The process of adopting a child can often be daunting in itself, though the real journey for an adoptive family starts after the child comes home. It’s wonderful if you want to support an adoptive family, but be sure to keep these 6 things in mind.
1. Give them space. It’s important to allow the family bonding time with the child, so allow them the space they need to do that!
2. Watch your words. Kids are always listening, so be mindful of what questions you are asking.
3. Respect their privacy. Try to avoid asking prying questions about the child’s history.
4. Embrace honesty. Don’t judge the parents by any frustration that they may be walking through – it’s a difficult process!
5. Bring the community to them. Support the parents! Offer to make them a meal and drop it off. That is always greatly appreciated.
6. Respect their parenting methods. There will be trials that parents need to learn to correct in their own time.
I’ve always wanted to adopt. I think my desire began at age 15 while I was working with underprivileged kids. There was a boy named Jason that I had the hardest time sending home every night. I just wasn’t ever sure what kind of condition he’d come back in.
I had three children before my 6th wedding anniversary. I still wanted to adopt. My husband, however, didn’t quite share my desire. We did, after all, have three healthy children. I think it is that way for a lot of people. You’re either very passionate about adoption, or it just doesn’t quite register.
I failed at several attempts to interest him. To be honest, failing is putting it mildly. I took him to some adoption classes and that convinced him we definitely shouldn’t adopt.
Plan B kicked in – I prayed for the Lord to take action. I believed it was possible. I shared with my sister that the Lord was going to have to drop a child in my lap. A year later, she called on the phone and asked me to go look out my living room window. I said why? She said “Do you see the church from your window? That’s your lap. They are planning a camp for 30 older children who are coming over from Russia and are available for adoption.” The church was looking for host families for the kids.
My girls and I decided to volunteer for the camp. We played with kids who came over from Russia. Of course, my girls aged 13 and 11 fell in love with two little girls a blonde and a redhead, aged 6 and 5. They begged Mark to go meet the girls in case their host family didn’t adopt them, so that we could. He finally relented, met the girls and while he thought it was crazy to agree to a 5 to 2 female-to-male ratio in our home, he agreed we couldn’t let them go back to Russia permanently. The door began opening!
And then it closed. The family hosting the girls decided to adopt them, so we signed up for the next camp. This time we would host two children, because if we were going to adopt, it would be more fair not to have three biological children and just one adopted child.
When I got the information on the children we would host for the camp, my heart sank. They were exactly the same ages as my youngest daughter and son. It would never work! I would have two girls turning 13 within the year, and all five would be teenagers at the same time! I told the agency that day that we would like children younger than ours. But wouldn’t you know, it was Mark who came home that night and said “Well don’t you think we should at least meet them?” What could I do? If my husband, who hadn’t even been interested in adopting was open to it, who was I to say no.
We agreed to host Yulia and Yura. They arrived a few days after Christmas on a Sunday night and looked pitiful. They came with nothing but layers of winter clothes on. We had bought them clothes and I even chose smaller sizes knowing they would be small, but still missed. Yulia was 12, but size 6x. Yura was sick with a cough and I was already consumed by guilt. What if this didn’t work. The camp was only three weeks and we had to make a decision by Friday so that they could find other families to meet them if we said no.
I woke up Monday morning in a panic. All was quiet. This was miracle number one, as my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew were staying with us – putting the house total at 11. I sat at my kitchen table in an attempt to get a grip on the panic that threatened to choke me and opened my Bible randomly to Hebrews 11…By faith Abel…by faith Enoch…by faith Noah…by faith Abraham…by faith Isaac…by faith Jacob…by faith Joseph…by faith Moses… I’m not stupid; in other words, by faith I needed to walk through the next four days and see what God revealed. If we decided not to adopt – by faith I would have to trust that God had another plan for these children. Panic gave way to peace.
On Tuesday I took Yulia and Yura to see a friend who spoke Russian. I was dying for a little communication after just 24 hours with them. She chatted away and they were so excited to find someone who understood them. She asked about their parents and how they came to be in the orphanage and then she got a little overexcited. There were 3 more siblings – all younger.
“Where?” I asked. Yura said when he was in the hospital, his sisters came in to get a medical exam because they were going to Florida. That was the only time he had seen them in over a year.
“Florida! What do they look like?” I asked. One had blonde hair, one red.
“What are their names?” They had the same names as the two girls we had fallen in love with in the prior camp. After much excitement and identification through pictures it was confirmed that Yulia and Yura were the older siblings of 2 girls already adopted and living one mile from us.
The agency never guessed they were related; the children had different last names, and were in different orphanages two hours apart. But both sets of siblings were chosen to attend camps in the same city on the other side of the world!
We adopted Yulia and Yura, now named Hannah and Grant. They no longer live hours from their sisters – just one mile away! And, across the street from their two sisters, another family adopted the last child in Yulia and Yura’s family – the baby. It still amazes me that all 5 children are in the same city and I ponder at times what this new life will bring all of them individually and together.
Adoption is an amazing opportunity for a new life.
Shaunti Feldhahn is one of my favorite authors and we are privileged to have her as an iSpecialist for iMOM. Recently I caught up with her at a conference and we got to talk about the new revised version of her book For Women Only. One of the topics we discussed was what do men really need from women to feel good. How can we build them up? The simplicity of her answered based on years of research and interviews of thousands of men surprised me….
We’re all busy. And it’s hard to ensure we are spending the time that we need to bond with our children, considering all of the things that everyone has going on. Find the time to commit to these family traditions and just watch the connections grow.
Here are 8 great ways to bond with your kids and create fun family traditions, and they don’t have to be huge!
1) Spectator Sports 5) Be a Fan Club
2) Fishing Hole and Hunting Lodge 6) Get Outdoors
3) Creative Outlets 7) Travel and Explore Cultures