Hello readers! I hope you are all doing well today. I would like to remind everyone of our Map Fundraiser over at Caring for Carolina $5 to our FSP and you can have your name put on any state of our puzzle map. The names will be on the front of the map along with the other facts about each state so our little girl can see her new country and all the people who helped bring her here.
Now on to the Q&A
1.) Did you know Carolina was your daughter when you first saw her or did she grow on you?
Well, a little of both. When I first saw Carolina, I was up late nursing my youngest daughter who was about 4 months old. Immediately, I was drawn to her, but I wasn't looking to adopt. I had seen Reece's Rainbow before and would always participate in Angel Tree donations. That is when I saw her. Angel Tree 2010. She wasn't on the tree, but I stayed up browsing the site for a couple of hours wondering what could be done to help so many needy children who had nobody. I came back to check on Carolina many times, certain she would have a family. To my surprise and bewilderment, she did not.
My husband and I had discussed the possibility of adopting a child from Reece's Rainbow "someday," possibly when our other four were older. Time passed and in the early spring of 2012 a little boy with Down Syndrome showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. I recognized the advocacy site immediately....Reece's Rainbow. I donated and shared the posting, which caught the attention of a friend, Daneille, from The Wonder of Boys whom I knew from our local Home School group. I checked out her blog and decided I could certainly do that to help these precious kids. And so, Imagery of My Heart was born! I blogged about Carolina HERE and was again certain that a family would step forward for her. As you can tell by that post, I was clearly falling in love with her, but was convinced that "people like me" couldn't possibly adopt internationally. And then we had a new family move into our church....it was Valerie and family From the Trenches of Adoption they are an amazing yet completely ordinary, and approachable family with 7 adopted special needs children...and biological triplets. I was beginning to see that perhaps people who adopt were not much different than "people like me." Valerie answered so many questions and her children are just incredible. I was still afraid of the process, of putting my family "out there" to be scrutinized. Are we really good enough?
We live in a 3 bedroom house and already have 4 children....social workers wouldn't like that....or so I thought. I was speaking with Daneille one day at a park while all the kids played and expressed my fears of what a social worker would think coming into our home. She said something I'd never thought of before, "Well, people who do home studies want kids to be adopted." That had NEVER occurred to me. I know, silly, right? I had this idea in my mind that a home study was like a military inspection where the idea was to find some off the wall reason to "fail" the family. I don't know why I thought that way, but I did. It was later that night that I realized our family met ALL of the requirements to adopt, with room to spare. And we decided we would commit to a child. I knew Carolina would be on our list of children to pray about, but I still figured she'd have a family before we could get to her. She was always my husband's first choice. And then it happened. I kept getting that calm reassurance, but kept saying, "Are you sure God? Maybe I'm misinterpreting."
Have I mentioned I overthink everything?
So one night after asking yet again for "a strong confirmation of what we should do" I woke up in the middle of the night, heart pounding, with an absolute sense of urgency and her face in my mind. I knew exactly what I needed to do right then. That doesn't mean my fears and reservations weren't still there, but I knew she was the one.
So I contacted Reeces Rainbow and told them I was ready to commit to Carolina.....and got a reply that went something like this: "I'm so sorry, I didn't know who you were considering. There is a family in country now who is trying to add her to their adoption. Until we know what is going on there, we cannot process your commitment." I felt my heart sink. I was thrilled that Carolina was getting a family, but terribly confused as to how I had managed to misinterpret my promptings. And so I prayed for God's will to be done and for my heart to be open to His will for us. Then I went about my morning. When I came back about an hour later, I had a message telling me the other family was not able to add Carolina as she was not in the region they had hoped.....and that she was being moved to the My Family Found Me page...for us! And at that moment, I knew. I KNEW that we were doing what our Father in Heaven wanted us to do. I began crying and cheering at the same time. It was one of the most emotional times of my life.
So I suppose I was immediately drawn to her in my heart, but my brain got in the way. That is something I still feel very guilty about. I wish I would have pursued her when I first saw her, but I believe the extra time I had has helped me as well as my entire family to become better prepared for adoption. We are going into this with our eyes wide open.
If the right child came along, would you adopt two?
Well....we are approved for two. We were advised to do this as one never knows what will happen. At this point in time, however, we are only planning to adopt Carolina. If we got over there and found she had a sibling that was available, we would try to adopt him/her as well, but barring that, we only plan on one....for now, but anything is possible.
How did your heart open to adoption?
I've already shared how we came to the decision to adopt this particular child, but we have been open to adoption from the very beginning of our marriage. My husband had thought about it for a long while due to some experiences in his life and decided it was definitely something he could handle. My inlaws adopted his best friend as a teenager, so older child adoption was something he was always comfortable with. I am paternally adopted, so I have always known that love of a family has nothing to do with DNA. We began considering adoption when we suffered from secondary infertility. We ended up being able to conceive, but when baby #3 wasn't coming along, we again considered adopting. In both of those instances, age and income requirements kept us from being able to pursue adoption. Baby #4 was still very young when the idea came to our hearts again, but that is when it took root and began to grow into a desire that moved us to action.
What do the kids think?
They are all very excited. My 5 year old daughter prays for Carolina multiple times per day and has an obnoxious habit of asking me about 50 times each day, "When will we get Carolina?" My 2 year old was convinced that Carolina was in the box delivered by the UPS man....that was interesting and quite funny. My 8 year old boy tells people all the time about HIS international adoption, just as though he's the one doing it all. It's quite funny. He seems very excited as well, but he has been begging for us to bring him a little brother too. My oldest is an 11 year old boy and he is surprisingly excited as well. He is very interested in the orphan crisis and gets quite indignant when he hears of children suffering.
How do you deal with negative responses from friends and family?
Probably not as well as I should. I don't have snappy come-back lines. I don't quote scripture. My husband and I just very plainly told people that this is something we are doing. We did not say it is something we are "thinking about doing." It isn't easy as many people don't realize how hurtful their comments can be. Things such as, "You need to consider your 'real' kids' feelings..."
I always wonder what kind of parents they think we are if they think we could possibly make any decision without thinking of our biological children. I can't make a meal plan without considering each child, so I am certainly not going to fly across the world and adopt without thinking of them. At the same time, I don't know many families who consult their biological children before adding to their family in the traditional way. Adoption is a little different, particularly with an older child, but the amount of say a child has in family planning, should be limited.
What is right for us, may not be right for others and THAT IS FINE. I really wish people would believe that. So often we have had friends pull away thinking that if they agree it is good for us to adopt, that they may be expected to do so as well. That is NOT what we believe. We are all called to different paths and I would never presume to know what is right for another family.
Mainly, people are very supportive. We have been amazed at how many people have been supportive of us and are anxiously waiting our new little girl's arrival. We are incredibly blessed with wonderful family and friends. Those who are not enthused will likely come around when she is home. The idea of change is often worse than the change itself.
Do you ever get crap for adopting from another country when there are so many kids in need here?
Yes, we do. Our response is simply, "Because we were led this way." And it is true. But I think what they are really asking is, "Why did you choose not to adopt from Foster care?" And I do have an answer for that. There are actually several reasons but they get rather complex. But the main reason, the very biggest one, was that with foster children, there is a high risk of them being taken away. So not only would we be parenting very hurt kids, we would always be in transition. My bio kids would bond to their new siblings and then they could be gone. Who knows how many placements we would have before we finally got a child or two that could actually stay? And what about the ones that were taken away? I would be a wreck knowing I had to give kids back to parents or relatives that would continue to traumatize them. It is just not something I am equipped to do right now. Remember, I have the spirit of a warrior. Sending children back into abusive situations goes against the core of my being.
And on another note, kids in U.S. foster care have more aid and assistance than kids overseas in orphanages. Even one day in foster care earns you free tuition to any state college. The status of "orphan" in Eastern Europe allows for discrimination. A disabled orphan's fate is much worse.
This child probably has Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida. Do you see how he (or she, they shave the girls' heads too) is TIED to the crib? This is how this child will spend his or her life. Starving, unloved, left to waste away. Should his countrymen care? Yes. Do they? Not yet. Change comes slowly in these nations that are still incredibly poor, with inadequate access to medical care. Social change will be slow. Parents will continue to feel their disabled children are "better off" in this sort of environment than at home for many years to come.
Yes, I could foster. I could take in a child or two, and receive a stipend for all their clothing and care. I could adopt those kids and continue to receive state money for them because of their previous life in foster care. That would be a good and righteous thing to do. But how on earth someone could think that taking in a child like this one....a child left to wither away while their body consumes itself....a child whose muscles are contracting, pulling bones from their sockets....a child who is tied to a crib constantly...a child who gets one clean diaper per day if he's lucky....how could anyone criticize adopting this child simply because he's not American? How could anyone criticize fundraising to get to him?
I wish that people in these countries would adopt these children, but wishing it won't make it so. For now, there is a great need. Real children live like this. Hundreds of thousands of them live like this. Some people are called to adopt domestically, and others internationally. Criticizing due to nationality is frankly just a way to dehumanize these kids. If we thought of them as being as important as American kids, we'd all be moved to help them or adopt them...and that might make people uncomfortable.
The last question wasn't worded as a question, but it asked that we not let societal pressures force us to adopt a child who is not a good fit for our family.
All I can say is that we know all the directions this can go. We are very optimistic, but I think that every parent is. Until we meet her, I cannot speak of her character and how she fits into our family, but stay tuned as this story is just beginning!