Category Archives: Adoption

End of an Era

We have decided after much thought and prayer to close our foster license. We have adopted our last two foster children that we knew were meant to be ours, and fost/adopt was one of the main reasons we had detoured from the road of biological children to  international adoption and then to foster care. I knew we had two more girls who were meant to join our family and after searching for many years at a plethora of waiting children–none of which were ours–God told me to take a chill pill. I was frantically hunting because after all I was not getting any younger with each passing year. One night as I knelt in prayer and pled one more time to be able to find my daughters, he clearly told me in my mind, “I will bring them to you.”

All of our other adopted children I had found by searching Waiting Children lists. I just naively assumed that hunting would always be part of the process and although I didn’t really enjoy it, I accepted it as a necessary evil. Instead, however, the Lord gave me the knowledge that my daughters would be here in the United States.

When we considered doing foster care back in 2006, it didn’t feel right. Being the slow learner-or stubborn fool-that I am, I still went to hand in the paperwork to an agency here in town, and felt like I was going to vomit. I sat in their parking lot and then decided I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t meant to be. After we backed out of fostering, was when we found Caleb on a waiting children’s list. Clearly, at the time, we were supposed to adopt one more time from China rather than from foster care.

Fast forward to 2009 and I felt myself being drawn to foster care. So we started the training and application process and it felt 100% right.  I knew it was right as the Spirit confirmed to me that we would find our daughters this way. Funny thing is, Peanut was one of our first placements, and my husband was the one who said “I think we will end up adopting this one.” I thought he was crazy. I was the one who usually knew first which child would be ours when we adopted, and it usually required convincing Jeff over a few months’ time that said chosen child really was meant to be ours.

Blessing came to our house two years later as a fost-adopt placement and after staying with us just over a year, her parents rights were severed and we applied to adopt her. We decided to only do respite for other foster parents at this point, but it led to lots of children in and out of our home on weekends, and then one final 6 month placement of two foster sons who had FASD.  They were sweet boys and I loved them, but their behaviors, severe allergies and extreme cognitive delays nearly led me to drink myself. They were the only placement we ever asked to be rehomed, and typical CPS removed them in a traumatic way from our home with only 45 minutes notice.

With that, I decided I was done, and now four months later, as our license has come up for renewal, we have decided instead to close it. We need a break from CPS, from court reports, from attorneys and social workers in our home, and from having to fill out an incident report to cover our rears every time a child might accidentally fall and get a bruise. We just want to be a family with no other children coming and going. Part of me is sad as I know there is a dearth of good foster homes…and I know we were a good one. We loved the children who came, we made them a part of our family while they were here, and we grieved when they left. It’s time to move on, however. Time to go on a family vacation without having to get permission to take a foster child out of the state. Time to dote more on grandchildren. Time to just be a family. Just us. What will the future hold? Only God knows, but I am excited to see the plans He has in store for us.

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Does it really take a village to raise a child?

Does it really take a village to raise a child?

Based on a previous post here, you might possibly think that I don’t believe it takes a village to raise a child. You would be right. 🙂 I have seen the village and I would prefer to pass on my values rather than the values of the world. Raising children requires committed parents who are not willing to pawn- off their responsibilities on others. However, this doesn’t mean that I think we can raise our children alone in a vacuum. I could never successfully fulfill my role as a parent without mentors in my children’s lives.

If you have entered the world of transracial adoption, you know it is one which is not always easily navigated. I can celebrate Chinese New Year and Autumn Moon Festival and Black History month with the best of them. Problem is, I can’t be Chinese, Haitian, Liberian, or Native American which are the ethnicities of some of my children.

When Ben had been home only two months, some very dear Deaf friends took him with them to see a neighborhood that goes all out decorating with Christmas lights. To be honest, I was worn out parenting a child who came home with no language. Tantrums due to misunderstandings were the norm in our household and were exhausting. Ben loved being in an environment with an entire family who signed and shrieked in delight tapping the Deaf father on the shoulder while pointing out beautiful light displays that caught his eye. Having Ben interact with others who are in the Deaf world/culture as well as gaining other language models besides mine has been such a blessing in our lives.

When Caleb came home, he didn’t speak a word of English and my Chinese was limited to such worthless phrases as “Can you speak English?”, “Where is the bathroom?”, “I am an American” and my all time favorites from Rosetta Stone of “That is an airplane” and “That is an elephant.” I admit the elephant phrase helped me on one occasion in a zoo in China but don’t think I have ever used that phrase since. Actually, I’m not even sure that the phrase was helpful in the zoo as Caleb looked at me like “Yeah, duh!”

As gesturing and a Chinese/English dictionary only went so far, I had a dear Chinese friend who stepped up to the plate. When Caleb would become upset and scream for up to 45 minutes at the top of his lungs while hiding under the bottom bunk bed in his room, I resorted to calling Katrina on the phone and pushing the phone under the bed. When he threw it back at me, I would switch it to speaker phone and she would try to talk him down from his tantrum. When he told me he didn’t love me, she laughingly told me how to say “I hate you” in Mandarin and said, “Have you heard that one yet? You haven’t? That’s a good sign.” Having the Chinese Cultural Center built in Tucson has also blessed our lives as we have been able to spend time in an environment where Ben and Caleb can comfortably blend in.

With Micheline’s adoption, I had new fears. With Ben and then later with Caleb, we already had a few contacts and friends in the Chinese community. When I googled the Haitian community where I live I found an article in the newspaper that showed there were about 35 families here. Not many, and I had no way of knowing how to contact them in a city of 1 million people. I contacted a few Haitian families in a large city nearby because they had a website, but their events consisted of $200/plate black tie dinners. Not exactly an event where I could bring a four-year-old child. One man offered to work with me in keeping up my Creole language skills and wanted a mere $50 an hour. Memories of “Hey you, give me money!” on the streets of Port-au-Prince came flooding back. I politely declined.

The more I spoke with adult adoptees, the more I realized the fact that Micheline was Haitian would probably become irrelevant in others’ eyes. They would merely see her as African-American, and no amount of me saying “She is Haitian” would make a difference. The AA community would be the one she would identify with as she grew up but only if I could find someone as a great friend and role model to help her be comfortable in her own skin. We had met a few AA adults and children at homeschooling events and even a few at the library and grocery store, but none of them really wanted to commit to a long-term friendship. Having the same color of skin is obviously meaningless if your personalities don’t click. We met some great friends in a multicultural homeschool community, but they all lived 1 1/2 – 2 hours away.

I had heard of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program for many years but had never had any interaction with them until someone suggested that having a “Big” might be a great idea for Micheline. At first I resisted the idea. If she was having attachment difficulties, wouldn’t having another adult in her life just make her resist attaching to us even more? Nothing ended up being further from the truth.

Having a mentor in her life who is African-American has made her do a 180 degree turn. After being a little sister to Shayla, Micheline has become far more accepting of who she is. I know it isn’t easy to be in a family where only one sister looks like you and everyone else is of a different race. Since the time she came home I have taught her to look in the mirror while I was putting lotion on her after a bath and say “I am beautiful, I am smart.” Regardless of how many times she recited it, she struggled to believe it. On more than one occasion she has told me she wished she had skin like mine. (Funny, because I wish I had skin like hers!) She told me when she is in public with Shayla, “No one stares at me because we look alike…we look like we belong together.”

It reminded me of when she was in kindergarten and I showed up to her field day only to have her act embarrassed and ask me to leave. I was hurt at the time that she would not want me there but tried to not let it show. It took her weeks to express to me that it was because I didn’t look like her and she didn’t want others to know she was adopted. As long as I didn’t show up, other children could continue to assume her mother was brown and the questions of “Why don’t you look like your mother?” would never happen.

After telling me more than once that she didn’t like her brown skin, I mentioned that she might talk to Shayla about it. She came home from an outing with a smile on her face and told me that night, “I feel so much better about being brown. Shayla told me that she likes being brown.”

Yesterday, Shayla invited Micheline over to her house for a birthday celebration as Micheline had just turned 12. Micheline was there for SEVEN hours. Xbox dancing, eating out, skateboarding, making Oreo milkshakes and watching movies were just a few of the things on the agenda. Toenails painted turquoise yesterday matched her dress for church today and she was thrilled.

This brings me back to the photo above. When God prompted me to adopt internationally and transracially I told Him I would need help. And He of course came through. I am thankful there are those out in the community who are willing to step out of their comfort zone and take a child under their wing. Maybe even a child who isn’t always easy to love due to quirky behaviors. While others are saying “not my child, not my community, not my problem”, it is nice to know as Fred Rogers said, “There are those who see the need and respond.” And like Fred Rogers, I consider those people my heroes.

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November 25, 2012 · 8:52 pm

Bring Thalia Home

Some friends of mine are adopting a beautiful girl with Down’s Syndrome who currently lives in a Chinese orphanage. They have worked their tails off in raising all the funds for her adoption, but are still quite a bit short.

Anyone who has ever adopted internationally knows how expensive it can be. I’ve done it three times and each time wondered how we managed to pull it off, but then was reminded that if it is the Lord’s will, the money will come through.

The Whickers are moving forward in faith with their adoption, knowing that the money will happen, but need your help in making it happen. They are having an incredible giveaway at this website where you can win some amazing prizes.

Please find it in your heart to give, even if it is only 10 or 20 dollars. My family spends far more than that if we order take out from a restaurant, so think of it as giving up just one take out meal this month. Cook that meal at home instead and you will never even miss the money from your budget. But you will have a great feeling inside knowing that you have helped a child find her forever family.

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It’s alive!

Well it isn’t Easter Sunday, but this blog is being resurrected after being in the blogworld grave for the past year. I refrained from blogging last year as it just seemed impossible. How do you write about your life when you aren’t allowed to write about your foster children or post any pictures of them? Not to mention the pain in your heart at having some removed from your home against all of your wishes! I didn’t want to blog a year of whining, so I chose to write nothing at all.

Thankfully that problem is being resolved. We adopted one of our sweethearts last month, and the other will be adopted by us this month, leaving me free to post and write just about anything I dang please without the state stepping in and shaking their finger at me. The one who is being adopted this month? Peanut! Yes, she indeed came back to us!

For Christmas a few years ago, my daughter scrapbooked my entire year of blogging for me. It is a gift that I treasure. Just last week, she gave me a few last pages from that year that she had not finished, and as I read over them, they inspired me to start writing again. So, I guess I’m back. As my kids are my favorite topic, they just might want to run for cover while they still can. 🙂

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Catholic school drop-out

Well, I am sad to say that Peanut only lasted a day and a half in Catholic school. Not surprising since she is only 4 years old and her cousin put her in kindergarten. I can’t imagine going from a special needs preschool for children with language delays to a kindergarten classroom in the middle of their school year. I mean, these kids are starting to read and write and she struggles to even write her name. Have no idea what her cousin was thinking, but I feel like Peanut was set up to fail before she ever walked into the classroom.

When Peanut doesn’t like the way things are going, she lets others know. This time she did it by biting her teacher. I know, not funny, but I have to confess I chuckled when I heard the news. She used to bite my other kids quite regularly when she first came to our home so I know biting is often her M.O. for saying “I don’t like this”, or “I am quite ticked off at the moment.” She hasn’t bitten in our home for quite a long time, however, so I know she must have been feeling very overwhelmed.

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Talking in the Dark

One of my children was really acting out tonight. I know that all the leavetakings that are happening soon are going to be very hard on her so I tried to talk to her tonight about what she was feeling. This is a child who has walls 10 feet high and 7 feet thick when it comes to discussing feelings. She very seldom gets angry and almost never cries. At least not where anyone can see. Not surprisingly, she refused to talk. So I turned off the bedroom light. Not having to look at someone always makes it a bit easier when my kids need to discuss the pain in their lives.

She still refused to answer any questions I asked, so I said a prayer and dove in. I have been reading a book on stories that help children heal from trauma and loss, and so I told her a claiming story. I spoke of my awareness of her pain of being abandoned as a baby; of not looking like the rest of her adoptive family; of knowing how her heart aches to see her birth mother again but not knowing if she is even alive after the earthquake in Haiti took so many lives.

But then I also shared how I KNOW…and I mean I truly KNOW that she was meant to come here. She was meant to be a part of our family and I knew that before she ever arrived. I prayed for her and dreamed about her before I ever even found her and once I did, all it took was a look at her photo to have God whisper to my heart, “There is your daughter. Go get her.” God has a way of making sure that children end up in the families where they are supposed to be. I told her all of this.

Lest those of you doubters blast me about children being born to abusive parents or into Third World countries where they die of starvation or disease, I do not know what God’s plan is for every child on this earth, but I do know that He does indeed have a plan whether we understand it or not. I know in my heart that the foster children who have been placed in my care came to our home–and not another foster home–for a reason. I know that in spite of the pain and anguish my foster children have experienced, that they have angels watching over them. I also know that no matter how badly it hurts to have them leave, perhaps staying in my home is not part of God’s plan for their life and they need to move on to gain the life experiences they need.

With this one, however, I told her that God wanted her to be here. Yes, it hurts to have to experience so much loss at such a young age, but without the loss, she would not be here today. The loss was part of her journey here and something that can contribute to her growth and strength, or something that can attempt to break her. The viewpoint is all up to her. Does it take away the pain? No. Does it give her a stronger sense of “rightness” –for lack of a better word–about why she lives here in this family? I think it did.

Part of the walls around her started to crumble a bit tonight. In a good way. Usually when her feelings rise to the surface, no one is allowed to share them. Tonight she let me in and even allowed physical touch that she usually resists when she is feeling defensive. She fell asleep in my arms with contented sighs. It’s only the first leg of a long road ahead of us, but at least for the moment, we are sharing the journey together.

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Adoption always comes from loss

When I first felt led to adoption, all I could think of was how wonderful it would be to add a new child to our family. As I looked at photos of children needing families, I envisioned them sitting with us at our dinner table, playing at the park, opening gifts on Christmas morning, and sleeping peacefully in their new beds. Of course I knew that they would have difficulties transitioning to a new home and environment, but I had read stacks of books on adoption, and subscribed to a few adoption magazines so I felt ready to tackle any mountains that the trail of adoption put in our path.

As any parent will tell you, however, reading it and knowing it in your head is not the same as living it. I’m not sure that even reading every single book printed on the topic of adoption adequately prepares you for the day that your child says, “My Mom must not have loved me or she wouldn’t have given me away.” Or, “I guess to my first Mom I was just a piece of junk. If she really loved me, she would have kept me.” Yes, I have heard both of those, and the pain that comes from the heart of the child expressing those words can be overwhelming. Watching feelings of despair wash over a child because their birth parents abandoned them can leave a parent feeling helpless.

Sometimes no amount of reassurance of “Your mother loved you, but could not take care of you”, is enough. Sometimes there are no easy answers. I know my children were supposed to come to my family, but where does that leave the role of birthparents in their lives?

Fostering has added yet another dimension to the biological parent issue in our home. One of my foster daughter’s parents are still in her life as reunification is the current goal on her caseplan, although it will now only be with one parent as the other has made no progress and it is recommended that her rights be severed.

My other four year old will never again live with her bio parents as their rights have already been severed. She will move in exactly two weeks clear across the country to live with a cousin. That will add yet another dimension of pain and loss to the children in our home because she has been their sister in every sense of the word for 22 months now.
Now that I am on the other side of the coin as I watch them leave, I have gained more empathy for my children’s birth parents. I see not only my adoptive children’s pain, but I catch a glimpse of their biological parents’ pain as well. Yes, some made a conscious choice of drugs over their children, but I do not know what caused some of my children’s mothers to have to leave them and never return. Was it poverty? Inability to care for medical needs? A desire that their child have a better life than they could provide?

Maybe like me, they had no choice. Maybe like me, their government made the decision for them. My government decided that “blood relations” means family even though these relatives are virtual strangers. Basically, “blood is thicker than water” or more honestly, “shared blood means more than the strong and loving attachment you have to your foster family”. Maybe their government made the choice for them by telling them a second child would cost them thousands of dollars in fines, so it would be best to abandon the disabled child in order to try again without any financial penalties.

I don’t know, but as I prepare my foster daughter to leave our home, my heart aches with an intensity that I have not felt before. Her new adoptive parents–from our limited conversations–only see the happy side so far. They are still in the “Opening presents on Christmas morning and sleeping in new beds” mode I was in over 10 years ago. They reassure me all will be well, that she will be loved, that she will be happy. So far, they refuse to see the painful side; the loss that is involved in leaving not only bio parents behind, but the home and family she has had for the past 22 months. They refuse to believe that she will grieve.I know this is true for parents who have had a miscarriage or lost a child. Saying a prayer for you and thinking of you too. National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness/Remembrance Day:

They don’t understand that I will be praying for her day and night and wondering if she is sleeping well or crying herself to sleep. They don’t know of the night terrors she had when she first arrived here, nor do they want to hear about them. I worry she will have them all over again and wonder if they will know how to handle them. And as I worry…as I have sleepless nights, my empathy and appreciation for my children’s biological parents deepens. Sometimes it is in pain that our greatest life lessons are learned.

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