our agency) that are in the home study process. We met three other really great couples, two adopting from Ethiopia and one hoping to bring home a baby girl they met in Uganda. One couple lives just down the road from us, I probably run past their house every week.
The reason for this kind of seminar and *all* the online training and required reading is to prepare us as fully as possible. Beth said her job was to scare us and make us aware of the hard reality of adoption. Adoption is in many ways not at all like raising biological kids. In many ways it is, and there are risks with both kinds of parenting, but with adoption we know the children have at the very least already had to deal with a loss, even if they are adopted at birth. Abandonment, deprivation and institutionalization can have profound and deeply rooted affects on children, even neurologically and physically as their brains develop.
Fortunately because Mike and I have been part of an adoption focused small group for nearly two years, none of this is a surprise to us. As much as I hated not knowing if and when the Lord would work on Mike's heart to bring him to the same conclusion as mine regarding adoption, in a way I'm glad that he isn't hearing about the behavioral problems that can come with adopted kids for the first time now. I'm glad we aren't naive to the major challenges that lie ahead as we rush forward through this paper chase. If all you know is what you see in those wonderful Gotcha Day videos, you certainly might think the hardest part is over once you've got them home.
Still, all this teaching and warning can be discouraging. We're human and to say we don't have moments of anxiety would be dishonest. Thankfully I know that it's really not about what I can handle as a parent. It's about relying fully on the power and strength God can and will give me, and making sure He gets the glory for it. I'm not discounting how hard it *could* be, but I am discounting the need to worry about it. Worrying isn't my style and it's absolutely never worth it. "Counting the cost" isn't the same as worrying.
The seminar spent a lot of time listening to Karyn Purvis talk about building trust with adopted children. She talked about how especially if we already have biological kids we may have to be flexible with our strategies and try out different parenting techniques. She talked about how it can be necessary to go way beyond "good enough" parenting into "investment" parenting. If you do the hard work on the front end there is great hope for joyful healing in the long term.
All this talk about what kind of parents were most effective in raising adopted children did one thing for me...it confirmed again the Lord's calling and gifting to Mike and I. The more she talked, the more I saw her describing areas in which we have always excelled. From the day we met one of the biggest things we have in common is our ability to delay short term gratification for long term goals. We are more often than not able to be reflective rather than reactive (Mike even more than me). We are great at purposely creating a very slow pace of life for our family sometimes.
So in a training session designed to warn and prepare parents for the worst, I was actually smiling as I felt God whisper to me "See? This is why I brought you two together. This is what you were meant for. I have gifted you for this."