When You Have to Disrupt the Adoption

People always say life never happens the way we envision. Despite our best efforts, things turn out differently than we anticipate. 

When we felt the Lord calling us to adopt, we didn’t even know dissolved adoptions were a thing. Yet we ended up living out our worst nightmare. We had to educate ourselves about mental illness, therapies, medications, doctors, lawyers, how to document every little detail, and eventually the ins-and-outs of the CPS system. Weekly therapy sessions, constantly changing medications, and researching the options available to us became our new normal. It was most definitely the furthest thing from how we envisioned our life would be. 

In 2010, along with our 13-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, we embarked on a journey to bring a brother and sister sibling group home from Ethiopia. By the end of 2011, the time had come to travel across the world so that they could join our family. At the time of the adoption, they were 5 and almost 9. 

All we knew was that their biological mother had passed away, and there was no one available to care for them. We would later discover that the youngest, our Ethiopian son, had severe PTSD and anxiety among other mental illnesses that would take years to sort through. 

Our Judd clan had grown overnight to include an almost 15-year-old, an almost 9-year-old, a 6-year-old, and a 5-year-old. Our newest two children spoke no English and were reeling from some deep loss and trauma. It was overwhelming and exhausting. Before we knew it, we were operating in survival mode.

I would be remiss to go any further without pointing to Jesus. Each chapter of our family’s story has God’s fingerprints on every page. Even the darkest days were illuminated by Jesus’ love for us. No twist or turn was traveled alone. He promises in Scripture to never leave us or forsake us, and I am here to testify to that truth. 

Between the years of 2011 and 2016, our family walked roads that were almost unbearable. We noticed from the beginning that our Ethiopian son (whom I will refer to as H) was carrying the scars of trauma. He would have meltdowns that lasted hours. 

Although his meltdowns finally calmed down after a few months of being home, the PTSD and anxiety were still in full swing. He could not take a shower with the curtain drawn and could not use the restroom with the door closed. He was terrified of the dark and wasn’t sleeping well. He would walk with his back against the wall because he was afraid of who might come up behind him. He refused to be in a room with a closed door and often struggled with paranoid or irrational thoughts. 

Over time, other behaviors came to the forefront. He was very jealous of our other son (whom I will call C) — to the point of trying to hurt him in retaliation for things C was doing well. Fun time spent burning off energy on the trampoline became a time to try and injure C. H began showing signs of very dangerous behavior. We found hidden shanks he had made by whittling wood and throwing stars cut from old CDs that were sharp as glass. 

The overtly violent behavior started with little things, like putting thumbtacks in C’s doorway “so they would go through his foot when he got out of bed” and sleeping with items that could be used as weapons “to hurt C if he comes in my room.” We managed these behaviors as best we could, but our home was no longer a safe haven. It had become a war zone as we tried to keep things to a manageable level. 

Our oldest daughter (whom I will call A) was developing severe depression and anxiety as a result of the constant chaos. She was a competitive swimmer, and we were thankful she had an outlet outside of the turmoil that was our home. However, no matter the temporary distraction, our home life was having a negative impact on her mental health. 

By 2015, H was in and out of short-term psychiatric hospitals. We had exhausted every avenue available to us. We had tried 5 different types of therapies that were unsuccessful — including TBRI (trust-based relational intervention) and equine therapy, multiple psychiatrists, multiple medications, and a couple of months in a residential treatment center. 

We had EMS sedate him to safely transport him to a hospital after an hours-long fit of rage that included hitting police and EMS officers. H had told us that he had plans to kill us and proceeded to give me a very detailed description of how he would do it. At one point, he even came up with plans A and B to kill us in ways he thought he would not get caught. 

His rages were in full force by this point and would last 3 to 5 hours. He was extremely violent and would hit, kick, bite, and spit. We had to monitor his every move and keep him constantly in our line of sight to  protect the other children. We had alarms on doors and video monitors in rooms. No one was safe, and everyone had to be protected and watched at all times. 

Thankfully, the only ones to actually get hurt physically were my husband and me. Between the two of us, we experienced cracked ribs, kicks to the jaw, and an ER visit for lower back trauma from being repeatedly kicked by H while trying to restrain him. Our lives had turned into a nightmare beyond nightmares. 

While we struggled to keep everyone safe, our oldest daughter (by now an older teenager) began self-medicating in an attempt to mask the helplessness. We were so overwhelmed that we kept chalking it up to curiosity. No parent wants to come to terms with the fact that their daughter is struggling to cope. Her drug use eventually ended with a stint in rehab — yet another word I never envisioned having in our family vocabulary. 

Our goal during the beginning of 2016 was just to survive until the end of the school year. Once school ended, we would try to figure out what our next steps would be. 

June rolled around, and all hell broke loose. After an extremely long and violent rage with H, we knew we could no longer keep our other children safe while simultaneously parenting him. He had begun hitting the other children while making known his plans to kill us all. We would have to hide the other children in a bedroom with the door closed and a noise machine running in an effort to minimize the trauma they were enduring on the sidelines. 

As our saga continued to unfold, the Lord orchestrated every detail so that we knew we were never alone. He placed just the right people in our lives at just the right moments. He opened doors for us that we didn’t even know existed. What we thought were obstacles, He used to strengthen our faith and trust in Him. He paved a way where there was no path. 

The following days, weeks, and months following that last violent rage with H were a whirlwind. In June 2016, we had H admitted to yet another psychiatric hospital (sadly, we knew the packing list by heart at this point) and proceeded to call CPS to turn in our own child. We told CPS that our family was in danger and that we would not be picking him up from the hospital. They opened a case on our family and interviewed all of us. We were told they would file charges against us for failure to take responsibility for H. 

Within weeks, we found ourselves staring at a stack of documents in a mediation room full of lawyers and case workers. We were given instructions on all the various times we would be expected to be in court over the next 12 months. It was overwhelming. We were encouraged to hire our own lawyer and informed that one had been appointed to represent H. Due to God’s faithfulness, we found an amazing lawyer with whom we formed an instant bond. She had compassion for our family and kept us informed every step of the way. 

A year later, we chose to terminate our rights in the hope that he would get the treatment he so desperately needed — treatment we sought over and over again, in the face of every imaginable obstacle. 

During the year H was in CPS care, he had to be removed from his foster family due to violent behaviors. After bouncing from placement to placement, he was finally adopted out of foster care, though we know his problems continue and likely always will, even with ongoing treatment. The damage was done long before he made his way out of Ethiopia. There are some things that love, no matter how strong, cannot “fix” on its own.

Our hearts will never be the same. We fought with every fiber of our beings for H. We loved him then and will always carry love in our hearts for him. But the point of this story is not us — or our children, or even “the system.” 

The point is that, in the short-term, there is help. You can and must keep your family safe. In the midst of the storm, that may seem impossible, but it isn’t. And in the long-term, there is healing — through therapy (individual and family), counselors, and the grace of God. In the midst of the storm, this too seems impossible, but it isn’t. The fact that you’re reading this is a testament to both of these truths.

We wanted to let others who find themselves traveling this difficult journey how we knew it was time to let go. We found ourselves caught in the cycle of “surely there is something we haven’t tried yet.” We allowed ourselves to feed into H’s cycles of rages and manipulated kindness. 

As he got older, the rages became more and more violent and dangerous. Because of my husband’s job, sometimes he wasn’t able to drop everything and head home to help with a rage. It was very difficult to protect the other children while keeping the destruction at H’s hands as minimal as possible. H had begun throwing things during rages, especially things he knew would shatter. Sometimes these episodes would end with glass all over the floor.

The immense amount of stress we were under had also begun to take a toll on our health. I had PTSD/secondary trauma that resulted in extended periods of heart palpitations, rapid breathing, anxiety attacks, hair loss, and a year of suffering from gallbladder attacks that led to gallbladder removal. My husband also had a miserable case of shingles that his doctor said was likely triggered by stress.

The last straw with the final rage we endured was that H started to turn his violence towards the other children. That last night, he hit and kicked one child and punched the other in the back. This would have continued had we not immediately intervened. We were unable to maintain a good quality of life for anyone in our home, nor was our home safe for anyone at that point. The mental health of two of our children was also rapidly declining as a result of H’s violence. 

In order to protect our family, we had to come to terms with the reality that we were all in danger. If you find yourself in a similar situation, please do not hesitate to reach out.  


About the Author: I am Rachel Judd — Jesus follower, wife to my wonderful husband of 23 years, and mother of 3 through birth and international adoption (Ukraine and Ethiopia). We also do foster care relief work through a local children’s home.

I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. I am also on the leadership team for a foster/adoptive mom retreat called Together in the Trenches Texas. My husband is an Air National Guard chaplain and engineer for NASA, so I also help with marriage and family retreats for military families when the opportunity arises.

We LOVE to travel. We are always on the lookout for our next adventure.

We have had a lot of experience with reactive attachment disorder and many other challenges along our journey. It has given me a heart for reaching out to others in similar situations. I help run a small Facebook group of “trauma mamas” here in the Houston area.

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram.

Adoption – GEESH… It’s a Wild Ride

* Guest post by Kylie Gray

Adoption, geesh! It’s a wild ride.

When we first brought our boys back home almost two years ago, we didn’t have a CLUE what the heck to expect. No one can prepare you for adopting a 6-year-old and two 4-year-olds. I remember when we first got the boys being in dire need of someone to come alongside me and show me the ropes, or so I thought. In fact, not having someone who had gone through the same thing brought me closer to the Lord than ever before. He had gone before me and that’s all I needed.

When people ask about our adoption…

I get asked often about our adoption, whether people are curious about their own adoption journey and wanting advice or just wanting to hear our story of how we did it, I always say the same thing:

1. Make sure your spouse is all in as much as you! I cannot stress this enough. If my husband wasn’t wanting this as much as me then anytime there was conflict or an issue to come up, our marriage or adoption would have failed. Start together on the same team so no matter what comes up you can tackle it together. And by golly, crap will hit the fan, it’s a matter of when not if.

2. DO IT! It’s a big step and people are always a little leary when it comes to officially pull the plug. At the least go take the intro class, its free so what is the harm. I believe adoption is not right for everyone, but I always encourage people to find out if it is.

My Biggest piece of Advice…

3. PRAY! That’s it. If you are like me adoption will drive you to pray more than ever. It’s changed me. I now have 3 children but that’s not the only reason why I am different. I believe my prayer time changed my whole life. Relationship with my husband and children certainly, but also my extended family and close friends. I am still a workin’ on a lot, don’t get me wrong but, heck I have come along way.

Finally, I came to terms with this…

And lastly…..

4. Okay, this is the first time I am saying this out loud to anyone, but it needs to be heard and will be added to my repertoire from now on. When these children come into your home they come with hurts of all sorts. I don’t mean physical hurts, that can happen too, I mean emotional hurts of baggage, trauma, triggers, and so on and so on. You want it to go away. Just leave!!! I wanted to pretend it didn’t exist for a good solid… oh who I am kidding. This week, this week is when the Lord really spoke to me and allowed me to see what I didn’t want to see for the past 2 years. Their baggage doesn’t just go away. I heard on The Whole House podcast this week Kathleen saying how I am feeling, “their past doesn’t go away, as much as I wanted it to” I am paraphrasing here, but essentially that’s how I feel. I want their horrible past to vanish! But it doesn’t.  And that…. Is…. OKAY! It’s okay for them to be able to have the feelings that come with that too. It’s okay for them to have triggers. And you know what?? It’s not your FAULT! It has taken me this long to be able to come to terms with this, it’s hard, man. I love my children and I hate seeing pain come back onto their faces. I didn’t cause the pain and didn’t have any CONTROL, that’s why I wanted it to go away. But they have the pain, nevertheless. Not taking their actions and mainly behaviors personally is one of my biggest struggles still. Like I said, this week I finally let the Lord show me this, imagine if I had allowed this into my life from the get-go. I know one thing, it sure would have saved me a lot of embarrassment, guilt, anxiety, worry, and tears!

 

So, is adoption worth it?

Adoption is 100 million percent worth it, I would never take it back if could. Although at the beginning you might second or the twentieth guess yourself, but don’t give up!

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

-Proverbs 3:5

Listen to Kylie’s podcast and read her bio below!

Episode 67

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I am Kylie Gray, 29 years old, I married Trey, my college sweetheart. We live on a small 5-acre homestead in Central Oregon with our 3 boys! We adopted all three of our boys out of the foster care system here in Oregon about 2 years ago. It’s been a wild crazy road, but totally worth it! We keep busy by fixing up our old farmhouse, taking care of our growing population of farm animals, trying to figure out gardening, all while homeschooling all 3 of our boys! Come follow along with our journey on my blog blackwhiteandthegrays.com and Instagram/Facebook at Black White and the Grays.

 

https://blackwhiteandthegrays.com/

Adoption and Valentine’s Day

Adoption. It used to be just a word to me. I had no idea what it meant. This Valentine’s Day, I think a post on adoption fits. Adoption is a pure form of love instituted before the world began.

 

What compelled me to board a plane, fly to a foreign country and adopt strangers?

God in His wisdom built the foundation of society on the family: Adam, Eve, a beautiful perfect home, and the command to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve ate the only forbidden fruit and sin entered the world–the great divorce of heaven and earth. The first family was torn apart.  Adam and Eve were ripped from the garden and from the connection with their heavenly Father.

I huddled beside Anne under the gray metal desk, licking icing from sticky fingers. Cold fear seized me, wrapping its tenacious tendrils around my heart and setting up residence. Sweet donuts heightened my fear, supercharging my blood sugar.  

It was a frosty October evening in 1969. My father’s objection to the expulsion of fourteen black football players from Wyoming State University immersed my family in a bitter battle. My father hid us in his office to avoid the tumult on campus.

My parents’ lifestyle in the turbulent sixties and seventies had us on the run from one university town to another.  I toddled around with a sense of evil foreboding usually reserved for veterans of Vietnam.  My dad ranted and raved about the evils of our society with the stench of alcohol on his breath. We marched for Civil Rights and Dad campaigned for McCarthy. Watergate news coverage blared on the TV while Peter, Paul and Mary played on the stereo.  My childhood innocence and sense of wonder was lost.  Every anxious day, a new catastrophe loomed on the horizon. My father spent his days off sleeping off hangovers or nursing them with even more liquor. Although the record turntable sang “We Shall Overcome,” my family lived in an oppressive pit.

Then one day, my father burst out of the house like an angry hornet.  He jumped in the teal Suburban and sped down the lane. I sat on the back porch , staring at my new red sneakers. My brother ran after him yelling, “Dad, don’t leave!” Tears dripped down his dusty, sweaty cheeks.

My father was gone.  

This was my first exposure to the reality of the great divorce of heaven and earth. I was banished from the only Eden I had ever known, flawed as it was.  I was a hurt child, reaping the consequences of someone else’s life choices just as children all over the world– children who are  victims of circumstances, hunger, rejection, alcohol addiction, depression, rage, fear, punishments, loss of temper, war, famine, prostitution, and drugs.  The pit is the same in any language: Deep, dark, and putrid.  No matter what the cause of the rejection or abandonment, the feelings are the same. The devastation parallels Adam and Eve’s separation from the Heavenly Father.

All adoption is preceded by sin.  Just as my adoption as God’s child was prefaced by my sinful nature, all adoption is foreshadowed by the original sin.  The Father knew man would fall, iniquity would enter the world, satan would have dominion, families would fall apart, children would suffer.  What was His predetermined response to this?

“Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in

Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set

apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.

For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed)

as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will

[because it pleased Him and was His kind intent].” -Ephesians 1:4-5, AMP

He sent His only beloved Son to restore the breach the great divorce had caused and then adopted us as His own children. I came to know the joy of that adoption for myself and had a heart for lost children, whether lost spiritually or physically. There is a big step, however, from having a desire to leaping into action.

Fast forward 25 Years

On chilly January day, I took our biological children, Audrey, Amerey, and Hunter (at the time, they were 11, 7, and four) out to lunch at the local Ponderosa Steakhouse that my husband managed. In the middle of the meal Jerry was summoned to his office to take a phone call. He returned with a Cheshire cat grin and a question that would change our lives forever.

“What is it?” I asked, immediately able to tell that something was up.

“Remember the adoption information we requested from Tracy?  She wants to know when we are going to complete the paperwork and if we would adopt a sibling group of three.  I told her I would have to ask my wife.”

“Well,” I stuttered, “Can we pray about it?”

In my heart I already knew we should adopt three.  What were my thoughts when I had watched that first international adoption video?  How could I just adopt one?  My mind raced. The January sun glaring through the window suddenly seemed tortuous.

My intellect bellowed, I cannot handle three more children!

My emotions answered, If three children need me to be their mommy I can’t say no.

“We believe Jesus in heavenly things- our adoption in Christ; so we follow Him in earthly things- the adoption of children. Without the theological aspects, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as a metaphor.”

– Russell Moore, Adopted for Life

What does adoption theology have to do with my reality? I already believed certain things about adoption that I’d studied in the Word and prayed about, but theology isn’t mine unless I put it into practice. It is just something inspiring I read on a blog or in a book. It was time to live my theology.

The rest is history. Jerry and I did adopt a sibling group of four. You can read the book, linked below or listen to a bit of our story on The Whole House Podcast, Episode 3, The Guire Adoption Story.

On this Valentines Day, I want to give a shout out to foster and adoptive parents everywhere! You rock! Really, you do. You are the living example of love lived out. Unconditionally. If I could buy every one of you a giant box of your favorite chocolates, I would! Thank you for living out the theology of adoption every day! Please comment if you have adopted children or you are a foster parent. Tell us a little of your story in a sentence or two!

 

*Most of this is an excerpt from my book A Positive Adoption Story: The Door from Theology to Reality. It’s a reprint of my first book with an added study guide in the back for personal study or for use with a support group. Email me – Positiveadoption@gmail.com if you have a support group and are interested in the book and study guide.

A Positive Adoption Story (4)

 

Peace in the Process

I was going to share a post about the Thanksgiving holiday today. I had it written up in my notebook, ready to type up and add a cute graphic. I changed my mind when I saw Kristin Hill Taylor’s book, Peace in the Process, kindle version is free today! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to support another adoptive parent and author.

Kristin runs an online support group that I belong to. She is an encourager and an activist for adoptive parents. She rocks.

This is her story of the heartache of infertility followed by the blessing of adoption! She found peace in the process. ❤️ Also, weaved into her book are little writings of other adoptive Moms (including me).😍Get your copy today!

front cover only

(Click on image to go to Amazon and grab your free Kindle copy!)

Here’s my excerpt from her book: Make sure you get your copy to read Kristin’s story and hear from other Moms like me!

 

In Their Words :: Kathleen Guire

Adopting an older child is like reading a novel from the middle instead of the beginning. We parents enter in the middle of the story. The child, or children in my case, have a history. Their history usually has trauma. Child development expert Dr. Karyn Purvis calls referred to them, as “children from hard places.”

My children were just that; they didn’t have a picture-perfect beginning. They had two years of orphanage living under their belts to boot. When my four adopted children “came home” from Poland to the Guire household in West Virginia, they had nothing to their names, physically, but so much emotional baggage that it barely fit through the doorway. These beautiful, half-written stories entered our household with their survival mode in full swing.

My three biological children were learning the language of grace as my adopted children learned the language of family. It was an interesting dance. Some days it flowed like milk and honey in the Promised Land and other days we seemed to be lost in the wilderness. But we persevered. We laughed and cried together. We fought the demons of their pasts linked arm in arm and often fist to fist.

What does adoption look like later? With sixteen years of our forever family behind us and most of my children grown into adults, I’d say it looks good on the Guires.

My bios have come to me and thanked me for adopting. It has given them a sensitivity to pain in others they would not have had otherwise. When one son took a job in a homeless shelter, he had compassion built in from early life that poured out of him into relationships he formed there. The residents could tell he cared.

My adopted children have thanked me, all but the youngest (give him time). Truth be told, I didn’t adopt for a showering of thanksgiving. I did it to build a forever family. However, it is a true sign of maturity and healing my children – all of my children – recognize the gift of adoption. It is the gift of grace offered one day, healing another and daily dying to self. Isn’t that what family is?

Kathleen Guire is a mother of seven, writer, teacher, and encourager who blogs at thewholehouse.org.

Getting to Know You- Our Adoption Story in a Nutshell

“A tiny plane blipped across a map of endless ocean at the front of the cabin. I gripped the plush blue arms rests. I battled claustrophobia while my three children, courageous and ready for this overseas adventure, raided the snack cart every time it squeezed past.  My husband Jerry snoozed. It was November 1999.

Focus on the goal, I commanded myself. You are going to adopt your new children.

I grabbed my purse and fished out the precious Polaroids of Damian, Gregory and Ania, sent airmail from the orphanage. The prospective members of the Guire forever family looked directly at the camera, as if staring straight at me instead of the lawyer who had snapped the photos in a hallway of the orphanage:

Ania, a pumpkin-faced four-year-old gripping the drapes behind her, willing them to swallow her up; Gregory, a Peter Panish five-year-old sporting an Indian feather cowlick and mischievous eyes; Damian, a somber faced seven-year-old with a worried soul in a young body.

What compelled me to board a plane, fly to a foreign country and adopt strangers?

God in His wisdom built the foundation of society on the family: Adam, Eve, a beautiful perfect home, and the command to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve ate the only forbidden fruit and sin entered the world–the great divorce of heaven and earth. The first family was torn apart.  Adam and Eve were ripped from the garden and from the connection with their heavenly Father”

Adoption is like walking in the middle of the movie and taking a seat. You didn’t see the beginning. You’re not exactly sure what sort of plot or family  you stepped into.  This paragraph gives you a bit of my story and you have joined me in the middle of it.

Jerry and I had the seed of adoption in our hearts when we married in 1985.  We were in the midst of communications with a  pregnant teen mom to adopt her infant (early in our marriage). She changed her mind at the last minute.

Ten years and three kids later, we opened the door to adoption again. We started with phone calls, information packets and not a lot of headway. Then an adoption coordinator called us from Huminska’s Anioly and asked us some pointed questions, “Are you going to fill out the paper work? Will you take three children?”

We said, “Yes!” to three and headed down the adoption road at full speed. Of course anyone who has traversed the adoption road knows that means at a snail’s pace most of the time. And yet, every time we filled out a document or put our finger prints on paper or had another visit for the home study, we felt as if we were one step closer to those children.

Two weeks before our travel date, we got a call from our adoption coordinator,Tracy, “there’s a baby!  A younger sibling! Do you want him?”

“Of course!” We couldn’t imagine leaving the little on behind. Tracy didn’t know the sex of the baby or if he was eligible for adoption. She only knew through some research on the attorney’s end and a question while interviewing Damian who asked, “what about the baby?”

The judge said “NO!” to our pursuing the adoption of the infant. He was easier to adopt out and other Polish couple should get the chance. The Guire family flew to Poland with INS approval to bring back four children.

Christmas in Wheeling
Back row: Amerey, Damian, Audrey 

Front row: Hunter, Gregory, Ania and Rafal

The first meeting in Warsaw with our attorneys in a hotel lobby was tense. Jerry asked about the baby. “Forget about the baby! Focus on the three you came to adopt!”

We couldn’t let it go. We prayed. It was all we could do. We were in a foreign country with no power, no say in what would happen next.

“The next day dawned gray and cold, just like the one before. I felt as if I had entered an old black and white movie and I hoped it wasn’t a Hitchcock. I packed everything back in the suitcases and we hauled the luggage down to the lobby. We were traveling with Walter and Bartek  to Pietrokow, where we would meet the Director of Orphans.

Walter was already surly-faced when he arrived. He rushed us out of the lobby into the stinging gray air. I was stuffed in the back of a small taxi with a seat belt embedded in my hipbone and a child on my lap. The windows remained permanently fogged, blocking my view of the city we were leaving and then the countryside as it flew by. My children, tired from the previous day, settled back into their seats and ventured an occasional, “How much longer?’

When dad came to pick us kids up for summer visitation, the departure was swift.  We packed our bags in the trunk of his current car and rushed down the lane, leaving a trail of dust behind us, Mom growing smaller in the distance.  This is the moment the fear gripped me. The familiar faded and the unknown lay before me. The tense anxiety choked me while my stomach churned. Down the highway we sped to another unknown destination; Dad rarely bothered to sit down and explain where we were going and what it would be like this time. The landscape changed from the hills of West Virginia to the bluegrass of Kentucky or the plains of Iowa, where once we raced beside a tornado as it ate up the fields beside us.

Every year, it was a new home in a new state. And every year, it was the same unstable summer, with our travel and activities dictated by someone else’s moodiness or alcoholism. New places did not fill me with hope. They were foreign landscapes with no known retreats or safe hideaways from the too-familiar emotional climate. The unrest filtered down to me and cemented my fear and presupposition: There is nothing good in the world.

This journey was not on my terms, it was on God’s. There was absolutely nothing I was in control of: when I could go to the bathroom or what mode of transportation I would use or what foods would be available to me. This was not about my comfort level. It was dependent on my trust level.

God does not hand out easy passes. What God requires of me is always greater than I think I can handle. If I would have succumbed to my fears, I would still be at home. I would probably be living comfortably with three children, but it would not have been God’s perfect will for me. It would have been trading something of eternal value for temporary ease. I would have gone through life feeling as if something were missing if I had ignored the still, small voice and listened instead to the bawling fear.

After several hours of driving, we pulled into the snowy little city of Pietrokow. The taxi wound around into the heart of the city through snow-covered narrow streets of old stone buildings. We skidded into an icy drive: the office of the Director of Orphans. She came outside to meet us. I leapt out of the car to drink in a breath of cool fresh air. Walter had already stepped out of his taxi and was speaking to her. Bartek appeared by my side and asked,

“She wants to know if you want to meet the baby?”

My mind whirled.  See the baby?  Meet the baby?  Was this some sort of cruel joke?

“Well, yes, of course,”  I answered quietly, scarcely daring to hope.

Walter spoke again and Bartek interpreted, “She wants to know if you want to adopt the baby. She says that she will speak to the judge for you.”

I suddenly felt giddy. In one day the impossible had become possible.”

The Guire family increased by four in January of 2000 and the four new Guires were able to join us in the states in February of 2000.

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Damian, Adam, Audrey, Ania, Gregory, Hunter, Seth, Amerey, Rafal, grandsons Sam and Theo being held.

There is much more to the story and you can read it by ordering Positive Adoption: A Memoir  in which I weave the story of my childhood with the story of my children’s adoption.

thanksgiving 2015
Ania, Amerey, Me (Kathleen), Jerry, Damian, Rafal, Gregory, Hunter
family photo Thanksgiving
Ania, Amerey, Audrey, Me (Kathleen), Jerry, Hunter, Gregory and Damian in background. Amerey has no idea what happened to Rafal. He is behind Gregory.
thanksgiving  2 2015
Thanksgiving at the Guire Shire

*All quotes from Positive Adoption: A Memoir