Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Many of you guys have adopted...and we have not.

I have some questions for you. But, I will start with a bit of an explanation. I WANT to want to adopt Lizzy. She has been in our home for a year, we have made progress with her (some of which I know has gone backwards at times because of visits with bio dad, bio mom & legal dad), but the less she sees them the better she does. She is in general just a HARD child. I don't expect her to listen all the time...she is two years old for goodness sake...but the whining and crying...oh the whining and crying. It actually is getting better, but it is still a huge issue. Also, I have noticed how stinking rough she is with babies and I don't plan on her being the youngest. She seems to want to "tweak" them just a little to hard regardless of it being their foot or hand or whatever. Last night at the pool she tried to "help" an under one year old baby to stand up after I told her not to and made him fall over on the cement and bonk his head before I could get to her.

She has to be therapeutically parented to not be just out of her mind and I am sure as she gets older some of these things will just get more "complicated", but I am sure some will go away as well. I love Lizzy, I love her enough to not just let her get bounced around from home to home...I have given her a year of my life that I am glad I have been able to give...but it hasn't been easy.

What I am asking is:

How did you know that you were meant to parent the kids you adopted?

How did you make the decision to make yourself legally responsible for a child that had a family history of mental illness (if that applies to you)?

How do you factor in the family mental health into your decision to adopt?

Did you just always love you child and never wanted them to leave?

At the end of the day, I love her, but I get very frustrated with her...every single day. Not a day goes by that want to keep her...and then 2 minutes later she does something that makes me want to scream. It makes me feel nuts, like I am not patient enough or something. The one thing that has happened that has validated that it isn't just me is that the foster mom that watched the girls while we went on vacation had the same issues with her. She said that she thinks that Lizzy is moderately cognitively delayed (that means basically that she is at least mildly mentally retarded) and this is coming from a foster mom who adopted children that you can SEE have mental issues. She said that Lizzy reminds her of the one she adopted that has the MOST issues. My sister and I both wonder if Lizzy just shut down for that week so it made her look worse than she is because I wouldn't say she is mentally retarded...I think it is just whatever skills most people have that help them build social relatioships...she doesn't have. Neither does her mom by the way. Anyway, I would love to hear some advice from moms who have adopted and even if you want to weigh in on what you would do if you were me...feel free :)


Mie said...

You know it's funny - every child we've ended up with the serious possibility that we'd adopt started out with the sentiment of "absolutely no way".

I started writing a comment about it, but instead I'm going to write a post about it answering your questions for our situation - both placements we have the potential for adoption involve some of the stuff you're mentioning including mental health challenges with the parents. When I do, I'll post a comment about it so you can see my answers.

Heather said...

Have you looked into play therapy for lizzy?

MamaFoster said...

i have not looked into any therapy for Lizzy. I am so unfamiliar with all of this. I am getting ready to contact early on services for her....

Pam said...

check on the autism spectrum as well...lacking social skills is HUGE because they just don't pick up on body language, facial expressions, etc BUT early intervention goes a long way

Denver Laura said...

Can you insist on an IEP or some other evaluation? We tried to get one for a 19 month old in our home but the parents refused. We could have pushed it but didn't. In the end, she went back to parents anyway.

If you had some kind of evaluation, therapy whatever, you might get an independent third party to let you know where she is cognatively and either relieve your mind, confirm your suspicions and give you better information to make an adopt/not adopt decision. At least they could let you know what future issues that might develop.

The placement that just left us was rough on those younger than him so I know what your'e going through. But at the same time, I used to beat up my newborn brother when I was 2 and he turned out just fine. Every stitch he's ever had I caused him, but he's over 6 feet tall so he grew out of it lol.

Shantra said...

Mamma I feel your pain , and adopted the child that makes me want to pull my hair out every day... I love him as if I gave birth to him but it doesn't make it any easier! There are great therpys and early intervention but bottom line if you have a child in your home that you think you might resent because of behaviors then your home is not the forever home for that child! They will pick up on the resentment and that just makes behaviors worse... One of our first foster children we had , I wanted to adopt but we let her go to her forever family , because of the resentment that my husband had toward how this child treated his other child.....
It comes down to weather or not or not you want to parent her forever and love her as your own! If not that is OK, and her forever family is out there if it isn't yours! You have given her a wonderful start, and I am sure made life easier for who ever parents her ! Some times it is of no use trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.... They just aren't ment to go together! And you know in your heart what is best for your family and her!!!!!!
Praying for you!,,,,,,

the johnson crew said...

Lizzy sounds a little like one of my sons. I really don't buy into most of the diagnoses, but i like how Karyn Pervis calls them kids who have "come from a hard place" She is a therapist out of Texas i just thought you might find this useful?

So, Lizzy might have "special needs". If you are not interested in adopting a child that might have special needs, they why are you pursuing adoption through foster care? Why are you perusing adoption? to meet your needs or the child's? I believe you are passionate, loving, determined, organized, and and that you've got what it takes to love Lizzy in spite of her "issues."

Me and Jesus said...

Every time you write about not adopting Lizzie, I want to shout "you have to for her sake!!!" but really you can not adopt a child simply to keep them "safe", unless of course God calls you to. However this cute annoying two yr old will not be cute and will be even more frustrating at 12 and 18. If you simply adopt her out of pity or duty, she will resent you for it.
I have a child or two that is "hard", some days I don't like them very much. But I could not begin to imagine life without them. I know that if I wasn't sure if I could live with them for the next 18 yrs I would have walked away.
Also remember your joesph. God found him the perfect family. Just because it looks pretty impossible to find a good family now, doesn't mean there isn't one out there.

Andrea said...

I had severe guilt with our second placement. I have 3 bio boys and wanted a daughter so badly. That is why we started fostering in the first place. Our first placement was a boy. I knew he wasn't mine, I loved him to pieces though. Our second was a GIRL! Oh, I was thrilled. Until she hated me. Oh she wanted to be held, never touching the ground, but she would push away from me while insisting on being held. When my husband would come home I didn't exist. She was here for 6 months ages 8-14 months. I was so happy to see her go. I loved her, but she couldn't be my child. I know there were issues, and maybe we could have overcome them, but she seemed so damaged by her mother already. I did the best I could. But when it came time to say goodbye, I cried my heart out for what should have been. However, her aunt and uncle spoil her (they bought her a miniature horse) and she's so happy there and for that I'm glad. Our third placement whimpered from the van door when he showed up at 1:30am and I knew he was mine from that first cry. He was 5 weeks old and had my heart before he was handed to me. And thank God it's moving in the directions. I can't stand it when people say "I don't have the heart to give them back" I don't, but you do what you have to do. What you're told to do. But I DO NOT have the heart to give him back, he's mine. I pray constantly for him to stay. I just knew he was mine! No reasoning, I just knew.

CherubMamma said...

We got our little boy at birth so I didn't factor a gosh darn thing into the equation other than, "gimme my baby".

Now that we're fostering again - and willing to adopt if the possibility arrives - I will factor in mental health issues. I'm not sure if they would keep me from adopting or not. But I would PUSH to get ALL the information about the birth family possible. I don't believe it's possible to adopt without having issues of loss and abandonment. (I know you've read all my posts on the subject.) Mental health issues only compound the problem.

I know I wouldn't adopt again if it didn't "feel" right. And between now and the time that possibility arrives (or doesn't arrive), I'm going to guard my heart. (I'm falling hard for the little ones we have now!)

Diane said...

My oldest adopted child has two parents with significant mental health issues. It scared the you know what out of me when I considered adopting her at 3. She had been with me since 15 months old and did not handle change at all. An inappropriate relative was waiting in the wings, but CPS pushed for me, if I wanted to adopt her. I prayed. Ultimately I couldn't identify a tangible reason not to adopt her other than fear. I turned that over to God and declared she was mine. She was clearly bonded to me, and that was most significant. I trusted God to help me deal with anything else. Since then, she has been diagnosed with dyslexia (I said I would never take a child with a learning disability) and is now in counseling for depression. There are probably more challenges to come. But I love her to pieces and would not change a thing. It definitely was not love at first sight. For the first several months, adoption was not even an option. She drives me nuts, as we are polar opposites in our personalities, but she is a wonderful young lady, and I'm proud that she is mine!

La Mama Loca said...

When you make plans for the future, do you see Lizzy in them? If CPS were to come to your house today and tell her she was gone, how would you feel?

My Goofy Girl is and always has been difficult. We suspect FASD, although have not pushed for a diagnosis. She has been with us since she was 14 mos old. She was pretty delayed, but mostly, we felt, due to neglect in bio home, and previous foster home.

She was with us for over 3.5 years, with a whacked out case, before adoption. When she was almost 4, DCS decided she was GOING home. The CW stopped at nothing to make sure it happened. As much as she drove us nuts and made life "messy", I'd always pictured her being there. She was part of us.

She still drives me nuts every day. She doesn't remember consequences. She doesn't have very good reasoning skills. She has so-so social skills. She has crazy impulsiveness. And yet, we love her. It wasn't instant, it wasn't easy. There were days I was ready for her to go to bio mom. There are days now when I need a break from her.

But we love her. It would be too quiet without her. Less colorful. Less challenging. One less reason to be on my knees to the Lord.

None of us can tell you you SHOULD adopt Lizzy. It has to be a family decision. Know that if you do, God will be there in the hard days. God will bless you, even when you feel like pulling your hair out. All the things we said we would "never" do in regards to the kids we would foster and/or adopt, have been things that we've faced anyway. God had majorly different plans for us than we had for ourselves.

Will be praying you are able to reach the best decision for your family, and for Lizzy.

Anonymous said...

I have not adopted but would love to. I'm believing that I will someday. With that said, when we have children from our own womb, we cannot chose whether they are male or female, let alone control any disabilities or defects in their lives.

When we adopt, we may try to sift out any "issues" but the truth is, every one of us come with "issues", even those of us who would be considered "socially" acceptable.

All of us were orphaned. ALL of us cut off from the family of God because of sin. Yet in our obvious disrepair, God has given us the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. It's in His love that we find our place and we belong. It's in His love that a multitude of our sins and disfunctions are covered.

Be encouraged in this one thing. Love is enough for Lizzy. It will not fail her and it will not fail you. The same Spirit of Adoption that brought you in, is stirring you up to do the same for others who would otherwise be abandoned.

Get a vision for her. See her how God sees her and the plans He has for her. If you are willing to accommodate those, God will surely provide.

Mama P said...

Awesome husband and I have been asking ourselves about what we will do if the two we have now are TPRed.

Im also definately curious about what you find out in terms of early intervention. We keep hitting walls in that regard, especially because her issues are not "typical" so no one really knows what to think. Plus we have only had her for two months, and some of this may just be her adjusting? I dont know...she's our first foster toddler (2.5) and Im clueless as well.

Isn't it such a relief when someone sees what you do? Everyone has given me such flack on our Princess, with "Oh she's just typical two" and "Of course she acts that way, she's a foster kid," and it makes me feel guilty to be so frustrated. This week she was demoted down to the 1 year old class at preschool, and while most moms would be mortified, I was just RELIEVED that Im not the only one to see issues in her behavior!!!

Im praying for you.

Carol said...

I have debated since last night whether or not I was going to comment on this post. Obviously I have decided to. First of all, I want to say that I loved the comment made by Anonymous. She has given some real thought to this subject and I feel that she is right on.

I am a grandma and I have given much thought to this subject and have had experience with it. I want to say upfront that I do not believe that all families are called to adopt and do not feel that anyone should judge a family for their decision one way or the other. If adoption is not right for your family in general or is not right for a particular child, don't try to force yourself into it. Seek God's calling on your life and in particular seek Him in this situation.

I feel that a family should first of all look at their reason for doing foster care and beyond that what is their reason for wanting to adopt. I don't want to be cold here, but if you are after an unscathed child to adopt, foster care in particular is probably not the place to look. Pretty much every child in foster care, even a newborn, probably has some challenges whether from heredity or prenatal influences--lack of prenatal care, drug use by the mother, mother emotionally in turmoil during pregnancy, mother having untreated medical issues of their own, etc.

In addition to the facts above, is your reason for fostering or adopting to add the most likely not to make waves in the family child or is there also a sense of being called to make a difference in the life of a child?

Anonymous is correct in saying that there are no guarantees in this bringing kids into the family whether by birth or adoption. You can do your homework well and ask all of the right questions and think that the child you are adopting will come with no problems, but you still won't know. Even in the case of Lizzy where you find her challenging, ask yourself if she will continue to be that same challenge when visits stop and she no longer has that added stress on her life.

In our family, that of my single adopted daughter who has also adopted 2 and is currently fostering 3 in our home and my son and daughter-in-law who have adopted 1 and have 1 bio child, the 21 mo old bio child is a big challenge. I would say she is the biggest challenge, but her adopted brother (age 3) has autism.

Take the one with autism for instance, he came to our home as a foster child straight from the hospital. He should have been the most likely of the adopted kids to not have problems and he has the most severe problems. He is a sweetheart and brings us all great joy. He requires a great amount of attention and time, but the rewards are huge and we have faith to believe that he will have a very rewarding life.

I hope I have not offended anyone in this very long comment. I have a passion for hurting kids and have been known to get on a soapbox.

As a final slightly off the subject comment. We currently have placed with us a sibling pair. We could and would love to adopt the girl but policy says that no matter what the cost siblings stay together and there are huge reasons in this case for them not to. Meaning keep both or both go. For that reason we probably will not ever foster siblings again.

CherubMamma said...

I have a HUGE heart for hurting kids but I have to disagree slightly with some of the above comments.

Just because we foster... and just because we might choose to adopt out of the foster system... does not mean every child in the system that may come into our home is a good permanent fit.

There is a difference between a bio child and an adopted child. I know I'm not going to be popular saying that. But there is. To deny that difference is to deny the fact that the adopted child has another family. It would be drastically different to parent a child that had special needs that you gave birth too vs. a child with special needs that you adopted.

I LOVE MY ADOPTED SON EVERY BIT AS MUCH AS I LOVE MY BIO SONS!!!! Please do not question that. But there are additional challenges that adoption brings to the equation.

I believe that if you do not feel like the relationship is a good fit for you and your existing family, you are doing a (possible) disservice to that child if you adopt them out of pity (for lack of a better word). Love is a beautiful thing. But forcing a love that isn't exactly there isn't fair to anyone. I say it's a possible disservice because I don't know you personally. Maybe it would be like an arranged marriage and the love would come.

I know right now I would fight tooth and nail for my Pumpkin. I would Mamma Bear anyone that tried to hurt her. I will advocate for her best interests stronger than any case worker, CASA worker or judge. But my love for her is completely different than it is from any of my other children. It's different for her than it is my other current foster children. Honestly, it doesn't even really feel like "love" -- despite the fact I tell her I love her each and every day. (Fake it til you make it I guess.) If parental rights were terminated, I would NOT adopt Pumpkin. If TPR happened with Dude and Dolly I'd be all over it like white on rice.

Only you know what is a good fit for your family. I do believe you'll know when the time and situation is right...and when it's not.

Mama P said...

A.MEN, Cherubmama. I couldn't have said that better.

rachel said...

I have been a foster parent for 14 years and have adopted five of my placements. I have had others whom I could have adopted and didn't. Usually, there was no big reason why I adopted the ones I did, or why I let go of the ones that went to other families. People have frequently asked me how I decided and my answer is simple. I just know it if they are my son or daughter. I believe you will know it, too when the right one comes along. It is my belief that it is better for the child to go to a family who is nuts about them, then to stay in a family who adopted them out of guilt.

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