How many times have your heard or read an inspirational story of adoption? The couples that couldn't get pregnant and therefore decided to adopt a child only to later become pregnant. Or the family that rescues a child from an impoverished orphanage overseas? I've read them, I've heard, I have dear friends and family that have lived these amazing stories. Well, I have an adoption story as well however the outcome is completely different. But I feel compelled to tell the tale of how our family decided to adopt and came out the other end without an addition to our family.
I will condense this story due to the amount of time you've allotted to sitting in front of a computer screen reading a blog. Here goes....
I was largely influenced for the positive about adoption from two very dear women in my life. A very dear friend of mine +Tammy Maltby. Her family's adventures in adoption inspired me to consider something I would have never thought of - EVER! Tammy never "sugar-coated" her experiences with adoption or parenting for that matter. My own sister and her husband had also adopted a little girl who was in great need of a stable and loving home - which she found with them. Again, not an easy story but they were and are committed to loving their daughter and providing her with all the necessary means to raise her into the person they believe she can become.
|John, Jack, Liz and Erica|
Needless to say, I was convinced that adoption was not only a necessary option for our family, but perhaps even our obligation to humanity.
Again, long story short... my husband did not feel the same about adoption as I did. I was fervent about it, even judgemental. There are soooo many needy children - we have the resources to provide for them, raise them in a loving home, with both parents, brothers and sister, a good education, plenty of opportunity, etc. Our "conversations" concerning adoption went on for years. Often ending with me in tears and sadly convinced my husband was in the wrong. I decided to stop talking about it and pray that if it was to be - God would change my husband's mind. Over several years He did so, my husband went from an absolute NO on adoption to becoming quite the evangelist for adoption. It was an amazing thing to see his influence on others regarding the topic.
Fast forward - we begin our adoption classes through DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services). We felt passionate about fostering/adopting a child from the city of Chicago. At this point we have baby #3 in diapers. We committed to taking a nine-week mandatory training, as well as fill out paperwork, get references, got through interviews, evaluations, in-house visits, etc. to "qualify" for becoming a foster/adoption parent. The more we did the more passionate we became about it.
Eventually we get to the end and were ready and waiting to get a call that a child was in need of a home. After several failed attempts, we did end up on a spur of the moment with a fifteen month old little girl. She was taken from her mother (this child was the ninth child for this mother and she didn't have custody of any of her children). The grandmother was caring for the child but had been hospitalized and therefore she was removed from her home for a variety of "legal" voilations.
Enter Imani, a scared little girl, clingy and crying constantly. She was soooo little but ate so much while she was with us and gained a good amount of weight. In the end, I saw this as a very exhausting commitment but one I thought I was equal to the task. She wanted nothing to do with Josh, other then Tristan my children didn't warm up to her because she wanted nothing to do with them. Honesty, Aidan who was several months older then Imani - couldn't stand her. It was very surprising.
I was committed, I had counted the cost, I thought just because something is tough doesn't mean that you don't do it. I must say, that as a mother, I felt from the beginning that this child needed to be with her family. The agency was pushing quickly to cut off any custody attempts for the family. But I couldn't get past knowing her grandmother loved her dearly and wanted her back. A child needs to be with their family as long as it's a safe place, just because grandma didn't play by the official rules didn't mean she was unfit to provide the right environment for the child.
I communicated to the agency we were working with that if there was a family member that was able to provide for Imani that should seriously look into it. Quite honestly, I felt like they were pushing to have this thing tied up and done. However, we moved forward. We went away for a family weekend with Imani to our home in Michigan. On Saturday morning we had a family meeting on our bed. The rules were you were allowed to voice your opinion and there were no judgements. Everyone had a vote. The agency asked us to consider adopting Imani and it was time to get everyone on board. For us, it was something we could not arbitrarily ask our children to commit to without them knowing what they were actually committing to. We had discussed it as a family but it's another thing entirely to live it.
We decided that we had to have 100% agreement to move forward with adoption. At the end of our meeting we did not have agreement and we decided to decline the opportunity to adopt Imani. I felt strongly that everyone in our family needed to be on board with this. We did not take this lightly and we needed to know what we were committing to.
In the end, before I could make the call to tell them our decision, they called us to say that a family member with the means and the desire to take this little girl had stepped forward and were unaware that she was in the foster program. I was grateful, I knew deep down she needed to be with her family, and hopefully reunited with her mother - once she was capable and prepared to care for her children.
Our family ultimately did not chose adoption. However it was a process that I felt we needed to go through for a variety of reasons. I am still strangely passionate about it and strongly believe that every family should seriously consider looking into it and at least have a conversation about it. There is a great need out there and you may be the family that can help provide support in some way. It is not the outcome I has envisioned for us but I know in the end we did take steps of faith with a different result then expected. These things happen. Either way, I'm grateful to have gone through this process as a family and I know it won't be the last time our family is called upon to "count the cost". I hope we will be prepared... that's what I'm trying to teach them and myself as well.
Take care now,