Today fellow adoptive mama Lindsey Andrews is sharing a little bit of her story in honor of National Adoption Month. She’s the mama of two beautiful Ethiopian kiddos and I’m thankful our paths crossed when John and I were pursuing an Ethiopian adoption. She’s sharing some great tips for anyone considering adoption.
November is National Adoption Month. While I continue to always and forever be passionate about adoption and the beautification process that came to my heart through adoption, it was not without it’s challenges. While there is beauty in everything as long as you are looking, there is so many things I wish someone would have told the two of us before we put on our rose colored glasses and jumped deliriously toward parenthood.
Six years ago, my husband and I were delirious with the idea of becoming parents. After five years of trying to conceive a child the old fashioned way, we were advised biology was not on our side. We had prayed and considered adoption throughout our marriage and had discussed the idea several times even when we were dating.
After a year of paperwork, medical appointments and adoption training and homework, we were on a plane to Ethiopia, the newly assigned parents to a two and five year old, brother and sister, sibling set.
Being in country without access to a cell phone or internet and without my mother or motherinlaw, everything we’d read in parenting and adoption books went out the window. We were in pure survival mode. There were tears, oh the tears, and most of them came at night when everyone was asleep. I doubted so many things about my abilities and capacities as a mother, when I should have been focused on the temperature of my heart.
If you or someone you know is thinking, praying or currently in the middle of the process, here is what I wish someone would have told me about adoption.
1. There is no amount of preparation that will make everything smoothly. We read all the books, followed all the blogs, and passed all the classes. However, standing there with two kids who spoke no English and had been through their own particular brands of trauma was incredible. Nothing will go exactly as it is planned and just like life, you’ll have to roll with it.
2. There is no spiritual warfare like the kind that surrounds adoption. Of course the enemy hates adoption. It reminds him too much of the adoption we have into the family of God.Of course he is going to use everything at his disposal to make it hard. Damn, he can do a good job of it too. Be able to recognize it while it is happening and fight through it. Have a few prayer warriors you love and trust who will cover you when you’re in the trenches and will respond when you text “pray now”, no matter the day or the night.
3. Be willing to seek all the help you require. Counseling, prayer groups, babysitting, housekeeping or a runner between your house andy your favorite coffee shop; all of these tasks are valued and necessary following an adoption. While you are trying your hand at attachment, the rest of your world will need to take a backseat. When you are fundraising and saving for your adoption, make room in your savings for a few tasks that you may not expect and you may need to hire out. A babysitter to take your other kids to the movies or a standing dinner order at your local pizza place can both save some graying hairs from appearing following your adoption.
4. If you kiddos are coming from a group home or orphanage, ask for a breakdown of your child’s daily schedule and the expectations and rules for the care center. We bought adorable water bottles in country for each of our kids. When we were adjusting in our guest house, I would fill up those bottles at least ten times a day. It was only after about three or four days together, did one of our workers let us know that our kids were required to finish any liquid (water or juice) placed in front of them because they were only given it during meal times. So each time I was filling up their bottles, they believed they were supposed to finish it. Yikes! Parenting fail.
5. Get the widest paintbrush you can find and paint over yourself, your kids, your family will the biggest covering of grace you can manage. Integrating someone (or someones if you’re adopting multiples at a time) into the culture, pulse, oddities and quirks of another group is challenging, no matter what the ages. Give it time and Grace, with a capital G.
6. Do what works for you and yours. There was some amazing advice written and posted online about integration, attachment and growing together as a family. For months and even into the first year, I felt guilty because we weren’t doing all of them. We weren’t doing them because they didn’t work for us. You know what? That’s okay! If you need to, reread #5.
Adoption was one of the best pieces of our family’s story. It’s a huge part of how we came to be a family in fact. It was and sometimes is still difficult. As is the rest of the pieces of who we are and where we’ve been that make us who we are in this life. HappyNovember ya’ll.
Lindsey Andrews is a lawyer, writer and speaker whose passion is seeing people fall in love with who they are in this life. A wild haired bohemian in spirit, with her feet trapped in the corporate world, she daydreams of a nose ring and a wrist tattoo. She is tolerated by two kids and a husband but is adored by a French Bulldog, Walter. She lives in Oklahoma and writes at http://www.lindseyandrewswriter.com She retweets@ethiopiabound and follows too many people on instagram @linzandrews