Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Costs of Adoption Part 2

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

This is part 2 of a series of posts I am writing on the costs of adoption.  After walking this path once, I feel like I should write about some of the struggles we faced.  Reading other people's blogs who didn't sugar coat things has been a great source of comfort for me. I figured it was time to return the favor.  Click here to read Part 1.

When people first feel that call to adopt, they are excited and apprehensive at the same time.  "Can we do this?"  "Isn't adoption something only people with lots of money do?"  Those are things I thought, but after doing some fairly extensive research, I realize that most often the people who adopt are not rich, rather far from it.  They are not specially equipped.  They are just people who see children without families and realize they have room for more.

After reading about the stigma that children with special needs are viewed with in Eastern Europe, we felt very strongly led to adopt a child that would not otherwise be chosen in their own country.  We did not have experience with special needs, but when looking at the mental institutions these children are shipped off to as young as age 4, we knew we could certainly provide a life better than that.  We not only knew we could do it, once realizing the fate these precious children faced, we felt a responsibility.  How could we live the rest of our life in comfort when children DIE simply because no one cares?

These were the thoughts and realizations we had when we decided to tell our families that we were adopting.  We were tingling with excitement.  We were scared to death.  This was a huge leap of faith for us.  We had to wait for a paycheck to clear the bank so we could pay the first installment of our home study.  We had no extra money!  Eeeeek!  But we were sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was what God wanted us to do.

So, we told our families, our friends, and our church family.  Now, if we expected people to be jumping up and down excited for us, we were surely disappointed.  Some of them took the news like we had just announced we would be painting our bathroom blue.  

We also got a few comments of, "I don't understand why you don't just adopt one from here."  

A few people begged us to please research how damaged these children in orphanages were.  "There is something wrong with them! There is a reason they are there."  

The one I heard the most was, "Will you be able to get medical information before you bring them home?"  "I sure hope you get a healthy one."  

We were completely shocked. What are we talking about here?  Children?  Or animals?

To be honest, I'd rather the questioning comments.  At least they gave us a chance to explain a little bit more about WHY we choosing to adopt.  It was the people who said nothing that hurt the most.  They didn't ask how our process was going.  They didn't show any interest.  They never congratulated us on our decision, offered to pray for us, or asked how they could help.  They would look away and pretend we didn't say anything when we tried to talk about it because lets face it -- we were excited but it was all new and a bit scary!  We wanted to talk about it and share our joy.  As time went on though, we became afraid to share any of the hard.  We wanted them to understand why we were adopting, not give them a reason why we should not.

It took us about 14 months from the time we made our decision to the time we brought Mariah home.  If we thought the paper chase and fundraising was difficult without the support of our family coming alongside us, the adjustment once home was pure hell.  

I drove myself and my boys to the airport when Phillip and M finally arrived from Ukraine, bringing only one of my brothers with me to help me navigate the GPS.  Not one person came to greet us at the airport.  Phillip had been awake for 3 days straight traveling in Ukraine, up at night with a screaming M and flying for nearly a full day.  He had to drive us home because I got lost in the dark and started crying.  My cousin and his wife brought us dinner that first night home and I remember them as being the only people to even offer us a meal.  They hold a special place in my heart for caring enough to drive an hour to deliver it.  M wouldn't eat anything though and screamed herself to sleep that night.  I wanted to cry.  My vision of being greeted at the airport by those who loved us most and coming home to put M in her adorable pink crib for the first time was gone.  

That was how our first night as family went, and that pretty much set the tone for the next year.  To our surprise, people expected us to bring our newly adopted, non-mobile, attachment compromised child to their house to visit them.  Yes, people got offended that we did not.      

M cried hourly at night for several months.  It was like having a newborn only we had no bond with her yet.  We were not a comfort to her and she was not a sweet cuddly baby to us.  It was HARD.  We had held off on having Christmas with our kids until New Years Day because we had been on two different continents on December 25th.  We had hoped to have family come over and celebrate with us as a family of 5 while the kids opened presents.  One grandparent came.  Owch.  No one else could be bothered to come see the newest member of our family.  

I have never felt so isolated and abandoned in all of my life as I did after we brought M home.  There were days when she would have vomited her food all over the table or peed in the floor for the 7th time that I just wanted to scream.  And then someone would call and ask why we hadn't brought her to see them yet?  "When are you going to come over?"  When am I going to come over!??  I can't even make it to the store!    

I had to carry her everywhere because she could not walk and we couldn't get her into the CP clinic for months.  Just a simple trip to the grocery store was like running a marathon.  I had a 2 year old and two 4 year olds, one who could run and did!  And one who had to be carried but still tried to grab people to hug or kiss them every chance she got.  She would scream if I got out of the van to pump gas or check the mail and she seemed petrified of the building where W attended preschool.  

I began to realize that no one in my family was ever going to help me.  They didn't understand why we had adopted a child "like that" to begin with and they felt that we got what we asked for so we should be happy about it.  To be honest, I was so stressed out from the unexpected difficulties of bonding, attachment, and control issues that I didn't even know how to ask for help without making M sound horrible.  She was driving me crazy, but I didn't want anyone to know that.  I didn't want to be the one to give adoption and "those children" a bad name because deep down inside of me, I didn't regret adopting her one little bit.  I regretted my feelings and some of my actions in response to her behaviors; I felt like a failure, but I didn't regret her.

As time went on and I found a support group online of adoptive mama's who had also adopted kiddos from hard places, we began to have good days.  And then good days in a row.  Then we even had long stretches of good days without bad days!  We started therapy, and got M a walker and AFOs.  I began to feel like I had just stuck my head up out of the water after being held down for a very long time.  I was able to breath.  Sometimes.  

What I realized when I was able to look around was that no one had changed.  I HAD.  I just spent a year walking through hell and come out the other side, but no one knew.  Everyone expected us to just go on with life as normal, but how could we?  

We had seen little faces, little legs in tattered clothes, little feet with too small shoes, and been asked if we were mama and papa?  We had brought a child back that had longed for a family but had no idea how to behave in one.  We had taken a child so long neglected and struggled through how to help her and while for many many months we thought we were failing, we finally won.  

But who was there to see?  Who knew how hard we had fought for her?  Who knew how many nights I sat and cried after the kids were in bed because I felt like the worst mother and biggest failure?  Who was there to tell me that its OK!  "Bad moments don't make bad mama's." 

No one.

What we realized as we emerged from the trenches of post adoptive "warfare" was that we could do it again.  Isn't that crazy?  We just walked through the toughest time in our lives and all we could think about was the children who still had no one.  Maybe it was the struggle to love that made us realize how deep the pain of being abandoned really is and it broke our hearts.  Maybe it was the image of how we ourselves act yet Christ never gives up on loving us.    

What we also realized though was that some people just did not care what we were doing.  They viewed our adoption as our way to get a girl.  Just by simply choosing a path that didn't line up with what our families viewed as important, we lost their support.  Sure they still loved us, but they didn't want their lives to be inconvenienced by our decision so when our needs were inconvenient, they didn't want to hear about it and didn't want to accommodate us.  We went outside of "normal" and comfortable and just by doing that, left them behind.  They were very happy in their middle class American lifestyle and couldn't understand why we hadn't been.

If they didn't understand why we did it once, they certainly weren't supportive when we decided to host.  Its the silence that comes when you tell someone you love that God has called you to step out again that cuts the deepest.  There is a quote that says, "The opposite of love is not hate, its indifference."  That is the honest truth.   

So, if you are preparing to adopt, are in the midst of the process, or have already come home and are fighting back tears in the trenches by yourself; know that you are not alone!  

God tells us in Luke 14:16 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

I used to wonder what that verse meant.  How can God expect you hate your father and mother?  But now, I think what He means is that if you love God and step out to do what He has called you to, you may find that the love He has placed in your heart for Him will make the feelings you had for your family seem insignificant in comparison.  Perhaps you thought you needed their approval to be happy and succeed.  Perhaps you were deeply hurt by their lack of support but realized somewhere in the middle of it that God IS enough for you.  Perhaps the rejection you felt from your own family made you realize even more the rejection that orphans feel.  At some point you may have realized that the very people who's opinions used to mean everything to you just don't "get it" and you are able to walk away and continue on knowing that you have God's approval and that is all that truly matters in this life.  

So, with all of that said, adoption can cost you many of your family relationships. 

What that REALLY means is it costs you what you thought was important.  Finding something more important than trying to find favor in the eyes of others is not a bad thing.  What we should truly be striving for in this world is to obey God because if we do, then we will surely walk in His favor.

One thing we have found is that support will come to those who love God and walk according to His purpose.  It may not come from those you assumed it would, but it will come from people you do not expect.  It will come in the form of a dental hygienist who offers to pay for your host son's cleaning.  It will come in the form of extended family who don't really see you much but unexpectedly send a card with a large check or donate to your fundraiser.  It will come in the form of people you have never met just calling you out of the blue asking if they can finish paying your home study fees for you.  Adoption might cost you your immediate family in the sense that you once knew, but it will give you a deeper appreciation for the heart of God.

You cannot stay where you are and go with God. You cannot continue doing things your way and accomplish God’s purpose in His ways. Your thinking cannot come close to God’sthoughts. For you to do the will of God, you must adjust your life to Him, His purposes and His ways. – Henry Blackaby

Next in this series will be a post titled "The Costs of Adoption Part 3 - Friends."         



Carolina said...

It must have been hard to open you heart like that. Some people (even the most "religious" ones) simply don't understand.

I've always admired people like you, that decide to adopt not just because they couldn't have kids, but because the kids need parents. I'm glad the first months with Mariah didn't scare you away from adopting again. Can't wait for your new adventure to start! :)

The Bell Family said...


Thanks for your honesty. Always praying for you guys. I am looking forward to following your new journey.


We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson