That was the only information my husband and I received just days after we finished our foster care certification. We hastily built bunk beds (thank you, IKEA!) and got booster car seats, anticipating with excitement and dread (if I’m being honest!) the world-shift we were about to experience. But for five days, the boys didn’t come. Every day was going to be the day, but by the time we put our 10-month baby girl to sleep every night, the boys still hadn’t arrived. Finally, we got a call saying that the boys were not going to be placed with us. Instead, we were asked if we were willing to receive a 12-month old in three hours and pick up her baby sister from the hospital several days later? We looked at each other -- and the now irrelevant bunk beds and booster seats -- and said YES.
A week ago I got a message from Tiffany Harris, adoptive mama to Nate, who’s adoption we documented last summer in Beijing. Nate was adopted from Bethel China, less than a year before his 14th birthday. In China, when children living in orphanages turn 14, they age out. Due to Nate’s blindness, this meant Nate would go live the rest of his life in an institution. Let that sink in.
When we arrived in Beijing, we got to spend some time with Nate and his foster brothers at Bethel China before he met his forever family. One of the boys living in Nate’s foster home was Noah. Noah and Nate are best friends, and although not biologically related, they are brothers.
You don’t. You choose love, you choose loss, you choose them, every single day. Whether they will be yours forever or just until tomorrow, you adopt them in your heart for good, because that’s the only love that lasts, the forever kind of love. The love that wrecks you at the thought of them leaving, the love that causes you to re-work your entire schedule for them, your entire life for them.
During her second trimester she sent me emails letting me know about the Spaghettios he was making her crave. She told me about the conversations she had with him while her hands rested on her belly at night. She told him all about the family that would be adopting him and the mama that would love him. She gave us a jar of hundreds of pink and blue candies and made us count every single one to find out if it was a boy or a girl. When we counted a few extra blue ones we were handed a card from her that said "congratulations you are having a boy!" She invited me to ultrasounds and put my hand on her belly to make sure I felt him kick. She gave me the closest possible experience to pregnancy that a person can experience without having a baby grow inside you.
My name is Jen Tallon, and I’m a single 44-year-old Texan in the process of adopting my 8-year-old daughter from the Republic of Congo.
I am currently on a plane to Congo to meet my daughter for the very first time feeling so excited and very nervous. It is such a surreal moment that I’ve dreamt about for such a long time. I’m very mindful that this is a huge moment for my daughter, Mavie, as well. Our meeting in person is the beginning of a massive life change for both of us! I have doubted all I know about kids, my qualifications to be a mom and whether or not she will even like me!
As we forged through the unfamiliar waters of adopting from Liberia, we became aware that our son, Asa, was very sick. His entire little life had been spent in and out of the hospital fighting malaria, pneumonia, measles, and other diseases. And so upon our return to the United States we began seeking answers, and eventually received the diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a terminal genetic disorder characterized by the degeneration of your muscles.
Never in a million years did we expect the words Muscular Dystrophy to be words that would come into our story.
So here I am, writing a blog post for an organization that I’ve loved for years, about a topic I never, in a million years thought I would write.
What happens if you don’t like your adopted child?
Here’s the deal, nobody goes into adoption thinking, ‘I’m not going to like my kid.’ Most people walk into adoption with heart eyes, determined spirits and a faith that cannot be shaken. But a very real side of adoption is that many adoptive parents struggle to attach and bond to their children.
How is your home serving your children in their identity as a person of color? If you are a white parent with a child who is not please intentionally and proactively pursue community that looks like your whole family, not just you. This is so important. This is a must. Does your child often wish they were white, like you? Your child will not believe you, that they matter and that their ethnicity is good and right, unless you show them how you value their skin color and history in your whole life.
If you are a transracial/transcultural family, understanding differences of race, class and culture authentically is just the beginning. Understanding must also be activated into behaviors and infused into your family, extended family and as much as possible into your community. Adding deep love to a deep reflection and understanding of identity, privilege and place in the world as adults and parents, gives children every opportunity to fully embrace their complete identity, to love all parts of themselves and to be prepared for the realities that will echo throughout their lives.
You’ve adopted your sweet kiddo(s) or you’re in the process of adopting, or your want to adopt in the future! Whatever your story is, you definitely want to be aware of these sensory red flags and participate in a variety of sensory based activities to reduce under or over-responsiveness to sensory input from a variety of environments. Every child is different, every story is unique, and this is my experience and research.
My children would never have come to heal and find their preciousness without a trauma-informed parenting approach. Our traditional understanding of parenting would never have reached them and helped them heal from their past experiences. In fact, I believe if we would have parented them with traditional strategies, we would have caused even more trauma. They are not perfect, but they are connected to us and they take our instruction. They were once orphans, and now, transformed as our sons and daughter, and our family will always be a place of rest, support, and hope for them.
As a therapist who specialized working with adoptive and foster families, the most consistent concern was how to help a child with behavioral issues. Parents would be confused and baffled by their child’s behavior. They would feel sad, angry, and scared. They wanted to help their precious kiddos, but they didn’t know what to do. If you find yourself in a similar place right now, you’re not alone.