cute kid. This reinforces the belief that the A-parents just need to give more love, and that other people know your kids better than you. We've had to keep those in the church at arm's length emotionally (which furthers the belief that we are cold and unfeeling) lest we be torn apart. All leeway and forgiveness is extended to divorcees and other hurting folk (which is how it should be) but adoptive parents get no such grace unless we pretend everything's fine. Thank you for this article. May God bless you as you seek His face.

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  90. Thanks for this - we really can identify with your experience It's been four years since we asked God "what next?" and then he led us down the road of adoption. We also bought in to the glamorized adoption stories in the shiny Holt magazines as we prepared to adopt a 2-year-old boy from China with a cleft lip & palate. But as we held him in our hotel room that first night in China we cried - sobbed - as the first glimmer of what lies ahead settled in. Our son has been home for 3 years, and has severe autism, severe food insecurities, and PTSD from the horrible orphanage he was in. By God's grace, we have found quite a bit of support in the autism community and in our public school - but I agree that the church and the adoption community needs to better help families with tough adoptions. Thank you again, and may God bless your family!

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  91. Thank you. So beautifully written.

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  92. Well stated. We, along with several other friends who adopted, have experienced most of what you wrote. Our children are now young adults (almost 25) and are not yet healed, and have birthed 5 children between them. Praying for God's hand of protection on the kiddos. I understand that the book "Wounded Heart" can provide more insight. Thank you for being authentic and encouraging!

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  93. My 22 year old biological daughter sent this blog to me in a private message so that her 19 year old adopted sister would not see it - yet wanted me to be encouraged by it. We fostered our daughter for 2 years and finally adopted her when she was 16. Six months ago, immediately after her graduation ceremony, she left, came home a week later for the party we had and left right after and has not returned. The journey from age 14 to graduation was difficult. My two birth daughters learned a lot about unconditional love, and gained strength in learning to care about someone who will/can not return that love, but it left its scars as well. We all pray for this child, only God can bring His will into her life - she knows Him - we only pray that she will once again listen to Him and even if she never returns to us - we pray she returns to Him. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  94. I by chance came across your page this morning. I felt like you were writing my story. It has been 12 years since we adopted our two children from Russia and I've never heard anyone else share the truth. Thank you for having the courage to share the reality of adoption with so much love and faith.

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  95. I googled that too. :(

    You are are beautiful mouthpiece, thank you for writing this. We too had he perfect little family and then added #3 via adoption. A preschooler with special needs. Amazing how much you don't know and how much you need God to make it through the day.

    What an encouragement!

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  96. Thank you for your story. In 1990 we adopted an 11 yr old orphan from Moscow. Previously we had adopted 2 infants from Korea. I was not prepared for the journey ahead, and I guess my pride kept me from reaching out and expressing myself as you have. It was truly the "learning to love" story, and now looking back how I wish I would have had more wisdom.. but I need to stop looking back and be thankful for where we are today. God bless you.

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  97. This post saved me today. I was feeling so guilty for not "loving" my adopted kid like my bio kids and knowing that I am not alone in feeling so depressed in this difficult journey seriously relieved me of more stress than you can imagine. Thank you.

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  98. Oh my goodness. This story is so true. I am adopted myself, and I always knew I wanted to adopt. We adopted 3 siblings from a south american country, ages 3, 4, and 5. We went from 0 to 3 non english speaking fully mobile children who had lived on the street and in orphanages. To say that it has been hard is the understatement of the century. We are 5 years into this wonderful new life, and some days we just weep with exhaustion; dying to our expectations and living up to the life which God has chosen to give us--the crazy, nuts, insane beauty and sadness of it all--has been the hardest ride of our lives. Our kids continue to struggle. But they are our kids, I wouldn't trade them for anything, and I'd fight anyone to the death who tried to take them from me. Although...some days, I feel like I might like to sell them to the gypsies. Ok, probably not. But you know how I feel! I have never learned so much about my own sinful nature as when I see my beautiful children look at me with their giant brown eyes and lie to me with utter sincerity. Anyway, this is to say that this article was water in the desert for me. With love from thankgoodnessitsus.blogspot.com.

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  99. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have family members who don't understand what a struggle it is to raise an adopted child. They think I'm a monster for wishing we could go back and change our minds. I have a master manipulator, a control freak stemming from 2 years in an orphanage where she had little to no contact with caregivers. She was malnourished and so very, very pale. But she is smarter than smart and cuter than cute. Yet it is still way harder than I ever imagined. We need more posts like this for people like us so that we know we are not alone! Bless you for your honesty and sharing your unimaginably tough story!

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  100. Thank you, Ashley, for this post. You write so beautifully and you are so transparent and honest. Thank you for this new insight into adoption. I was adopted at 3 months from South Korea but never was thought or referred to as "store brought" or a "slave". God places a desire on the hearts of those who want to adopt and brings those families together.
    I was given an American name and their last name and was given new opportunities. What would happen if I wasn't adopted? Maybe I wouldn't have gone to church, heard the Gospel, and get saved. Who knows? When my adoptive parents die, as their children and heirs, my brother (who is adopted too) and I will get an inheritance from them. It doesn't matter if we look like our adoptive parents or not. It's about love and not giving up on each other. After being adopted into God's family at the time of our salvation, we become His sons and daughters and His heirs. All that is His we will have.

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  101. Thank you for this. We are raising my niece that had been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. It's so easy to say,"give me that child I will raise then right. " But once into it you really realize how hard it truly is. I never thought I would have to make a conscience decision to love her every day. My whole family and my children have made sacrifices. It's been hard but I know God is working in her and in us. She would be lost without us. On the upside she's been with us for over a year and I've started to see major improvement and genuine love and attachment to us.

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  102. It is just one day at a time, but it can be done. My RAD son graduated high school and moved out over a year ago. He is living independently so we could not ask for more! It was only by God's grace we endured.

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  103. As the mom of 4, I was a little cocky about adoption. Pretty sure I packed a shirt reading, "NAILED IT!" in my suitcase as we traveled to adopt our 2 yr. old daughter. So, it was more than devastating when she REJECTED me (screaming if I tried to sit near her at dinner, scratching my face when I got too close, biting me, etc…) Through tears, I screamed to my husband that she was not my child and I wanted to give her back. I felt so much guilt over that one that I wanted to die. I am a disciple of Christ. I should have been able to handle it. I can now see that it was a huge refining process for me. God had some serious work to do in my heart before I was ever ready to parent such a hurt little girl. He almost had to allow me to be broken, so I could get a very small taste of the pain my daughter carries. Thank you for your honest words. I love the raw transparency in your post! You encouraged me greatly today!!!

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  104. Thank you so much for posting some of the most honest words I have read in a long time. My husband and I adopted a 2 year old little boy just over 2 months ago. These past 2 months have been the greatest weeks and the hardest weeks of my entire life. It isn't easy helping a 2 year old who doesn't understand anything that he is safe and loved. It isn't easy to give so much love and still get blank stares when you ask him for a hug or a kiss. Thank you for the encouragement and the reminder that this is a stepping stone and just a transition phase. Thank you. I couldn't have found this blog post at a better time. I felt guilty for my feelings and felt alone. It is so refreshing to see that I am normal!

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  105. A very real and honest post. Thanks for being so candid.
    Shame on those that condemn you for it.
    I have had my daughter home for 9 years. It was hard then, it is hard now. It is HARD. Adoption therapy has helped and we are back at it now. Thankfully, we get this resource free since ours was a foster care adoption. It is too bad that it is not offered to all adoptive parents.

    I very recently read "Wounded Children, Healing Homes". I highly recommend it. Love that book.

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    1. As a grown, older sibling of 3 adopted children. The book 'the primal wound' was essential to helping understand, and cope with, my youngest brothers behavior through the years. He struggled with behavior, ADHD, academics, not social or sports- but authority. He was on the wrong road, and my folks had to send him to a school, for everyone's benefit. Of course that bread even more anger, as a teen- but he was able to come home and by the grace of God- graduate from High School.
      He held the torch of anger toward all of us, and especially our mother, as I can only imagine- but be heartbreaking. He went off to support himself, get married, have a child of his own, and to have that marriage fail.
      He seemed to start changing at that time, and on his last visit home, he told my mom, he loved her- he hadn't done that in at least 20 years! That is Gods love, grace, spirit working in him.

      He also apologized to my sister - who their relationship had been strained by past physical aggression and fueled by anger so deep within. They both cried, when I heard about it, I cried too.

      I share this story, Ben's story, because, I never stopped loving him- but our families love wasn't enough. God needed time, maturity, wisdom.

      It may not happen for all, and I'm not saying he's perfect- but our families gaping wound can begin to heal. It wasn't easy.

      As my older brother and I would sometimes wonder why my parents took on the three little children- said through a silent glance at the dinner table.

      Bens story is far from unique, but I hope it can provide hope. If your struggling with an ODD, ADHD child with "the primal wound", God has done it with Ben, he can do it again!

      I will pray for you all!
      Ps: Ben is loving brother, uncle and Father and I look forward to our next chapter in this book of life!

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  106. Amen! With the help of God and strong faith and friends and understanding and love of family, we have made it through 25 years of adopting four children, with many failures and some successes thrown in.

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  107. Just, yeah. All the words--I have written similar ones myself and I love how honest you are. Thank you for writing and for telling the truth.

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  108. We also have experienced adoption (actually three times). Our story did not turn out so well. We adopted three siblings and the older two(we got the youngest at birth) were more hurt. They ended up becoming so violent that the youngest now suffers PTSD from the abuse he endured at their hands. After nine years we sadly had no choice but to let them go back into the system and they remain broken and in the hands of a system that is also broken. I will never quit missing them, loving them and praying for them. My heart is broken. It has been three years now and I still hurt. My ten year old still doesn't sleep through the night because of nightmares. My prayer is that one day the older two will realize we did all we could to help them. Praying for you as you go about daily making a difference, God's blessings to all mother's out there who are doing their best!!

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  109. Oh if we only had time to write a book (but that's not going to happen any time soon). In early 2012 we started our journey to bring home a 13yo girl from China. We came home in early 2013 with our 13yo girl and an 11yo girl. Both were abandoned at later ages (around 8 and 9 years old).

    The stories we could tell of the meltdowns, tantrums, destruction, anger, sadness... are myriad. It is stunning to see the effects of a child who has grown up without love, nurture, instruction, education, direction and development. All the training in the world (and we had plenty) will not prepare one for the day-to-day battle for the heart and soul of these precious ones.

    Yes, our girls have come a long way. Yes, we love them immensely and would go back and do it all over again. But adoption is definitely not for the faint of heart. Our faith in God and the strength of God is what has carried us thus far in our journey.

    We can relate to many things told in this story. We were empty-nesters, having trained up two children (now well into adulthood). We had the 'good life' as it may be said. But we knew in our hearts that there was something much greater in life to live for than running, baseball games and grandchildren.

    We are incredibly blessed to have our two Chinese princesses as our daughters. Their trauma and loss manifests itself in different ways day-to-day. It may be tough, but it really worth it. Jesus paid it all; this is but a small thing we are doing compared to what He has done for us. Grace to all of you adoptive and prospective adopting parents.

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  110. Thank you for this true and real article. I've said several times in the last couple of months, the system needs to better tell the truth to prospective adoptive parents. I've considered asking if I could share our experiences in the classes. We adopted 3 teenage sibling girls 2 years ago, four years after the tragic death of our biological daughter. The oldest left after 2 years when she turned 18. The other 2 seem happy but are constantly lying one day and the next giving us "gifts" to prove their love. I've recently learned why we repeatedly have to teach consequences of bad decisions to teens who you would think could understand it. But they just have a blank stare like I'm from Mars, never feeling remorse. I've learned a lot about attachment disorder, which has been a great help. It is a very real learning experience for us. Although we knew how ugly it could be from former adoptions by our siblings, it's different when it's staring you in the face daily. But, as I saw in other posts, it reminds me daily of the love Christ has for us, as undeserving as we are. Every morning His mercies are new. We must be the same. I know we did the right thing and there are very good times of feeling almost like a normal family. We put ALL our trust in God who is more than able. We can provide the needed earthly things but He is responsible for the miracles!

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  111. Thank you for writing this. My husband and I had our "perfect family of four", and my son was only 5 months old when we tried to adopt our own tiny brown haired teenage girl. After 5 months of HELL wherein she actually tried to kill my husband at one point, we had to give her up to a group home. We visited for 6 months, planning to eventually reunify, before she permanently severed things with us. Just hearing someone else talk about all the ugly, about how it's not all a cake walk...very refreshing. Thank you.

    And, for the record, we've fostered other children since then and plan to adopt someday :)

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  113. Oh. My. Goodness. Thank you so much for your honesty. And, even more thank you for your insight. I OFTEN question: WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!?! and then I remember, "oh, yeah, God asked us to do this" and then I remember, and that means I am going to receive what I need to 'make it through' and I am going to grow in ways only HE can accomplish in me... not fun, many days, but the end result... well worth it!! Thanks again for you honesty!! This is a very well-written piece.

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  114. Wow. Thank you for this.

    We are new to fostering and I've struggled with not liking my child at times. He is sweet and lovable, but he has some issues that are difficult for me to deal with.

    I was even afraid to google "I don't like my foster child" because I thought someone might find out. Instead I googled "how to bond to your foster child." It's ridiculous, I know. But I see all these other foster families with stay at home moms that have it all together. They have corrected their children's bad behavior in a matter of weeks. Yet, for me, we are still struggling months later.

    You really have no idea how encouraging it was to read this. To know that someone else is open about having a hard time with loving a foster/adoptive child. To know that it's not shameful. (I've felt a lot of shame and guilt these last few months.)

    Thank you,
    Jenny

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  115. Saving the world one Orphan at a time! God has bless you with words to express what so many of us feel. We adopted our first 8 years ago, then 7 years ago we adopted three more. All siblings but they weren't raised together, three were abused in foster care.Thankful for a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Wounds heal, scars disappear, love happens. Our children are now 23,19,17 and 16. Our 23 year old is lost to the world and we pray for her every day, the 19 year old looks in wrong places as well for what she will only find in the Fathers arms. We still have not lost hope for the younger two. We are not alone in this. Love abounds!! Jesus saves>

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  116. Thank you for this heartfelt article. I adopted three children, two were older. To date, one of the two older ones has grown into a relational, loving man. The other one has gone her own way as an adult. They have always, and remain, in the Hands of our Father.
    Thank you again for such an incredible article.

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  117. We adopted 5 children from Brazil 5 years ago and God's timing is always perfect because I am reading this exactly when I needed to be. Thank you for your honesty.

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  118. I have a poster my sister gave my adopted daughter that reads "Hang in there, God isn't finished with me yet" I look at this poster now (still hanging outside of her door) and dealing with all of the teenage issues and say 'Dear Lord, help me to hang in there just one more day' I think, is there really adoption baggage? What is she going through as she tells all her classmates that she is adopted. They can't believe it, they both fit our family so well. My husband and I have always felt so fortunate to get our adopted siblings so young. We have always had a great support system around us. We have had a normal family and I have always been open and honest with them about the foster to adoption process we did. But, as a 15 year old my daughter has turned on me and I know there is 'stuff' that I can't fix. It is so discouraging and hurtful, but we can get through this with God's help.

    Reading your blog has been an encouragement to me. Don't let the few hurtful things posted overshadow the encouragement. The sweetest moments in our lives aren't always the happiest. They are the moments when we turn to God, broken and begging for His grace.

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  119. Thank you EVERYONE for sharing your stories with me! I have prayed for you all today. Wow, what a humbling experience this has been for me. I said it before, but I had no idea this post would receive such an outpouring of families in on the same walk as ours. God is so good and so big. THANK YOU for you loving these kids. Thank you for speaking words of hope and healing. We need each other in this walk. God is faithful! Sorry I haven't been responding to each of you. I just figured out how to change my blog settings to where I could "reply" to comments. Now that there are so many, I don't have time to catch up! But please know that I have read each one and have been touched by your honesty. Prayers for you all.

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  120. Wow, this single mom needed to hear that. I have one bio and one adopted! My first thought when I go through this is it's because I'm a single mom. Thanks

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  121. Thank you. Even my daughter placed at 4 months gets terrible anxiety that I'm going to abandon her. I promote the happy side of adoption but we have our days!

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  122. I do foster care and have adopted a baby through the system. I also have 3 bioolgical children. I struggle to love the kids I foster. It takes time. It's as you described but also not knowing if I will keep them or if it will be temporary and co-parenting with not so nice and some nice people. I look at those around me doing foster care and don't see people struggling to love like I do. Thank you for sharing - it made me feel better to know I'm not the only one.

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  123. Amazing! If you would have added a few "natural"" children, like 6 then make the adopted child a boy, you would be writing our story. He's built a wall. For the first 2 years from 5-7 he almost wouldn't talk to us. He use to be so angry that he would literally shake. We would hold him tight until he began to cry. He wants a family, but can't understand what he did that his mother didn't want him and told him so. He didn't do anything. He's a fine young man and we see God working in him. We pray for the day he sees God in this adoption as a blessing.

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  124. My husband and I felt called to adopt through foster care. The one thing we put down as unwilling to accept is a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Guess what we got?? (You don't have to guess.) I am glad to know I am not the only one who doesn't feel what I "should" feel for my daughter. I love her as best I can and pray for God to fill in the gaps. Thank you for sharing this.

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  125. And this can happen with a biological child as well...
    Parent to one biological and five adopted. Thankful for God's mercy and grace.

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  126. Life on this earth is not meant to be fair, peaceful or "normal." That said, adoption for both parents and adoptees are like a 500 piece puzzle with some of the pieces to the puzzle (picture) missing. We the parents and the adoptee(s) will probably never figure out the "why" their life is not normal. My wife and I live life with our biological child and adopted son one moment at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time and we focus on Jesus who seldom had a normal peaceful moment on this broken earth. Albeit that is not easy, our only solace is that the answers will come in eternity.

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  127. A beautiful piece very well written. As a Mom of two adoptive girls, I share in your struggle, joy and insight. We have just celebrated our 1st year as a family of three and I am honestly so thankful that we have been able to make it. So heart warming to read our struggle so well described in your blog. Sending you continued strength and joy in your family.

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  128. I just had a conversation with my first adopted daughter (15) who is positive her life is horrible. She's not on drugs, still thinks boys are icky, and all we have is homework battles. The lies the manipulation is not totally a thing of the past but we have gotten to a point of where she tells me about it before we catch her at it :-) Healing a broken heart and calming a Freeze brain (we din't get fight or flight we got checked out freeze mode) has been a hard journey but hard things are always worth doing. Thanks for the encouragement I totally needed it tonight.

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  129. I would love to talk with you further for a project I have in seminary. I'm in the process of forming a discussion group that includes adoptees, first parents, and adoptive parents who feel that society has created walls to separate them from the larger society (which I'm sure your views have!!). I'm in the process of formulating 5-10 questions as a starting point for the discussion and have to try to find ways to apply the gospels in this situation. Please PM me on FaceBook (Anne M. Winslow) if you wish to help me, as well as any other parents who have similar feelings. Anyone else wishing to join in our discussion is welcome. I will share my paper with anyone who participates. Thanks again for your courage and honesty!!

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  130. Thirty years ago we adopted a five year old. We had bio kids ages nine and four at the time. Seven years later
    We had another child,
    When our adopted one was 21 we helped find birth relatives and she left the area to live in their area and other
    than being asked for money we don't hear from her anymore.
    Ironically she had one child when she left who was three at the time and he recently moved back to our area to live with his birth dad.
    Adoption is complicated...period!!!!!

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  131. We are here. We understand.
    www.momsfindhealing.org

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  132. I saw this article shared by an acquaintance in my newsfeed. I've finally had the chance to read it, I've also read many of the comments above.

    I am an adoptee, and for all sorts of uneasy feelings this article does not sit well with me. I do think your feelings are valid and important and express a lot of struggle and honesty. Theoretically that's all very beautiful. But the stated feelings in this article also wreak of the savior complex, a "suffering for Jesus" mentality. There is a broad paint stroke of presumption in your words that, because all children in the adoption system are wounded and currently unwanted (for one reason or another), they are in need of a savior... someone like you or a family like yours who can take them in and give them things their current environment could never give them. Perhaps this is true. But it's not the truthfulness of the matter that sort of pains me with your words -- it's the mentality in which you think it.

    I would hope to God that my the only parents I know (my adopted parents) would never think of me or the adoption of me in such the way of "I can save this child" as your words express. If indeed they have 'saved me' from a lifetime of poverty or abuse or growing up in another country that is not this one, then okay. But I hope that they did not "embark on their adoption journey" to be my Jesus or otherwise. This also means I am (as the adoptee) forced to fulfill the role of sinner in the Jesus story, or victim in the abuse story, or carelessness in the unplanned pregnancy story. I am none of those things to my parents. And thank God, because I don't want to be any of those things. A parent can sometimes accidentally and with loving intentions force their children into roles or ideals. This is yet another.

    I very much so appreciate your honesty on this subject. I can see and know personally many who have struggled with their own adoption experiences. I think your words have helped many of them. Praise God! But they have, in the process, also in-dignified the children in which you write about -- us adoptees. I think you should keep writing on this subject when you can and have the words. I would just please ask to consider the mentality in which you write and think and that let it not express a feeling of making yourself out to be what you might very well not be... a shining knight in white armour.

    I also want to say that if this entire article were written from the heart's vantage point opposite of the savior complex, I would think it beautiful.

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  133. The pain that people go through that results in the need to be adopted is catastrophic. There's no way around it. Losing a parent is utterly wrenching, no matter when or how it happens. It's not supposed to happen. Losing my father when I was 40 gave me more empathy for my adopted children than any other experience of my life. And I was an adult, supposedly with more coping skills than a baby, exposed to trauma they can't even share with others. It's a gaping wound. As we've deliberately chosen to go near two precious kids with gaping wounds, we've been splattered with blood, we've been kicked as they writhe in pain. It's not their fault, it's certainly not what they chose. But almost daily, as an adoptive mom, I have to choose to stay near them as they kick and scream. It's only the love of Jesus flowing through me that gives me that strength, and even joy in the journey. I thank you for sharing so honestly and from the heart.

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  134. Sending you a thank you through my tears. Adopted 3, one with a wound I'm not sure will ever heal.

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  135. To Anonymous Adoptee who posted on November 17, 2014 at 1:10 PM...

    I’m glad you posted your point of view. As adoptive parents we we need to hear from the child’s perspective. I’m sorry if any of the comments caused you pain.

    As for me and my husband, we were able to have biological children and did so. After our three were born, we made a choice to adopt. We very much felt called by God to do this. The Bible tells us that to take care of widows and orphans is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of the Lord. We adopted a sibling group from central America and they arrived broken. Now they are young adults and have gone from poor choice to poor choice. Their stories are not over yet but we sit on the sidelines now, prayer is our only weapon: and watch as they now destroy the lives of their children—our grandchildren.

    There is nothing more (humanly speaking) we could have done for them. That does not make us knights in shining armor, but humble servants of our Lord and Savior.

    The majority of the comments left here by adoptive parents are raw and honest, and we are desperately hurting. That is what it’s like from our point of view and what the article was about. The rest of the world including the church does not support us, so when we find each other we cling for dear life to others that are going through deep waters of these trials.

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    1. (in reply to your great response "Nov 18 at 10:19 AM")

      Thanks for your reply. I should clarify... my entire response posted was a specific response to the author's words and expressed mentality, not the comments beneath (although I did state that, yes, I read those too). After reading this blog post (re: my "pains me" comments in response) I felt uneasy and sort of ill in the bottom of my stomach to know that a parent (this parent, the author) would think herself as the redeemer of her once-orphaned-child's lost hope and past of abandonment. I felt mostly for her adopter daughter. I felt possibly what it might be like for that adopted daughter to grow up. With an adopted mother whose mentality is that she "saved me".

      The thing is that when you assume yourself someone else's savior, you force that someone into a pre-conceived and subsequent role to yourself -- complete with expectations (known to you or not) of how that someone else should fulfill their own role since you fulfill yours so well.

      Adopted children, all children, face already the expectations of their parents. Current and future expectations set upon us from our parents shape our identity (and confuse our identity) *just as much* as our broken, or distant, or different-to-your-own past. So for the mother who dreamed of the perfect orphaned child to complete their family but instead got the 'sour apple' instead of the sweet, we *know* that you think of us as the sour apple.

      As Christians, you might adopt a child because you feel it's an example of the Gospel (as the author of this blog puts it). But as people, as parents, don't you adopt a child not *just* because you can be an orphan's redeemer? <This is what sits uncomfortably with me. That I could be my mother's "Gospel" pet project of sorts -- her way to redeem someone of their lost and broken and torturous past... I feel uneasy and pained by that kind of mentality. I'd want to know my adopted parents adopted me because they prayed for a child and this is how God gave them one. Not because they were enlightened by the idea that by adopting a child they enact their own Gospel play.

      Maybe the above is the author's feelings. If so, I regret that I've read her blog post in another light. (Perhaps it was her repetitive use of the word "redemption").

      As an aside, I think your shared feelings are beautifully honest whole *not* in-dignifying your children at all. What you've said is: We adopted. We take care of our children, adopted and not, because that's what the Lord teaches us. We are servants of God's children, so to say. // This is not what the author of this blog worded, which on multiple occasions, place her in a savior role vs a servant role as you've expressed.

      Thank you for your reply. To even know that it was read and considered is a sort of starting point. As you've pointed out, this is important. For us to know each other's feelings and hopefully show one another the areas in which our feelings are miscommunicated or set unfair expectations or are spot on and comforting.

      As an ending thought to my reply (I didn't mean to make it so long), imagine if adopted children were writing about how extremely misinformed and misguided their adopted parent's thoughts and ways are. That they don't understand us. That they force us into roles or with expectations that are ridiculous. Imagine maybe if I had wrote this original blog post and expressed an utter disappointment with my adopted parents. Wouldn't you feel somewhat (even if you understood) hurt? Pained by my words that were not aimed to hurt you but indefinitely have? Forums and discussions and blogs and coffee dates for adopted parents who want to find comfort in one another is beautiful. But we should not find comfort in mentalities that ultimate hurt those we have the mentality about. With imagination we can find numerous examples of how this kind of comfort is extremely damaging to all.

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    2. To Anonymous Adoptee who posted on November 17, 2014 at 1:10 PM...

      You know what, you’re right. I would be hurt…and? I would not understand if my children posted online about how horrible I am. I know that I’d be hurt because at least once a week my daughter tweets about how awful her life is and how cheated she was. I finally un-followed her when I couldn’t bear to see one more quotation such as “Family are not those who raised you but those who are there for you no matter what.”

      Yet I have never posted anything negative about my kids that identifies them. Even in my post above I give a different continent than where they really came from.

      You have given me a lot to think about. However; I do appreciate knowing that other parents struggle, that I am not alone as the world would like me to believe. How to balance it all? I’m not sure.

      We need to be mindful of our children’s privacy, these little ones will be adults, all too soon. The internet never forgets.

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    3. Dear "Nov 19 at 2:45 AM",

      Maybe it's not balance that's what needed? I don't know for you, for me balance does not help me. Balance gives each thing in my life equal weight or a spot on the emotional/mental shelf. Rather, some things mean more or hurt more so they are given more -- a higher spot on the shelf, I guess.

      You've also given me much to think about. This sounds oh so very cliche but I really do mean this: I think I'll pray for softness for your family. Soft hearts. Soft walls rather than brick ones built between you and your children.

      I'm praying for this specifically because this is what has helped me in life. When I was so very far from my family and parents (read my below response to Ashley about that) I think it was by the grace of God that I could give up being "hard" and tough. It's literally what sort of brought me back, I guess you could say.

      I know children or adults who "come back". This is possible :) I sincerely hope and pray it does for you, too. There has been a lot of talk in this blog post and all the comments about how every child deserves a loving family. But every parent also deserves the love of their children.

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  136. Hi, Anonymous! Thank you for your comments on my blog. I love hearing the perspective of adoptees and I hope that we can continue an open dialogue. The reality is that I DON’T understand the struggles that adopted children face and that is one of the reasons for my original post.

    It is difficult for me to respond in a timely manner because of where we live (the Amazon Jungle in Brazil) and the limited internet access, but I have read all the comments on my post. I appreciate your honesty and the tone which you conveyed your thoughts.

    First, I want to say that I’m sorry that the overwhelming theme to you in my post was that I think of myself a Savior to my child. That really does make me sad as that has never been my feelings towards my daughter, nor our desire to adopt her in the first place. Yes, as Christ-followers we are called to care for the orphan and the widow, but NOT to be their Savior. Only Christ can do that. We are to care for them out of genuine, unconditional love for them. It is only natural to have compassion for their suffering.

    The day that my now daughter showed up on my front porch, I immediately felt love for her. It’s hard to describe. There was nothing loveable about her and we have kids show up on our porch ALL the time (we live in a very poverty stricken area). But this little girl was different. She began to come over every day and I fell more and more in love with her, as did my husband. I felt early on the little voice in me saying that this girl was someone special for our family. That went on for months. It was only after we got to know more and more of her story that we realized that she was in need of a family to care for her. That was a hard decision for us for various reasons (we are foreigners and live in an area where they think “white people” come to steal their children and sell their organs, so we knew we were opening ourselves up to a lot of criticism.) But this little girl was worth all the risk.

    When I say that we are “suffering” for Christ sake, I don’t mean it in a “God complex” sort of way. Jesus Himself said that “in this world you will have trouble” and that we are to “rejoice in our sufferings”. My point is that raising a child with psychological and emotional special needs is HARD. And the principle reason it is hard is because no one wants to see their child suffer. So I didn’t long to adopt our daughter to be her Savior and to have a pretty addition to our family. We adopted her because we genuinely love her as our own flesh and blood and THEREFORE to see her suffering and rejecting our love and fighting against us is hard because WE know that she no longer has to fight. But SHE doesn’t. And we don’t know how to properly communicate that.

    That only serves to prove to us further that we are not her savior. We could never open her eyes to the reality of the hope and peace she can have in Christ. HOWEVER, Christ CAN and we believe WILL use us to help her see that by demonstrating unconditional love, no matter how many times she rejects it. Just like He did for us, despite the fact we often reject it.

    Honestly, I wish my daughter WOULD tell me her feelings. She only recently (in the last week) started sharing with me that a little girl in her class at school has been very mean to her. I almost cried I was so happy when she told me! Not because her classmate was mean, but because she TOLD me about it!! It opened up a good dialogue about how we feel and how we should treat others, etc. So if she would tell me, “Mom, I don’t like you. I don’t like when you do this. I don’t like feeling this way.” I would be SO happy! Because then I would be one step closer to knowing what she needs and how I can be a better mom to her.

    I have hope that one day we will get there. Until then, I just pray and trust that God will open her eyes to the reality that she DOES have a family that loves her dearly now.

    So, I hope that helps clarify at least a little bit of my perspective. Thanks again for speaking out and sharing your thoughts, too.

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    1. Ashley,

      I think you are a brave and loving mother--this is without a shadow of a doubt. I did feel when I read your original post that perhaps your best intentioned feelings were somewhat hidden by your actual words that did ring of the savior complex. Actually, I had hoped that. Like you, I think, I want to believe that all a mother really wants for her child is to feel love, to be loved, to know love, to give love. I think that this true. I just think that sometimes mothers (or any guardian or any friend or really anyone in our lives) can sometimes accidentally want more than that. Sometimes we don't really know it until we look back. I've done this to people in my life. Surely, you have too.

      When I was a teenager, I resented my (adopted) parents horribly. There wasn't one person that knew our family that did not know this. Like the child I was (and maybe your child, or other children) I constantly acted out because of this resentment I carried. (Which, I have to clearly say here I don't believe had anything to do with the adoption part of our lives... I think I was really just an angsty teen trying to understand myself in life.) Even then I *knew* in the bottom of my heart that all my parents ever wanted was whatever I was seeking -- if I sought love, they only wanted to give it to me. If I sought help, they wanted to be there. If I sought safety, of course they always provided that. And I didn't come with the broken past (as I know of) that so many adopted children do.

      So I say all this because children at any age are forming themselves, struggling with their own identity, just trying to make sense of their own feelings and what's okay to feel and what's not. This is precisely the reason why children can be broken at such a young age -- because already they feel, they perceive, they understand. And it affects them (us, as people) forever. For me, while I was desperately trying to understand myself growing up and where I belonged in the world (not in a "family" sort of way), I felt a constant presence from my parents that I couldn't be what they wanted me to be--which was probably just easy to love, or easy to get along with. But I took that in wildly deformed ways (as children do, right?) and decided I wasn't good enough for them or I was crazy because I couldn't be like them or I'll never have friends if I can't even get my family to love me for being me.

      Now, of course, I'm older now. I've grown up. I've learned. I've become more mature. I can see my mistakes in hindsight and try harder to catch them before they happen now. My mother is my best friend, truly. I talk to my dad daily. And still sometimes the whole family recounts about how "remember when she was a teenager and she was so mean?" And I want to tell them all, still, to just shut up! That they didn't know the inner struggle I was going through. I was mean, but I was hurt. Who or what was I hurt by? I don't know. Does it matter? Because even if I could put my finger on it, I can tell you that my mother would not have been able to fix it. Sometimes God helped. But I think, too, that only I could really fix it (or rather, decide to fix it)—to find comfort in my own skin, to decide that God made me able to feel so deeply, and that is okay. (Later in life you learn to not let these parts of your life hurt others in the process of feeling them, but as a child you don’t know).

      I could see as a teenager that my mother only loved me. She wanted to point me in the right direction when I was lost -- just back to our family who loved me. But I resisted it all. I didn't want someone to hold me hand (literally, and metaphorically speaking). To be honest, I didn't know what I wanted.

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    2. (continued from above)

      Maybe other children feel this way, adopted children and non adopted children. Sometimes we don't understand ourselves, but we perceive and understand that our parents are disappointed in this. And it hurts us even more. It adds to the clouded mess that seems to be the path ahead of us.

      I have cousins now that are teenagers, and I can see sometimes glimpses of their inner struggle to form their own identity and be okay with this identity. Their parents, our family, we love them so much. I would, we would, do anything for them. But this kind of love doesn’t make our desperation to understand ourself any easier.

      For me, I think maybe what I needed more than open arms and lots of long talks and crying was an absolute feeling of acceptance. I know this sounds strange because OF COURSE you accept your child. But I think the disappointment was just so heavy that it buried any feeling of acceptance far beneath it.

      There are two things I am thinking about at this moment. One is a sort of cardinal rule of life, I think, that I try to follow in my own words but also give others the benefit of a doubt when their words were constructed in a way that is quite hurtful or rude, etc: Let your heart be the loudest of all your words. // Which I take to mean that I let my heart do the talking, there will be far less scrutiny and far less words really. Because usually the heart’s words are more simple than our brain’s. And to your boss, to your mom, to your child, to your spouse, your heart will always sound better than your mouth. Does that make sense?

      The second thing I saw literally yesterday online was this: You cannot hate others without hating a little bit of yourself. // Nobody likes to be mean or be a disappointment or just be a really hard child to love. This sounds harsh, but it’s true: We hate ourselves for that. That we can’t just be what mom wants, or what Jesus wants, or what I want. This is why the shaping of our identity throws us off path so much. But there is, I think, a lot of self hatred involved too. I still dislike myself greatly when I can’t be what I want to be — better at my job, or a better wife, or… or…or. Although I forget ALL THE TIME, I want to be kind to others because there are hard things, and there are hard feelings, and there is a lot of hatred in the world against us (us being humanity). Add atop that a self hatred. Life just got that much harder. Then add mental illness, or mean friends, or poverty, or a broken past, or… any number of other hard things… life can seem unbearable.

      Back to how I started this response, I think you are a very loving mother. You cannot feel such hurt without also possessing so much love. Same, too, of your daughter I think. Or of any of us.

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    3. Anonymous,

      Thank you for sharing these things with me. It has given me a lot to think about. Many of the struggles you mention are, as you mention, common to all of us. I think perhaps for my daughter at least they are just intensified by her past. And how she feels so "different" from her now "family". I don't realize or even think about those things until things like the other day when I was dropping her off at school and had to talk to her teacher and she said, "All my friends will see that your eyes are BLUE!"

      It occurred to me that she, daily, "sees" herself as different. Her to siblings have blonde hair and blue eyes and she has brown hair and brown eyes. Because we live in a place where just about everyone has brown hair and brown eyes, our biological kids really stand out and get a lot of attention when we go out in public. She usually doesn't except when people say things like, "Is she yours, too?" It makes me so frustrated and I usually just hug her close to me and say, "Yep! She's ours. This is our daughter." But she still feels it. We've talked about it, but I honestly don't know how to really get her to not let it bother her deep inside. We try to just avoid situations like that but it happens often.

      Your comment about letting your "heart be the loudest of your words", that really struck a cord with me. Just yesterday I was thinking about how we often spend many days "correcting" her behavior and discussing the "whys" of our various actions. But very rarely do I just sit and tell her how much I love her. And how far she has come. And how proud I am of her. And how thankful I am that she is a part of our family. And how beautiful she is. I need that to be the loudest voice.

      I hope other people will read this exchange. I hope you will continue to speak out honestly about your struggles and how you have overcome many of them. We (adoptive parents) need (and long to) hear from you. It helps us understand a little bit better what might be going on in our adopted children's mind and hearts.

      I guess this is why the Bible says "Love covers a multitude of sins." Love really is the answer. But for us as imperfect humans, love is no easy task.

      Thanks again for sharing. Pray for us adoptive parents that we can love unconditionally and, as you said, accept unconditionally. Pray for our children to really, truly be able to accept and understand it. I'll pray for you that you will have courage to continue to share your story.

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  137. That's why I would say it isn't the "ugly" side....it is the most beautiful side of all. Had we "stopped" with our easy adopted children, I would never have discovered how to love truly. I would never have discovered a big part of God's mission for my life.

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