- 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?
Our adoption was considered national because we’ve lived in Bolivia for so long, but our son is Bolivian (so, he is international in relation to our family, I suppose). The entire process was done here in Bolivia through the normal government adoption process, but with the help of a private lawyer (she does all sorts of non-adoption law stuff) to help us figure out the steps and the paperwork and such. Moses came into our home with 2 big sisters to welcome him.
- What are a few resources (books, podcasts, websites, blogs, people you talked to, services, organizations) that helped you on the journey?
A very impactful book for me in clinching our desire to adopt was Russell Moore’s “Adopted for Life“. I also have referred a bit to a book called “Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections” by MacLeod and Macrae. I know this will be a great resource as Moses gets a bit older. Also, “The Connected Child” by Purvis and Cross. Anything Dr. Purvis has put out I have found. Her website empoweredtoconnect.org is my go-to if I have questions. There have been some random blogs friends have sent my way, but otherwise, I actually feel pretty alone on the adoption journey. There are zero resources in Bolivia and I have no other close friends who have adopted with whom I can chat. I’m hoping to get our son in to see an adoption specialist this summer, just so I can barrage that person with questions and see if he might have any classic adoption issues (attachment or sensory disorders). I wish I knew what else to do.
- So far, inasmuch as you’ve noticed, is there anything that makes adopted MKs different from MKs?
With Moses being only 1 1/2 years old, we haven’t had a chance to see if his experience will be significantly different from his sisters. He gets a fair amount of attention from nationals, but their comments about adopted kids in general are far from encouraging. We’ll see how that plays out with time.
- 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’d say the biggest thing we “did wrong” was just thinking it would all be simpler than it was. I think no international adoption is simple and there are so many hoops you have to jump through in a developing nation that seem ridiculous, pointless, annoying, etc. We thought our son would come home sooner and it got to be very discouraging. He had been assigned to us as a 3 month old, but we weren’t even able to meet him until he was 7 months old. Definitely, trusting God’s timing and not letting yourself get too attached to a time frame or deadline would probably go a long way in guarding your own emotional health and not responding so poorly to those who are holding up the process.
- What are the most helpful ways friends can encourage/support you on your adoption journey?
As you wait for your child, I think just knowing people are praying for your child is encouraging. Maybe asking questions about what you are hopeful for, what you are fearful of, etc. is good for your own processing and for them to begin to understand the depth of complication adoption can bring into a family. Once you have the child home, asking what practical things can be done to help. We were so exhausted from not sleeping when our son came home that just having someone take out our older daughters or cook us a meal would have been amazing. Not giving pat answers for some of our struggles would be great – the adopted child experiences all sorts of stress during the transition that is not easily conquered and even now, a year later, our son does not sleep through the night and still has really awful nights of being up and screaming for hours if there is any change to his daily routine or unknown people around for any length of time. It can begin to feel like you have gotten into something you can’t handle and to be told, “he can’t remember that trauma” or “maybe if you just fed him more” makes you feel like, as a parent, you are not doing a good job and if you were better, your child would not still be suffering. My friends who have just listened to our experiences, without judgement, and prayed for us, have been the most encouraging. Sometimes we have to draw boundaries for our family that don’t make sense to others, and we would love for them to be more gracious toward that.