Birthdays. We all have them and if we’re lucky and blessed, we will be given a good number of them as we spend our days on this earth. Kids eagerly anticipate them and often are planning them longer in advance than Christmas.
Even though I’m in the age range of “approaching older than dirt” I guess I’m still a kid at heart.
I want presents. I want an amazing cake and my favorite ice cream. I want balloons. I want all the good stuff. I don’t subscribe to being old means you don’t need/get that anymore.
In my family we are entering birthday season and yesterday we celebrated my youngest, my daughter.
She officially left the teen years behind. She was the last of my brood to do so.
I have grown adult kids. Holy cow how did that happen??
Yesterday was her official birthday but we will kinda be celebrating her through out the week. I will be making some type of wicked cake this Saturday, but yesterday we had monster cupcakes ’cause you need something to celebrate moving into a new decade, right?
Kids grow up, that’s normal right?
Yep, they do. And as mentioned she’s the last one leaving her teen years so I’ve got a little practice on me with several ahead of her.
But here’s the deal.
We got her when she was 8 years old. Half of her childhood had gone by. Sometimes maybe, I have a hard time realizing she is now a young woman. Maybe I’m still caught up thinking there should be more childhood years.
Of course add to it she’s a whopping 4’10, I sometimes forget that she isn’t a “little” girl anymore.
The choice to adopt.
We had children. We had three perfect, wonderful,healthy sons that we were quite happy with. They were all big when we made the decision to add to our family through adoption. Our youngest son was 11.
We knew we were done with babies and wanted a child that could just get up and go with us and start to fit into our family. We were told adopting older children was fairly easy since there were so many and families tend to want younger children.
The labor begins
Adoption has it’s own labor as much as carrying a child and then delivering them. It’s just a different labor and delivery process.
We adopted our daughter through the foster care system. There are literally hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. foster care. We found an agency to work with and began the classes and working on home requirements, inspections etc that were required.
There was loads of paper work.
Some of the classes were painfully boring. Some things as a parent, we already knew and were just understood yet we had to sit in parenting classes.
We told the agency about the type of child we wanted. We settled on somewhere between age 7-10, race wasn’t important and of course, we wanted a girl.
We got the call not many days after all of our official paperwork was done. There was a young girl who needed emergency placement within a couple days or she would be taken to the children’s shelter. She fit into our criteria, would we want to meet her?
Well, of course we did.
We made arrangement for the next day, a Wednesday, to meet her and her foster family as well as the caseworker at a local restaurant.
It is a weird experience walking in and seeing a child that you know is going to be yours. It is weird knowing you are getting someone else’s child and are picking up the reins to raise and care for them.
There are a whole lot of emotions that are going on.
And not just for us, but for her too. At 8 years of age she had been through more than a lot of children. She also knew that something was up and was trying to be her most ‘impressive”.
We enjoyed our time meeting her and told the caseworker we were willing to move forward.
That was on Wednesday. On Friday December 1, 2006 our daughter arrived with a book, one stuffed animal and a small trash bag of clothes, most of which did not fit.
She was nervous, a bit hyper and desperately wanting to do all the right things.
You see we were her fifth placement since October of that year.
5 homes in a few months through no fault of her own.
Imagine being at your job one day. Your life isn’t perfect but it’s what you know. Then a nice man shows up and tells you that you can’t go back home but you are going to go live with some other nice people. He has stopped at your home and brought a few of your things but that is all that goes with you.
You leave everything you know behind to walk into a new home and life… immediately.
Imagine for a moment if you can, what that would feel like. The complete uprooting of your life.
Now think of a child having to deal with it.
Is it any wonder they all have some sort of “emotional issues”?
The journey begins
It’s hard sitting here writing this, to think back to those early days when we got her, attempting to remember the way she was.
She’s always been sweet and loving. She desperately wanted a family and to be able to stay somewhere. She also was prone to immediate temper tantrums, biting, lying, and delivering words you might not expect from a child.
In the beginning any wrong move terrified her making her sure that she “would have to go”
I remember asking her one day what did she think was so bad that she could do that she’d have to leave… that we wouldn’t keep her. In her child’s way she had all these reasons that I assured her weren’t reasons for us to get rid of her like a bag of trash.
How did that happen?
It took day after day of love, care, patience and showing her that in families people make mistakes or do things wrong but you love each other and keep moving forward. There wasn’t going to be something she’d do that would make us send her on to another home.
It took day after day of love, correction, discipline, and showing new examples for changes to occur.
Since we did the foster to adopt route and she was older with parental rights already terminated, we were able to move forward in a quick way with the adoption.
In May, 5 short months later, she officially became ours. But even then it was a long time before I think she really believed she was truly home and no one could take her or make her leave.
We had to develop routines and consistency and set boundaries. We had to show her love in ways our boys never needed it. We had to work through some negative behaviors that are really more survival skills kids pick up going through the upheavals of changing homes and being in foster care.
After about the second day of having her I realized I needed to handle her just like my own kids. For awhile it seems like you’ve got the neighbors kid and you find yourself allowing or even giving them little things they request. So that’s what we did. If we were committing to make her our daughter then we would handle her like our own.
And then the years move by
Day by day, moment by moment you’re living life. And somehow this new life merged into ours.
Love, patience, training, teaching. helping, more patience and she began to blossom. The more secure she became the less talk there was she might have “to leave”.
She made friends, was doing well in school was liked by her teachers and was living a normal life a kid should have.
As I contemplate the young woman she has turned into it’s hard not to feel a little proud. Her dad and I consider her no less ours than the ones that biologically were given to us.
She went through her entire high school career on the dance team, maintained awesome grades, worked, kept a close circle of friends and was an overall good kid.
She has finished her first year of college and heading into her second. She has goals set for herself. She is focused and determined. She has continued to work and has arranged her school schedule around that.
She is sweet, compassionate, loving and giving. Oh, and she still has a strong little stubborn will too haha But she is also always grateful, always thankful for the life she was given.
I’ve tried to show her how to be strong, how to do things for herself and how to be proud of who she is and not compare herself to others.
I want her to be a woman who knows how to get things done and can see ways to make it happen.
She always says she is blessed and grateful but we remind her we feel the same way.
Adoption.. things to know
We did it more than once. In fact we did it three times. Like pregnancy and delivery each one has their own story and out come.
If you feel led to pursue adoption consider doing it through the foster care system. A little known fact is that it costs next to nothing to adopt. This could vary state by state but for ours it was nothing.
There are tons of myths about kids in foster care and adopting them. Yes, some do have serious issues. You would need to know and understand your level of abilities and care giving skills if you felt called to care for them.
Overall, there are more kids that are like yours but unfortunately they are in situations they didn’t ask to be put in. They’ve done nothing wrong to be there. They just want to be kids and do kid things and be safe and loved.
The children are many and they desperately want the same things your own kids do.
Love, security, family, a sense of belonging, birthday parties, friends, holiday celebrations etc.
Many “issues” are from the emotional trauma of what they’ve been through. With love, care, patience and a little time these behaviors leave. Our daughter exhibits none of the behaviors she came with all those years ago.
You can pick the age, sex, race and level of behaviors you think you can handle in a child. You can ask for a single child or a sibling group.
We found the agency and workers we dealt with to be very helpful and encouraging. To this day I maintain connections with many of them.
Keep in mind, you might be excited about the adoption idea, but when you share it with family they may or may not be immediately on board with the idea.
Don’t worry about it.
This is about you and the calling you and your family have. The rest will eventually come along you may have to give it time. Even if they entirely don’t, this is about your family. Just focus on that. Adoption will take all of your positive energy.
Finally, adoption is simply a most beautiful way to not just add to your family but to give a child their forever family, something they all long for.
It’s a beautiful gift you both give to each other and there is nothing more rewarding than that.
Todays post is more of a life post. Sometimes I’ll spend some time sharing things that impact us in our lives. Have you had any connection or interaction with adoption?