Tag Archives: special needs adoption

Two Years Ago…we became a family of four

Two years ago today we were flying home from Hong Kong, exhausted, overwhelmed, a bit scared but very excited.

That means Big Brother has been home for two entire years!  What a wild, crazy adventure it’s been.  Although Big Brother has come so far, he still has so much to overcome.  But we’ll get there.  We couldn’t be more proud of you, Big Brother!

momavi2Mommy and Big Brother, the first day we met (January 10, 2011)

hk15Big Brother and Little Man checking each other out at the orphanage in Hong Kong

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hkcity Beautiful Hong Kong

 

Special Needs Adoption, an article

My very first article about adopting a special needs child was officially published today at SpecialNeeds.com!

You can check it out right here. I feel so honored to be a voice for this important issue. I hope our story will be used to encourage and inspire others! Please feel free to share with anyone who may be interested :)

Orphaned no more

From the archives…

January 12, 2011:  A Great Day

And that’s how it happened–on a seemingly ordinary day in January, an almost-4 year old little boy walked out of an orphanage onto a crowded, rainy Hong Kong street.  He waved goodbye to his orphanage and to everything he’d ever known. And suddenly, it happened–three turned into four.  Big Brother smiled the entire walk back to the flat.  So did Little Man.

When we arrived at the orphanage this morning to get Big Brother, his caregivers told me he was up at 5 am and asking for us (they had told him over and over again that he was leaving with us, etc.)  He was so ready to go!  His caregivers and friends had a little going away party for him and it was very bittersweet.  They sent him off with a suitcase full of clothes, toys and a lifebook.

Today has been a wonderful day…above and beyond my wildest dreams.  The boys love each other and Big Brother is like a different child outside of the orphanage.  He has really started to come out of his shell and continues to interact with us more and more. We have shared some amazing moments together.  It’s not all sunshine and roses and there are moments of great frustration, but overall it’s been such a great day.  With each passing hour it is clearly evident that Big Brother is opening up to us more and more.  In just two days alone with us he truly is like a different child.

Well, it’s 8 pm here and both boys are sound asleep.  They both fell asleep within minutes of getting into bed, and not a single tear was shed!!!  We are in complete shock!!!  I sang a couple of songs and they were out :)   I guess that’s what happens when you play hard all day long.

Okay, now for the good stuff I don’t want to forget!  Today I was sitting with Big Brother while he ate some cheerios.  He stared into my eyes (which is a big deal) for about 15 seconds straight and then burst into a huge grin…he actually smiled with his eyes too!  Then he grabbed my hand and made me feed him.  He said “mama [something in Cantonese...]” and directed me to put a cheerio in his mouth.  It was really one of the sweetest moments of my life.  For those who have adopted an older child, you can understand this I’m sure!!!  He also has started to run to me and grab my hand to lead me somewhere when he wants something…again, a very big deal!!!  By the end of the day today, Big Brother was frequently and effortlessly making a lot of meaningful eye contact with us.  We couldn’t be happier!!!

The one issue that has turned out to be pretty major (and unexpected) is food.  Oh my, where do I begin.  Big Brother wants food constantly and not only that, he wants to hold some in his hands at all times.  He will eat whatever and however much you put in front of him.  He literally shovels it in his mouth in a very deliberate and mechanical way. And then he will ask for more to hold in his hand while he plays.  Then he scours every inch of the floor for any crumbs he can find.  He cannot go more than about 10 minutes without running to the kitchen and asking for food…and not just asking, but crying and begging for it.  Food issues are such a complicated thing….it’s been tough as we learn how to deal with not overindulging him but not refusing him food (we want him to associate us with a never-ending food supply, but we also have to keep him healthy!).  It’s very strange to see a 4 year old child eat more than an adult, but I’m sure we will be able to find a balance as the days pass.  They warned us that Big Brother has some food issues when we arrived at the orphanage this week, but man, it’s crazy.

I really wanted to post videos today, but my computer is giving me a hard time (or perhaps it’s the internet connection again).  I will keep trying, so check back!!  Sorry for the lack of pictures, I’m totally slacking because I’m spending so much time playing with the boys.  Anyways…I’m off to enjoy a good night’s sleep, fingers crossed.  Tomorrow is our last full day in Hong Kong!

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Once we were home, I was able to reflect a bit more on this day.  Here is what I wrote…

January 26, 2001:  Goodbye Orphanage, Hello Tears

Big Brother’s “going away” party…it was extremely emotional for us….helping Big Brother say goodbye to his life, his bed, his caregivers, his friends, all the while knowing he did not understand what was about to happen…

It was gut-wrenching.

While it was emotional for us and all the caregivers, it was just a confusing, uninteresting event for Big Brother.  He had no idea what was really happening.  I wish he could have understood….I wish we had more pictures to document it.  But it was a crazy, rushed and emotional time and we barely were able to document it at all.  And when it was all over, we quickly stepped out onto a busy, bustling street and walked down the road, in the rain, to the flat.  Big Brother held my hand and Hubby pulled his suitcase full of gifts, clothes and notes from his caregivers.  But it wasn’t what was in the suitcase that broke my heart, it was whatwasn’t.  There was no note or momento from birth family, something I had hoped desperately for, and something that is a common occurence in HK adoptions. Big Brother was not abandoned on a doorstep or left at a hospital.  I was secretly hoping there would be something, anything….just a shred…

Nothing.  My heart hurt.

The beginning of a new beginning…

Picking up where I left off yesterday….yes, the next meeting was much better.  MUCH better.  Big Brother was like a different child alone with us and away from the orphanage.  This is what I wrote that evening after our second visit together…

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January 11, 2011:

mir·a·cle (mr-kl) noun:

1. an event that is contrary to the established laws of nature and attributed to a supernatural cause

2. any amazing or wonderful event

3. a person or thing that is a marvellous example of something

I think all of the above apply to the last 2 days.  If I could use any other word (besides miracle) to describe our time with Big Brother it would be smile.

Do you see this smile?

And this one?

It’s because of this one right here:

Play time at the orphanage…Big Brother and Little Man liked to chase each other around:

Play time at the flat…Big Brother likes to watch his brother show him new things:

cheerio break:

It’s hard to describe the last two days.  First, I’ll give you the list of words that come to mind:

amazing, tiring, exciting, thrilling, relieving, happy, anxiety, miraculous

We have spent the last two days visiting with Big Brother.  On Monday we went on an outing with him and some of the other children at the orphanage.  Then today (Tuesday) we spent half the day at the oprhanage and then brought Big Brother to the flat to play with us for the afternoon.  Then we took him back for his last night in the oprhanage.  Tomorrow morning, Big Brother says goodbye to the orphanage forever.

Today we signed the paperwork that places Big Brother in our custody.  His case worker in the HK government came by the orphanage today to let us sign the paperwork and to meet us in person.  We spoke at length and at the end of the conversation, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  I’m deeply touched by how much Big Brother is cared for.  They told us that they think it is an act of God that he has found his perfect forever family.  In addition, no one can hardly believe how well Big Brother has interacted with us (especially Little Man).  Big Brother usually doesn’t interact with other kids that well…that is until he met Little Man.  It has left us speechless.  And tonight is Big Brother’s last night in the orphanage.  When we told him goodby tonight, Little Man cried for his brother…real tears ya’ll.  He wanted Big Brother to spend the night with us.  I gently explained that tomorrow morning he would walk out of the oprhanage and live with us forever.  There were still tears.

Thank you God.  Thank you for these two tiny miracles.  I never in my wildest dreams could have orchestrated such a perfect plan.  I know that there will be trying times ahead and I know that Big Brother has a long road ahead of him in terms of playing catch-up and learning how to interact with others, but that doesn’t diminish the awe I feel right now.

Little Man has been a superstar.  He has not once gotten overly jealous or upset.  He has shared everything and has gone above and beyond what any normal three year old should be doing.  He is a very, very special child.  Of course, his brother is as well.

Big Brother is smart.  He is delayed in some areas, but is amazing in others.  He eagerly learns new English words and has been doing so well as we teach him as much as possible.    He eats like there is no tomorrow (seriously, it’s insane) and we caught him hoarding food in his pockets and hands today :(   He also chugs his milk or juice in under 3 seconds…I think he’s scared it will be taken away if he doesn’t drink it. That’s okay, he’ll hopefully learn soon enough that food and drink are always at his reach.  Oh, and he’s obsessed with balloons.  Obsessed!

I’m really, really tired and I’m trying to prepare for tomorrow. We are worried that night time tomorrow may be quite difficult and scary for Big Brother. So, I’m not going to write any more right now. I want to blog more about Big Brother tomorrow, so come back if you want more:)

The beginning of a journey

One year ago today, Hubby, Little Man and I boarded a plane that would take us to Hong Kong, China. We traveled to this faraway land as a family of three, but returned home as a family of four. After 14 long months of waiting, we were finally going to bring Big Brother home.

Little Man waiting to board the first flight:

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Lifting out of detroit….next stop Hong Kong:

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What a journey it has been. I can’t wait to blog about the details of our Hong Kong trip from the perspective of being home for a year now. What a journey we were beginning one year ago today! Stay tuned this week as I revist our time in China and reflect on that emotional week when we first met Big Brother….

Home

I was going to sit down tonight and write a pity post about how hard it is to watch your special needs child struggle out in the real word….about how hard it is to watch his difficulties unfold before children and adults who do not understand….about how painful it is to be reminded that your child will most probably never lead an independant, “typical” life…. about how hard it is to let go of “normal” when all you want to do sometimes is fit in and be able to do things that other families get to do.

But I’m not going to give you the story because it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Tonight at dinner, I thanked God that our family is not “typical,” that we have been given a chance to travel a difficult path in order to fulfill our calling, that we have had the chance to live beyond ourselves and spend our lives pouring ourselves into something that matters….

Because tonight at dinner I realized just how blessed we are. Tonight we went around the dinner table and everyone stated something they were thankful for. I saved Big Brother for last because I just knew that a) he wouldn’t understand the question and that hearing our responses would help him understand or b) he would give an answer that involved something that was meaningless or that didn’t make sense. Boy was I wrong. He is always proving me wrong! Without a second of hesitation, when it was time to answer the question of what Big Brother was thankful for, he immediately and clearly said “home.”

And that is why from this day forward, I will look at all those “typical” families I see and think “man, you have no idea what you are missing out on…”

I am so not worthy of the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. We may be travelling a road that is bumpier than others, but wow are the rewards so sweet!

Six months and a welcomed first

Six months ago we stepped off of a plane in {our town}, weary and jetlagged. I held the hand of a child who had mentally and emotionally shut down long before he ever set eyes on me. During the entire 18 hours of air time home, he only occasionally made a single sound…a low growling grunt. He never once looked at me. He sobbed constantly during the few hours he managed to sleep on the plane. It was not the cry of a child, but a low, sad whine that is impossible to attribute to anything less than a cry of pure trauma. I secretly feared the weeks ahead. I wondered who exactly would it be that crawled out that shell. Would he be gentle and sweet? Would he be a raging mess? Would he even come out at all? Would he reject me and his new family? Who was hiding inside? I was scared of all the unknowns.

As the weeks passed, I realized that Big Brother’s transition home was going to be a long one. He had trouble understanding what had just happened to him. He had trouble understanding rules and boundaries and he had trouble understanding how to function outside of an institution. He was scared. He was stressed out. He would get up in the mornings and pace the house for hours, looking for a way out, acting as if we didn’t even exist. He cried and whined over every tiny thing. Screaming was his only form of communication. He gorged himself on food and water until he made himself sick. He hid food to eat later. He drank anything that was remotely in liqud form. Slowly he began learning English. Slowly he began to learn rules and consequences. Slowly he began to learn that he was in a family and that this was different than before. Slowly, a sweet, eager-to-learn, affectionate child emerged complete with his own little personality. In a way, it feels as if we have just met since the “real” Big Brother has just recently made an appearance.

The real Big Brother has no problem making eye contact with his family. The real Big Brother has become clingy and affectionate at home. The real Big Brother knows that food will always be available. The real Big Brother plays with his brother on occasion, but always follows his lead. The real Big Brother can express his needs in words. The real Big Brother stays by my side all.day.long and never wants to be out of my site now. The real Big Brother feels safe and loved. The real Big Brother feels happy. The real Big Brother has a long road ahead of him, but we are not scared or anxious.

He has made more progress in the last six months than I thought he would make in two years. If you have been around us in real life, I think you can see this clearly. I could not ask for more.

But tonight, for the first time, I got more.

I have been tutoring in the evenings after hubby gets home from work. Tonight when I returned home, I was telling Little Man hello. Big Brother heard my voice, came running to where I was, smiled, ran up to me for a hug and said “mommy home.” He leapt into my arms and it was one of the greatest feelings in the world.

My heart exploded.

I cried.

I secretly sighed a huge sigh of relief.

I grinned from ear to ear, then reminded myself that while it’s nice to celebrate, there is still more work to be done.

I’m still giddy. It might have taken six months, but it was so WORTH it. All the hard work, all the sacrifice, all of it. Totally worth it. Being Big Brother’s mommy is hard and exhausting, beyond the limits of parenting a typical child. But in many ways it is so rewarding. He has a heart of gold and it gives me strength to keep on going.

Happy six months to special little boy who has taught me that there is nothing life can throw at you to ever take away the joy that lives inside your soul. My goofy, singing boy who always keeps me on my toes…I truly love you more than you could ever know. In one more day, you will officially become one of us and I couldn’t be more excited.

Artificial Twinning. Birth order disruption. Adoption. My thoughts.

When we first began the adoption process for kiddo number two, we knew without a doubt that we wanted to adopt an older, waiting child. After our first adoption, it had become painfully evident that the overwhelming majority of those highly touted “147 million” orphans were indeed older, waiting children, many of whom have special needs. Hubby and I vowed that we would never again “wait” for a child to come along when there are literally millions of kids waiting for a family this very instant. The problem was that due to Little Man’s young age, we didn’t want to bring home a child that was much older than him, but instead we wanted a child more similar in age. In the adoption world, that created a very complex situation.

This situation is known as artificial twinning, pseudo twinning or virtual twinning. Officially, this happens when two children who are not biologically related, but are within nine months of age, are raised together. The children can be adopted at the same time, close in time, or it can happen as it did in our family…..one child was home for nearly 2.5 years before the other, older child joined the family. Our boys are seven months apart. Our younger son came home at 11 months. Our older son came home at 4 years of age. So what is the big deal? you might ask. Well, whenever birth order is disrupted, it is a big deal. Adopting “out of order” is usually a big no-no in the world of adoption.  And sometimes for good reason….think about it, Little Man went from being the “oldest,” only child to having a big brother. In essence, he had been demoted in his very own family. You can imagine the distress this could create in even the most well-adjusted child.

So we did both;  we created virtual twins while adopting out of birth order.  So were we crazy and careless, or calculated and informed?  I’d like to think the latter.  In this post I will be weaving the issues of artificial twinning and birth order disruption together, although they both indeed stand alone and present their own unique challenges.  In our case, these issues overlap and I tend to lump them together as one challenging unit. 

OK, let me also be clear here:  This post does not apply to people who domestically adopt two unrelated infants/newborns at the same time and raise them as true “twins.”  I believe that is an entirely different situation altogether, and I personally don’t agree with it.  I actually never even knew that existed until I did some research for this post!  So if you landed here for that discussion…sorry, this post is not for you.

When we first decided to pursue adopting big brother I scoured every crevice of the internet to find any information or resources available for this complex and highly controversial topic. And you know what I found? Not much. I found a few personal stories of how artificial twinning had gone horribly wrong and a few stories of how it had gone right.  I heard a child psychologist speak on the matter (which was very encouraging, btw) and I read a few blog posts, spoke to our agency and that was about it. If you know me, then you know I like to have a lot more to go on. I knew  there were many families out there in our situation, but I truly wanted to know more…in gritty detail….about how to parent my virtual twins in a way that wouldn’t mess them up.  My analytical brain was not satisfied with only a few sources of information. So, I decided a long time ago to write this post in hope that it could help someone else. I wanted to wait until I was at a point when I could feel confident that my opinion was meaningful, Now that we have reached the six month home mark with big brother, I feel it is time.

I will be the first to admit that I believe artificial twinning can be a slippery slope to navigate. Let me also say that it has been successful for us and these are the reasons why:

1) Although my children are seven months apart in age, chronologically speaking, they are not twins in terms of mental age. Little man is almost 4 years old right now. He is advanced for his age and I would even dare to say that mentally he is closer to 5 in some areas. Big brother is 4.5 years old right now and is significantly delayed. Mentally he is at the 2-3 year old level, at best.

2) Due to number 1 above, we have a vast difference in maturity levels, and therefore responsibilities and privileges look very different for my two boys.

3) Little man was already home and securely attached before big brother came along.

4) Little man was involved in each step of the adoption of big brother, and he understood much of what was happening.

I realize that my four points above are very unique to our situation, and that most who find themselves with artificial twins have situations that look very, very different. In our case, the effects of twinning are not evident. Little man assumes the role as big brother although he is technically younger. Therefore, it is as if birth order has not been disrupted. That, I believe, has been the single most important factor for our success story. Will it always look this way in our home? I don’t know.  There are some complications because Big Brother is now beginning to realize that he doesn’t get to do all the things that Little Man does.  Little Man has more repsonsibilites and he also gets to function a more independantly when out in public.  Even though Big Brother is physically capable of doing things that Little Man does, he is not allowed due to his maturity level or lack of comprehension.  It gets…sticky, sometimes.  There is frustration for Big Brother and a lack of understanding for Little Man on why there are differences in the first plase. We are very much a work in progress and I find myself re-evaluating my parenting tactics on a continual basis.

I have seen a lot of families adopt their pseudo twins together (or close together) and I have to say that I have a new found respect for them. I believe that it can be a wonderful, positive way to build a family as long as you know the risks involved, and as long as you know that a lot of hard work will be required to help everyone navigate their place in the family (not to mention that you double the initial adjustment “load”  once home, which is pretty significant). I am not against it in any way, although I can see how it can become an extremely difficult situation if not handled appropriately. I also think families need to be aware that pseudo twinning makes the complicated process of attachment even more difficult.

My advice? Parent each child individually. Take power away from the terms of “big” or “little”  (or even “twin” which we don’t use, btw) by creating an environment where responsibilities and privileges are based on maturity level and not chronological age. Help each child find their place in the family, remembering that things can and do change over time. Make sure–and I mean really make sure– that you spend quality one-on-one time with each child, each day.  Parent them where they are.  Celebrate their strengths.  Sounds like good old fashioned parenting, right?  It is, but with a deeper awareness of how birth order and sense of birth order affect family dynamics.  In our case, Big Brother’s special needs play a larger role in our dynamics than birth order confusion.  But it is still important to consider and remember.

It is my hope that if you were hesitant to pursue adoption of a waiting or special needs child based on fear of birth order disruption, that you will now revisit the idea. Please consider speaking to a child psychologist or adoption specialist and weigh the pros and cons carefully. I, for one, can say that it worked for us. In fact, I believe that Big Brother has greatly benefitted from having a brother who is chronologically close in age.  It’s not all roses and sunshine, but it works…wonderfully.  What about you guys out there?  For those in similar situations, what’s your greatest piece of advice for making it work?

Grieving

I’ll start out this post by stating that I have never given birth, either to a so-called typical child or to one who could be labeled as special needs. I am, however, a mother to two kiddos through adoption. One of my sons is considered typical and the other has special needs.

On some level I can imagine that when parents first learn that their child (by birth) has special needs, it must be a shocking and difficult time that involves grieving for the life they had envisioned for their child and family. There is no sign-up sheet–there is no choice. As a parent you are instantly and completely immersed into a new world with the realization that life will not look like how you envisioned it in your dreams. You are jolted from a life of so-called normalcy into one where uncertainty and difficult trials will meet you at every single turn, and you get absolutely no say in the matter.

In a sense, we did sign up for this when we adopted Big Brother. Unlike other parents, we did have a choice. We dove in head first and have never looked back. We were fully aware of Big Brother’s difficulties and the uncertainties that go along with them. We knew that he needed to come home to make any progress, but we also knew that there was no guarantee about just how much progress was actually possible. He was already nearing his fourth birthday and the clock was ticking. And since he’s been home, I’m happy to report that his progress has been nothing short of miraculous. But don’t get me wrong, he still has a long way to go, and we aren’t exactly sure where it is we’re even going. At the end of the day we know he is on a good path and we know that he is exactly where he is supposed to be.

So why was I so shocked to realize that even I, the one who had blindly leaped into this wholeheartedly, needed to grieve? Wasn’t I exempt from the shock of believing that my child was typical only to later learn that there was something not so typical that potentially affects all of our lives?

But here I am…..and the grieving process is in full swing.

I grieve for many things I wish could be, because I am only human and I have selfish desires. At the end of the day, grieving for all that might never be let’s me see my son with a fresh set of eyes. I can put my own desires and wishes away. It lets me see him for who he is, to see his quirks and difficulties in a new light, to help me realize that I truly love him for who he is, not what he can do or what he may or may not become someday. It reminds me that while there are some things he may never do, the things he will do will be glorious and I, for one, cannot wait to see what’s in store. I feel so honored to be his biggest fan, his biggest cheerleader, his biggest advocate, the one who says “I knew you could do it.”

Just because we signed up for this, so to speak, doesn’t mean we are numb to the hardships that special needs place on a family. Others have criticized me because they erroneously believe that I have labeled Big Brother and placed him into a box that limits his future potential…that I shouldn’t say he won’t ever do x, y or z. It’s not my intention to do that, it’s just that I’m choosing to love him where he is right now. I’m owning the reality of where we are. I’m owning the fact that our son has difficulties that may keep him from a “typical” life. Besides, I think typical is overrated anyways….

I do not know what the future holds and I do not want to limit him by saying he will never be capable of certain things. I truly believe he can do whatever he sets his mind to. I also truly believe that whatever happens, I will love him just the same. Nope, scratch that….I know I will love him just the same. Would I do this over again if I knew where we would be today? You betcha. So please don’t ask me that question if you see me in public. My answer will always be a resounding yes.

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A complex beast

Adoption. It’s a complex beast. It stuns me, confounds me, brings me joy and also brings me to my knees. I wouldn’t be a mother without it. I would do it over and over again, a hundred times. I hope to adopt again someday. I’ve witnessed its miracles and triumphs, and I’ve also witnessed the heartache and despair it reaps as well. I’m for it in some instances, against it in others. The very nature of adoption is a paradox–tragedy on one end, joy on the other–primal wounds and forever families–loss and belonging. My soul struggles with the idea of adoption on a daily basis. I know my children will struggle with it as well as they grow older.

This post is long and winding as I try to make sense of the complex emotions I am feeling. I hope you will be gentle with me. I wrote this because I feel it needs to be written. I don’t want you to think that we are not happy or that Big Brother is not adjusting well–he is! It just takes time. I like to write it all out. I know that 6 months down the road, I will come back and read this and marvel at how far he has come. For now, thanks for letting me share.

We have good days and bad days at our house. No matter how good things seem to be, there are always reminders that we are now parents to a four year old boy who has been deeply traumatized. I don’t say that lightly. We are making great progress, remarkable really, but there are many reminders that we have a long, long way to go and that there is no such thing as a clear arrival point. We are on a journey that has no destination, and it’s not going to be a very smooth ride. But we didn’t sign up for the smooth ride, so I guess that’s OK!

It’s so easy to forget what we are dealing with here. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the forward momentum to the point where you breath a deep sigh of relief….and then something happens, and like a cold slap to your face, you remember the reality of the situation.

  • When Big Brother frantically gets up in the middle of the night, trying to open doors and exit the house any way he can (in his own home)…you remember.
  • When he cries and screams hysterically as other hikers go by us on the trail because he wants to leave us and go with them (he asks them in his gibberish to hold him and as they pass, and when they don’t stop to hold him, he goes bazurk)…you remember.
  • When he runs off, never looks back and grabs anyone’s hand that will hold it…you remember.
  • When he wakes up and paces the house in the morning, looking for a way out…you remember.
  • When you realize that sometimes, Big Brother is just looking for a way out and is only showing us affection so that he can use us to help him find a way out…you remember.
  • When he won’t let himself fall asleep during a long car ride because he’s stricken with fear that he’s “going back”….you remember.
  • When he cries and screams for a random stranger’s food or drink and runs and grabs it out of their hands…you remember.
  • When Big Brother arches his back, screams “no” and avoids eye contact with his mama as she tries to calm him down or just touch him…you remember.

This is where I slow down, take a deep breath and remember to take it one moment at a time. Most of our moments are fun and filled with joy. We celebrate the tiny victories and rejoice when we see the light go on in Big Brother’s eyes. But then there are moments that hurt and you wonder if they will ever pass. We know they will, it’s just hard living it, sometimes. If I take a step back for a moment, I realize how far he has come in just 2 months. It really is amazing and I’m truly proud of him. The above examples don’t happen all the time, but when they do…you certainly are reminded of reality.

Big Brother may never securely attach. He may never overcome his food/drink issues. He may never fully “catch up” mentally or emotionally. And that’s OK. We hope he does overcome these issues. We vowed to love him where he is and how he is, asking nothing in return. That’s what I am doing. Slowly, he is making progress…two steps forward, three steps back…but progress. He is starting to show signs of real affection, he is talking like a 18 month- 2 year old child, he is slowly learning what a family is. He craves attention and affection, yet he still resists it. He wants to be loved, but yet still feels unworthy of it. He wants to understand his world, but he is still an outsider looking in. Slowly, he is breaking through…very slowly.

You will never hear me say that I saved my children from a life of despair. You will never hear me say that they are better off in a Christian and/or American home. We did not rescue anyone…I hate when people say that. I won’t do that to my children. Our family was created through tragic, complex situations that are beyond one word explanations. We didn’t set out to save anyone, we set out to create the family God intended us to have. And that’s what we did. We took the broken pieces and built something wonderful out of them. We realize that although adoption has brought us a great sense of joy, it has also caused deep loss and pain for others, including our children. It’s not a win-win story. If you want to save children, you need to start by saving families. I know, I know…easier said than done, right? But it’s true.

So I’ll be the first to admit that Big Brother’s adoption has changed some of my views about adoption. I don’t want to think about what would have happened to Big Brother had he not been adopted…in fact, we do know what would have happened…and it’s not good. Not good at all.

When I think about his last 4 years on this planet, my views of adoption start to change. I do think that international adoption in general is rife with corruption and trafficking of non-orphaned children in order to satisfy a certain demand set by westerners. I do think that it has become, in some instances, a baby buying business. These are just my opinions from situations I’ve seen first hand. I know that not all adoptions are corrupt, but I also know there is no escaping it [corruption], either. Is it fair that because of poverty, a mother must give up her child? Shouldn’t we provide that mother with the funds needed to parent, not take her child away? That’s a tough question to answer….and of course, sometimes poverty is only one issue of many more that leads to placement of a child, as I know all too well.

Sigh

But then I look at Big Brother, and I understand why adoptions MUST continue. No child should be taken away from a loving family in order to be adopted by wealthy westerners, but no child should be left to suffer as Big Brother has, either. It’s a horribly complex beast– adoption. I wish I could succinctly state my views about adoption, but I can’t. There is nothing easy or clear-cut about it. I feel conflicted within my own soul, how could I possibly judge or criticize others’ opinions?

So, we march forward, knowing that God has a plan for Big Brother’s life. I wish I knew the ending…I wish I knew if we are doing everything right or not….I wonder if I will ever see him break all the way through to the child I know he can be.

I wonder how long Big Brother will be imprisoned by his past. Is it even possible to overcome some of his very early traumas?

There are so many things I wish I could change in both of my boys’ pasts. It hurts me to my core and leads me to a very dark and lonely place if I think about it too much. So I try not to. Instead, I write a post like this, hit publish, and hope my friends understand my need to get it all out. Now I will go and seek out those moments of joy and those tiny victories. They are so, so worth all of the pain and uncertainty. My two boys are my everything. I love them without end, and I always will. Come what may.