Adoption Interview with Cara Herzberg
- 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?
We are Americans serving in Senegal, and we adopted from the Congo while while on home assignment. We had one son at the time who was 15 months old. We did almost all of the process in Senegal, and then re-did a large portion of it in America. It was all quite complicated.
- 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?
Our agency was not involved at all.
- What are a few resources (books, podcasts, websites, blogs, people you talked to, services, organizations) that helped you on the journey?
Adopted for Life, by Russell Moore
- So far, inasmuch as you’ve noticed, is there anything that makes adopted MKs different from MKs?
I think all children who were adopted have a unique set of challenges before them, regardless of where they grow up. One simple example of this is my daughter is black, and we live in West Africa. The people here look similar to her. However, her family is white. She doesn’t identify with the Senegalese just because they have the same skin color. She doesn’t feel like she “fits in” here any more than we do. However, Senegalese people treat her differently than they treat my sons who are white. I think it adds a confusing identity element for her.
- 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?
I wouldn’t say I did anything wrong, but the waiting element of adoption is often excruciating. I was not prepared for how out-of-control I would feel. I guess I wish I would have trusted God more, and fretted less.
- What are the most helpful ways friends can encourage/support you on your adoption journey?
LISTEN. Really, keep your mouth closed, and just listen. And if you want to cry with your friend, that is OK too. Offer to watch other kids so your friend can do stacks of paperwork, make photo copies, go back and forth from the post office to the notary, make phone calls, etc. Give your friend some money! Adoption is expensive, and her heart is already in the wringer. Write a generous check before she even mentions money.
- What are ways that people have tried to encourage/support you that really aren’t helpful?
A thing that feels a bit alienating is comparing adoption stories. Unless you have adopted yourself, and are empathizing, don’t share stories about other people and how it went for them, good or bad. Everyone’s journey is so different.
About the author
Cara Herzberg, Senegal, West Africa. Cara and her husband do holistic community development in a rural setting in Senegal. At the moment, Cara's community development consists of raising three children under the age of three. They have lived in Senegal for five years. Her favorite thing about being a missionary is seeing the incredible ways God meets her as she slugs it out in the desert, and the food. Before the kids came, Cara enjoyed running, surfing, rock climbing, and lots of other fun things. Now she enjoys sleeping.View all articles by: Cara Herzberg
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