Although I may not blog as frequently as I like about single Christians adopting, it’s not for the lack of interest or passion. Remember folks, the statistics are quite favorable. In April, Pew Research Center came out with this report on how one third of all American children are living with an unmarried parent. Back in 1968, 13 percent of all kids lived with a single parent. In 2017, it was 32 percent.
I’m not saying that is the best of conditions, either for the parent or kid, but it’s far more common, which is why we must not listen to people telling us we’re some kind of freak show for wanting to adopt.
More recently, Christianity Today came out with a piece about how unwelcome churches are toward foster and adopted kids. Twin that with another piece about how churches exclude kids with autism, ADD and ADHD because the two populations are often the same. Fostered and adoptive kids are much more liable to be special needs and parents often seek out a church as a place where these kids can be cared for while the parents get a respite so they can worship God without being interrupted for an hour.
In recent months, my daughter has been much more combative and disruptive during church, meaning I’ve had to haul her out into the hallway where she was stared at by all sorts of people. Several did try to pray for her and I appreciated the effort, but it only ended up embarrassing her, so we fled out of the building. We did return the following week, but we sat in the way back.
So I’ve been at that point where I’ve despaired of getting through a service, much less getting anything out of a sermon while my kid is having hysterics next to me. It’s been a rough year. My child has been in and out of various places since late June, finally moving back home with me in mid-September, all in an effort for her to find healing and therapy for things she got saddled with either in utero or in the first two years of her life.
Recently I was going through some blog posts from a forum on Russian adoptions (which stopped in 2010 after a spat between U.S. and Russian governments) and noticed how many parents were listing things such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), oppositional defiance disorder (ODD) and reactive attachment disorder (RAD) as common conditions. Any ONE of these conditions can sink a parent; imagine kids who have all three. They are beyond psychotic and a lot of adoptive parents are faced with these conditions.
Fortunately, Veeka doesn’t have any of the above but she struggles with other things that are almost as serious. As I talk with mental health professionals, I see the amount of need out there as stunning – and there’s not enough resources in the schools, hospitals and social services to meet it.
One of the parents on the Russian adoption forum wrote me years ago to list all the problems her adoptive kids had, then gave me some advice on whether or not to adopt an older child.
“Unless you KNOW without a doubt that God has called you to this – and you are committed FOR LIFE – not until 18 or 20,” she said, then do adoption of older – and probably – special needs kids.
What to look for, I asked, if you want a healthy kid? She said to look for a child who was with the mother as long as possible and whose stay in an orphanage was as short as possible. Take any physically fixable thing over ANY possible mental disorder, she added. Korea has a great track record as far as RAD goes; much healthier children.
One woman wrote about significant problems taking years to surface with some children. “I adopted my oldest daughter at 7 months of age and her worst
behaviors came out at 4-5 years old, before any sort of diagnosis
(besides “sensory integration dysfunction” which did NOT explain her
behaviors),” she wrote. “She is on the fetal alcohol spectrum (FAS), which I found out when she was about seven years old. Another woman I know, who adopted
her son as an infant, found out he had RAD when he started first
Regarding older kids in orphanages, “These children have had to become experts at survival and they SO want to be part of a family,” another person wrote me. “They crave it, as we all do, but the damage is more often than not already done. It’s true, classic, physical FAS signs are more easily detectible, but not fetal alcohol effect, which can be just as devastating and in some ways worse because you’ll never get a diagnosis but you could have the lifelong problems.
“I think its admirable to want to adopt an older child, and perhaps it is
the right choice for your family, but personally, I would assume there
will be significant problems and make my decision based on that. If
you are gambling for health, I’m afraid the odds are against you.”
I don’t want to be all doom and gloom. We are friends with a two-parent family with three adopted kids from rural areas of various countries. The kids all had significant physical disabilities: Missing arms and legs; extreme scoliosis of the back and one is confined to a wheelchair. We visited them a week ago when we were up near the Canadian border and theirs is the merriest household despite all the physical problems. I know this couple would never do it any other way, as they’ve given 3 kids a life they would have never otherwise had.
Notice, though, their disabilities are physical, not mental, and if I were to give out advice, I’d repeat what it says in bold print above. Take any physical disorder over a mental disorder. They’re both tough, but one is definitely harder than the other.