An Aside

I have decided to take a break from the story I have been sharing to address some of the concerns expressed on my blog and on Facebook over the last days. This is my blog. I have allowed your comments because it is not my intention to sensor your speech. They do not really have an effect on me other than to perhaps narrow my vision and further clarify my purpose. Having said that, please do not accuse me. That’s not how healthy adults express their differences. And do not assume to know my heart, because you do not. Only I know that, and God.

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I do ask that you be respectful and that you understand that all of this I am sharing now happened a year ago. We have moved beyond those painful days. And, perhaps even more importantly, we have moved beyond those days together.

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Can you possibly think for a moment that anything I’ve written would surprise Eliza and Evangeline? We are open about our feelings in our home. It’s okay to express our feelings, and that freedom has allowed an amazing healing to come to our family. Eliza knows she didn’t like me at first. She knows I didn’t understand her and felt pushed away by her actions. She knows I wore down and struggled to adjust and find our new normal in our family. AND, she knows it’s okay, that it takes time to build the feelings of love and attachment. Just yesterday Eliza said to me, “Mommy, take my picture and show everyone how happy I am.”

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Furthermore, I am telling a glimpse of Eliza’s story from my perspective. I am sharing a story of how one family, our family, went through the process of attaching to our daughters, adopted at nearly fourteen years old.

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To those of you who asked if we sought help during our lowest moments. Of course we did. Yet we felt a guilt and a shame that kept us from being really open about how we felt. My point here is that the process of becoming parents to an older child isn’t complete on gotcha day. The children and their families are not necessarily giggling and attached in two weeks as a much younger child can be. AND IT IS OKAY. THERE IS NO NEED TO FEEL SHAME.

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And of course we were educated about older child adoption. But I don’t think anyone can anticipate the feelings and the change in family dynamics that may occur in the process of attachment. The adoptions affected each one of our children differently. Some even felt displaced. A lot of healing came when we were able to identify each one of the children’s roles in the family, and celebrate those roles and strengths. We are, in some ways, all still working on that.

There are far too many disruptions of older children in the adoption community, and far too many children waiting for families. Do you know that once a child turns five years old, they have less than a five percent chance of ever being adopted? And even after they have been adopted, far too many of those adoptions fail. The pain those children and families go through is real, and we as a community need to recognize the process as normal and support those families through the process. There is no room for criticism or shame, and I expect those who comment here to respect that as well. I will not approve comments that do not honor that, or that continue to belabor a point someone has already had the opportunity to express. I will not allow fighting on my blog.

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The subjects I have broached here on my blog, and the raw and blatant feelings I have shared are not frequently openly expressed. They are taboo in the adoption community because we love the collective orphan. God loves orphans. How is it then appropriate to share the hard side?

We live in a broken, fallen world. People abandon their children, children are abused and human trafficked, and the parents who step out in faith to love them are human too. God uses broken people to love these children. Indeed He calls us to.

We are all called.

And, perhaps I am the most broken of all.

Yet God chose me to love these two. And I am so very thankful that He did.

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I will continue to share our story. I answer to God, not to you. To make such comments as, “she has been told by many fellow adoptive parents that this is wildly inappropriate, but it doesn’t phase her, ” on my blog is rude and shows an unawareness of the fact that I do not answer to “fellow adoptive parents.” I answer to God. And you are correct, I will continue to be faithful to Him, and only Him, in my writings and share this story as He calls me to. You are expressing an opinion, your opinion, and I have no responsibility to ‘obey’ you, or to do as you say. If we choose to have a public presence, that is our right as parents, just as it is your right to choose not to. You have no right to tell me what I can write on my blog. Obviously, some of us have different opinions of what should be shared on the internet. Yet we live in this technical age, and God uses the cyber world in many ways too, not the least of which is to draw the adoption community together and to support each other. Primarily, you have been my support. Perhaps I am blazing a trail. If it helps one family to press on through the first few years of attaching to an older child, then it will be worth every criticism I have received.

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Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. ~ 1 john 3:18

So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. ~ Matthew 10; 26-27

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Older children wait. The lives that wait for them when they age out of the adoption system also lie in wait like a thief in the night. The terrors that lie ahead are unthinkable, and even orphanage life is no place for a child. We must not fear adopting an older child. They are blessings and have so much love to give. AND we MUST see the long and slow and sometimes painful process of attachment as normal.

We must go and get the children.

Blessings!

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32 comments

  1. Amy says:

    Love to you and your whole family. I love hearing your story (brokenness and all). God calls us to be real to one another. That is, indeed, what you are doing. It is so important for people to stop pretending that life is just perfect and there are no flaws. You are right, we ARE human and we HAVE flaws. That is how God made us. Prayers for your family.

  2. Claudia says:

    Thanks Diane. All I can say is that I am so happy that you are still all together, including both Evangeline and Eliza! You are all lucky to be in your beautiful, happy family.
    Warm regards, Claudia x

  3. Susan says:

    This has to be one of the best written response to critics I have ever had the pleasure to read! So inspired by you!

    And your story has also been touching me deeply and I am sure will be a help to many. Blessings to you and yours this Sunday and I applaud your courage and generous spirit!
    Susan recently posted..Behold the turtleโ€ฆMy Profile

  4. Amber Pilsner says:

    Diane, you are right. I’m so sorry you have to read peoples nastiness. Thank you for sharing your story. The story that many people hide behind. (((Hugs))) to you all!

  5. Becky says:

    I am thankful you are sharing your story. It has parts that relate in ways to my family as well. The feelings you share are real to me as well but because of hurtful comments of others, I’ve never shared them to anyone but my husband and mother. I thank God daily for creating a strong bond between my kids and me…even when at first, it was rough and actually many days still is. But there is hope. Thank you!

  6. Allison says:

    I think you are brave to post about yourself and your family. Looking forward to the conclusion and thank you for being honest about your struggles.

  7. Vincent J. Eagan, III says:

    I’m a bit shocked to read the people have made hateful remarks. Or maybe I’m not shocked about that, and that in and of itself shocks me. I’ve been reading, hanging on every post and wanting more to know what you did and how you overcame. I do not think it is inappropriate. And if I did, it wouldn’t matter anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ve been thinking you should turn it into a book, because surely other people face this as well, and reading about how you (all) had such deep trials, BUT that you overcame them will help them, too.

    I’ve never met you face to face. I became friends with you because of Mark, then I saw you had a blog, and I wondered, “Hey – what DOES a mother of 11 (13) think about things? Wonder if the blog is any good?” So I read it. And now I feel like I know you personally, because you are so open and express yourself so well on your blog.

    So when I hear that people have been making hurtful comments, it makes me angry. And knowing that I should be like Jesus, I know that chasing them with a whip is within the realm of possibility! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I believe that some of these people must have just stumbled across your blog recently and didn’t bother learning anything about your family before just blundering in. I know Eliza is with you now, so it must have turned out right – but I am wanting to know how.

  8. Terry says:

    I hope that one day our girls can meet. Arielle is legally 17, although she says she is older. But much younger in many ways. I told her your story… at least the parts she can understand of it. And the attaching process you and Eliza have experienced. Arielle has been home for 3 1/2 years and it’s only been “normal” for a very short time. The feelings you have experienced and the behavior Eliza exhibited in the beginning sound very familiar… and as I said before, one day I would love for Arielle to tell her side of this attachment story. She is a different person today-me too! but only because of Jesus Christ ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep telling your story Diane…

  9. Jennie says:

    I can’t appreciate why your honestly about your personal experience would offend someone. I also am concerned as to why fellow adopters would think your story would hurt the adoption community. You have helped to help me immensely and just maybe He showed you the way to help one of His that needed healing. Others living in the shadows as not to offend with the truth may not appreciate your bravery, but I thank you for it!

  10. Joy DeKok says:

    I’ve read the story of your journey with wonder and awe over your transparency and your courage. I was certain your daughters knew you were telling your story and theirs – you have the kind of family that is too honest for them not to know. Your story is wrapped in the power and healing that comes from God. Thank you for opening your heart to us and sharing your story and your daughters. Every time you do, my heart is blessed.
    Joy DeKok recently posted..Weeds, Age, & Beauty {A Pondering Post}My Profile

  11. joan says:

    My dear, fifty years ago I was in much the same spot you are in with a tiny six year old for whom I was her third adoption home! The difference is that I would not have dared to share my feelings, because of pride and the fact that people were drawn to her because of her beauty and wouldn’t have believed me, any way.

    I spent those days as her mother, living with guilt, going through the motions, and needing lots of help and answers for which there were none.

    If I could have known that there was one other person out there who felt like I did, it would have been a God send!

    For those who criticize, they don’t know what it is like–no one can, who hasn’t walked through it.

    I did not disrupt the adoption because of fear of what people would say…so we endured a terrible adolescence, as well as post high school days.

    Eventually she finished college, got her master’s degree and is teaching. She married a great guy, whose life hasn’t been easy, but they do well together. She was not able to have children and many of her childhood traits come to the surface at times.

    So, I thank you for your open, honest words which cannot be easy for you to tell. Please do continue on with your story. It is beautiful, hard, sad, and yet, through it all, your relationship with the Lord shines and I believe He is glorified
    through your honest words.

    If your writings even help one family, it will have been worth it….and I suspect there are many who have been helped.

    Thank you for sharing. Even this many years later, it takes some of the sting away from my soul of feeling that I somehow failed with this child of mine.

    Thank you…and Blessings

    p.s. I had one that wanted to be my shadow–pressed up against me as I cooked, cleaned, etc. I know that feeling, also. She has turned out to be my biggest blessing, but oh my, there were some days I would have liked to shoo her into the other room, but thankfully knew she needed this closeness.

  12. Lisa says:

    Diane- Thank you for sharing your heart in such an open forum. You are a woman of courage. As an adoptive mom of 6, 3 of which were adopted between the ages of 10 and 14 (one from dissolution) I understand the role of “open and honest adoption advocate” oh too well. 5 and 6 years later our struggles are still vast and deep. Pain and difficulty from past trauma is the norm in the secret side of adoption world. Healing is slow for all of us- and there is distinct beauty in that. We too have nothing to hide and are open and honest about all of our joys and hurts- that is where healing begins. Having it “out there” acknowledges the elephant in the room and normalizes the feelings so they can be identified, processed, and healed. Prayers mighty warrior!

  13. donna says:

    Diane,
    You are brave and honest to share your story with us. Adoptive families need to hear other people’s truths. The great thing here is that you were challenged to your breaking point and beyond but somehow came through the fire and your family is better for it. I have a daughter much like your Eliza but thankfully she was adopted as a baby so I have that mother baby love for her that has always gotten us through I can’t imagine if I didn’t adopt her until now. People who haven’t had a child like this have no idea how draining and difficult it can be and he effect it can have on the entire family.
    Your kids look happy now so you know you are doing something right.

    Thanks again for sharing to generously.
    Donna

  14. Sheila says:

    I have received alot of criticism for the TITLE of my book about Chinese adoption. I know those who were criticizing the TITLE, had not turned one page of the book. People are so quick to judge!!! Some of our adoption story is as stark and honest as your posts!
    Many of us have gone through the pain of adolescent adoption and forged on to build our families. Anyone that says they never had doubts about whether they did the right thing or were up to the task are probably not being completely honest. It is difficult for the grieving child and the adoptive family as a unit!

    Blessings, Sheila Temple author of Chinese Take Out : An Adoption Memoir (Tate 2014)

  15. Aimee says:

    Your eloquaint writing brings me to tears. We did not adopt an older child; our Molly was only 13 months old. But the trauma of orphanage life proved to create a very anxious child with extremely raw emotions. I feel much guilt. There are days that I don’t think I can go for even one more. I, too, believe that God has called us to love one another. I have the privilege to live out what God intends. Molly is here for me as much as we are here for her. Our love needs each other. No one else can do this work. Thank you for giving voice to the scary stories we play in our heads when life doesn’t go according to plan. I feel your pain, the shame, the guilt. I have to learn to wholly love myself so that I can wholly love this child.

  16. Dawn Nagy says:

    I am glad you have chosen to share your story. I am certain other adoptive parents have had similar struggles. It is always helpful to know that others have struggled with similar problems. God is working through you to help others. Keep telling the story… it is beautiful. Someone might avoid the shame and get the help they need because of you being brave enough to share the darker times. God bless and keep you all.

  17. penny says:

    BAM!! This is exactly what I love about you, Diane. You are transparently honest, gracious and kind to a fault – yet you have a backbone of steel. Brava!

  18. Terri Casebier says:

    I am currently going through much the same with our new daughter though she isn’t yet a teen.

    I SO appreciate your story being told and many times I think it’s just for me that God is allowing you to share it the way you are with the words you have chosen. Thank you for following His lead and not others..

  19. Edie says:

    This kind of honesty about the process of becoming family is needed not only with the adoption community, but also with the disability community, blended families, and “ordinary” couples and families. Real life is not always easy. Real bonding process is not always pretty. Real life needs honesty. Real life doesn’t always have tidy or desired endings. Real life needs God’s grace through the process, the happy endings, and the not-so-happy endings. Thank you for sharing.

    As unsettling as the negative comments have been, I think we need to respect those who give them and pray God’s grace for them as well. There’s a reason they believe what they do; they have not walked in your shoes – not just a mile (that wouldn’t reveal much), but a marathon. God bless you as you continue to share the wisdom that has come through your difficult journey. Edie

  20. Rhonda Schuler says:

    Diane for every ugly comment you receive you have 20 beautiful ones. I am behind you 100 percent and I will always be, Sometimes the truth is not pretty…but it is the truth. Those girls have a family that loves them. You and Mark have built a very special family!

  21. Rachel Davis says:

    The responses you have received show precisely why people going through hard times and processing such hard experiences have a hard time getting the support we need. Because there is an abundance of condemnation and does anybody think that condemnation for something that we are struggling with… is even remotely helpful? Perhaps, it is more crushing. Consider that, commenters, that there are many families reading this blog series who are IN THE SAME SHOES as the author was a year ago… and your comments about her and her family are being read by people experiencing the same shame and exhaustion and desperation. Consider how you can express love and support instead.
    Rachel Davis recently posted..Do You See What I See?My Profile

  22. Rachel Davis says:

    P.s. May I encourage you to reference all adoptions instead of just teen adoptions, though that is what you have experience in? Because, your description can also apply to those children who are younger when adopted. Our son was only 2 1/2 when he came home and I can relate. I wouldn’t be surprised if many parents of children with special needs or children with behavioral challenges can relate too.
    Rachel Davis recently posted..Do You See What I See?My Profile

  23. Carissa B. says:

    Hello,

    I have been reading your blog on and off for a couple of years now. I don’t usually write comments, but I wanted to share this time. I am 27 years old, my husband and I have been married for 5 months. We have a heart for orphans and I enjoy learning from families who have gone before us in the adoption process. As you so graciously said in truth and love, you don’t answer to me or anyone else, so my opinion doesn’t technically matter. That said, I wanted to share that your story has been an encouragement to me…the darkness you speak of is real, I have tasted some of it myself at times, but our Lord is also real, and it is He who directs our paths and carries us through our days on the days when we think we can stand and the days we know we cannot without Him. Truthfully it is He who carries us every day whether we know that we need Him or not. Thank you for your honesty, for it is in testimonies like yours that His light shines so brightly.

  24. Christy stinson says:

    Diane,
    I’ve read your recent posts with hunger-
    To hear truth from one who has survived these adoption attachment trenches brings light and hope as I have and do struggle with similar feelings.
    As an adoptive mom, and as an adoption social worker, I deeply value your honest words. I’ve referred other struggling adoptive moms to your blog. They also have found hope and strength in their struggles because you have been honest. Thank you!!!! Thank you for hope in this dark and lonely part of adoption attachment and parenting!! Thank you to both you and your precious daughter for sharing raw and painful truth to bring hope and healing. Your journey IS being used to bring hope and to set others free.

  25. Maureen says:

    Diane,
    I disagree with what you are doing on your blog. I have told you this before. I have not made any hateful comments, and I will not do so now. I think these issues need to be talked about. I just don’t think that your child’s name and picture need to be shared. You could do this anonymously, so that your children could not be identified. You have chosen not to do so. You have the absolute right to do it the way you want to do it. I, and others, have asked you to reconsider sharing your children’s photos and identifying information. When you write a public blog, you will get comments that are not positive. Sharing your story is important. Sharing your children’s story (their real names and photos) is just wrong. Obviously, that is my opinion. I hope that others will read my comments (and those of others who disagree with your method of sharing your story) and consider what we are saying.

  26. Mindy says:

    Diane, you have once again missed the point of all of this (but thanks ever so much for quoting me!). I don’t care whether you answer to other parents, God or the neighbor’s dog. I just don’t get that you feel absolutely no shame over ignoring the voices of hundreds upon thousands of actual adoptees about the wisdom of divulging private, intimate information about your daughters in a public forum that you can never take back, never erase from the Internet. Of course people love reading it. As I and others have said to you repeatedly – which clearly doesn’t matter to you – there are ways to tell the same rich, compelling story without identifying your child in public. There are ways to share your story, which is definitely valuable and important, so that you do not violate your child’s life in the process. But you don’t care. Because this isn’t about Eliza. This is about Diane.

    And of course none of it would surprise Eliza – she’s living it. That does not mean she will want everyone in her future to know these intimate details about her! Her fellow employees, her fellow students, admission officials at schools, her friends, her boyfriend’s family, her boss. It’s out there for anyone and everyone to read.

    But you made all of us who stand up for adoptees sound like big blue meanies, and you got your warm fuzzies from others who apparently view adoptees more as possessions than people. You are happy. So I guess all is well in the world.

    • tracey says:

      I totally agree with Mindy. My daughter is 18, and there I things that at the time I thought were no big deal to share about her, and yes they are a big deal. It is personal, private stuff that should be hers to share, not you. The internet is forever, this stuff hangs around and as much as you think she may have come to terms with all of this, so much is carried inside of people and hidden and pushed back. When she is older she may very well wish that no one knew any of it, but you have put it out there for all. So sad that you can only think of your need for divulging all of this.

  27. Ed says:

    I’m an adoptive parent of a child who has great difficulty attachment. I’ve struggled greatly with my emotions, too, and I am so very glad that you are sharing this. You are doing the right thing. Don’t quit! What you are doing is very, very, very good.

  28. Karen Meyer says:

    reading your blogs have helped me tremendously…our story is different, but the guilt is the same…We took in a 16 year girl when her single mother unexpectedly passed away and none of her relatives would take her. We made the mistake of not seeking any counseling (wouldn’t even have known where to start with that)…so much of what happened was very predictable, we just didn’t know to expect it. The disruption to our home even though we didn’t have near what you have dealt with was a shock to us. We tried so hard to treat her as one of our own but she told us she didn’t want parents. We, like you, made the choice to love through actions, but I felt a lot of guilt because there were many times I just didn’t even like her and I resented that our biological kids were being made to suffer because she was so difficult and ungrateful. It would have helped me to talk with someone like you who is willing to be honest about the day to day struggles. Keep telling your story. I am appalled that people would criticize…it doesn’t help the adoption process to go into it blind. Information is key. Thank you! Our story hasn’t ended well…yet…to her credit, our girl did finish college (God miraculously provided a safe, Christian, free education for her), but has decided to put us out of her life..”our Christian values are too much for her” At the time she came to live with us, she was in our youth group and professed to be a believer. It breaks my heart to see that it wasn’t true and she is on a dark path at the moment…at times that makes me feel that the sacrifice our family (especially our bios) made was in vain, but in saner moments:) I know that God’s Word does not go out in vain and she knows the Truth! She now knows what a family is, a father is, etc. We are praying that God will draw her to Himself and soften the anger and rebellion that are being exhibited right now.

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