Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cliff Jumping

Tonight I read a new comment posted under my "Crushed" post from an anonymous adoptive mom who adopted a 12 year old girl from Russia who ended up having Reactive Attachment Disorder. RAD in older children is far more difficult to manage than RAD in an infant like Josh. She outlined her story then stated "Cindy, listen to God. I believe he is telling you how blessed you are now and that too much time has passed and the girls are too old and have lived in the orphanage for too long. If they come in to your home now they will destroy your family.I am sorry but that's what happened to us."

There it is, my unspoken fear spoken loud and clear. You see, it is not unwarranted...anyone who has watched those episodes of 60 Minutes, 20/20 or other news shows over the years has heard the horror stories of older child adoption gone awry. And when it goes bad, it is beyond your wildest imagination just how bad "bad" can be.

How do you know? How can you tell if something is a sign from God, or just a typical international adoption uphill battle? As someone who strives to do God's will in my life, this is the single most important thing to heed, what is God saying to us? Are these delays for some reason that will become apparent later on and are a help? Or are they something that is trying to shove us over the edge to "quit while we are ahead" we have already been told by more than one person.

I don't know...I didn't know when traveling to adopt Joshua that we would be bringing home an obviously RAD infant. I don't think that just because it worked out OK for the long haul with Josh that it would a second time around. We brought home Kenny, it should have been a nightmare. Instead it has been a dream come true for both he and us. Not always easy, mind you, but well worth every ounce of effort it took.

I won't be able to shake the fears, I wasn't prior to any of the adoptions...and there are so many...Will they be able to bond? Will they even like us? Is there something there we aren't seeing that will scare us to death once we get them home?

There could be. This adoption business is not for those looking for guarantees, it is a gamble for sure. And at quiet, introspective moments, it is particularly scary. But if we hadn't taken the leap 3 prior times, we wouldn't be as blessed as we are today. I also realize that does not mean that the 4th and 5th times will be as good as 1,2, and 3.

It is the thing that others don't or can't really understand if they have not been in these shoes. The uncertainty that accompanies all of this can kill you. People see the family together with the happy ending and they never think about how it could have turned out so differently...and you as the parent can often think of NOTHING but that. It doesn't really matter if it is an infant adoption or an older child, I remember sleepless nights pondering the birth history of our soon-to-be children worrying about what facts were missing, about what we would never know about their birth families and the implications.

I have felt for many years these were our daughters. What if I am wrong? Or, perhaps a better way of looking at it is what if I am still right and indeed they are meant to be our daughters, but we are meant to walk down a treacherous path with them?

Someone very smart said something to me yesterday that seems to fit this situation perfectly...God will use you no matter the choice you make. You will be used where you are at. There is no "wrong" choice if you are simply looking to be used by God. This was a really different approach for me, and one that will stick with me for awhile. If you want to be used, you will be.

How I do hope though that we are not facing years of heartache. Sometimes you just gotta jump off the cliff and see how God is going to use you. Maybe someone will learn from your success, or they just might learn a lot from your failure.

Hopefully, it will be our success that speaks to others this time around.


Ohiomom2121 said...

Dear Cindy,
Once again, your post exactly captures my (our) fears. Our little referral has gone from 5 to 8 years old. We wanted a child under 5 because we feared that we could not "work our magic" in less time. We stretched to accept a 5 yo based on her adorable photo, only to see that stretch pushed to, probably age 9 or 10!
Our fear of an older child is very real. Why do you think I haunt your blog...seeing how an older child can do! :) We have 4 wonderful young men, so we know we are good parents, even though not all were easy keepers. But, can we do this? Is the delay setting us up for terrible heartbreak? Pushing back the fear is hard.
Frankly, the only way we manage it is to lower our expectations. Very little will be needed to find success. If we keep her out of residential treatment; if we can get her some form of gainful employment. We have learned she likely has FAS. The reality that we will be allowed very little time to fix a very big problem, that is not entirely fixable even under the best circumstances, is terrifying. Will she hopefully be sweet even if no other part of her psyche functions properly? Can we deal with her if she is unable to function in any realm?
Thank goodness for my DH. He refuses to play the what-if game. For him, once the decision was made, there is no going back, so why angst? It is truly a better way to be. I think you might have one of those wonderful husbands around. When you get tired of worrying, look him up. He very well might hook you up with what you need to settle back and enjoy the ride. As long as he is with me, I feel confident we can do this. Husbands are good for that!
God bless, Sherry

Lindsay said...

In a way though your daughters are not 'typical' orphanage children: they have known for a long, long time how much you care for them. Unlike so many older children languishing in institutions, they have had hope to hold onto all this time. I know you wrote before that they had said they wanted to be part of your family to others. I know that doesn't discount either the possibility of RAD or PTSD; but it does offer hope.

Dee said...

I am so sorry you got that comment on your post. I have had emails and comments from parents who adopted older kids and had RAD and other issues. They seem irritated because my kids are normal, good kids. There are always people who have had bad adoption outcomes with older kids, and they try to warn others. It doesn't mean that their troubles will happen to you.

The best way to prepare is to educate yourself. Read the Deborah Gray books - as a precaution. Your older girl has already been through some trauma and likely never worked through it, so that will need to be addressed. My daughter suffered horrifice abuse, but she is overcoming it and thriving. Ditto for my son. They can heal, if they get the right help.

The lady who wrote you is either not getting the right help for her child, or the child is mentally ill and needs to be admitted to a mental health facility.

If you feel in your heart the girls are your daughters, that is true no matter your location or what the status is on your dossier. God's truth doesn't dissolve when there are problems.

Stay strong!

TheHappyNeills said...

oh cindy, i'm sorry for all your struggles! but hoping you can embrace them and let Christ be made known through you, however he leads... i have a feeling you're the type who perseveres until God closes every door, which he has not. i can't speak to every situation, but it seems like especially in int'l adoption, we just have to press on until doors are closed. there are so many unknowns and uncertainties, it's hard to be SURE until something is OBVIOUSLY a no. we have to pursue certain routes a bit blindly. but i'm pretty sure if the Lord did NOT want us to go a certain way, he'd make that very clear. the YES's in our lives, personally, often times appear as the absence of a NO. you guys are amazing, discerning parents. i'm sure God will give you every tool you need to follow him obediently.

confident you guys'll figure it out :) --kendra

Michelle said...

hindsight is 20/20 isn't it. One person's signs that god doesn't want an adoption to happen is another person's confirmation that god wants it to happen and the devil is trying to stop it....seriously, I have read blogs that take almost identical situations and read them completely differently.
You follow your heart and I believe that God won't give you more work than you can handle...sometimes there is work - you already know that though!

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

There are certainly no guarantees in life. Not with adopted children, not with birth children. The challenges can be endless in oh so many ways. I suppose it seems like we as adoptive parents take more chances, but if you want to walk on water, you have to step out of the boat, right? I would continue forward, asking for God's will to be made clear to you. Ask that His will be done, that He closes the doors, all of them, if He does not want you to have the girls. Ask Him to help you hear. Shhhhhh...listen for His whisper, my friend. I too have fears about the experiences that our Isaac might be having, negative ones. Because Kenny was such a dream, does not mean that Isaac won't have twice as many problems. I pray there won't be, and I pray we can handle whatever comes along. I pray if he's been abused in any way, that it will not lead to harm to any of my children or grandchildren. Everyday we struggle with some of our children (maybe one more than the others), but we know this is where they are supposed to be. I wish I had answers for you. We'll all just keep praying, right?

Mala said...

If I had to say if I thought that woman was listening to God or the devil, I would say the devil. Her comment about "the child" (not my child, or my daughter) was full of hate and dispise towards the little girl she adopted. Certainly not traits God asks for in us, especially as parents.
I certainly hope SHE gets the help she needs.

Christine said...

"Courage has no meaning unless the danger is real."

A good friend wrote that on my blog one day.

Six years ago, when my husband and I first filled out adoption paperwork, and we had to choose the issues we felt we could parent, RAD was a very easy "no, thanks" for us.

I'm now a mom of five (three are adopted). One is on the lower end of the spectrum and is healing from attachment challenges. One has RAD. Full-blooded, good old fashioned Reactive Attachment Disorder.

I know I'm a complete stranger who just stumbled across you tonight. Sorry to hog your comments. However, just from your words in this post, I think you will follow what God is telling you ... and you'll know He has prepared you for whatever is ahead. Listen intently, and then enjoy the crazy ride. :)