What to Consider Before Bringing an Older Child Home
- Tuesday, November 20, 2012
There was so much behind the scenes that went on in the year and a half before we brought our Habi home. To some looking in from the outside, it may have seemed like we made a rash decision, but I can assure you that we seriously counted the cost before saying "yes." I encourage any family considering adoption, especially bringing an older child home, to carefully count the cost ahead of time.
There are many reasons that a family may choose to grow their family differently than through the typical way of birth. Jim and I are unashamedly followers of Jesus, we have trusted Him with our life. His love for us, and His gospel, impacts every area of our life - including this one of family planning. The Gospel reveals to us how broken, abandoned and orphaned we were prior to God adopting us as His children. This beautiful picture of redemption has penetrated our hearts in such a way that we desire to bring that picture tangibly right into our living room, our heart, home, and family. We don't adopt or bring children into our family from hard places because we are super spiritual, or because we are looking for a pat on the back, or because we are expecting anything in return from these children.
We have adopted because we were adopted, and we want to imitate, in a minuscule way, what God did for us when He adopted us into His family. We believe that in adopting children, it is not our family who is glorified, but rather through our weaknesses and struggles, in bringing children from hard places right into the heart of our family, God is lifted up and His glory is manifested in a very unique and powerful way through us. While we believe that God works in the heart and the life of the lonely when He sets them into a family (Psalms 68:6), we truly believe that He also works in the heart and life of the entire family in order that He might break us, change us and give us glimpses into the depths of the heart of our Daddy in heaven and the redemptive work His Son did for us on the cross.
Bringing children from hard places into our family is beautiful and worth it, but it is not romantic, it is not a fairy-tale, it is not promised to go smoothly, or even to work out perfectly in the end. When we are a follower of Jesus, and our hearts and motives are in-line with His, it is kingdom work. And kingdom work is always, always hard. We are promised hard (John 16:33). This kingdom work of living out the Gospel tangibly, of making redemption visible in one's home, of raising children - especially those precious ones who come to us with deep trauma and wounds, is hard stuff. It is something that needs to be understood and considered before ever saying "yes" to that child. Here are some things one may consider before saying "yes" to an older child:
Disrupting Birth Order: Will bringing home this child disrupt the established birth order in your home? Adopting out of birth order is a hot topic, and it is an area that many social workers disagree upon. While we did not end up adopting Habi internationally, but rather brought him home on a student visa, we prepared exactly as we would have for an adoption. This meant talking things over with our social worker, whom we trust and respect very much. She knew our family well, because of our previous adoption, and she felt comfortable in our bringing Habi into our family unit. The majority of thought and prayer needs to be placed upon the child who will be getting disrupted. In our family that was our six year old daughter. As parents, you know your child best, but it is wise to research other families who have successfully broken birth order and gather wisdom from their experience. Not every child will be able to handle being displaced in the family. Perhaps the child will never be able to deal with it, or perhaps the timing may have to wait a few years and be revisited again. Jim and I sat down with our oldest daughter several times in this process, and we talked through what our family might look like when she was no longer the oldest child. We acknowledged her fears, and we prayed over and targeted potential pitfalls. We are being purposeful in looking at each of our children as individuals and making them each feel special and unique, no matter where they land in our family. Because it matters to Cadi, we now have the oldest boy and the oldest girl in our family, and although we have worked through a few bumps in the past three months, Cadi is sliding into her new spot in the family so graciously. We will continue to keep communication open with her and encourage her in her role as both the big and little sister now.
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