I have held onto these thoughts for weeks now. I have not wanted to share before I was ready to but feel like now I want to. I honestly am only expressing my thoughts and opinions made from over 58 yrs of life and 30 of those years in the adoption world. I don't need to be convinced of your opinion or your views that might be different than mine.
We have a very large family by any stretch of the imagination. How our family was built was not on anything other than it was the Lord's will. Each and every child who is in our family past or present or future came to be in our family because God wanted them to be. Even our bio. children. Each one has been a gift. We do not receive any help or govt. assistance for our children. Honestly , there have been few who have been even remotely negative about our family size, special needs, age of the parents in the 36 yrs we have been parents. Really I can only remember 3 people thru the years. I know we are a prime target for people who don't even want to try to understand our family ...but I do welcome anyone to drop in anytime and meet our wonderful children. Experience the sweet faces and personalities they have and then tell me we should not. With all the strangers who have come to our home to film or document our family not one was not happily convinced our children are loved, healthy and thriving.
I have been involved in our adoption journey for 30 yrs now. Abraham was our first adoption. He is now 32 yrs old and came to us when he was 2. Our oldest child is Laura Jeane . She is 36 and happens to be our first bio. child as well. Our youngest child at the moment is Jubal who is 11 months old. I am 58 yrs old and Paul is 60. For most people our age they have no children in their home , empty nesters. We have 25 still living with us at home. All of our adoptions would be considered special needs or older child adoptions because that is what the Lord wanted for us. We were offered many healthy children to adopt but have only chosen the ones who we felt God wanted us to have. We believe He is the giver of life ( even thru adoption ) of all children. Why we have a deep conviction and love for children is only because the Lord has placed that in us. Amazingly He has given us the children who are right for our family...I love them all and see how each personality has graced our family with such uniqueness.
I have recently , well the last yr or so have been thinking of removing myself from Facebook. It has been such a struggle for me to read some of the adoptive family's posts. I know that each family is different...and most are different than mine. However, I feel the worth of a child far exceeds my expectations of age, sibling group or single child, even the past of the children. I honestly don't see why the age of a child really matters when they come to our family. We know that our children's ages may be off by a few yrs either younger or older but all we see is a child. If we started to adopt a single child and learned of a sibling we would do all we could to adopt them all. We have adopted children with significant medical and emotional needs. Knowing many of their conditions before we agreed to adopt them. We have no child we have brought home whom we regret doing so. We really don't believe in disruption. The only time we would have to consider an alternative home for one of our children would be if we felt they would hurt us physically. We would do the same if that child were a bio. child. We don't see the difference between our bio. or adopted children. God gave them all to us...and we just don't feel any different. My heart is deeply connected to all with no difference and the reason is because God has placed His love in my heart for my children. I pray for that because I don't have enough of my own love and need to allow the love of the Lord to flow thru me. I struggle at times but when I return to my knees and pray for His love to fill me then it always works out.
I also strongly believe that poverty is a very good reason for adoption. I don't agree that birth families should be paid any money for their child or mislead as to what is actually happening when their child is being relinquished. We also keep in touch with some of our children's families in their birth countries but only to communicate with them. Never offering anything financial because we feel that would be highly unethical. Many of our children would be dead if we had not been obedient to the Lord's will to adopt them. We have reached out to the authorities in the diff. countries we have adopted from so we can share how well our children are doing. We try to promote a positive relationship with adoption authorities so they will be more open to helping the special needs and older children find families. We have had the privilege of meeting many top authorities in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Ghana...some have even visited us in our home when they traveled to the US on business. We have opened our home to many media to do a story about our family to encourage others to adopt special needs and older children. Our families story has gone all around the world on all continents but Antartica . The countries we have adopted from have been curious and after meeting our family or us while in country very supportive of our adoptions of their children. It has been amazing to see how the Lord has connected us to some very significant people whom we have been able to share and encourage to be more open to special needs adoptions.
Many times we have been able to adopt children when the authority made an exception so the child/children could be loved in a family and get the necessary medical care that would not be provided for them in their home country. Even though our family size is beyond some of the countries limit they have made exceptions to allow us to adopt . Why ? - Only and All because it was the Lord's will for us to. No extra money was paid to any official to allow us to be able to do the adoption. It is amazing to watch when you are obedient to what the Lord has called you into to see how He provides. This has been the only way we have been able to adopt so many children and children with the many special needs.
We have done most of our adoptions with About A Child , our agency. They have been supportive and encouraging us because they have a heart for special needs children. Our money or return business with AAC is not anything like this one person who wrote me thinks. Yes I do share that we have had wonderful experiences with them as our agency. That has been built upon years of experience and their strong commitment to ethical adoptions and compassion for the orphans . It has nothing to do with our money... They often reduce the fees greatly or help us to find a grant to be able to adopt the special child that they know no other family would be interested in because of their medical needs. We are not paying them big money for these adoptions and fortunately my husband's company has a very supportive HR benefit towards adoption. Roma in Ukraine, Toni in Bulgaria and Kofi in Ghana have been the POAs that AAC uses and they all are ethical and have compassion as well to help the special needs children. We are not charged loads of money by them for these adoptions as this same person thinks. We are able to pay for our adoptions, continue to adopt and have all of our children thrive once home all because the Lord has moved in the hearts of those to allow this to happen. I will not be shamed or apologize for the size of our family , the age my husband or I are, or the support we choose to share with others about our agency and POAs. This particular person is imo a passive aggressive person and she wrote to me a message that I will share underneath . I would have welcomed listening to her views but not how she wrote them...Once again the ugly head of jealousy and hate are being expressed....I am tired of this sort of drama. Have some families struggled after their adoptions - yes. We have too but we press in to and remember by looking thru the journal I wrote when the Lord called us to this child. I can't argue with the words I wrote at the beginning of that journey. Are all the children where I thought they might be at this point, No...but that is not in my control. They are deeply bonded to their family and know they are loved. We have been through some tough adoption processes thru out the 30 yrs but again it is amazing to watch how the Lord works to bring the child home to us and then in their lives and ours as we bond.
I don't understand why a person has to try to knock down and tear apart our family and how it was built . Just because we have had very positive experiences with our adoptions and support our agency and POAs ethical practices in our adoptions is no reason for me not to share that. This person has a diff. experience and is having trouble with my support for a particular POA. I could not say anything different about him because I am sharing only about our experience with him . He has been ethical, compassionate and has helped many orphans in his country find a home. Has he made some mistakes - yes. He is human but I don't believe he had done anything with a bad motive or to harm the children or the adoptive family. I have spent quite a bit of time with him having traveled just the last 2 yrs 12 times and more the previous 2 yrs.. Riding in a car for hours, eating meals, visiting orphanages or special needs ministries, or schools has given me insight to his personality. I have not observed anything but compassion and concern and ethical practices to help the child be adopted. I know others feel differently but for us I can't say that. So why would I not share he has been great ??? Don't try to belittle me to not share.
There is another issue with adoptive families that I don't understand...maybe it is just the selfish nature of mankind. Most of the time when I have helped a family to adopt and they struggle because their child/children are not home when they wanted them to be ( their timeline not God's ) they whine and make a deal about things. It is often the newby adopting families - ones who have never adopted before or only a few times. They will cause the agency or POA to hurry things along for the benefit of bringing their child home sooner....and yet after the children are home they cry, " corruption ". Yet they won't bear any responsiblility for their decision and their pushing or at least trying to push the POA. I have talked with to many adoptive parents during their journey and I get so sick of hearing it. One family shared,"they lock the child in his room and he is never allowed even to go with them to the grocery store...and then the family was mad at him when they found pee in the corner of his room. "Why do they think it is the child who is responsible and not take any responsibility for their actions ?Nothing at all credible in their complaints afterwards imo. They caused most of any of the so called bribes. Now some countries work using extra money to get something done. Judges are paid, SW is paid, passport offices are paid, all to get a document done. Maybe not earlier it is the fee charged. Our country does the same we just refer to it as a charge not a bribe. Seen this in every country so not sure where these accusations come from ethically. Also often families will have legit complaints but once the child is home never follow up. I guess that is life though...I don't see many people having convictions and acting on them very strongly . Still it frustrates me to hear of them on Facebook. Why adoptive families who claim to be Christians have to act this way ? I will never understand except that it is not in my ability to nor my ability to change them...Why don't people adopt ? Why are people so concerned about the ages of their children they adopt and want to give them up when the ages are not the ones they want. Why when a babies hair color changes to red after the first meeting does a family turn down the referral ? Why ? Why ? Why? Not in my ability or heart to understand many in the adoption community or even the Christian community- Why are there so many orphans ? I just shared this on my wall and to me speaks volumes - No words needed by me to speak the pain or total disgust at those who would not ." Pick up the little girl and carry her to the food source. " http://jenniferdukeslee.com/tellhisstory-what-it-really-means-to-have-compassion/ Here is the link to that story.
Why do so many people my age not do more for orphans ? Are they not responding to the Holy Spirit who reached out to all of us to care for orphans and widows in their distress ? Again so many whys" and never enough people who allow the Lord's love to work thru them.... Our life is full of His purpose and will. We would live it no other way.I am sorry for you who don't understand our walk or our Lord. I have prayed for you but honestly it is not your business nor did I ask or feel like you owed me an explanation...I have not respected this particular person's opinions for years since you started to try to " shame " people on Facebook who don't hold your same positions. We can disagree and we can have different experiences. I also do not appreciate a person's motive when they try to come across as a friend, or a Christian when I know all you are really doing is expressing your hate and negativism thru how you communicate.
Time went on and you continued to adopt, and adopt, and adopt. It's one thing to adopt a handful of children from Ghana. It's another thing to adopt 12-15 children from Ghana in the past few years (sorry, I've lost specific count). I'm NOT judging your family size--sincerely. That's for you to decide. But I do know that Ghanaian officials are VERY concerned with what they call "child collectors" and do not often allow one family to adopt more than two children at a time, or to adopt again within less than two years between adoptions. Family size is also a huge factor if a family has more than 10 children, unless the family is adopting a child with severe special needs. Even then, I have seen families rejected.
Remember I mentioned above that we have met with several high up officials even in this country who do not feel like she wants me to believe....They were not VERY concerned, they were and are very supportive of our family ( age and size ).
You also, at that time, said something about not minding if Kofi paid birth families something to help them.
Now this was also said by this person...and I really do not like even hate when I am quoted inaccurately and totally not anything I would say. I am and have always been against any money going towards an adoptive parent for anything. I even have been asked by families when they were doing some sort of support because they felt sorry for the families to not do it. No way do I think any money to a birth family should be sent. We write and call some of our children's families . We will send pictures and things their child has made but we would never send money....NEVER ! Nor do we think it is ok. Don't you hate when someone tries to say things you never did ?
Under the guise of "helping " because you can't stand another person who has had a very positive experience I will not allow your bullying and that is all it was to change my opinion of Kofi . As a matter of a fact it does not change my opinion of you either. I have not shared much of the message that generated some of my feelings in this post but there was more. It has caused me to think...think if I want to continue supporting or helping other families who are adopting from Ghana or other places. I have helped many and my only payment truly is seeing a child find a family who will love them. I honestly at this point in my life care the least about the families - I know sounds harsh but I have seen to much selfish and irresponsible behavior in the adoption community . The children are who I care about. Another issue I really dislike is when a family is upset with their child or children for some reasons that are really minor imo and then give up on them . They then do not take their responsibility for their decisions they made to adopt. No one has held a gun to any adoptive family I am aware of to adopt a particular child ...but when they do and they struggle with the anger, pain and hurt they feel for what they are experiencing is thrown towards others...never taken that they had something to do with their decision. They also do not realize how their words and actions harm the process for others after them... I have seen a countries adoption program shut down for this. Now should the family be able to express themselves - yes. Often though I have seen these expressions escalate even harm the programs when in reality the issue is not valid. People get hurt and angry and lash out at those they feel they can harm...only caring that they get it out, I've been told by adoptive family that they don't care who or what it hurts . I just want my feelings out there ...thinking it will help another family avoid a particular POA or agency...but you know what every POA and agency has families who love them and hate them. All families should have everyone's experiences available to them even if that family has had only positive experiences with their agency or POA. This was not the case on one of the Ghana boards. I removed myself twice from it because of the negativism that was going on. It was poorly moderated too. The bias of the moderators and some people like the one who wrote to me were and are very strong on this one board. I personally know of 2 families who stopped their adoption process - one cancelled their exit interview because of all the negative stories about RAD and out of control kids. When someone like me tried to share another view we were shut down. Not all kids have mental issues who are adopted and most will do just fine in their adjustment to a new family. It breaks my heart to think of these children now not coming into a family because of the negative comments that were shared on this Facebook group. It is because of stories like this or experiences I found unprofessional and unChristian that I have chosen to remove most of my contacts in the Ghana adoption community. As you remember we were adopting a precious little boy, Shadrach. It was a terrible experience with the POA we had and the NGO . We spent and lost 6,000 dollars and were lied to by them and unfortunately we had to give up on this precious child. It was tough when we had to make that decision but we could not continue on with his adoption. We spent hours praying about it and were blessed when our favorite POA , Kofi Oppong agreed to take Shadrach and help with the adoption. However, this group of "Christians " had their noses bent and feathers were ruffled and the social welfare director in Bolga. threatened to have Kofi arrested if he did not return Shadrach. I called this person and found out he cared less about the child but wanted 2,000 dollars to allow this child to be adopted. Then the POA also asked for another 1,000 for his part - That is when we said no. Enough of this and Shadrach got returned to them. Why again comes up in my heart. Why don't people who profess to love and be Christian act like this towards a child ? So I can not say my "friends" in the Ghana community have acted well. I am tired of people and their selfish motives. All children are a gift and a blessing. Why do they think that everyone has to agree with their thoughts. We can disagree politely and with dignity... act like adults instead of children when we communicate - especially on Facebook. So for now I am still on Facebook and I have to say I have really enjoyed my last few weeks not hearing all the negative chatter. It has been wonderful . Actually freeing. I have kept some of my contacts and anyone who wants to reach me can thru my email firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd be glad to encourage or talk with you. I will share in another post a letter of support we wrote about Kofi Oppong and About A Child. They are the best and care the most. We can not say enough about how incredibly ethical and compassionate they are. We thank the Lord for bringing them into our lives and for all they do for the orphans especially the special ones. Now how about my title ? Am I in a sunset moment in my life where there is some closure or the setting of a part of my life ...Or am I at a sunset - the beginning of a new time ? Like a new day or dawn.... It has been so refreshing to share some of my thoughts that have been inside for years about the adoption community. It has been like a new day...I am not sure where I will be soon about Facebook or even my blog... I am really enjoying this time. Are we done ? - Not sure that is up to the Lord. I am still communicating with adoptive families who reach out to me . So if you want to stay connected email me for now or msg me.