What comes to mind when you hear the word adoption?
You might envision a happy airport homecoming, a beautifully diverse family, dramatic behavior challenges, even a rescue pup (thoughts on that here).
But there’s no one better equipped to give a definition of adoption than members of the adoption triad: birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees.
Less than one month into having her son home, Emily, an adoptive mom, shared her thoughts on adoption. In her words…
This is adoption:
A family accepting a child that is not theirs biologically, but loving him just as if he were.
A gorgeous photoshoot in Bulgaria with pictures taken by a sweet missionary couple.
A family with the child they have pursued passionately for years, willing to do what it takes to give this loved child a family and a home.
Sweet memories of picking up the child and spending time with him in his homeland.
A beautiful example of God’s love and adoption of us.
And this is adoption:
That precious child, banging the back of his head on the hardwood floor when he doesn’t get what he wants.
Our son screaming constantly, yet perfectly behaved in certain settings that draw him attention.
Rejecting immediate family members who are just trying to show love.
This was my entire morning, most of yesterday evening, and probably my tomorrow.
I have two biological children, plenty of friends with difficult kids, and have worked with many kiddos this age. What we are experiencing is not your typical “terrible twos” temper tantrum. Trauma adds complexity to human depravity.
“This isn’t what I expected,” Chloe, our daughter, said while trying to smile through it.
Chloe’s words stung.
I hurt for her and how badly she and her sister, Violet, want to show their brother they love him. He won’t let them. Not yet. He doesn’t know how to accept their love and he doesn’t know Chloe and Violet aren’t competition for me and having his basic needs met.
Our son is in survival mode, and Bulgaria was a honeymoon.
He was happy, he wasn’t too far removed from his usual life, he was hearing Bulgarian everywhere we went, and he was just living it up.
I hate to say that I’m not sure when we can do a lot of socializing because I truly don’t know what to expect, and I don’t think he can handle tons of people. I hate telling people I can’t do much of anything in my home for more than about two minutes apart from a child who is scared, doesn’t know how to trust others, and at the same time is trying to push us away.
Adoptive friends had shared it would go downhill before it went uphill. Think infant behavior in a body that has the physical capabilities of an 18-month-old.
There’s a reason I have maybe 3 pictures on my phone from the past two days. There has been nothing happy to take a picture of except for a few minutes with our neighbors and time with a friend who got some groceries for me.
I can’t imagine what he is feeling.
He’s terrified. He doesn’t know what to expect. The smells are different. The food is different. Kevin, my husband, isn’t around like he was before, the girls are off playing and not contained in a smaller space where we were all interacting together all the time. He isn’t ready to explore in our home as he did in the apartment in Bulgaria. He’s not comfortable.
I responded to Chloe’s comment with the only thing I knew to say:
This is why adoption is important. This is part of the sacrifice we all make to give him a home, help him feel loved, help him learn how to be a functioning part of our family, hopefully, to realize he doesn’t have to compete to live, a child and eventually an adult who knows they are valued and treasured, not only by us but by a loving God.
Chloe followed with the usual, “Good thing he’s cute.”
He is cute, and the rest will come in time. We will continue to research, seek out friends who have gone before us, rely on our agency, and continue to love that little boy who captures not only our hearts but anyone who happens to see his picture.
While adoption is beautiful, the reality isn’t easy.
So for now, this is our reality. And I honestly pray this crazy season is short-lived.
I pray he connects to Kev, which will probably be a very slow process, probably because he had no male interaction, much less a father. I pray he allows the girls to love him. And I pray he allows me to be more than his caregiver who he has to fight for and he allows me to be his mommy.
We will not give up on our son (or any other adoptive child God places in our family) because He never gave up on us. This is why nothing has changed in our conversation about adopting more children. This is why we will always encourage others toward adoption.
God’s love in us is far greater than any behavioral issue or season of difficulty. The outcome far outweighs the difficulty of the process.
We heard of Lifesong when we first began our adoption process.
We knew we would need financial support to adopt a child and began researching different grants and organizations. Lifesong had a strong reputation and many ways to assist. I loved that about Lifesong because it gave so many options!
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Read more of Emily’s journey on her blog, Bulgaria or Bust.