The Dark Side of Adoption

disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process.

I don’t know where to begin with this post. I don’t want to offend those walking through something I’m not walking through, but at the same time, the cost is so great that I must speak. The cost to the children left behind, those with no voice, the cost for them is extreme and I will speak with whatever voice I can on their behalf.

I’m talking about children that are disrupted. I’m talking about children that are not only disrupted, but disrupted on the brink of aging out. How can these things be so?

There’s a lot of debate about this issue, a lot of anger and hurt, pointing fingers; taking sides. In the wake of this disaster are children. These children are left devastated, wounded, and traumatized. These children experience a piercing stab upon the wounds they already carry. Grief. Pain. Anguish. Distress. Agony. The families experience this too. The families go home to America and try to heal. The families go HOME. They heal. How does a child left behind recover from an assault so personal?

I’m being too harsh. I want to turn back from writing this. Close this post, walk away.

The children.

My children. They could be my children. Where does it start? Does it start with a firm commitment and resolve to a child –no matter what– before you take the first step? Is that it? Or is it that we need more education about grief, the experience in country and what it really means to cross oceans for a child.

So, there we were in country with a child who was in the hospital. There we were with a child who had a sudden onset of nephrotic syndrome and what we believed (and later proved to be true) was epilepsy. This is not at all what we signed up for. Mental delay (which proved to be fairly severe) was the only things listed in her file. She struggled to walk, yes, but she wasn’t medically fragile. Over and over our guide looked us right in the eye, “Are you sure you want to do this?” “Do you accept these issues, I know you weren’t expecting her to be sick.” No. We were not expecting this. This was a whirlwind jump on a plane and get her home and straight to the hospital. It’s been a series of medication and specialist after specialist since. In all of the uncertainty, there was one thing that was fixed.

She was ours.

From the first moment we saw her picture, she was ours. For better or worse. It’s been hard, attachment has been difficult, but, She. Is. Ours.

Fast forward a couple of months.

He was aging out. We took a leap, made a decision. He was ours.

We arrived in country, we gathered him in our arms… and then the flailing began. I can’t even describe what our in country experience was like. We have 8 kids and that was our WORST parenting experience – ever.

Nearly 14 years old, emotionally much like a 6 year old. Screaming, punching, biting, hitting… telling people that we were mistreating him, trying to climb out of a taxi, the hotel staff having to come and CARRY him to our room, causing several extreme and frightening scenes in public. There were many times I thought they would alert the police when we were in public. Telling us he did not want a mommy and a daddy, telling us he did not want to leave China. Telling taxi drivers that he did not like us.

The question in our hearts and minds was, will he say yes when the US Embassy asks him if he wants to go with us to the US. The question was never, will we take him home with us. Not because it was easy or dreamy, but because he was ours. OURS. Our son and we weren’t letting go no matter how hard he fought. We were his parents and we were making the best decision in HIS best interest for his future.

He said yes.

After that, it was HARD. Still hard.

Then, we landed in the US and it was so much easier.

Then, time passed and he worked through so much of his grief.

Now, it’s easy for him. He tells me about his past, about the horrible things that happened to him and then he tells me, “I have a family, now I’m safe.” “You are my mommy forever.” He’s doing great in school, he loves to participate in family night; sharing his victories with his family. He has a place that is own, he has something very special – family.

Today we celebrated his first Easter. Today he took communion by himself, with my mom and I leaning in close to hear his prayer. “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross so that I could go to heaven.” He told me later in the day, “Mommy this was my first Easter. This was a happy day.”

Had I run, had I succumbed to fear and uncertainty, had we wavered in our decision, all these days lived, all these joys experienced, all this growth in our character, in our parenting ability, all that would have been lost. We would have been ok. We would have healed.

For my boy, oh, for my boy. The loss would have been extravagant. To be left behind, to be abandoned with no hope for family. To be blind in a country with few resources for the blind, to age out of a system with no guarantee of a safety net. The healing from a difficult lifetime that has happened in the last 10 months, would have never happened and we would have taken a knife, cut open his wounds and poured salt into them.

We have to stop these violent acts. We have to stop wounding children. There is so much GOOD coming out the adoption community, so much health, love and happiness. There are difficulties and hurt, but also so much success. We are strong, we are united, we HAVE TO FIND A WAY to support, educate, encourage, and explain that when you cross oceans for a child it isn’t unicorns and rainbows, but it is so very worth it. We must stand strong together, for the children’s sake, we must.


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