Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stand by Me-- not so nice side of adoption

Odd title, huh?  Well, you know me and honesty.  I'm going to lay it out here.  I'm going to be honest.  this is real.  May be hard for some to hear but it is something that happens more often than not in the adoption world and it is very hard for adoptive parents to deal with.  What is it you ask?   Family support.  Just as parents expecting a biological child, adoptive parents expecting a child are just as excited.  They can not wait to share the good news with everyone in hopes that they'll at least get a congratulations, happy to hear or wonderful news.  Something, anything...especially, from family, relatives.  For some of us though, that moment never comes.  Keep in mind, this will all be from my experience and my perspective.  But trust me when I tell you I've talked to hundreds of families over the past decade who have had to endure the same harsh path we have in regards to family support.  I will not mention any names in my post nor relation to us.   Just know, we consider these people family.  Many in the adoption world have told us to sever ties with them.  We never have.  Always remaining faithful, supportive and hopeful that their hearts & soul will change.  They have not.  However, we forge forward as that is what we have to do.  The adoption world forces you to become strong whether you want to or not.  So, here's the story.

Warren & I have never been able to have children.  Does it matter why?  No.  Did we ever want to have biological children?  Without a doubt.  Always longed for that baby but apparently God had other plans for us.  Every time we adopt we always hear "well, now you'll get pregnant."  Umm, don't think so.  When we first learned it would be near impossible for us to conceive, we had a choice to make.  Spend the money on fertility treatments that would only give us a "chance" at a child or spend the money on adoption that would bring home children for sure.  You can figure out on your own smart readers which path we chose.  Do we regret that decision?  Not on your life!  For that decision hinged on how our family was formed.  It was our decision to make and ours alone.  When we first told everyone(I'm referring to family here) we were adopting from Russia, we were met with many why questions.  That is understandable.  That, I truly can understand and don't mind explaining.  when our kids got home though, I still can not forget the words of someone when they came over to meet the kids for the first time.  Looking at Max(& thank God he didn't understand any english at the time), they said "what is that?!"  They were referring to the fact that he was Asian looking.  I said "he's your xxxx, say hello."  To this day, I still can not forget that moment nor the look on that person's face.  My heart sank into my stomach.  This is nothing though compared to what was to come of the next two adoptions.  Have a strong stomach folks?  LOL. 

Remember, we had our first two children for four years before we even added any others.  Even hosted hcildren to see if we were ready to adopt & parent more kids.  Some of the things said to us include:  "you're just buying Irina a sister."  Why would you want to adopt someone else's problems?"  You're takign away from your other kids?"  Yes, these were just a FEW of the comments to follow.  I will not even get into the real nasty ones said.  Just suffice it to say, the grinch was looking like an angel at this point.  Just as bio parents can decide to add to their family & almost never get questioned, adoptive parents seem to run into bombardments of questions and oppositions for whatever reason.  Not exactly sure why.  I've been asked why I'd want to raise someone else's problem.  I don't see our kids as problems or challenges.  Now, sometimes they can create problems but that's just regular kid stuff.  I have to admit, I get jealous when I hear of the outpouring of support from relatives of other adoptive families.  It would mean so much to us but we know we'll never have that.  That hurts a lot.  If a baby were to be born here, I'm sure it would be a different story.  some of you are saying "well, how do you know."  What many don't know what kicked up the whole adoption feelings again this time is back in August, we were among a few other families that were being considered to become the parents to a 2 week old infant girl girl w/ possible CP.  I mean, it was summer time, I was watching 11 kids in the pool, writing a dear birthmother letter & filling out forms all in  a few hours time in order to have a chance.  That opportunity obivously fell through as we don't have her.  Though disappointed, we realized at that moment, we did want to parent again.  Not necessarily an infant but definintely another child.  Though an infant would have been nice.  God works in mysterious ways they say.  This was definitely our ahh-haa moment of wanting to adopt again.  I started looking at children then again.
But, back to this topic.  I had called a few family members & told them we were being considered for an infant girl.  Estatic, congratulatory ,etc.  Everything you would expect.  Though I will say I said the child would most likely be healthy & just has a chance of CP.  Don't know if that made a difference or the difference was that it was a baby.  Didn't matter.  Point is the excitement was there for that child but NOT for any of my others who do in fact matter.  We were told all kinds of things when we brought Bojan home & heaven forbid, he was missing a leg.  Really, is it that big of deal?  Not to us, not to him.  The bigger picture is he had a home, a family that loved him.  I think the other questions that arose was our ability to parent so many children.  Now, our philosophy here is once you're out numbered, you're outnumbered!  Doesn't matter if it is 3 kids or 10 kids.  If there are more than the parents present, you are outnumbered.  Relatives believed that we could only parent so many kids b/c of the ones we had at home and all their needs.  We know they have needs but in the big picture, their needs are relatively small.  They only see our children typically at a big family gathering (NOT normal behavior at those things for any PI kid or FASer) when out of routine and out of normal eating patterns.  Makes a huge difference.  Maybe that is where the narrow-minded judgements are coming from, I don't know.  Maybe it was a different time when they grew up.  We are told we are being selfish and tkaing away from the other children.  I still have yet to figure out what we are "taking away" from them.  Things:  No.  Love:  No.  Activities:  No.  Room:  No.  So what praytel are we taking away?!  I'd really like to know.  We are told we are getting older and should just enjoy our retirement years.  What?!  Umm, I'm only 37 and last time I checked, that wasn't near retirement age.  Did anyone stop to think we are happy with the children.  any relatives?  I know some have & I must say I appreciate those few more than they'll ever realize for their support.  During an adoption, emotional support is SO important to the family.  They can use that more than anything b/c it is a hard process, especially if you have family criticizing you the entire way through it.  We've learned to ignore it all these years.  Now, with the lastest 3 additions, we have not told relatives exactly what special needs they have or even if they ahve special needs though I'm sure they can figure it out.  We have been told we lost our minds.  We've been told you should go to counseling b/c you have a "problem."  We've been told again we are taking away from our other children and that we are too old to become parents again.  We have been told first and foremost that they will NOT support this adoption nor will any of the other family members.  Though all this initailly hurt us this go around, we can't say that we didn't expect it.  We were just ultimately too optimistic once more.  That once our relatives see our children in action once home they will change the attitude.  We are told we can not save them all.  By goodness, with 147 million orphans in the world I highly, highly doubt we are trying to save them all.   These next three childrne of ours are coming home and completing our family.  This is it for us.  We already know.  We already sense a feeling of completion when talking about what we'll do w/ them once home.  Places we'll go, things we'll see.  I will never get my baby.  Yet in a sense I will.  My youngest that is coming home is little.  She is indeed MY "baby."  I wouldn't trade the toddlers to older children we've brought home for anything.  Okay, so this week has been crazy & if I were asked that question yesterday, I may have answered differently--LOL.   But that is just normal, crazy, holiday, school stuff life.  I'm okay with that.  We are happy where we are in life and where we're going.  We would have loved to have had family/ relative support this go around.  Encouraging words mean a lot to adoptive families.  They really do.  Sad part is (or maybe not so sad part) is we get tons & tons of encouragement from friends, neighbors, and even strangers.  I have strangers help passing our blog address & message of our fundraisers out there.  We have people giving us donations, people encouraging us by words, the little things.  They mean a lot.  Do we wish we could receive this from our families too?  Absolutely.  We do wish that.  I know adoption is not for everyone and I don't force adoption on anyone whatsoever.  Supporting adoption does not mean you yourself have to go out and adopt.  I must say I'm jealous of the families that are able to go bring their children home and take their grandparents with them.  I know for us, that would never happen.  I've asked before if people have wanted to go.  It really is a life changing event.   I just hope one day that our children can be seen for who they are and appreciated for who they are.  I hope one day that our families will see that all our adoptions were miracles in themselves.  That our adoptions did serve a purpose.  It really is amazing how one life can touch so many others.  We have 10 little lives that so far have reached thousands with their hearts and courage.  Yet the ones we want them to reach the most, it just doesn't seem to happen.  We never will tell our children all the bad things that were said in reference to their adoptions.  Though I will say some of my kids have already been told they can no longer visit certain places if they get more brothers and sisters.  Simply not true.  We know 12 people may seem like a big number and we definitely don't want to impose.  We've always told relatives our kids don't mind camping and neither do we.   We are great at improvising. 

Point of writing all this isn't to put anyone down.  I'm just telling it like it is from our view.  It hurts.  You can't take back words once they come out of your mouth.  You just can't.  That has been proven time and time again here.  We wish we could force our relatives to think differently but everyone is entitled to their opinions.  I can respect that.  What we want more than anything though is encouraging words and support.  That, we know we will never get.  Going through the adoption process as some of you know is hard enough.  It is even harder when you don't have that family/ relative support.  Yet, somehow, some way, every time we've adopted, we have forged forward despite the lack of family support.  Support came from so many other sources it was amazing to sit back and watch.  We had people bring us food home, people take care of our kids, people sending us cards, people giving gift cards to take the kids out w/ once home.  Just an outpouring of kindness, generosity and overall goodwill was witnessed at each and every adoption we've done.   It made me smile and cry every single time no matter how big or how small the gesture.  It came from the heart.  Sometimes though you wish though your family would stand by you w/ their hearts as much as your friends and neighbors do.  I know this wasn't the happiest post but one that must be shown as to give new adoptive parents some insight as to what "may" happen.  Doesn't happen to all families but it does indeed happen to some.  Know though to stick to your guns if it happens to you.  If you have a calling to adopt or know these are your children, proceed with it.  ONLY you know what is best for YOUR family.  No one else does.  Only you.  If you know someone adopting, please encourage them.  Listen to them when they are going through a rough time.  Support them.  If you live by them, give them a hug.  Best thing you can give to another adoptive family is your support.  Stand by them.  I found a song on the internet today.  I've always loved the song stand by me.  This one just seems to have a meaning of its own.  HOpe you like it as much as I do.

Will some of you stand by me???  I do hope so.  It really means the world to an adoptive parent.  We love our kids before they are home.  Just as a mother loves her unborn child.  


  1. How utterly beautiful and sadly - true. What an eloquent way to voice your pain. I feel your sadness because we, too, do not very much support from family. Let's come together - families like yours and ours. Let's become family to one another and support each other in every way we are able. We are there for you, friends.

  2. I think what you are doing is wonderful and it is a shame that everyone can't see that. Your kids have thrived and been shown what love and family means and those are the most important things. Those that can't or won't support you, realy don't know what they are missing out on. You have terrific kids and are doing a commendable job with them.

  3. So sorry Stephanie for your lack of family support. I am thankful that you have support from other people. Some people just do not accept when others make choices they would not. It is sad, but true. Pray for them is all you can do. You and your husband DO know what is best for your family. Just know you are doing God's will. Bless you all for that.

  4. You and your husband are courageous and giving people. You have indeed saved 10 lives. You and your children are blessings to one another. Although we only have 2 children- one bio, and one adopted at age 2 with minor special need, we were told by my husbands mother that you are ruining your lives, etc. desperately trying to change our minds before the adoption was completed. Both of our girls are wonderful kids. I would love to adopt 1 or 2 children from Bulgaria to complete our family- and I'm sure we will again deal with hysterics from this family member. You are not alone- make your friends your family. Congratulations on your upcoming adoptions and good luck with everything!

  5. Stephanie!. Very honest and touching post!. I have to tell you that this is my biggest panic point in the adoption process: how it´s going to react my family in law, friends and relatives?!. Specially adopting a deaf kid. So they will have to learn ASL if they want to have a relationship with him!. So in a way I am preparing myself for that, and I expect the worst reaction from them!. Just in case!.
    And If it helps you a bit!... You are a model for us!. We are starting our first adoption and, I thank God to put you in our road to take advices, tips and courage from you in our first steps in this!. You and your family are like a lighthouse for us right now!. And I just pray God to bless us with a little cute as your Nick (please, let him know that that he has a fan in here!). God bless you all!.