There are some common things people say to me when I mention adopting teenagers from Ukraine. I hear them over and over again and always reply the same way. I wonder if other adopting parents hear them. They aren’t bad things and I am so happy when people are interested in what we did. Maybe they will remember and talk to others about teen adoption. I’m not upset when they ask. They are curious as I would be had I not gone through this. Especially since I’m a naturally curious person anyway. If you are a friend or family of someone who has adopted maybe you’ve said these things yourself.
First a disclaimer. You might read what I’m about to write and think, wow, those people should never raise kids. They are mean. Yup. I’ll be the first to admit it. But we turn out pretty great adults so I guess how we do it works. I read a blog about loving your spouse. It resonated with me. It’s not about love, it’s about doing what’s right whether you love or not. Because you don’t always love them. Sometimes you get mad at them. Same with your kids, bio or adopted. Sometimes you do what you’re supposed to do in spite of how they are acting.
So here are three things I hear a lot.
1. You are such a nice person. As a matter of fact I am a nice person. But I didn’t travel half-way around the world and spend 11 weeks bouncing around horrid roads and fighting paperwork snafu’s and being away from my home and family because I’m nice. You don’t have to be a nice person to adopt. I actually know some people who adopt who aren’t very nice at all. I also know a lot of nice people who don’t adopt. Nice is not a requirement of adoption.
I am a nice person and my husband is a very nice person (yes he is nicer than me) but that is not why we adopted. We adopted because it was the right thing to do and it’s what the Bible tells us to do. “Take care of the widows and orphans in their distress and live a right life”. James 1:27. So, we are not doing it because we’re nice, we’re doing it because we are obedient to Yahweh. Because there are orphans in the world that live in terrible conditions and they should have a family.
2. You must like kids. Ha! Not really. Seriously I’m sure I’ll get a lot of grief on this one. Kids are not particularly nice. They make a lot of work, they fight you on everything (especially when you’re working hard to train them up in the way they should go), they are messy, they are messy (yes, I repeated that on purpose), they eat A LOT, they back talk and I could go on and on. They make you endlessly tired from the moment they arrive until they are on their own. (This is no different than bio-kids, by the way).
I like them sometimes. When they watch for you to see if you’re watching them run a race in cross country and come up afterwards to give you a huge hug and say thanks for being here mom you forget momentarily that you’ve been standing there freezing for 3 hours and wishing you were at home. I like them when they ask to say the blessing over the meal after months of saying the Bible is stupid. I like them when they do something without being told or when they help other a fellow kid without us having to force them. I like them sometimes.
|#15 out of over 400 runners – worth being there!|
Parenting is not about liking. It’s about doing the right thing whether you like them or not. Being the mean parent when you have to and being there to listen when they are having a rough day. Calling them out on bad behavior and teaching them the right way to do things even when you’re dead tired and just want to go to bed. Or have one moment to yourself. Or take a shower in peace.
We did not adopt because we “like” kids. I refer back to #1. We adopted because we are obedient and we are doing our best to raise these kids to be great adults who are independent and don’t suck the life out of us or society. Who stand on their own two feet and not look for handouts. As I tell my kids, I am not your friend. Maybe I’ll be your friend when you turn 25. That is entirely up to you.
3. I could never do what you are doing. Actually yes, you can. Anyone can. There are no requirements to adopting except be willing to take on another person and raise them to be self-supportive. There are teens all over this world who need a person just like you. Just say yes (wrote a whole blog article on that one word – http://opinionentitled.blogspot.com/2014/05/just-say-yes.html) and start filling out the necessary paperwork.
Lots of excuses…..Here are just a couple of the most popular.
Single? There are lots of places that accept single parents.
No money? HA! We could have fallen back on this. We did fundraisers and took out a loan. Or adopt out of the foster care system which still takes some money but not the tens of thousands international adoption takes.
It’s hard. Really? (Said this with a spike to my voice and raised eyebrows). Yes, it is hard. It’s the hard road. The one the Bible talks about. The one that is narrow and few are on it and it’s hard, darn hard. Harder than hard. Some days excruciatingly hard. THAT is the whole point. Yahweh doesn’t reward for the easy stuff. He asks us to do the hard stuff, the stuff we DON’T want to do. That’s how Tom and I know it’s what He wants. Because we DO NOT want to do it. We look up and ask, “really?”. Then we shrug and say, “yes”.
Seriously we did not want to adopt – ever. Or adopt again once we adopted one. Nor do we want to go there and adopt again, but we will go back for our daughter who is stuck there. But this life we live is not about us and what we want, it’s about obedience to Him, no matter what.
I want you to really get this. This is not about loving a child. This is about doing the right thing. I believe we have gotten so wrapped up in our current society which teaches “if it’s right for me then I’ll do it” that we’ve forgotten that our way is not Yahweh’s way. His way is be obedient to Him whether you like it or not. It’s doing the hard things regardless of our feelings. Feelings mess everything up. That’s why the Bible tells us not to trust what is in our hearts. Feelings fool us.
|6 Amazing Teens|
Now before you think we are absolutely horrid parents let me say this. We do like being parents to a brood of teenagers simply because no matter how hard something is or whether you wanted to do it or not, there is joy to be found. The book of Philippians talks about joy in spite of circumstances. There is also a sense of fulfillment and responsibility. The contentment of a job well done. Watching kids that had no future begin to fulfill one is joyful all on it’s own. Watching them complete milestones is joyful. There is a lot of laughter and fun in our home. Because to do a thing you’re asked to do but do it with a bad attitude is almost worse than not doing it at all.
So we will do this hard task, and any others that are asked of us, and we will do it with fun and joy. We will make the best of hard situations. We will bond with our new children over homework and biking to the park and we will get through the silent treatments and storming around the house because they get mad at us. And we will move one more step forward in this parenting journey.
This has been Simply My Opinion!