Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waiting. Yep, it stinks!

Friends in Eastern Europe have compiled their dossier to adopt two older boys from an orphanage there.  These are kids no one from their own country wanted.  Their hopeful parents are Americans, living in country, serving orphans and people seen by the majority there as societal outcasts.  My friends are good people.  They were “there” for me when I was stuck in the muck for weeks in that place, waiting for a corrupt government to move so I could bring my children home.  My friends have jumped through hoops.  They’ve done all the important things, as well as all the ridiculous things they’ve been told to do, in order to compile the necessary paperwork needed to make these boys legally their own.  Now, officials at that country’s national adoption authority are telling them that they will not be seen through the rest of the year.  They were told to come back in February.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s about the convenience of the workers.  It’s about politics, and constant changes in adoption procedures.  It’s about changes in authority – something that seems to be in constant flux in that country.  And yes, I’ll say it:  it’s about corruption and extortion, even if it’s veiled extortion.  I can bet you that a nice sum of cash would get them an appointment pronto.  My friends don’t work like that even if corrupt officials do. 

My friends are hoping for an appointment anyway.  They are moving forward in faith believing God called them to become the parents of these two boys.  They are moving forward, knowing childhood does not wait.  (For every year spent in an orphanage, a child will lose 4-6 months or more in physical, emotional and psycho-social development.)  My friends are waiting on people who do not really care about these boys, and who certainly do not care about them.  Yep, it stinks.

I have other beloved friends whose dossier is sitting on the desk of some national adoption official in South America.  The government is different there than in former Soviet states, but there is still red tape, just as there is red tape anywhere.  They can’t get any definitive answers.  There must be some big meeting that takes place.  That meeting hasn’t happened.  The child they’re waiting to adopt is also an older boy with special needs.  He, too, is waiting in an orphanage.  While he is in an orphanage run by people who do care, he is still in an orphanage.  The statistics for kids waiting in an orphanage do not improve from country to country.  My friends would be good parents for this child.  He would have a sibling, already home, from his own orphanage, as well as other brothers and sisters.  But they have not yet been officially matched.  Other people from other countries have looked at his file, but he’s still waiting in bureaucratic limbo, while my friends still hold onto the hope that God called them to become his parents.  However, nothing is certain in any country until you walk out of court with a final adoption decree in your hands.  Waiting.  Yep, it stinks.

The process of adoption is filled with paperwork, red tape, and what seems like endless waiting.  It is hard.  Really hard.  A lot of people give up.  Thankfully, many do not.  Childhood doesn’t wait, even if we must.  Once our kids are home, we wait some more.  It’s a different kind of waiting, but it’s still hard.  If our children were adopted internationally, we wait for them to be able to understand us, as we wait to understand them.  We wait for attachment – sometimes for our entire relationship.  We wait for our children to learn to become part of our families.  We wait for them to learn to trust us and to believe we will not leave.  We wait for them to stop lying and stealing.  We wait to see if they will get into trouble, even as we wait for them to grasp they are valuable.  Sometimes, it’s really hard to wait on these things.  Waiting stinks.

Frankly, I don’t know how anyone gets through the process of adoption, nor the process of knitting a child to one’s heart, without faith.  Your faith in God may look a little different than mine, but I don’t know another adoptive parent that’s doing this well, who is doing it alone.  I NEED God, even when I don’t know exactly who He is, or exactly what He looks like.  Even though I don’t fully understand His character, and I won’t fully KNOW HIM this side of Heaven, I need the hope of His unconditional love for me.  Otherwise, I cannot begin to show that unconditional love to my children.  Without God, I cannot begin to wait for the hope I have for their lives, because I know He has waited on me many, many times.  I know that trusting in Him helps me renew my strength (Isaiah 40:31).

I also need others who are walking this road.  I need the wisdom of those who have gone before me, who have “been there/done that," and I need the friendship of those who are where I was three and four years ago, too.  As one of my good friends puts it, “sometimes only another trauma mama can talk you down off the ceiling.”  My heart breaks for those who isolate themselves, or think that prayer alone will solve everything. 

Sometimes God answers prayer by putting people in our paths who know what they’re talking about!  There is a story my former pastor tells to illustrate this point:  There was a flood.  A guy was stuck on top of his roof, and he prayed for God to save him, as the water rose.  Another guy came by in a row boat and offered him a ride.  The man on the roof refused saying, “I’ve prayed for God to save me.”  Another person came by on a raft and offered him a place on the rickety, but still floating vessel.  Yet, he refused saying, “I’ve prayed for God to save me.”  A third person came by, clinging only to a floating log.  The water was up to the waiting man’s neck by then.  He was told to grab hold of the log, but this quickly sinking man replied, “I’ve prayed for God to save me.”  Eventually, the man on the roof drowned.  When he got to Heaven, he asked why God hadn’t saved him.  God replied, “I tried to save you three times!” 

As I wait for my children to trust me, to stop lying, to stop shutting down or yelling at me, to relax and know they are loved, I pray.  But I also watch for those God would send along my way.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my adoptive parenting journey, especially during that first year or so.  I’ve asked my kids “why” they did something, instead of “what” they were feeling.  I’ve tried to “make” my kids tell me the truth, instead of helping them discover what fear was driving them.  I’ve argued that my kids needed to know how to handle “real life” with “regular people,” not knowing they would never get there without first healing from their trauma.  I’ve used all the good parenting techniques that worked to help me raise four healthy, happy, whole, and functional young adult sons, only to learn these things DO NOT WORK with hurt children, and I had to learn to parent my adopted children in ways that seemed counter intuitive to me.  I’ve allowed some row boats to go by, but I’ll be darned if I’ll let a raft or a log go by now, too.  Waiting stinks, but I’m not going to drown. 

Let’s pray for our waiting friends, but let’s also be there for them.  Let’s also accept God’s answer to our own prayers when He sends by a row boat, a raft, or even a log.  Waiting stinks, but we don’t have to drown.  It’s a lot easier to endure waiting when we are in a boat, with company. 


Annie said...

I cringe at the mistakes I made. Big approaching-violence set-tos that probably had the neighborhood talking. Feelings that we'd be crazy to let these kids get "out of control" - because their behaviors seemed to BE about control, when they weren't. The waiting I HATE is waiting to be a really good therapeutic parent...waiting to shed the "instictive" parenting stuff that worked great with the bios, and works fine with the "non-radishes". It is SO frustrating.

One thing you wrote especially caught my attention - that for each year in an institution children lose 4-6 months or more in physical, emotional and psycho-social development. I think the big thing is to TAKE THIS TO HEART. Don't expect kids to "act their age", or go to school with kids the same age. Even Sergei, who apart from having to learn English, could have been our bio child he so fits the calm, happy pattern - even Sergei started school at least a year and a half "behind" in age and has benefitted from it. Meanwhile, we benefit too. We gain that much more time with these kids, to parent them and love them. But, with the stressed kids....keeping them at the proper developmental level (not age level) is one thing I did right.

Diana said...

The comment that struck me is that I don't know of another parent who is doing this well that is doing it alone. I don't either!! It's not easy to wait on his answers, but the lessons that come from it are eternal.