Why Did You Adopt Older Children?

2 09 2008

Ramona and her husband, Bob, have three biological children and have adopted eight older children, several from disruptions. Check out their blog, Adoption 3:16, for further insights into dealing with the issues that arise from older child adoption.

This is a question often asked of parents who have adopted older children.  The answers will vary greatly, but I can attempt to answer regarding our own experience. 

After the birth of our third child, we were no longer physically able to have children through biological means.  The thought of adopting was a small seed in the back of our minds which was brought to the forefront occasionally, but not usually seriously considered.  One Sunday, God began to grow that seed, though, and our lives have not been the same since. 

A notice in our church bulletin told of two orphans in Russia who needed a loving home, ages 8 and 9, a brother and sister.  The sister was deaf and the chances of these two “special needs” children being adopted was very slim.  A local non profit Christian adoption agency had taken on the project of praying for a family for these children, though, and one of their prayer partners had placed the notice in our church’s bulletin that Sunday. 

God worked in our hearts over the next few weeks and it was not long before we found ourselves with a social worker in our home, doing a homestudy!  These children were to be brought into our home with siblings very close to their own ages, which seemed a delightful “fit” to us. 

After these two had been home for a couple of years, the same adoption agency began praying for another sibling group, ages 12, 13, and 14.  We joined them in prayer, and soon in rejoicing, when a family living very near us stepped forward to begin the adoption process.  Prayers began anew only a few months later, though, when this couple made the difficult decision to stop the adoption process, leaving these three children once again in a “hopeless” situation.  Having never parented teens, we knew that we couldn’t possibly consider adopting these three…  Our prayers began take a different turn, however, as we slowly began to realize that God was moving in our hearts and giving us a parental love for these children.  After much prayer and counseling with our church elders, we once again found a social worker in our home, preparing a homestudy.  These were not children we sought out, specifically hoping to adopt teens.  Rather, God brought them to us, making a places in our hearts for them throughout the adoption journey.  I have to admit that I was petrified at the thought of parenting teenagers, but my spiritual mentor (who was a mother of four boys, teenaged and up) counseled me through my fears, as we read Age of Opportunity, by Paul David Tripp, together. 

My husband and I soon began to realize that God had indeed given us a love for these older orphans, challenges and all.  The three high risk pregnancies had taken a toll on my body, comprising my health, so the thought of adopting children who would require much physical energy was out of the question (i.e., infants and toddlers).   Teenagers require much more emotional energy than physical, and we discovered that God was equipping us along the way to deal with each challenge as it arose. 

After a couple more years, we felt that God was moving us towards adoption again, although we were uncertain what direction we were to go in.  Since all we knew was Russian adoption, we began updating our homestudy to that end.  However, that process was brought to a screeching halt when we received an email regarding a sibling group of three girls who had been adopted from Vietnam by a family in the US.  This family had plans to disrupt their adoption of these sisters, and a new family was being sought for them.  We knew immediately that we wanted to bring these girls into our home and soothe the pain of their rejection.  It soon became apparent that the family would not allow all three girls to be adopted together, though, and we were only able to adopt the oldest sister, age 12 at the time. 

Almost before our suitcases had even been unpacked from that trip, we were approached by another family who was also disrupting their daughter.  Since this situation was not as volatile as the first, we began to counsel the family, hoping they would change their minds and not send their daughter away.  In the end, she joined our family a few short months later, at the age of 11, though. 

With ten children and much experience with the challenges and pain that older adopted children bring with them into their new homes, we began to find ourselves counseling more and more families who were struggling with their adopted children.  God planted a desire in our hearts to reach out to these families, who were often poorly prepared for the specific issues older institutionalized children faced.  We hoped to write a book, to reach the widest audience possible, but time constraints and our own “life experiences” stood in the way. 

As a means of trying to help one of these families, we offered respite for their rebellious teenage daughter.  After she had been in our home for a week, they made the disappointing decision to go through with the disruption.  Although this 14 year old girl was angry and hateful beyond anything we had seen to date, we knew that God had placed her in our home for a reason.  The next few months were filled with turmoil as she stayed in our home during the disruption/adoption process took place.  A few short months after she legally became our daughter, God softened her heart and brought her to saving faith in Him!  The rages turned into theology discussions with Dad, often into the early morning hours. 

Back to the question, “Why did you adopt older children?”  In our case, we never set out to adopt (with the slight exception of what we thought was our third Russian adoption).  Rather, God brought children to us each time.   We determined early on in our adoptions that we would never “compete” for a child.  The only children brought into our homes through adoption were truly those whom no one else wanted.  Infants and toddlers often had parents waiting in line to adopt them, while older children languished in orphanages with little hope for a loving home.  These are the ones God placed on our hearts. 

As my husband often says, though, “We feel like we have plucked diamonds out of someone else’s trash heap.”  Despite the difficult times (and there have been plenty), we have been blessed beyond belief through our parenting journey.

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