letters from adoptive parents

John Piper, whose ministry Brad and I have greatly appreciated for years, is an adoptive parent. He and his wife Noel adopted a baby girl when most of their peers were retiring and becoming grandparents.

I stumbled upon Noel's blog recently and read their beautiful adoption story. At one point, she decided to write John a letter about her desire to adopt. 

I can relate to this, as I know full well that conversations fueled with such passion can often end poorly. There is so much at steak when talking about issues we can so deeply about, so writing may be the best option. I know I think carfuly when bringing up adoption with Brad (and if I don't, I should) - not because he's not on board, but because we'd both say I'm a bit more passionate about it right now than he is. I could talk about it all day long, hence this blog!

We've decided to adopt but it's still something that makes my heart race and keeps me up at night (maybe God has called me to be an advocate?) and for him it's something he will prayerfully and happily do, minus the heart racing and night wakings (for now :)

and best of all,

here is his reply (when he says YES to adopting!)


timeline and limitations to our adoption hopes

Brad and I sat down the other night to talk about some logistics. It wasn't the easiest conversation, but it was needed. Needed to move forward and make sure we're on the same page.

Here's the ideal:
We welcome an adopted child or an adopted sibling set into our home in April 2014.
About 2 years from now. Meaning, at the end of the summer, we'll start the adoption process. All three or four kids share a room, that's the only way. We'd make it an awesome kids cave, with two bunk beds, lots of toys, and a closet packed to the brim with clothes. It would be crazy, but it would work.

Here are the concerns:
We're a young family.
We already have two kids.
We live in a 2 bedroom house.
Those might be factors that limit our adoption hopes.

It worries me and frustrated me that something as small as 1 bedroom may inhibit our adoption plans. We just bought this house and can't move for a number of years. If we had 1 or 2 more kids biologically, they'd all share a room, and no one would say "Boo", but with adoption, the hard part is that you don't decide everything. Others have a say in things like discipline and the living space for the child. That makes sense and I support it, guidelines are the best way to make sure these children are in safe and loving homes, but it's hard.

Anyway, that's our plans and hopes as well as our fears and potential limitations!
Would love your prayers and advice if you've gone down this road before :)


moving posters from the Dave Thomas Foundation

Dave Thomas (founder of Wendys) was adopted from the foster care system. His foundation's goal is to de-stigmatize foster care adoptions and find forever families for every child. Amen.
Look at these posters I found on the foundation's site:

I especially love combating the beliefs that some kids are "too old" or "too damaged" or "to much" (siblings).
Praying that God moves through this campaign to find forever families for countless kids.

on naming humans

what an honour and responsibility...
to give a human being their name
it's huge.

that's one thing I lament about adopting an older child.
we won't get to name him/her.
when you adopt an infant, sure, give them a new name, they won't know the difference.
but when you adopt a child, they already know their name. you can't go around changing it.

we thought long and hard about the names Lily Catherine and Olivier Michael Robert, but for our next "babies" we'll be happy enough to give them one name: Morrice.


Adoption in the Church

I think it's so great that in Christian circles, adoption has become a major topic of conversation and priority. Adopted for Life, a book I recently finished, had a whole chapter dedicated to helping churches become more supportive of adoptive families and encouraging those who desire to be parents to consider adoption. This is HUGE. In Canada, if 1 or 2 families from every church adopted just one child, there would be ZERO kids in Foster Care. I love that churches are prioritizing the issue. Found this advertisement for an event at Mars Hill Church this morning and was really encouraged.


20 things I need to know...

"Birthdays may be difficult for me."

"I want you to take the initiative in opening conversations about my birth family."

"When I act out my fears in obnoxious ways, please hang in there with me."

"I am afraid you will abandon me."

and so on...
A friend recommended the book "20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" and the title alone has sold me. I know so few families who have adopted. Only a couple well enough to ask them about their experiences. And even then, only one who has adopted out of Family and Children's Services (in Ontario, or in Quebec, Banque Mixte). That's not a large pool of resources to draw on when embarking on a new and scary experience. Excited to read this!


"but what about Lily and Oli"

Anytime we talk about adopting a non-infant, people seem genuinely concerned for our kids. Something about adopting a toddler or kid instead of a baby has folks thinking our poor biological kids just won't be able to deal. And part of that is founded. It will be a HUGE adjustment when we some day, adopt. For us, for the child(ren) we adopt, and for Lily and Oli. But I can't help but think the reaction is a bit over-dramatic.

When we brought Olivier home from the hospital it took Lily a good month to stop hitting, scratching, and biting him. Her brother. Our son. Sometimes we caught her before she could hurt him, other times we weren't looking and little Oli would end up with a big scratch (often drawing blood) on his tiny face. Lily was vicious. It was all so new, and as a 14 month old baby herself, she didn't understand anything.

As awful as that month was, I'm glad we went through it. I think it has prepared us a little bit for what may be to come. On the bright side, our kids will be older by the time we adopt. Lily wasn't warned at all for Oli's arrival - or I should say, she didn't understand the hundreds of times we told her she had a brother coming soon. If she's around 3 years old when we adopt, she'll be able to understand much more. Oli will probably be in her shoes when he came home, so it won't be perfect -  we'll still have one biological kid who doesn't have a clue!

My point is this: it's always hard adjusting to a new family member. No matter how they come into your family. Lily had a terrible time adjusting to Oli, but she eventually did. She was so young and couldn't put the pieces together, so she acted out in aggression and tantrums. Oli may do the same when we adopt. But I believe he would also act that way if we had a third baby, biologically. I assume he'd treat said baby the same way Lily treated him - terribly :)


Banque Mixte Adoption legalities:

taken from this website
Families that agree to have children placed in their homes from the Banque Mixte must realize and be prepared for a lengthy period of time before that child may become judicially legal to be adopted.
Since 1988, statistics have shown that roughly only 4% of the children in the program have been reunited with their biological families. So, chances are very high that these children can be adopted, but the wait can still be stressful for everyone.
In the best interests of children, it's been determined that a placement for children ages 0 to 2 years be made within a year. Children ages two to five years old must have a placement within 18 months and for children ages 6 and older, a placement within two years.

That information is really comforting to us. One difference between International and Provincial adoption is that the birth parents are still around (in some cases). Furthermore, the birth parents in banque mixte adoption are different from a regular adoption in Canada in that regular adoption has the birth parents giving consent to the adoption and banque mixte adoption has the children already separated from their birth parents.

The hard part about regular adoption is that the birth parents have 30 days to change their minds. This is usually the route for those wanting to adopt a baby, and would be very challenging. The hard part about banque mixte adoption is that the birth parents have had their children taken away from them, usually for neglect or abuse. It's very unlikely (4%) that a banque mixte adoption won't "go through" but there are obviously other challenges such as dealing with past neglect or abuse.


how many kids in Canada are waiting to be adopted?

a former foster child...

what they're looking for...

Canada Adopts listed these qualities that they look for in adoptive parents. Some are surprising. Check it out:
  • Realistic expectations
  • Genuine respect for birth parents
  • Understanding of loss issues for birth parents, the child and themselves
  • Acceptance of child differences
  • Non-possessive attitudes toward children
  • Assertiveness/ability to advocate
  • Openness to support/learning from others
  • Flexibility/ability to improvise
  • Interchangeable, supportive roles within the couple
  • A network of support, whether adopting as a single person or a couple
  • High tolerance for emotional pain
  • Sense of humour 
  • Sense of spirituality/inner strength/faith 
  • Ability to meet own personal needs
  • Ability to provide an accepting, nurturing and stable environment for children 
What encourages me? that they see people of faith as a positive. That's awesome. Not just for Brad and I, but for the whole system. That faith is valued.

What scares me? that they list "high tolerance for emotional pain" as highly valued. Ah. My heart is so sensitive to the cause of orphans. I feel like I have a very low tolerance and my heart breaks easily. But maybe that's good.