Sunday, September 15, 2013


Twenty minutes of waiting and nothing to show for it, I realized not everyone who advertises on the internet is what they seem. I wish the parents highlighted in this article would have known it, as well. 

When I shared the gist of it with my husband, he was aghast. He has not read some of the horror stories that I have about children with severe RAD and PTSD and desperate parents who feel they have no hope. I know that disruption is sometimes necessary and adoptions do fail and the result is unrelenting heartache and guilt for all involved. But most of those children are not given away to strangers via the internet. I can empathize with the parents in this article, but I can in no way excuse their behavior. 

I feel much the same way about this issue as I do about the rise of divorce in the church. I feel like we need to head off the problem in the beginning instead of scrambling to heal the hurt at the end.  Families need to be better prepared for what they may face before they face it in adoption. I am not advocating for MORE rules and red tape in international adoption. It is already tough enough. I'm just saying that we need to get real about pre-adoption counseling. 

Recently, we received a phone call from a couple asking us which agency we used for our home study and if we'd recommend them. We did so highly. After getting some more information from the callers though,  I wish we hadn't. Our agency was wonderful. It is a Christian ministry who loves to place children in Christian homes. They work tirelessly to do so.  The home study is a difficult process and some social workers can even be adversarial, but they made it as easy as it can be. Because of those reasons, I think they are the wrong agency for this couple. 

These people have young children but plan to adopt an older teen girl that they recently met from Eastern Europe. Adopting out of birth order can be tricky, and many agencies advise against it; some will not even allow it. I have personally seen it be disastrous on two occasions, both with teen girls. In my, not at all expert opinion, teen girls are just hard to deal with even without adoption baggage. Couples who have not yet parented a teen girl may have a really, really tough time separating what is "normal" teenage angst from what could be RAD, abandonment issues, PTSD, culture shock, etc. 

They need an agency that will ask them the hard questions and prepare them for what they may likely face. Questions like:  
  • What is your plan if your little girls start telling you their big sister is hurting them behind your back?
  • What will you do if money goes missing from your purse and she denies taking it? 
  • To the husband: How do you plan to handle it if she comes on to you sexually? 
  • To the wife: How to you plan to handle it if she suggests to you that he welcomed her advances? 
  • Are you comfortable calling the police on your child if she becomes physically out of control? 
  • Are there inpatient or outpatient treatment programs in your area for teens with severe behavioral problems, and does your insurance plan cover them?
  • Do you have a trusted friend or family member who will take in your child if you need a time of separation to work out issues? 
I don't want to scare anyone out of something God has called them to do. But I think everyone should go in, eyes wide open and as prepared as possible. The Bible says that we are to be innocent as doves, but wise as serpents. I think the enemy wants to keep us in the dark about the need for adoptive families, to keep us complacent so we don't adopt, and failing that, to keep us ignorant so we fall if we do.

Abandoned children have deep, deep wounds and emotional scars that take years to heal. Love is an incredible start, but it is rarely enough. That does not mean that we fail to try. It simply means that we approach adoption as we approach life....with humble, seeking hearts, begging for wisdom and mercy, in constant connection to our Source. 

For the record,  we offered to meet this couple for coffee to discuss adoption and share some of what we've learned. They turned us down. They are confident they are prepared because they've "been thinking about this for a long time." Sadly, that does not make me feel better. 

Honestly, I don't know what kind of counseling the people in that article received prior to adoption. I'm betting they didn't have heart to hearts with those already in the trenches. I wish they had. I do hope, however, the piece serves as a warning for others going forward to be more prepared and to have support systems in place from the beginning. 


  1. Wow, I had no idea this kind of thing was happening! So sad...

  2. Way to speak up about this stuff, Tara. So needed.