Sunday, April 26, 2009
How do older children adjust to the idea of adoption? Well, from my experience there are phases they go through. In general children understand the need for adoption much more than their parental counterparts. Kids understand that children need parents, so when they are presented with the notion that there are children without families they tend to say, "Of course we should adopt." Similarly, when they first hear about the concept of abortion they are horrified that any mother would choose to kill her child. Innocence generally tends to bring clarity when it comes to moral issues.
After the initial introduction to the possibility of adoption my children have been supportive through the next phase which is the paper pregnancy. All my kids have donated as much as ALL of their money for any given adoption. When we were in the initial phase of adopting the first time our oldest daughter(she was 15 at the time) gave us all her money one Christmas to help to get her sister home. This second phase consists of love that develops in the heart of one child for another. It is special and I found that as I watched my children get excited and help participate in the adoption process my excitement grew as well.
The next step is the welcoming of the newest family member. It is much like bringing in a bio child except there is an almost missionary feel to it. We were fortunate enough to have our bio kids travel with us on our first adoption and the experience for them was transforming. They seemed to grow in depth of spirit when they realized what they have compared to the rest of the world. They also felt a sense of responsibility for the adopted child, as if they actually were participating in the birth of a family member. So far all of these phases are natural and exciting for the entire family.
The last of the adjustments is the final phase once the newest child comes home. Like my mother told me so long ago, " Don't let anyone fool you in saying..,'Oh, what is one more child? Remember, another child IS another child.'" I have found this to be very good advice that I have always taken very seriously and taught to my kids. Yet as much as you warn the siblings that adjustment can be difficult that does not mean they" get it" until they experience it. Just as innocence brings clarity with moral issues, there is a blindness when it comes to reality. So now the adjustment begins and along with it the growth of each individual. During this time each of my children has learned about themselves and their own weaknesses than at any other time in the process of adoption. They learned to share more and care more. When a child invests themselves in adoption only to see the pain in their newest sibling as they adjust into the family it changes everyone. Sometimes I have seen selfishness rear it's ugly head as bio kids remember what they would consider their entitlements. We have had many talks about laying down our lives. But even in the selfishness that I see a normalcy kicks in because this adopted child who has taken so much time and effort is a real person and they are going to be with us forever.
The adjustments fade into life and the adoption is complete as the reality of permanency occurs. Almost without realizing it the miracle of adoption has taken place in each child's heart and siblings are bonded together for the glory of God!