But knowing it will be any day now is suddenly making it so REAL. Even though we are open to a broad age range (infant to age 14), we are really feeling like it will be an older girl, possibly even a 14 year old. If you're reading this, especially if you're part of our everyday lives, we hope you are as excited about this possibility as we are! I say this because so many people I have discussed this with are not.
I know that everyone is trying to be helpful, but this is such an exciting time in our lives, and the negativity hurts. If it helps to ease your fears, know that we have not jumped into this blind. In fact, I can confidently say we most likely know more about this than you do. And yes, I know you have heard from a friend [of a friend] that supposedly had his/her child taken away by the birth parent even though this friend [of a friend] wanted to adopt the child. And I know you know of a friend [of a friend] that fostered a child or adopted a child from foster care and he/she was "bad." And I am sure you truly believe all of this and truly believe you are helping us... but this isn't helpful. I'm sorry. I feel like I finally need to say that because I generally just smile and nod whenever someone tells me this for the hundredth time.
But I have a secret to share with you... Ready? No child is perfect, and all children are "bad." But when a child is neglected, abused, unwanted and abandoned he/she may act out even more. We know this and we are not expecting a fairy tale. I have read so many books my head is swimming with true tales that are sometimes too horrific to believe, but they don't deter me, they simply remind me of why we are on this journey. These children need us as much as we need them.
So please, if we announce the adoption of our 10, 12 or even 14 year old girl, don't tell us we're "crazy," that we don't know what we're getting ourselves into, and please don't jokingly say, "I have a teenager - you can borrow her for a few days." If you're not sure what to say, think of what you would say to a woman who was pregnant: "Congratulations!" or "How exciting!" Because I guarantee we feel the same as a pregnant woman. We too are expectant parents.
If we're so passionate about an older child, you may wonder why we're even keeping ourselves open to a private infant adoption. And the answer is... only God knows who our child is. Although it is true that there are way too many children in foster care, that doesn't mean they are all matches for us. Just because we are fully open to an older child doesn't mean it will work out that way. There are certain needs to consider for the child, in addition to location, race, religion and simple wants and desires. But I do want everyone to know this is a definite possibility for us, and we hope you can share our joy.
Before I go, I'd love to share a beautiful analogy written by Gay Courter in "I Speak for This Child," which chronicles her life as a Guardian Ad Litem (a volunteer speaking out for the best interests of foster children). Gay Courter is also the adoptive mother of Ashley Rhodes-Courter, the author of "Three Little Words" (see my last post for more info about this amazing memoir):
"Stability. I thought about a recent lecture I heard on the importance of permanence that compared children's emotional security to a bucket. If a child's needs are met, if she receives the love and attention she craves, the sturdy bucket does not leak. But as soon as she is abused or neglected, tiny holes begin to puncture the bucket, and the vital fluids that maintain a child's stability start oozing out. If a child who enters the social service system isn't maintained with transfusions, the essential elements slowly drain away. Even worse, the system itself is capable of widening the holes, or even punching fresh ones. Moving children from place to place, treating them unfairly, not meeting their needs in a timely manner-all contribute to the leakage. Eventually it will not matter how fast you try to replenish the pail; like a sieve it empties itself instantly."