Monday, June 13, 2011

Adoption Fear #1: Bonding/attachment issues and rebellion

In my next few posts I will share some thoughts/insights on the fears brought up in the previous post. I don’t have all the answers, but hopefully I can help with some things to think about regarding each.

Fear #1 was: That Christian wouldn’t bond/attach to their family. That he would become bitter/angry because of his past and show rebellious behavior.

My initial answer was similar to that posted in the comments section by Mrs. Y on my last post. Bonding and attachment is a HUGE issue within adoption. It is probably the most talked about, written about, and studied issue of all. For that reason, there are TONS of resources to help educate adoptive families regarding this subject. REMEMBER, your adoption agency has a responsibility to educate you, support you, and give you tools through the adoption process. Trust me, your agency will present you with every single worst case scenario of what ‘could’ happen when you bring your children home, and there WILL BE days when you wonder why on earth you are adopting!!!! But the point is that they are preparing you and giving you tools AHEAD OF TIME so that you feel equipped and ready to respond when bonding and attachment doesn’t go quite as planned. So, my answer to this fear is one in which you can take action on RIGHT AWAY….start reading and educating yourself on this topic! Utilize the resources we have right at our fingertips on the internet….here are some places to start:

In my opinion, the BEST resource out there right now for adoptive families is the website Empowered to Connect: Seriously, you will have a hay day going through all of the articles and information on here. Once you get to the website scroll down and you will see all the topics covered through articles, videos, testimonies, etc. on the side bar off to the right. Click on a topic and it will take you to all the posts about that particular topic. There are LOTS of articles on the issues of attachment/bonding, behavioral challenges, etc. This website was born of the best-selling book ‘The Connected Child: Bring Hope & Healing to Your Adoptive Family’ by Karyn Purvis & David Cross. The book is another great resource written for families who have welcomed children from other countries & cultures, from troubled backgrounds, and/or those with special behavioral or emotional needs. You can find a review on the book here:

My friends Jen & Jason are currently adopting three children internationally. Two of their children are older children, one will be toddler aged. Jen and Jason have have fully been preparing themselves for what is to come. A few months ago Jen blogged about the top resources she has found that relate to adopting kids from hard places and/or hard backgrounds (both internationally and from foster care). Her list of resources is EXCEPTIONAL regarding the topics of bonding/attachment, adopting older children, etc! You can find that post and list of resources here: I know you will want to continue to tune into the Lee’s blog. They post extremely helpful and practical information for adoptive families.

I also wanted to touch on the part of the fear regarding older adoptive children showing bitterness/anger due to their past experiences and the possibility of them rebelling. I am grabbing a piece from a post on my friend Jen’s blog above that I feel sheds some light on this. This particular excerpt is from

Older child adoption is a complex melding of joys and challenges. In fact, the issues surrounding older child adoption might be called “the ugly, the bad, and the good.” Every parent considering older child adoption needs to read, talk with other parents, and read some more. And, one of the most important pre-adoption projects is to convince yourself that, “Yes, it WILL happen to me.”

Some older child adoptive parents may deal with developmental delays and challenges. Children may act younger than their chronological age. And, they may not be consistent i.e. they may speak at age level, be two years behind socially, and be physically three years behind. For children coming from orphanages, the rule of thumb is one month of delay for each three months spent in the orphanage. Parents will need to work on these child development gaps with at-home activities, or possibly with the help of physical, occupational, or other therapists and specialists.

Some older adopted children slide into their new lives with little difficulty. These children joyously participate in their new family’s activities. They quickly learn the rules. They bond strongly, showing positive interactions with other family members. However, many older, special needs children, due to a combination of biological, emotional, and neurological issues, present challenges to their parents.

Older child adoptive parents should prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. Every prospective older child adoptive parent must acknowledge that they may be challenged in ways they cannot fully anticipate. They will deal with grief and loss in children. They will learn about the impact of trauma on children in their early years, about attachment and bonding, and possibly a new language if it’s an international adoption. The challenges may seem overwhelming at times, however, the rewards will be great!

So, why on earth would we ever want to put ourselves into a position in which we would possibly have to deal with all of these issues? Why would we want to make raising kids more challenging than it already is? This is why….

Though Innocence is Taken…. All is Not Lost….

We call these children “orphans”…. children who have lost parents…suffered immense loss…parentless…. To think this is the darkest part of their life ….the only piece that defines them… would be naïve and quite an understatement…

I think it is fair to say that “orphans” are plagued by not only living life “alone” but suffer through pasts many of us may not ever feel we could overcome… How about the child who is not only orphaned but also a victim of child abuse… intense physical and emotional battery… what about the orphan who not only lost their parents but actually witnessed their untimely death first hand…. the child who has vivid dreams of the moment their parent took their last breath.. what about the orphan who works for a living and at 12 years old cannot read or write a complete sentence because they have never been given the education or stimulation to overcome their learning disability….what about the orphan who was born malnourished, was abandoned by their mother and left for dead in the “starvation” unit of a third world hospital… what about the orphan who was taken from her mother because her mother sold her little body … day in and day out to hungry dirty men…all for something to eat…what about the orphan that suffered such extreme hunger they now suffer long term eating disorders…or what about the orphan who was abandoned not once, not twice….but many times… what does that feeling of worthlessness and being unwanted do to a tiny little soul?

These are the orphans our team has spent their week with... the orphans we all sponsor.... these are their stories...

It’s easy to look at “Saving the Orphan” and think we can just “fix it” for them.... taking them in off the streets…or by adopting them and giving them a family… that everything else they have been forced to endure will just disappear… If it were only that simple… I do believe that a child cannot truly begin to heal until they have a family support unit… someone that they know will be committed to them through their healing process and when they come through on the other side… but it really is only the first step…There is so much work for God to do in these tiny little hearts… so much restoration that needs to take place…There will be uphill battles and valleys so dark you wish you had never started the journey to “save” them in the first place… because now it hurts you too much too… I think that is us in our humanness… but if we choose to love and parent these children through Christ… instead of not wanting to take a chance on loving an orphaned child and allowing them a permanent place in our guarded hearts… we instead realize that through our suffering comes healing to another… just like through Christ’s suffering we find redemption and forgiveness…a permanent place to rest our heart… straight into his arms as he spreads them wide upon the cross…experiencing the ultimate sacrifice….his very life…

I am leading a small group of families with hearts wide open praying God will open the floodgates and provide us the approvals we need to bring home 21 children and make them our own… that they will no longer be called orphans but our children… I am not naïve in realizing many of the children we have found families for have experienced the “lives” I shared with you above…. They are not only orphans but broken children with broken hearts and broken pasts… and although there are moments when they are hard to love…. I will not be scared away… I will not run when it hurts me to love them… I will not leave when the going gets tough… Why? Well because I know I am hard to love… I am also a broken person with a past God has also redeemed…. And he didn’t give up on me…. In fact he chased me… and he chases you… and he will chase us down and love us till we can no longer deny his presence in our lives…. I want to show that same “love” to my soon to be children… and though the roads will be long and winding… we will reach that destination where true restoration will occur and they will find their healing… after all… although their innocence may have been taken… all is not lost. That is a promise we CAN hold onto.

1 comment:

Matthew and Jennifer Pitkin said...

Can we join your group of adoptive families over the miles? It sounds amazing! Email or call me!!! Love you guys!