From Orphan Advocate to Pure Silence…..

Today I got three Facebook requests about orphans.  One from a hosting organization trying to place children/teens for winter hosting and another from a friend who is adopting, asking for financial help.

My heart is broken.  My eyes hurt from crying.  From last week when I posted last to now I have received hundreds of messages and phone calls from others in their own adoption hell.  I want to throw up.  I can’t sleep.  This morning I went to boot camp to exercise and I bumped my fractured leg and started crying, not from the pain but from the weight that I’m carrying.   All of these stories and the hurting families.

Seriously when I wrote last week I had no idea of the magnitude of this.  The floodgates are open and I hope to Yahweh that they stay that way.  As hard as it is to voice this truth and hear the horror stories of other families, this is the only way something will be done about it.

This blog is to all of those amazing people that read my post last week.  (Now there are going to be some who say, well my adoption was different and mine is doing OK.  That’s great and I’m so happy for you.)  The problem is there are far more that are not OK and until people start speaking out more families are going to find themselves right where we are and worse.

Some of the things I’ve heard this week make me want to scream.  Mothers in prison for child abuse because their RAD adopted daughter made false allegations which the police and prosecutor believed, her bio children taken away and put into foster care.  An adopted teen who performed sexual acts on younger bio children.  Younger bio children being physically hurt to the point where they were taken away by CPS for their own protection and the adopted teen left in the home because parents were responsible for their behavior.  Parents threatened at knife and gun point.  Entire families taken hostage.  Pets killed and babies harmed.  Precious items stolen, broken, disappearing.  Coming home to the entire home in shambles with furniture shredded with knives, walls with gaping holes and fires burning.  And still the family is forced to keep this teen in their home until they are 18.

And then I see faces on FB.  Faces of orphans who are up for hosting.  Bring them here for a few weeks in the winter or summer.  No one says it aloud but the reason is right there. Let’s find them a family.  And I was a strong advocate.  I can name many teens who are in homes right now, with families, because I advocated.  A few are working out, some are disasters.  I am responsible.  I re-posted that cute face.  I wrote a story on adoption and how we are doing it for Yahweh.  I bought into the emotion of it all.  I passed that emotion on to others who bought into it.

The system is broken.  A hosting organization that employs people for the sole purpose of hosting teens from Ukraine.  Who has a partnership (open or quiet) with an agency or facilitators in Ukraine who all earn an income when a couple steps forward to adopt one of the teens.  (Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against someone making money and I love our facilitator to pieces.)  But when money is at stake sometimes decisions are made that are not in the best interest of the family or the orphan.  And there are many forces at work in international adoption and if you’ve adopted you know what I’m talking about.

There is much, too much, emotion over adopting an orphan and not enough thinking.  It’s so easy to see an adorable face, learn that they love school and soccer and ask, why not?  Let’s give him a chance at a future.  Then before you know it, you’re in Ukraine, at the orphanage and you see dozens just like him.  All seemingly needing a family.  Your loving heart just melts!  You want to take all them home.

They tell you they want to be adopted, they write out a paragraph for the court.  They DON’T!!!!  They want THEIR family.  Their mom, their dad, their siblings.  YOU?  You’re some strange person from America.  They think you are like the moms on TV.  So they get sucked into thinking they will have a “Cosby” life.  So they go for it.  It’s better than the orphanage, right?  Pretty soon they realize this is not what they wanted.  They want THEIR family and you are not it and not only that YOU TOOK THEM AWAY FROM THEIR FAMILY.  So you are now the ENEMY!   And HELL BEGINS!  And you have no clue as to why this adorable teen is now doing all of these horrible things.  What happened?  RAD?  PTSD?  Another acronym?  They are HOMESICK and they want their COUNTRY and their FAMILY!  And they hate you for taking them away from their chance to get that!!

And yes, they may have a bad family.  Maybe they have no money or they drink.  Maybe someone is in prison.  Maybe a hundred things.  IT DOESN’T MATTER, they are still their family.  My son who is now 18 has a mom who is an alcoholic and dropped him off at a shelter when he was 7 because she couldn’t care for him any longer.  His father was in prison.  It’s ALL he thinks about.  Being back in Ukraine with them.  He doesn’t care the circumstances.  And he has made our life hell because we took him so far away that he can’t easily get back there.  We did it to him.   When the war was going on in Donetsk and he thought they had been killed it did something to him.  Something he never came back from.  When he found out they were still alive it’s all he could think of – getting back to them.  AND he is still SO MAD at them for keeping him all those years in the orphanage.  It’s doesn’t matter.  He would rather be with them.

This is a point I’m hearing loud and clear in all of these stories.  If there is any type of family in their country that becomes a HUGE issue when we get them here.  They want to communicate with them (why wouldn’t they?) and they want to be with them.  In fact, for most of them, the reason they wanted out of the orphanage is not to go to America but to get out and go to their family.   And most of us are never told that while in country.  It’s all about help keep the poor orphan off the street.  Instead of hearing that this orphan has a family and how can we help them reunite?  It’s part of why once we take them from the orphanage and we are waiting for documents they start getting all squirley on us.  They are free from their prison and want to find their families.  And instead of talking to them and finding this out and helping them, we do our best to keep them busy until we can get them on that plane to home.  Because once they’re home they’ll be fine – right?   BTDT.  Had no clue!

If you are on FB and you have a story to tell please look for the group “Speaking the Truth!!”.  Please ask to join and tell your story.  We know we can’t do anything about what’s already been done but maybe we can make a difference for families in the future.  And we’ve got an uphill battle.  Our government department of state loves adoption.  It’s a huge funding source for them in foreign countries and here at home.  The embassies of foreign countries don’t want this out in the open either.  The many adoption agencies and facilitators in Ukraine and hosting agencies here in the USA – none of them want changes.

One other thing I want to address and that is the guilt that many of us carry.  Most of us couldn’t have adopted without the help of many who helped to fund our adoptions.  I have heard from dozens this week who feel they can’t say anything because they had so many people donate to their adoption and feel they can’t handle the judgement that may come.

Two points.  If you raised funds for adoption you still need to step forward to make a difference to others.  We not only raised money for two separate adoptions but we are currently about $50,000 in debt for the last three.  That’s another thing I’d like to stop.  Families who are now home with a teen/teens and are sitting on a mountain of debt.  How is that serving anyone?

Second, if you donated funds to help an adoption know that your reward is coming from another direction and please, please do not judge the person who asked you for funds if their adoption is not working out.  You did what you should do and the result has nothing to do with it.   We need to allow them to open up to the truth!  We need to support them no matter what.

Lastly, unless you are living in a home with one of these displaced teens you need to keep your judgement to yourself.  We’ve been beaten down by these teens and in some cases, the court system, and our families are hanging on by a thread and I just can’t read another letter from someone who is crying because her family or her church is hounding her about the adoption.  If you can’t support them in whatever decision the family makes, then stay silent.  The old saying, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all is perfect here.

And please don’t think you can do better.  Or if you do think that, come to my house.  You are welcome to take mine home with you.  In fact, I’ll bet if I put it out there I’ll have a waiting list of hundreds who will take you up on your offer.

So I won’t be advocating for orphans anymore.  I can’t be a party to another family ending up like the ones I’ve read about this week.  There is much, much more than a cute smile and a pretty face of an orphan.

Enough for today.  Again, if you have a story to share please find me at “Speaking the Truth!!” FB group.  Let’s all make a difference – together!

Hang in there!  We can do this!  xoxo






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7 Responses to From Orphan Advocate to Pure Silence…..

  1. Andrea says:

    Your honesty is appreciated and my heart goes out to everyone who is suffering in whatever way that adoption has imparted suffering on them.

    I would take this a step further and even suggest that adoptions that are going “OK” are possibly suffering from “the process” being shrouded in secrecy and a blatant withholding of information. I dare say that many, many adoptions would have had different outcomes had the children and adoptive parents had the ability to communicate directly and clearly without the aid of a financially invested interpreter.

    Also, might I suggest that these struggles are not isolated to the teenaged group of orphans? ALL kids who had/knew their bio families want their bio families. ALL kids want out of the orphanage.

    Keep crusading for truth, transparency, and transformation of the system.

    Healthy adoption IS possible.

  2. Loren Marti says:

    I think you briefly touched on something that is pretty critical with these kids.

    “They are HOMESICK and they want their COUNTRY and their FAMILY! And they hate you for taking them away from their chance to get that!!”

    I know a few families, mine included, that were pretty involved in talking to birth family from the very beginning. Every one of these adoptions are going quite well. I won’t claim in our case it was because dealing with birth family was something we were looking for, but when we learned they had family (and as you know, almost all of them do) we dealt with it in a way we thought was healthy for the child which was very simply to be honest with our (now) girls, and their family. We talked to grandma (she actually worked at the girls’ orphanage, too sick to care for them but the only stability in their life), we even took an unauthorized trip to Ukraine to talk to birth mom, learn her true situation, and get her blessing months before we had our SDA appointment. My wife and I even talked at length about the possibility of helping birth mom get her life back on track and eventually get her kids back instead of adoption. It hurt financially and it was pretty traumatic mentally but in the end we have a working relationship with birth mom (who continues to make one bad decision after another…our girls want nothing to do with her anymore), a great relationship with grandma (who is alive and now doing well with proper medicine, we even brought her to the U.S. twice to visit), a great relationship with a remaining half-sister who I consider my daughter, and a working relationship with the Ukrainian foster family that has two of our girls’ brothers (Foreigners can’t adopt out of their foster system). We still don’t understand why our girls’ aunt and husband didn’t take our girls in although I suppose taking in six kids is too much to expect of anyone.

    Andrea rightfully states that many adoptions would have gone differently if there was direct and clear communication but one shouldn’t assume that “differently” means the adoption wouldn’t have gone through. Ours did, it is stronger because of that direct and honest communication, and we gained a whole extended family in Ukraine that we are able to help in the process. Our attitude is that birth family is a blessing, not something to shun and we are glad that we have a facilitator that was willing to go the extra mile to move forward with our wishes (and yes we had to push it at times) even when they went against what is common practice.

    I say none of this to counter any of your arguments and it pains me to read what you have been through. Full access to truth and transparency is always a good thing even if it results in fewer adoptions. I say it only to offer up full communication with birth family and a different opinion of birth family as an alternative view. Too many people view birth family as the enemy.

  3. Annie says:

    Wow, Kathe. I am so, so sorry you feel this way. I believe in a very different truth. I know SO MANY adopted children who are nothing but joy for their families… Of course they have probably not even met any adoptive famlies who are struggling; they connect with the other “happy families”.

    In my youth group now there are seven adopted kids – all great kids. One with a few learning disabilities, but perhaps that’s overshadowed by the one who went to Notre Dame last year on scholarship. But, except in the case of the Chinese kids, or the Ukrainian boy adopted as a teen who still has an accent, I don’t think most people even know the kids are adopted. These are not families that think or talk about adoption any more. These families are thinking and talking about soccer, dance, school, homework, etc. How they got their kids is a thing of the past.

    In not advocating for adoption you deny those great kids homes, and you deny their family the joy that can come from being parents. In presuming that it will all be rosy, you might not be entirely honest – but it is certainly the same level of honesty you have with the pregnant mom.

    Because, if you look into any school you’ll see kids in special ed, kids getting in trouble with stealing, lying, violence, etc….. kids with great families who inexplicably drop out or act out. And – adoption doesn’t enter into it at all. Let’s be real – bio kids don’t turn out magically wonderful, if they have good parents. Parenting, even bio kids, isn’t a sure thing, as I have learned from seeing many a weeping parent. Most parents toss and turn in bed, and blame themselves…..adoptive parents blame adoption.

    We adopted five kids. One gave me a run for my money, but is an amazing young man now. Two were/are as easy to raise as my bio kids – and very like them in sweet disposition and temperament. Two (adopted from the same family) had extremely troubled early lives. One, we lost. He developed schizophrenia and killed himself. His sister is doing better all the time. I will never, ever regret that I’ve had the chance to show her she is loved and cherished, or to truly learn to love myself. But, one thing I have realized – in learning to parent and advocate for my troubled daughter I have met parent after parent – educated people right here in my church – who has come out of the shadows to find out how they can help the children they gave birth to.

    • Kathe says:

      I am writing through the lens of 4 hurting children (plus hundreds more from messages I’ve gotten) and their families and our own family. Families are being torn apart and SOMETHING MUST BE DONE. I’m not saying to stop adoption. I said “I” cannot advocate any longer. AND that the system is broken and there needs to be more safeguards and less lying. If there is family in Ukraine more needs to be done to reunite the family rather than move these teens to another country.

      I know there are success stories. The problem is that is all people who are adopting read. Then they get blown away when their story turns into a disaster. I’m happy, enormously happy, for each of you who had an “easy” adoption.

      And for those who are concerned for teens reading this talk to Cathy Lucas. Her teens tell a very different story. They think it should be illegal for teens to be adopted because of issues that they’ve had. Mine would say the same thing. They hate that they were adopted. There are always two sides. I’m just trying to shine light on the side that no one talks about.

      I’m hoping that those who had “good” adoptions can at least understand that. Again, I’m not saying no to adoption, I’m saying fix the broken system. The system based on money, greed and lies. The system where children/teens with family in country can be helped and reunited somehow.

      This is not a pro vs con adoption and this is NOT why I opened this discussion. This is why the system never gets fixed because those who’ve had “good” adoptions get all upset and flood the internet with their stories. And once again the ones like us who’ve been to hell and back get shoved back and told to be quiet. And then another family with good intentions goes over and in a year you don’t recognize their family anymore. They are broken.

      I’m not the same person. I can barely function. I have a broken leg that hurts constantly. I cry all the time. I hurt so bad inside that I can barely breath. I muddle through my days. I see my husband watching me, wanting his wife back. I watch my daughter who has drifted away this past year while I was so immersed in the problems and I am so sad that all I want to do is turn the clock backwards. We have lost so much that will never be recovered. All this for teens who hate us, who only want to be with family in Ukraine, who have destroyed our family. The one who we’ve poured into for 3 years just told us, you are not my mom and dad and I will never trust you and I hate you for bringing me here and all I want to do is be with my real mom and dad before he stormed out of the house once again. The investment into him, the telling him over and over and over again that he is smart, not stupid, and that he can do anything he wants in life was wasted.

      And I’m not the only one. If you could all read the hundreds of private messages I’ve received in the last week – oh my. You would be on your knees thanking Yahweh that you dodged a bullet.

      So let the other side be told. Let those who go into adoption have open eyes to watch for the signs. Looking back the signs were there for us and we had no clue. None. Because no one was telling their story. Had I read our story I would have seen the signs.

      I hope you can understand that. If not, well, I’m going to keep telling our story for all of those who are in the trenches with us. For the husband who sent me a simple “Thank You” last night. Someone who understands.

      • Brian says:

        Well said ,kathe.
        My wife and I were missionaries in Ukraine for 4 years. During that time, we also helped facilitate adoptions. We ended up adopting 2 little girls. One of the girls brought unspeakable hell to our family. People that don’t get this, will never truly get it. Sometimes, sadly, the damage to these kids is so great it can’t be undone with all the love patience and skill in the world.
        We stand with you!

  4. Christie says:

    I want to thank you for your honesty. You brought up many points I had never thought of. We had thought of pursuing adoption as our bio kids got older. I want to ask are these problems as prevalent adopting children younger than say 5 or 6?

    I love your heart for orphans. I think that perhaps there is a better way to perhaps support most of them in their country and in their culture. As you said in one of you posts we are to care for them, perhaps that does not always mean bring them into our home.

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