I am loving doing this series on creating an awareness of the many aspects of adoption. Each week I am highlighting something different. So far we have read testimonies of families who have adopted children who have DOWN SYNDROME and last week many CHINA FAMILIES shared their stories.
Today I thought I would highlight something a little different. It’s a topic that is seldom discussed yet so absolutely necessary to cover! Institutional autism/ institutional delays are very real issues facing families who bring these kids home and the children who are confined to awful mental asylums and older-child institutions.
There is not much that breaks my heart more than seeing families go to all the effort to fund raise, travel overseas to adopt a child with whom they have fallen in love–only to see the whole thing fall apart when they meet a child who self harms, rocks, babbles like a baby, drools, eats off the floor, is profoundly delayed, and displays unruly behavior. All of a sudden the family’s world comes crashing down and difficult decisions are made. As a family that has adopted children from institutions, we completely understand how hard it can be.
It’s easy to fall in love with a picture. Many times that is all a family has. We look at a photo of a cute little guy and fall head over heels in love. But the reality is that most times the picture we hold in our hands is several years old, and the child has aged out of a baby house a long time ago and now calls a mental asylum for older children and adults their home. These precious children are no longer in the relative safety of a baby home–they now live in places that we simply cannot comprehend. They are dark places where only the fittest can survive.
Sadly, many families are just not prepared for what they will find when they enter the doors of those asylums. It’s hard for the human heart to understand such abuse, such neglect. We hold onto the picture of the cute, chubby little person in the photo and we hope that maybe, just maybe (please God!) they will be unaffected by their realities, their life of confinement.
Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.
But waiting on the other side of those metal, dilapidated walls is precious, valuable treasure just waiting to be found, to be given a chance–just like every other child on the planet.
Do they require more patience, more time, and more attention? Absolutely!
Do they have the ability to learn and grow? YES!
Can they bond and learn how to love and be loved? Of course!
The key is going into an adoption of a child who has been locked away in an asylum with hearts wide open and zero expectations (knowing that God called you!)–being prepared, educated, and ready for anything.
Having any amount of expectation of an institutionalized child when we walk into that orphanage will leave any adoptive family feeling like they can never do the job! They will potentially feel overwhelmed, disillusioned, fearful of the future, and completely uneqipped for the task of raising this child.
I remember feeling that way the day they placed Hailee in my arms. With tears I asked of the Lord, “How, Lord?” “How can I raise this child?” And then I asked Him fifty times if He was absolutely sure that He had chosen the right couple for the job–I could have counted ten more suitable families off the top of my head who could have done a much better job than me (the coward that I was!). I looked into that tiny little girl’s eyes and I knew that inside that emaciated, ridiculously delayed body was a personality just waiting to come out. And of course, we all know how Hailee’s story is working out–God is writing a beautiful, redemptive story.
Having zero expectations means that we can place the entire situation in the hands of the Almighty Father and trust that HE knows what He’s doing–even when we feel completely inadequate for the job. He who calls us is abundantly able to equip us with everything we need to parent these children well.
I know that there are many families who have traveled to faraway lands to bring home institutionalized children. Some are older children who have spent their entire lives in orphanages. Others are children who have special needs and aged out of their baby home and got sent to horrendous places. They all have one thing in common: These precious children deal with hurts unimaginable. Those hurts manifest in different ways.
There is such hope for these children. Bringing them home is never, ever easy, but it is so rewarding. I am fully convinced of one thing in my own life. God hardly ever calls us to do the easy things! I believe that He is raising up a generation of soldiers who will be willing to do the hard things as the world becomes more and more desperate for the Church to rise up to care, to give, to love, and to go to the ends of the earth for the sake of saving one at a time.
Right now there are hundreds and hundreds of children who wait on waiting-child websites who are either older or who we know are living in hard places. Each one desperately needs someone to take a chance on them–no matter what! Just as with the cute little one year old who will find a family relatively quickly, these children are so valuable and precious in His sight. They too deserve to be chosen–to be given an opportunity to become all who God has created them to be! Sadly, many will never be given that chance. The reality is that too many go unnoticed and will eventually disappear from advocacy sites because time will have run out and they will not ever be chosen. It’s devastating.
If you are a family who stepped out in faith and brought home a child from an institution, would you please share your journey with us? Would you be willing to link your own blog in the hope that others may find encouragement from your story? If you don’t have a blog, please use the comment section. My prayer is that families in the same situation (or those considering bringing home a child from hard places) can reach out to each other and find joy in the journey. It is so comforting to know that we never walk alone! Please go ahead and add your blog below. You will be given an opportunity to add a caption–please use that space to tell us the age of the child whom you adopted and where you adopted them from. Thank you for being willing to share.