Adoption Interview with Jillian Kittrell
- Give us a snapshot of your adoption(s). Foster or private? Domestic or international? From a country you lived in at the time or another one? What did the nuclear family that you welcomed your child into look like? How much of the process did you do from North America and how much from your country of service?
My husband and I have three children. Although all of my children were born in Haiti, my youngest is biological, and we are in the adoption process with the older two. We met our daughter shortly after we moved to Haiti in 2011. At the time she was the youngest child at the orphanage we oversaw and we quickly fell in love with her. Her brother moved to the orphanage in 2012 and he joined our family shortly after.
In our particular case, because we have resided in Haiti for an extended amount of time, and because we are already the legal guardians of our children, we were eligible to proceed with a private domestic adoption in Haiti. We are currently still in this process but hope to be completed by the end of the year. Because it is a national adoption everything is processed in Haiti.
- How did your agency play into your adoption plans? Did they have to give permission? Did they have funds, resources, counseling, or matchmaking available for you? Did you have to return to the field to complete the process or could you do it from afar?
The organization we worked for when our adoptive children first moved into our home was very supportive. Church friends and family have helped us cover necessary expenses so that it would not be a burden on us to raise the financial support needed for our adoption.
- What are a few resources (books, podcasts, websites, blogs, people you talked to, services, organizations) that helped you on the journey?
What has been the most helpful for me is forming relationships with other families who have adopted, specifically from the same country. Having parents I can speak with who I know will be able to relate to a particular situation has been so helpful. Following blogs and keeping up with Facebook groups of other adoptive families has also been helpful, but I have had to limit myself. I love that forums like these allow for parents to have a safe outlet to speak, but I have sometimes found them overwhelming. When all I needed was hope that we would be able to adopt our children, reading through a Facebook feed of moms talking about the difficulties and longevity of the adoption process was at times discouraging. Early on in the process I had to just hand over our whole adoption to God and trust him with the process and timeline, despite with others said.
- So far, inasmuch as you’ve noticed, is there anything that makes adopted MKs different from MKs?
In our case, our adoptive children have yet to travel to the States. This means their worldview is still limited to Haiti. My children live in their birth country with people who look like them and speak their native language. They are being raised in the only culture they have ever known. I believe they are different than other MKs simply because they have never had to adjust to a new culture. They will someday, whenever God calls us to move back to the States. I know that will bring on a whole new set of challenges. So although my children talk about wanting to go to America, they don’t long for it because it is unknown. They have no frame of reference for what life looks like outside of their country and so the life we live here is normal for them. The food we eat is normal. The heat is normal. The barefoot, sometimes naked, kids playing soccer in our streets are not only normal but are their friends. Although my adoptive children are MKs, they wouldn’t label themselves as such. For them, the life we live and where we live is completely normal.
- What is something you learned through the process (i.e. did wrong) that you’d advise to others so they can learn from your mistakes?
On this I could write a book! But above all else, the adoption process has really tested my faith. As in, sometimes I completely doubted God and what he was choosing to do with my family. Adoptions are expensive and we had no idea how we would ever be able to afford the fees on a global worker salary. When our children moved into our home, my husband and I were not legally eligible by Haitian law to adopt them. Needing to meet the age requirement first, we knew this meant we were committing to Haiti for much longer than we originally expected. Those first few years I lived in a constant state of anxiety, searching for loopholes, and trying to take matters into my own hands rather than just trusting God. It was only when I surrendered our adoption and my family to him that he began opening doors and resources for us to adopt our children.
- What are the most helpful ways friends can encourage/support you on your adoption journey?
Honestly, prayer. It sounds so simple and possibly cliché, but it is the truth. Knowing we have friends committed to praying with us through our adoption journey is priceless. When people check in with us just to ask how things are going with our kids and our paperwork and inquire how they can specifically pray over everything, it truly helps me feel as if we aren’t in this alone. Also, we have been blessed with so many friends and family who genuinely love our children. They have embraced them just the same as our biological child. Knowing we have a community of people who love our children deeply fills our heart with so much joy.
- What are ways that people have tried to encourage/support you that really aren’t helpful?
I know people have meant well, but it isn’t helpful or encouraging when people praise my husband and me for adopting. We’ve been called super heroes, have been thanked for “rescuing” our children, and have been told how lucky our adoptive kids must be that we chose them. I know comments like these are meant to be supportive, but sometimes they trigger the opposite reaction. Adoptive parents want others to see their adoptive children as normal children and they also want to feel like normal parents. Yes, God called us to adopt, just as he also called us to have biological children as well. We aren’t heroes for doing either. We are just parents who are raising the children God gave us.
About the author
Jillian is a wife and mama of three living in Cap Haitien, Haiti. She spends her days homeschooling, avoiding the laundry and dirty dishes, and hanging out with a bunch of teenagers at Emmaus House- a transition home for youth aging out of orphanages. Jillian enjoys writing about motherhood, missions, youth in Haiti, and adoption over at her blog. Follow the link below to check out more of Jillian’s stories.View all articles by: Jillian Kittrell
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