Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Adoption Fear #2: Physical agression toward children already in the home

Fear #2: The possibility that an adopted child could hurt young children already in the home. And/or that an adopted child has undetected mental instability that will in time cause them to act aggressively.

This fear is a little bit different than the one from yesterday in that this, in my opinion, is a ‘what if’ scenario. ‘What if’ scenarios are the products of worry and escalating thoughts. I first learned about ‘what ifs’ in one of my favorite books ‘Calm My Anxious Heart’ by Linda Dillow. ‘What ifs’ can actually start with a true statement or thought, but in our humanness, we allow our minds to take off into the worst case scenarios. Here is an example:

The social investigation report said my adoptive child was abused in his past. (This would be the starting point - a true statement - then the 'what ifs' start rolling in)

What if he becomes bitter from the abuse?

What if his bitterness causes him to emotionally withdraw from our family?

What if his bitterness turns into anger which he takes out on our family?

What if his anger causes him to physically act out and hurt one of our children already in the home?

Can you see the process of how the first thought – a truth or highly likely scenario - can escalate into the last thought - which is worry about what might happen?

I AM NOT SAYING THAT THIS COULD NEVER HAPPEN. Yes, an adoptive child could potentially hurt your biological children or young children already in the home. But….

You could also give birth to a child with social/emotional/behavioral disorders that cause him/her to act out physically/aggressively.

Your child could be abused at school in the locker room.

You could send your child off to summer camp and they could drown in a lake or a pool.

Your child could be catching a ride to an event with another family and die in a car accident.

Your child could endure hidden abuse from a babysitter or a relative in your family.

Do you see what I am saying? There are a lot of things that could happen to our children. But that doesn’t stop us from giving birth, sending our kids to school, sending them to summer camp, having them ride in cars, or hiring babysitters. Of course you could argue that the probability of all of those things happening is less than the chances of an adopted child who has experienced past trauma acting out physically in his/her new home. And that’s when I would tell you that I don’t live under probability or by chance. I don’t live under the idea of fate. I don’t live by being lucky or unlucky. To me, probability, chance, fate, and luck are as good as HOGWASH. I live under the Hand of a Sovereign God who is the Blessed Controller of All Things (1 Timothy 6:15, PH). God does not make mistakes or miscalculations. EVERY circumstance in my life is under His Sovereign control. Because of His Sovereignty I can trust Him with my tiniest doubt, or with my most heart-wrenching fear. And as my friends who do foster care said here God has a higher interest in protecting all of my children, biological or not, than even I do. He loves them more than me.

I was the “Queen” of these sorts of ‘what if’ fears throughout our own adoption process of Justice. With adoption, there is so much that you can’t see and that you don’t know….your mind can pretty much go wherever it wants to. I've posted previously on how I've learned to take control of my thoughts here. Adoption (and life in general) is full of potential problems and pain. And not only are you dealing with this in your own heart and mind, but outsiders observing your adoption may slam you in the face with ‘what ifs’ as well. In my personal experience, this was the way that Satan capitalized on my fears and tried to paralyze me into inaction. I finally had to come to a point in which I fully gave this fear over to God by trusting Him in faith. That’s it. That’s my answer. Trust. Faith. God had brought me to a point when I needed to trust Him with my most treasured possession….my children….even though I couldn’t see what the outcome would be.

That being said, you also have to make wise decisions within your adoption, as you lean on God’s guidance…..

-If you are adopting out of an extreme situation or from a war-torn country (where abuse was likely part of your child’s life) then you MUST be prepared to face challenges as your child(ren) acclimate once they are home. In these situations it IS a possibility that your adopted child may need to go to a treatment center or receive specialized therapy to cope with their trauma and find healing.

-If you have children already at home, you also need to make the decision as to whether or not you will even take part in an adoption that displaces birth order. Generally, this is not recommended in the adoption world, and some agencies won’t even allow it. I really struggled with this issue in our own adoption as well. As this mom notes here, you don’t want to make birth order an idol, but I would say that adopting out of birth order isn’t right for every family either.

-My friends who do foster care have two young girls at home with a 3rd child on the way. They have chosen to take in only girls since they have young girls. This is a way that they felt God led them to still take part in caring for the ‘least of these’ yet not compromise the safety of their own children. It IS OKAY to set preferences when you apply for adoption. Jake and I set an age preference, gender preference, and we also asked for a ‘healthy’ child.

These are all things to consider, especially when you have children in your home already.

I asked Jake to read this post and weigh in. He said, “Remind them that all God asks us to do is love them. He doesn’t ask us to fix them. The command is to love them as Jesus loved us.” His thought reminded me of this verse - 1 Peter 4:8 ~ Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Even though many orphans have endured so much evil, and people sinning against them, God’s perfect love can still heal and restore them. As the post yesterday said, all is not lost. I think this morning of our friends, the Diers, who just brought their little Lucy home from Sierra Leone a few weeks ago. They have faced so many challenges in Lucy’s development because of the evil done to her in Sierra Leone, and yet the strides that she has made are MANY. This tiny soul was left on a beach to die, lived through abandonment and neglect in two different orphanages, and now is receiving medical care and therapy here in the U.S., not to mention nourishment, love, attention, and the joy of being in a family. You can read her mama’s recent post here: http://stepupsister.blogspot.com/2011/06/aama.html

If you’ve dealt with this fear, please share your insights/thoughts in the comments section for someone who may be just beginning to work through it.

1 comment:

Marti said...

Janel - I'd like to talk to you about the possibility of speaking ( small group setting) at an orphan care conference our church is hosting in August. Is there a way I could call you?

Josh, my husband and I, used to attend Cstone in Ames and are now at First Family Church in Ankeny.

If you feel comfortable, you could email me at Marti@Skow.org, and either send me your phone # so we could talk or we could chat via email....


Marti Skow