Wednesday, August 21, 2013
My Thoughts on Adoption vs Family Preservation
We have been adopting now for over 28 yrs.. We have 5 bio. children who are now adults. We have done foster to adopt in the US as well. We have adopted 27 children. We adopted for the first time from Mexico, and continued to have bio. children and did foster care. Then for the past 11 yrs. we adopted 26 children- 6 from Russia, 10 from Ukraine, 2 from Bulgaria and 8 from Ghana. We have traveled to all of these countries and visited many orphanages even many we did not adopt from. We have always felt called by the Lord thru the verse in James 1:27...Religion that God our Father excepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. I have been a part of groups doing ministry to orphans in these countries. I have financially supported NGOs and even gave prayer support to them. This is not being written to condemn to putting your efforts towards these types of programs and ministries in a country. They help the few for a time and I am certainly a believer in the starfish thought- " It helps for that one starfish that got thrown back into the ocean." So don't take this post that I am against this effort because I am not and have even participated in them. There is great value for the ones they do help. Unfortunately for the long term I don't think they are the answer to the orphan problem. I also believe that the Lord is always in control and if that means a child is orphaned thru the loss of their parents, or circumstances of the parents that does not allow them to take care of their children and they become my child because of these circumstances. Then that was God's plan all along. God does not have a plan B....He is never controlled by our ability to respond to Him. I believe this and know that He has been real to me in my life and my ministry with orphans. I ultimately believe every child that is in our family was given to us by the Lord. It was always the Lord's plan for our family to have these 32 children (bio. and adopted). He is the builder of our family. Even though some of my children did not form or develop in my womb - God knew them before they were born and He knows the plans for them. I don't like the circumstances that some of my children had to live thru before they were in our life. I feel the deep grief of loss some of them have felt but to be honest all of them have gotten over this. Maybe it has been with the guidance of us towards seeking God's will in their lives and using their past experiences to fulfill this purpose. Each one of us has pain, and grief for losses we have experienced even if we are bio. children of the families we are in. I do know it is always thru the love of Jesus that we all overcome this grief and pain. How we deal with this, to what or whom we turn to for healing is what is important. I am grateful to the birth moms of my children but, I feel the Lord wanted us to complete the parenting of these children. I fully support all of them seeking their birth families and countries when they are adults. I hope to even travel back with some of them.
I think that Ghana is not whole lot different than the other countries we have adopted from....except the children seem to have less attachment issues than the other children from the EE countries we have adopted from. I love the process, dossier and even our travel in country. I am in a constant state of sadness about Ghana. I pray that it changes and that families will be able to adopt again. I do not think that the culture as a whole will ever take care of the poor children of their country. I am not for family preservation as much as I am for adoption. I am against child trafficking but, I don't think programs like NGOs are the answer in these countries and especially Ghana. The gov't really does not care or have the capability economically to make families be able to provide food, medical care and jobs for their people.... So children will suffer. NGOs help a few for a short time but the overall thoughts, emotions and ability for the culture to think differently takes a long time for positive changes. I believe it is better for the children to be adopted into a culture that does provide food, health care and economic possibilities for their children like the US generally does. UNICEF tries to promote and encourage a country to keep children with bio. families. However, for the 28 plus yrs. we have been adopting I have never seen a country change it's opinion of the orphan or poor child. They are not valued and often thought of as trash. No money is spent on these children or the country like Ghana is so poor there are no resources for orphans. Ghana not so much but all the EE countries for sure feel this way. What is needed in a way is for these countries to provide jobs, and ways to earn income for their people. It is a huge economic issue that causes an unbearable social issue- to care for the orphans, special needs and the children of the poor.
I do not think NGOs are the best way to help orphans. I believe that adoption is the best for these children stuck in families who may even love them dearly but can not give medical care for preventable diseases that will kill or cause harm to their children. Families can not provide enough food to sustain them let alone be healthy. Families who are forced to leave very young child at home ( age 2 yrs) so that the mom can work all day. I have some children from Ghana who were left by themselves all day until dark....with no food and my son still has nightmares about " some evil men who came while mom was gone and he was only 4). Did his mom love him- yes but because her culture is economically poor and the majority of its people can not sustain their families I believe it was best for him to be adopted by us. Some of my children were even sold to not so healty situations where they were abused. Some of my children have had health issues that could have been prevented if they had received medical care here in the US earlier in their lives that was not available in their own countries. Some of my children's lives were saved by us adopting them....They would have died if they had stayed with their family or orphanages much longer. God used us to give them life or a chance at life....Now what they do with this opportunity is really up to them. I don't harbor any ill feeling towards the birth moms. My children all know we are grateful for their birth families....and we are even more grateful that the Lord gave them to us.
Am I certain without a doubt all my children came legally- not really. I do believe they were adopted legally and feel that all the agencies we worked with are legit and legal who really do care about the children and doing the adoption on the up and up. I would be against child trafficking of any sort. However, now that my children are apart of my family I feel and support any contact they wish to have with their birth parents or other significant caregivers before us - this should be up to them as an adult to decide. I have been apart of many support, yahoo groups and it is interesting to see comments from what I call "Newbie adopters" who think they have all the answers about orphans, child trafficking, and family preservation. They don't and have not earned my respect when they shove their own thoughts or emotions down other adoptive families throats. No one should feel shame or be shamed publicly about their views on adoption. Everyone has their own answers to the problems of orphans but unfortunately my husband and I over the 28 plus years we have been on our adoption journey have not seen their answers to work. They help a few for a short time as I shared but none have been doing it for the long term sponserships or support for orphans. In reality the issue is much bigger... It is a cultural thing that even us in the US suffer from - We do not value the life of a child as God does. We think we have the answers and we don't. Children suffer from this lack of valuing them and who they are in God's eyes. All of the countries we have adopted from are struggling economically and until this is improved money will not be given to orphans or their care. Families will continue to struggle to provide. The rich will always get richer and the poor will always struggle until we can change the ability for the families to be able to make money and take care of their children. Providing it thru NGOs helps the few but the overall ability for change will take years - not in my lifetime, only God can move in the hearts of people to change how they value children. So far I have not seen a great movement of this being done even in the hearts of the people in my own country. Until it does there will always be orphans, and children who do not get medical or necessary living care to survive let alone flourish.
At least for these children in my family, who call me momma adoption was better than family preservation.... No regrets and definitely do not feel shame for adopting them. Thank you Lord for all of my children- No matter how they were given they were received as a blessing.