I just read this on another blog and found it very humbling, and a perspective many people don't think about. Let's do an activity together-go get a piece of paper and a pencil. We're going to get a glimpse of what it's like to be adopted as an older child. Got your paper and pencil ready?
First, write down the name of the most significant person in your life.
Write down your most important role.
Write down your greatest support group: Church, family, a friend...
Write down your heritage.
Next, write the word 'knowledge'. This represents the information that gets you through your everyday tasks.
Then, write down your favorite place.
Write down 'cultural information'. This represents everything you know about your culture.
Now, write down 'resources'. This represents all your material possessions, everything you own that has worth.
Next, write down 'values'. This represents your faith, concepts of right and wrong, priorities, likes and dislikes, etc.
Last, write down the activity that brings the most joy.
You should have 10 things on your list. Now, which 4 things on the list could you live without? Cross them out now.
"Now, I promise everything will be ok. You will be just fine. Give up 2 more."
"Now, I am the almighty social worker. Trust me. And give up 2 more."
Children who are adopted at an older age (not as a baby) have a life. They have a home (although it may not be the ideal home) and they have friends, a culture, a favorite place. When we receive a referral for a child, we get to see their pictures, their information, their medical history, and we can decide if that is the child we want. The child gets no choice. They don't get to say "I want a family with a dog, or a family who is the same color as me, or a family who likes the same food I like". They get uprooted from the home they know and the people they know, and get plunked down in a new place. Sometimes, they get uprooted multiple times until they don't know what 'home' is. And so, while adoption creates a family, it does not come without loss. We can try to preserve as much of their original life as possible, but we will also be dealing with children who have lost EVERYTHING and are completely starting over in life. It doesn't matter to a child that they are going from having very little to having every opportunity, it matters to them that they are being uprooted. They may need time to grieve before they can truly become our children. They will probably, at some point (or many points) in their lives mourn the loss of their birthfamilies, of growing up in their culture, of everything that might have been.
Hollywood makes adoption seem very simple and happy, a celebrity flits on over to another country to adopt a child and then you see them in the magazines in their cute little outfits, but nobody ever mentions the real pain and loss that a child plucked from his home can feel.
In almost every case, the children come home and adjust and become a family and everything works out absolutely fine. They will embrace their new lives and cultures and be happy and turn out just fine. But they will still have times of sadness and times in their life that they will have to work through the issues in their early life.
I invite you to pray with us for the children who will have had to give up so much in order to become our children. The blogger that I got this exercise from ends with this sentence:
"Am I worthy of all this sacrifice? Is anyone?"
You can find the original blog post here.