National Adoption Month and Some Thoughts on #adoptionrocks

It’s national adoption month and a friend of mine shared a post on the #adoptionrocks by Tara Vanderwoude, Social Worker. You can find her whole post on her Facebook page. I’ll share some snippets here. 

“For the past handful of years, #adoptionrocks has been popular across social media. A quick query on Insta shows nearly 500k photos hash-tagged with this sentiment. It’s mostly APs using it, and photos come up with adoptee toddlers at the apple orchard, adoptee tweens reading a book on the couch or adoptee grade-schoolers on the first day of school. Other photos show newly adopted kids in the courtroom on finalization day, while other photos are fun selfies of a white parent with a kid of color.” – Vanderwoude

when Adoptive Parents don’t feel the right to Celebrate.

I’d already been thinking about the topic of adoptive parents because recently because of an alarming trend not to celebrate kiddos because we might offend someone. I’ve talked with some parents, who adopted/foster and want to protect the rights/feelings of birth parents.  Because of this, adoptive parents seem as if they hide in the shadows. Afraid to post. Afraid to talk about the joy the kiddos bring or have in their homes. It’s just not right. We shouldn’t hide. We should brag that these wonderful kiddos exist. They are precious.

– One of my adoptees.

“Simply stated, I just don’t get #adoptionrocks .

In light of #passTheMicToAdoptees this November for #nationaladoptionawarenessmonth, I’m wondering:

– For whom does adoption rock? The AP? The birth parent? The adoptee?” –

Vanderwoude

In this world of “tolerate and love everyone” it seems as if there should be no rules. No heartache. No disrespect to any people group, culture, or gender. But there is disrespect when you tell a family not to hashtag something in a celebratory way or say that adoption shouldn’t rock for them. Also, just so you know, when a white parent adopts a child with a different skin tone, that child will retain the skin tone throughout their lives so it will show up in all the family photos. Celebrate it. Adoptive parents  should not feel guilty, condemned, and carry the trauma the child has on their backs like a sack of rocks. We can’t help our kiddos find hope or healing in the position of guilt and condemnation. Or maybe they should get down on their knees and crawl on glass for penance? When are we going to stop 1984-ing every aspect of everyone’s lives? Really? 

Hashtags

I’m not huge on hashtags. I use them but they aren’t something I put a lot of thought into. If hashtags were more important to me I might use #NiCUrocks right now. Not because I’m thankful that my grandson was born eight weeks early. Not because I want to glorify one of the six risk factors for trauma. Not because of the science I know about preemie births and the possible outcomes. No, because, there are nurses, doctors, equipment there to help my grandson survive and thrive.

Just as when I was in Iowa one summer when my dad was teaching a summer class at Waverly. The tornado siren went off and we all walked to the basement and hid out there until the tornado passed. The tornado took out a gas station a few blocks away. #basementsrock.

What #Adoptionrocks is Not

I’m going to be pretty blunt here because other people feel the right to be blunt about what we should or should not say, tag, feel, do, think, or write. #adoptionrocks is not synonymous with #birthmotherstinks or #trauma is great. 

Guess what? Adoption is there because there has been trauma. Period. No use or avoidance of hashtags will change that. If you are a trauma-informed adoptive/foster parent you know that. What I don’t get is when adoptive parents aren’t allowed to celebrate the child. Yes, birth parents of  bio children post pics of apple picking days, farm days, Christmas tree hunting, summer swimming, and hashtag all sorts of things. Why? Because it’s our new form of scrapbooking. It’s our way of storing photo memories. It’s our way of storing snippets of celebration.

The Origins of Adoption

As Christians, let’s not forget the origins of adoption. It was God’s idea in the first place. Ephesians 1 says: 

4 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.

5 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 [[b]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—

Our adoption into God’s family rocks. Our adoption is not something we should hide. We should celebrate. And when we adopt, we follow in the Father’s footsteps. We acknowledge the world is broken. Just as God gives us place in His family, we give our kiddos a place in ours.

Adoption Gives Us a Voice

Therefore you are no longer outsiders (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household. – Ephesians 2:19

Once we become part of the family, we have voice, we aren’t outsiders. We have a place at the table. We have security. Adoption provides the same for our kiddos – a Voice. 

Adoption helps the child say:

I have a family.

I’m clothed.

I’m fed.

I’m safe.

I am loved. 

I am valued.

I passed the mic to my adoptees.

I even took this a step further and asked my adult adoptees if they had issues with the hashtag. Nope. My eldest said, “Most kids feel lucky to be out of the situation they were in and put in a better one so #adoptionrocks.”- Eldest Son

“I think it’s cool. It will show some people who always thought adoption was a bad thing that it’s a good thing.”- Youngest Son.

My other two adoptees agreed with their siblings sentiment. The question started a great conversation about birth parents and respect and such but that’s a post for another time.

We should be happy that parents are willing to build their families through adoption. All children are precious and should be celebrated. During this national month of adoption, let’s do that. Celebrate the avenue in which kids find family. Celebrating adoption is not celebrating trauma. It’s celebrating family. With the culture telling us to celebrate same-sex parents, transgender, or just about any life choice. How about we just say to ourselves, I respect your life choice to celebrate using a hashtag that says #adoptionrocks.

One final thought from a Facebook friend: 

“If we look at adoptions as we look at stepparenting, maybe we could come to a consensus that ALL parenting rocks, if you’re raising a kid, you’re a PARENT, and that is your CHILD whether by blood or love and that families are just that, families. Different, wonderful, traditional, nontraditional and families raising good humans just ROCK no matter what they came from or what they look like ❤”  – Megan Lake

National Adoption Month – A Few Words on Orphans

November is National Adoption Month! I’m doing a giveaway of 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas on Facebook and Instagram. One book for Facebook winner and one for Instagram! Find the posts and tag three friends to get your name in the drawing.  The Whole House Team will draw and share the winners, live on Thursday!  On November 8th, Kristin Taylor, author of Peace in the Process will be sharing!

 

It’s in the dark, pre-dawn hours. The orphanage is quiet and I am awake. I can’t get back to sleep. I fluff my pillow and sit up in bed, leaning against the iron frame of the bed. Sleep hasn’t come easy this month that we have lived in the orphanage. I am running on adrenaline and my heart is in overdrive.

Hubby Jerry and I flew to Poland and then rode to Sulejow in hopes of adopting a sibling group of three. This was a small village, destroyed by the Germans in WWII, just 15 km from the first Concentration Camp in Poland. We moved into the orphanage after living a week in a castle turned hotel.

At least there was real heat in our quarters in the orphanage as opposed to the frigid castle. I still couldn’t sleep. You see I wasn’t prepared for the emotional overload. My mind skipped back and forth between joy and grief. Overwhelming joy that we were adopting. Overwhelming grief that I couldn’t take every child home. It ate at me. It gnawed at me. I played games with these kids. Hiked into the village with teens. Watched them smile while they played with my video camera. And I couldn’t take them home.

If you don't have a heart for the lost or the orphan, then go visit them in the midst of their pain. Go participate in their circumstances.

Interesting thing about orphans is they look appealing from a distance. We can form all sorts of platitudes, we can quote James 1:27 and intend to raise money for orphans. We can intend  to adopt some day. As a church, we can vow to fulfill the mandate ‘to care for widows and orphans’ while we sit in comfortable pews and take communion and remember the death and suffering of our Lord. but, up close, you can’t ignore suffering.

I couldn’t. I wasn’t prepared for the faces of neglect, swarming around me vying for attention. It’s nothing like in the movies. I couldn’t just smile and move on. Poverty envelops those children and strips them of the most basic of human needs, connection. They want to matter, just like every human being on the planet. They want someone to look them full in the face and say, “YOU MATTER. YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU ARE LOVED.” Neglect says, “You don’t matter.” Abuse says, “I don’t care about you,”

While Hilary Clinton, looking weary and worn down, states on camera that an unborn child doesn’t have Constitutional rights, she devalues life once again. Life is valuable. Everyone with a beating heart and breath in their lungs holds value. You cannot set a dollar amount on life.The Constitution or rulers don’t set the value. It is there. You cannot snuff it out.

The church should be adopting orphans quicker than they bag their groceries at the self check out. We should be proclaiming from the rooftop the value of life, that Christ died that each child might have life and have it more abundantly. We should not be participating in stealing, killing and destroying of life. That is the enemy’s work.

Why don’t we see the value of adoption? The importance of it? Because we first don’t value ourselves. We see ourselves as sinners instead of saints (thanks, Tracey for that insight). We see ourselves as beggars instead of sons of God. We don’t recognize our own adoption. We don’t realize that we have received the Spirit of Adoption by which we cry  “Abba, Father!” We don’t know that before the foundation of the world, God chose us, actually picked us out, destined us to be adopted as His own children (Ephesians 1:4,5). Read that again. Let it sink in. YOU ARE CHOSEN. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE A SON OR DAUGHTER OF GOD.  You are not an orphan, wandering, lost, looking for  acceptance. You have it. You have been pre-approved.

With that truth settled deep in our spirits, we must go into all the world and preach the Gospel which has the power to save souls. We should be sharing this news with those who need it most, the spiritual and physical orphans. Those who have been rejected, neglected, abused and abandoned.

 

If you don’t have a heart for the lost or the orphan, then go visit them in the midst of their pain. Go participate in their circumstances. You can’t watch it on a screen and understand. You cannot have empathy for something you have not lived through yourself. Ask God to give you the gift of understanding the suffering of others and the hands to do something about it. It’s okay to feel afraid of suffering. It’s not okay to ignore it.

If you’re thinking about heading down the adoption/foster path, do it afraid. You don’t have to have all your ducks in a row to adopt or foster. Just be willing. Be obedient to the call, if it is your call.  If not, support someone who is adopting. Let’s fulfill the mandate of James 1:27 and care for the widow and the orphan. Let’s follow in the footsteps of the Father and adopt.

 

National Adoption Month Winds Down

The month of November is winding down, the holiday week of Thanksgiving fizzles out at the tail. It’s the best of times of some and the worst for others. For some, two seasons burst forth a spring of new beginnings with new  life and the winter of souls, with loved ones missing at the dinner table.

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It’s not truly winter, according to the  calendar, but the ground is frozen, frost sparkles on the freshly raked grass and the leaves lie in piles at the edge of the wood or smolder in fire pits, smoke rising in a vapor. We often think of this season as the end of the harvest, a time to gather with family and be thankful. It’s fitting that National Adoption shares this month. There is a great deal to be thankful when it comes to adoption, but like this season, it come with a death of sorts, a loss. There is a sting in death, just as we lose a loved one, a child eligible to fostering or adoption has lost something, a parent, a sister, a brother, acceptance. We long to reach through eternity and grasp the flesh and blood hand of the one who has gone before us, just once more and so do they.

I close the computer while ‘friends’ on social media duke it out over politics, race and religion.

The social orphan knows this fight. The red-faced anger. He has heard it while he hides in his bedroom closet or he is locked away in a cellar. His parents, ruled by fleshly passions cannot or will not parent with love and consistency. They abuse or worse, neglect which says to the child, “you do not exist.”

Blue lights in the dead of night. A social worker. A garbage bag filled with the sum total of his life, the old familiar disappearing in the rear view mirror. A new, strange live begins in a foster home, orphanage or institution.

 

Survival is the name of the game. The child becomes stuck in the first of Glasser’s five needs, survival. He circles through the broken cycle of attachment and it falls short.

Loss. It is his life. He waits, maybe not for a family. He doesn’t have a strong supposition to support the word family. His loss is real. He still longs for the love, the hug, the flesh and blood touch, the approval, acceptance of those who bore him, yet, it doesn’t come.

He is shuffled from home to home or stays in an orphanage until he ages out.

He is there today, waiting. He has a banner on social media, advertising his need. National Adoption Month. Stories in a feed. And yet… he is real.

In this season of thankfulness or loss and longing or both, shut down the social media arguments. People are hurting, longing for safety, for home.

You can be that safe place. You can be home. That’s what National Adoption Month is about-giving orphans homes.