In my perfect world, every kid would have a safe and loving family, and do things like merrily bake cookies together every day. But, it’s not a perfect world.
Right now we’re in the midst of the process of picking. We’re not talking about melons or avocados here (which are both hard to pick, by the way); we’re talking about children.
HOW does one choose a child out of all the waiting children?
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you it’s hard.
This ain’t our first rodeo, as the saying goes. We’ve done this before, but this time is nothing like when we adopted Lindsey. There wasn’t much back and forth with our caseworker about children. Lindsey was, I think, only the second child we considered. But this time, because of how our family has changed, there is MUCH more to consider. The particulars of who will fit well into our family have changed dramatically. We’ve been presented quite a number of children to consider, and we’ve sent our homestudy to be considered for quite a number of children. As of yet, the two have not merged.
If we were choosing for ease, we’d look for a mostly healthy preschool-age or younger child. Those children do exist, even in foster care (though rarely), but we haven’t been presented with any kids like that. The kids we’ve been called about are much older, or face much larger issues. It breaks my heart a little every time we have to say no, but we have to consider the welfare of the kids already entrusted to us. Once a child becomes ours, they’ll move into the category of “my child” but until they are, they are not. It’s a strange and difficult thing.
This has prompted me and Ken to do a lot of soul-searching. These kids, these situations, have us seriously considering the whys of adopting this time around. Is this to fill a hole in our family, or is this to fulfill a calling God has given us? Neither is wrong, but the whys affect the how and the who.
I’m shocked at how many kids we’ve learned about who have had disrupted adoptions (where a parent “gives back” a child they have adopted); I thought those situations were very rare. These cases, as well as hearing reasons kids were removed from their birth families, or even some foster families, tempt me to become very judgemental. But I don’t know the whole story, and I don’t know them as real people who are hurting; I am no less a sinner than they are, and they are no less loved by Jesus than I am. Period.
On the table right now, so to speak, are several kids: a 5 year old with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a variety of challenging behaviors, and a very “iffy” prognosis in regards to her future abilities; a teen girl who has recently announced she is gay, with a biological mom who refuses to even make a reunification plan; and two preteen brothers who have been in a group home for the past year. With each particular child and situation, I try to imagine life with him/her/them based on what little I know. No two situations look even remotely alike.
Preparing is impossible.
Making a decision to pursue — or not pursue — a particular child based on cold facts on paper is not how this mama heart works, but it’s all I have to go on. Meeting a child is several steps ahead of where we are now, and I’m not okay with doing that until we are relatively sure about continuing to move forward; these children have faced enough hurt and rejection, and I’m not willing to contribute to that.
Getting input from our kids is important. I know that Kathryn will adjust well if: A) I spend enough time one-on-one with her, B) we prepare her as much as possible, and C) the child seems happy to spend time with her at least occasionally. Lindsey, however, seems to have more difficulty telling us how she feels about it all or imagining what it might be like with particular kids as new siblings. We surely don’t to sabotage what we’ve worked so hard on building with her, but it’s hard to know how to handle it best.
So I guess the short version of all this is:
Adoption is hard. And weird. But worthwhile. And we sure would appreciate prayers for wisdom and clarity in this process.