After the Airport
by Jen Hatmaker on September 6th, 2011

I'm going to tell you something; a little confession, if you will. Some of you will pull your hair out and smear your faces with ashes and put all my books on eBay and quit believing in God, but I'm willing to take that risk:

I'm really, really glad all my kids are back in school.

There. I said it. The three children that I birthed and nursed and raised from scratch, and the two children we begged and cried and screeched for and fetched from Africa...all five of these kids are in school. And I am happy, so happy, happy, happy, happy, hip-hip-hooray Mary Poppins happy.

For my friends and readers who homeschool, I tip my hat and say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servants." And believe me, I have a couple of besties who paddle in that stream, and paddle it well. For some kids in some cities in some families in some districts, this is the very right thing. The end. Why people feel the need to make a fuss about how other parents decide to educate their children is beyond me. Let's live and let live, yall. For the love of Pete.

But I cannot educate my own children, people, unless I am OK with us all becoming homicidal.

Plus, we're in a nice little Bermuda triangle where our kids feed into fabulous schools with vested teachers that make me want to weep with gratitude. The language resources for my Amharic speakers is over the top, and I have a free pass to attend school each and every day, which I have exercised with zero restraint.

But this is not a post about homeschooling or public schooling. The reason I am happy my kids are in school is not because I lack the organization to educate five kids (which I do), it's not because I've chosen a career with a moderate workload (which I have), and it's not because I'm a little sloppy on details and my kids would likely graduate with a sixth-grade education (which they would).

It's because parenting right now is EXHAUSTING and the mental break is keeping me afloat.

On July 22nd we came down the escalator at the Austin airport with Remy. On August 21st we came down the same escalator with Ben. These were two of the happiest days of my life.
I am crying with joy. Remy is ready to sprint like FloJo from the screaming white people.
Insert audio of yelling and cheering. GAH, why was she so clingy?
One month later: Here comes my man and my boy. This pic makes me verclempt.
The 7 Hatmakers on the same continent. You've been warned, America.
After an arduous adoption journey, our kids were safe in our arms, tucked into their bunk beds their dad built with his own two hands, surrounded by the dearest, most sincere community we have ever known. God delivered them from poverty and abandonment back into a family, no longer alone in this big world; now wanted and loved and welcomed with great fervor.

The end.

Not.

Remy gave us about 12 hours of honeymooning until her terror burst onto the scene. Sometimes her fear is so palpable, it literally takes my breath away. New places: terror. New faces: total insecurity. Transitions: help us, Jesus. She has asked us every single day since July 22nd if she is going back to Ethiopia. Every. Single. Day. When I discovered cashews to be a winning legume for her impossible palate, I told her:

"Yay! Good job! Cashews are good for you and will help you grow big and strong!"
"Big? Ah-Rrrremy? Big? Cashews?"
"Yes!"
She pushes them away and starts crying.
Once again, I am bewildered and befuddled.
"No! No Ah-Rrremy grow big! Me big, then go back to Ethiopia! No! Dis is no!"

When a child fears that cashews will once again leave her abandoned on this earth because she will grow out of the age we might still want to parent her, you are dealing with heartbreaking fragility.

Her fear comes out as 1.) defiance, 2.) terror, and 3.) catatonic disassociation, in that order. We've been spit on, kicked, disobeyed, refused, clung to, begged for, adored, ignored, and rejected. Triggers are unpredictable. Yesterday, we entered an hour-long Armageddon because she wouldn't put her bike up. This turned into defiance and disrespect, deal breakers as we establish safe boundaries. When at long last her angry, dark face relented, and she finally uttered in the smallest voice: "I'm sorry, Mommy. I'm sorry, Daddy," the damn broke and she cried for thirty minutes, telling us over and over that we don't love her and she is going back to Africa.

Meanwhile, Ben sidled up quietly next to me as Brandon held Remy's flailing legs, and asked in a whisper: "Mom? Forever?"

Is this family forever, even with this hysterical girl? Are you forever, even though she is draining the lifeblood out of you and Dad? Am I forever, once my junk starts coming out that I'm holding in? Are you forever for her? For me? Should I be worried that you'll only put up with this level of chaos for so long?

God love them.

We are parenting damaged, traumatized children; don't let the pictures fool you. We're in the weeds. Every minute is on; there is no off. We've arrived late, cancelled altogether, hunkered down in therapy mode, missed appointments, failed to answer hundreds of emails in a timely manner, left voicemails unlistened to, texts unread, we've restructured, regrouped, replanned, reorganized, we've punted and called audibles, we've left the bigs on their own, hoping they are functioning well on auto-pilot after a lifetime of healthy stability, and sometimes, we put "Tangled" on for the eleventh time and cry in the bathroom.

We are exhausted beyond measure.

I know what you're thinking: You asked for this. Yes we did. And we'd ask for it again, with full disclosure and foreknowledge. We would. We would say yes to adoption, to Ben, to Remy. We would do it all over again. We might do it all over again in the future.

That does not mean we are not exhausted.

I know what else you might be thinking: Are you trying to scare people away from adoption? Because this is pretty good propaganda for turning a blind eye to this mess. No I'm not. While adoption is clearly not the answer for the 170 million orphans on earth, it is one answer, and I'll go to the grave begging more people to open their homes and minds and hearts to abandoned children who are praying for a Mom and Dad and a God who might still see them.

But Brandon and I decided some time ago to go at this honestly, with truthful words and actual experiences that might encourage the weary heart or battle some of the fluffy, damaging semi-truths about adopting. Because let me tell you something: If you are intrigued by the idea of adoption, with the crescendoing storyine and happy airport pictures and the sigh-inducing family portrait with the different skin colors and the feely-feel good parts of the narrative, please find another way to see God's kingdom come.

You cannot just be into adoption to adopt; you have to be into parenting.

And it is hard, hard, intentional, laborious work. Children who have been abused, abandoned, neglected, given away, given up, and left alone are shaken so deeply, so intrinsically, they absolutely require parents who are willing to wholly invest in their healing; through the screaming, the fits, the anger, the shame, the entitlement, the bed-wetting, the spitting, the rejection, the bone-chilling fear. Parents who are willing to become the safe place, the Forever these children hope for but are too terrified to believe in just yet.

But "yet" is a powerful word in the context of faith, if we are indeed to believe in the unseen and hope for what has not materialized.

I followed a God into this story who heals and redeems, who restores wasted years and mends broken places. This God specializes in the Destroyed. I've seen it. I've been a part of it. I have His ancient Word that tells of it. I love a Jesus who made reconciliation his whole mission. My children will not remain broken. They are loved by too good a Savior. I will not remain exhausted and spent. I am loved by too merciful a Father.

So today, I'm writing for you who are somewhere "after the airport." The big moment is over and you are living in the aftermath when the collective grief or euphoria has passed. You lost a parent, a sibling, a friend, a child. The experience mobilized every single human being who loves you, and they rallied, gathered, carried you. And now it's three months later on a random Tuesday, and the sting has worn off for everyone else, and you are left in your sorrow.

I'm writing for those of you who had the oh-so-wanted baby after the cheers and showers and Facebook fervor, and now you're struggling with a depression so dark and deep, you are afraid to say it out loud. To you who moved across the country in obedience - you left your family, church, community, your jobs - and now the headline has passed and you are lonely and unanchored. For my friends who've brought their adopted children home and the media frenzy has died down, and you are holding a screaming toddler, a fragile kindergartener, an angry teen, trying to catch your breath and make it through the day without bawling while everyone else has gone back to their regularly scheduled programs...I'm with you today.

More importantly, God is with you today. He remains in the chaos long after it has lost its shine. When the delivered meals have stopped and the attention has waned, Jesus remains. He sticks with us long after it is convenient or interesting. If you feel alone today in your new normal, would you please receive this bit of beauty: this simple Scripture recited billions of times throughout the ages, perhaps without the poetry of David or precision of Paul, but with enough truth to sustain the weariest traveler:

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deut. 31:6).

He will never leave.

Never forsake.

Never.

For my readers who love someone living "after the airport," the big moment - be it a blessed high or a devastating low - is never the completion. The grief and struggle, the work and effort, the healing and restoring comes later. Will you call your friend who lost her mom to cancer five months ago? Will you check in on your friends who adopted this spring? Email your neighbor who took a big risk and moved or changed jobs or quit to stay home. For the love of Moses, do you have a friend who stepped out and started a church last year? Bring him a lasagna and do not be alarmed if he sobs into his french bread.


Trust me when I tell you that although we are all having hilarious moments like this:

And precious moments like this:

...we are still in the thick of hard, exhausting work, so if you ask me if these are the happiest days of my life (which a ton of you have), and my eyes kind of glaze over and I say through a tight-lipped smile like a robot, "Yes. Sure. Of course. This is my dream life"...I am lying. I am lying so you won't feel uncomfortable when I tell you, "Actually, I haven't had a shower in three days, I lost my temper with my uncontrollable daughter this morning and had to walk outside, I'm constantly cleaning up pee because uncircumcised tee-tee goes sideways onto walls, and sometimes when my two littles are asleep and we're downstairs with the original three kids who are so stable and healthy and easy, it creates a nostalgia so intense, I think I might perish. But enough about me. How are you?"

But that would be weird. So I say, "Yes. I am so happy."

If you are living "after the airport," how I wish I could transplant my community into your life; friends who have loved us so completely and exhaustively, I could weep just thinking about it. Maybe one of the most brilliant ways God "never leaves us" and "never forsakes us" is through the love of each other. Maybe He knew that receiving love from people with skin on is the most excellent way, so He gave us an entire set of Scriptures founded upon community and sacrificial love for one another. I guess He realized that if we obeyed, if we became more like His Son, then no one would ever want for mercy when their chips were down. No one. Good plan.

Oh let us be a community who loves each other well. Because someone is always struggling through the "after the airport" phase, when the chords of human kindness become a lifeline of salvation. Let us watch for the struggling members of our tribe, faking it through sarcasm or self-deprecation or a cheerfully false report. May we refuse to let someone get swallowed up in isolation, drowning in grief or difficulties that seem too heavy to let anyone else carry. Let's live this big, beautiful Life together, rescuing each other from the brink and exposing the unending compassion of our Jesus who called us to this high level of community; past the romantic beginnings, through the messy and mundane middles, and all the way to the depths.


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467 Comments

Esty - September 6th, 2011 at 8:23 PM
Oh, Jen. You are a breath of air for me. Thank you thank you thank you and I love you.
Tiff - September 8th, 2011 at 1:58 PM
ah, Esty. I thought of you as I read this...
Ashley - September 6th, 2011 at 8:26 PM
Wow, GREAT post. Can only relate in the tiniest of ways, being an exhausted parent to a teenager and three kids 5 and under - emotionally and physically spent most days. Community is everything, even in the everyday things, let alone something as monumental as what y'all are doing. Thanks for the honesty. And I loved the FloJo comment...hilarious!
Penny - September 6th, 2011 at 8:29 PM
Amen sister :) Your family is doing an awesome thing my prayers...thanks for sharing your life :)
Carolyn Jones - September 6th, 2011 at 8:39 PM
Oh, I can literally see some of the tears, spit, pee
Lesa - October 22nd, 2011 at 9:37 AM
I am so there!!! Almost 2 years with our youngest and I never would have imagined all of these tears, spit, and pee not to mention occasional biting and hollering I want a new mommy and daddy.

jolynn - September 6th, 2011 at 8:39 PM
Oh thank you! I have lived so many "after the airport" scenarios in your post that I wonder why God loves me so much to keep giving them to me. Love you Jen and keep being honest because so many of us need it.
Julie Barnhill - September 6th, 2011 at 8:43 PM
Jen. Don't.ever.stop.writing. Adoptee prayers for you and yours.
Katie Patel - September 6th, 2011 at 8:45 PM
Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!! We are totally "after the airport" here and most days I feel like I'm just dog-paddling to try and stay above water. Thank you for sharing your struggles, they encourage me like you can't believe. Parenting hurt kids is H.A.R.D. and totally impossible without the One who Heals, and the One who can gird us for the task....
Cindy McBrayer - September 6th, 2011 at 8:50 PM
I love your writing. I love your willingness to be transparent. I thank God for allowing my path to intersect with yours last October in Austin. And I am praying for you, without ceasing.
Cocoa Jo - September 6th, 2011 at 9:03 PM
You are one incredible writer who has truly poured out her heartin such a raw way. Thank you for being real!.......now go rest while they are at school. He will restore you everyday to continue your precious work.
Holly - September 6th, 2011 at 9:04 PM
We are three years after the airport, and we have come a long way, but the idea of growing big enough to not live with us anymore still terrifies my 9yr old daughter. That is truly a HUGE fear of hers. I have always been honest on my blog too... feel free to read about our past three years if you want to see how (one story) has unfolded.
Kelly Adamo - September 6th, 2011 at 9:08 PM
I just dearly love you and your honesty. For keeping it real so others don't have to feel like a big fat failure when they don't have it all together. So that I don't have to feel like a big fat failure! You amaze me and inspire me.
Pauly Littrell - September 6th, 2011 at 9:13 PM
I loved you before the airport........I love you even more after the airport. You are beautiful and Jesus shines brightly through you.
Abbie - September 6th, 2011 at 9:15 PM
beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
Marlene - September 6th, 2011 at 9:19 PM
Thanks, Jenn. Being almost three years "after the airport" - albeit a different airport than yours, we continue to thank God for his unfailing goodness and incredible wisdom in creating the community that puts flesh on the comforting arms of Jesus. Thank you for sharing and encouraging perspective.
Lesley - September 6th, 2011 at 9:32 PM
A romantic at heart with a naive optimism and a sentimental imagination, I realllllly needed to hear this. 'Anne of Green Gables' and Christian fiction books about the orphan train probably don't prepare a girl for these "after the airport" days...
I also appreciate your word to the church. A biblical body of Christ does not simply shake hands during the "welcome time" on Sunday - we've got to be IN it with one another, every day. We are slowly learning that at our small church and it is a beautiful, beautiful thing. A gospel thing.
Oh, and the FloJo reference was gold. Thank you, Jen Hatmaker!
Becky - September 6th, 2011 at 9:36 PM
Wow, you do not know me but a family I know who is in the process of adopting shared the link to your blog. I am a 22 year old single college student, graduating in May with a degree in Social Work and you just outlined the life I hope to have one day! It was so beautifully broken. Thank you for sharing reality.
Jan Evans - September 6th, 2011 at 9:36 PM
No words other than God Bless Jen Hatmaker and her beautiful family. Give her the strength to "keep-on-keeping-on" through all the good times and bad times.
Christa - September 6th, 2011 at 9:37 PM
Uncircumcised pee goes sideways. Who KNEW??
Carma - September 22nd, 2011 at 1:23 PM
Actually, it doesn't necessarily. I'm mommy of two intact boys and have never had to clean it off the walls! He's either pulling so that it skews, or maybe not pulling it out of the way.
Chasity - May 6th, 2012 at 9:16 PM
It goes every which way. :) I still make my little man sit down to damage control when he goes potty.
Jessica Sjolseth - September 6th, 2011 at 9:40 PM
It's good to know you guys are human. Adoption is awesome AND hard!
LaNan - September 6th, 2011 at 9:44 PM
Beautiful post Jenn. May God continue to give you that amazing strength.
Chandra - September 6th, 2011 at 9:46 PM
Thank you. We are not in the "after the airport" stage but we will be one day next year and I appreciate your candid honesty. I appreciate it OH.SO.MUCH.
Kristin - September 6th, 2011 at 10:26 PM
Us too. Terrifying, humbling, and exhilarating!

Marla Taviano - September 6th, 2011 at 9:59 PM
What a gift you have. And are. And have been given. Only God could make such gorgeousness out of so much ugly. Bless you for sharing. Praying for all seven of you.
Elissa - September 6th, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Love, love, love!!!! So glad an ET friend posted this on fb. You totally rock.
Christa - September 6th, 2011 at 10:06 PM
And thank you for your beautiful honesty. Bless you.
Claudia - September 6th, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Love your honesty...I cannot relate to your journey but face my own that is equally exhausting and overwhelming. I have an adult child who will never be able to leave home and live on her own. My husband ad I will never truly experience the empty nest syndrome but we woudl never ever trade the journey God has us on!

Bless you and your family!!!
Dusty - September 6th, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Excellent post! Thank you for your openness and honesty.
Erica - September 6th, 2011 at 10:25 PM
You bless my heart. I laughed out loud about the uncircumcised pee, totally remember those days!! Thank you for your honestly. It truly is refreshing.
Katie - September 6th, 2011 at 10:27 PM
Man oh man. I came to your blog thru a mutual friend's recommendation...my husband and I are in the process of adoption, just waiting for a referral now. Scared out of our brains but aching for our child just the same. Thanks so much for this...we will refer back to it again, and probably send the link to friends and family, too.
Shari Mounce - September 6th, 2011 at 10:34 PM
Ok, I think I need you! I've prayed for SOMEONE I can say what I REALLY want to say things to without them thinking they just met the worst person ever! What you say...I'm thinking...but cant say it....what you're feeling....I'm feelin it.....but you'd never know it! I'm still in the come on God, really? I don't understand phase. Waiting for the embassy to just accept the stinkin submission!! Praying for a miracle so I can start my decline and fits and meltdowns! You know, after the airport. Oh yes, you could definitely be my long sought after friend! I see me in your comments and I can breath and say there's a woman after my own heart! Thanks for sharing! Lifts my spirits!
Debra Parker - September 6th, 2011 at 10:36 PM
and Debra shakes her head in agreement.
Nicole Quiring - September 6th, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Wow, touched me on so many levels; encouraged me with my own "after the airport" story and challenged me to reach out to others long "after their airport" moment. Thank you for your words.
Lynn Petz - September 6th, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Jen, my "after the airport" moment came 27 years ago, but I recognize what you wrote! When times were tough, I felt ungrateful if I ever dared mention my "problems" to anyone; I questioned my role as a mother, questioned God (What were you THINKING, trusting me with this child!?), and generally just lived through the bad days and cherished the wonderful days, which became more frequent. Dear woman ... you have an amazing gift for writing (telling it like it is), for understanding what other people's "after the airport" moment might be, and more importantly, you understand that God holds you in the palm of His hand during it all. I stumbled across this post by reading it because of a precious niece who posted it; I thank her, and I thank YOU, for putting into words what so many must feel. Yes, we know each of these moments is a "gift," but sometimes you get that really hideous tie or blouse for Christmas, and you have to "love" it anyway...then you find yourself truly loving it! lol I don't have your gift for words, but just know that this strange lady, living far away in ND, and now enjoying grandchildren from my "gift"...understands those moments "after the airport." God Bless You!

Kim - September 6th, 2011 at 11:00 PM
"after the airport" is just where I am! Feeling so many emotions everyday that don't make sense. You've reminded me just tonight there are many other families going through the same thing. God is beside us though each step of the way. Thank you for your truthfulness!
Mike - September 6th, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Jen, it is a rare blog post that will reverberate for thousands of people over time. This is one of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting and sharing all of this so very honestly.
debi - September 6th, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Wow. As someone who adopted out of the foster care.system and has struggled to b real, I just want to say thank you for saying so many of the things so many of us want to say. I needed this.
Erin - September 6th, 2011 at 11:09 PM
Jen, this was beautiful. I am Jewish and usually don't read Christian parenting blogs, but I will be back to read yours. We are 3 1/2 years home with an almost 5-year old and even joining our family at such a tender age, those "after the airport" days are still firmly in my mind. Melkamu was preverbal, prewalking, and all of a sudden (and with absolutely no ability to understand the concept or even have it explained to him) was placed in the arms of strange white people and forced to go in a huge, noisy airplane to a cold, rainy city where there was two terrifying furry things with legs that stood taller than he could while crawling. His terror and fear and desperate desire to be loved warred in him for so, so long. People tell me how well adjusted he is, and he really is--but even so, he still has nightmares and night terrors about being left (primarily by me), still doesn't really completely trust that we will always come back for him (we have to be very careful to make sure we really do come back at the right time--if we're late, he knows and starts to doubt), and often asks if we still love him if he misbehaves. It is heartwrenching to know how badly his heart is scarred and to know that we do everything in our power but those scars will be there forever.

And yes, we will do it again. Adoption is NOT the overall answer and certainly most children would be better off if we can find ways to support their families so that they don't get relinquished because their parents are afraid they'll see their children starve or don't have the medications they need or whatever. But there are kids who need families and we hope to open our homes to another. As hard as it is for everyone involved in those after-the-airport days, it brings new dimensions of joy to the family also.
Chris Williams - September 6th, 2011 at 11:13 PM
thank you thank you thank you for your honesty in this post - thank you.... Chris
Lisa - September 6th, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Wow, real, honest, raw.....thx.
Alisha Darsey - September 6th, 2011 at 11:35 PM
God bless you and your family. This is an amazing and obviously MUCH needed post. Thank you for being real and for loving even when it is HARD... very, very hard!
Bonar Crump - September 6th, 2011 at 11:39 PM
"I'm not done yet." ~ Big Papa
Bob Williams - September 6th, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Wow! I am moved by you blog. As a grandfather of nine, with four little ones this year from Ethiopia in the family, I admire your candor. You speak the truth. Others who have not adopted, can not know the difficulties you special people must face at times. Think how hard this process must be with out God!! Thanks and know you are loved by many.
Jennifer - September 6th, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Absolutely beautifully written. Thank you for being authentic, for bringing kids into a forever home, for imploring your readers to remember those who are "after the airport." That applies to a lot of different situations, as you addressed, and it's such a needed reminder. We get so tied up in our own worlds. Thank you.
Suzi - September 7th, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Thank you!! We are 5 weeks "after the airport" with our almost 5 yr. old from ET. It's been HARD. I am broken, defeated, exhausted. But, reading this has refreshed me and given me hope for tomorrow. It might not be better than today, but it might be and I know it eventually will be.

Thank you sooo very much!!!
Heidi Greenup - September 7th, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Wow- I think you must have read my mind, but you put it together like I haven't been able to because my thoughts are so disorganized these days. That was so well written, I had to share it on FB. hope you don't mind. I can so relate to you in every way, having 2 adopted boys and 2 biological, all 5 yrs and under. Thank you for those reminders. I needed it and I wish I could make everyone in my church read this so they'd understand. God bless you!
amancay - September 7th, 2011 at 12:10 AM
oh girl, this is so applicable... in so many strains and streams of life. thank you for pouring your heart and life out in writing, and to these children, as the Lord called you to!
kristi j - September 7th, 2011 at 12:19 AM
wow...amazing read!! so good, kristi
charity - September 7th, 2011 at 12:35 AM
Your honesty is fresh air. Thank you. We moved overseas several years ago and all the "I'll email you" have faded and I often feel lonely. But God is faithful and He called us here. I can't imagine what you are walking through right now. Praying hard for y'all.
Carmen O - September 24th, 2011 at 6:12 AM
We moved far away too. The e-mails stop, the phone lines evidently don't reach. The loneliness has sometimes felt like a bottomless chasm. But it's been a huge lesson to me on how important community is, and how important it is for me to be that community to someone else, and reach out to those with needs. My prayer has become that God will show me people without family - and that we can be family to those people. They're starting to come out of the woodwork. And they all say the same thing - "Unless you don't have family here, you don't 'get it.' " And we're all so grateful for each other. Keep on keeping on - it gets better over time. And there are people out there who know what your'e going through!
Lynny Cairns - September 7th, 2011 at 1:03 AM
WOW!!! What beautiful people you are!!! How selfless and special to be sewing into the lives of your precious little children. May your reward be ENORMOUS in Heaven for all your heart ache and hard work. You inspire me and leave my jaw on the floor!!! Stay strong, the world is a better place with people like you in it!!!
Much love Lynny xx
Glenda - September 7th, 2011 at 1:32 AM
Yes! Crying...
Natalie Green - September 7th, 2011 at 3:39 AM
Beautiful.
Shannon Hazleton - September 7th, 2011 at 3:45 AM
Wow. I am just before the airport. I am here in Ukraine, waiting to wrap up my kid's stuff so we can get out of here, and fly home and go down that escalator (in Houston, for us)... and I've been thinking about the "after the airport" phase. I have thought and prayed and worried and dreamed of what is to come after that escalator ride. Thank you for being so honest. Thank you.
Mel - September 7th, 2011 at 4:17 AM
Very well put into words. Thank you for sharing.
We adopted 5 children over the last 4 years from different countries and various backgrounds, two of them were older (plus 3 bio kids). Can very much relate to your post. Oh the tears that were shed on both sides, mine and the ones of our new "older children". But God entrusted us with these children, and HE will walk this journey right beside us.
May God bless you,
Mel
Kathy Craig - September 7th, 2011 at 6:37 AM
Thank you so much for your post! It made me cry because it's real. Thank you many times over!!!
coffee mom - September 7th, 2011 at 6:39 AM
FAntastic post. We are over two years home w our teen from ET. Her issues of fear anxiety loss are still enough to put us in the weeds too. Not every day anymore. But enough. She has significant disability too thus we will possible never get the language to help. But even so.....we hope. And we pray out way thru. And lean on girlfriends and blogfriends and dont give up. but....posts like this are important. Truth always is. Thank you.
Rebecca Maas - September 7th, 2011 at 6:42 AM
Jen, thank you for writing this post. I am a fellow adoptive mom fighting right beside you. We brought home our newest daughter in July. At times I have a hard time putting those feeling into words so thank you for doing it for all of us.
nic - September 7th, 2011 at 6:51 AM
oh how this grabbed me today. my youngest is school-aged, but we decided to hold off a year on kindergarten, and i fear i may not have two brain cells left to rub together come october. (as we take our daily walk together, and i'm gripping his hand and trying to amble along serenely while he's flailing and screaming his tonsils out, people drive by and stare hard at us and i think: what a beautiful picture of adoption! don't you all want to sign up to parent a child from a hard place?)

i'm so grateful i could (and do, regularly) weep for God's strength and company. i'm in way over my head.
Becca - September 7th, 2011 at 6:58 AM
Thank you, sister.
Melanie - September 7th, 2011 at 6:58 AM
We just got home a week ago! THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!!!!!!!! Yes!
Chantelle - September 7th, 2011 at 7:04 AM
Amen Amen Amen. Thank you for making us feel more understood.
Kimberly - September 7th, 2011 at 7:10 AM
Any and everyone that considers adopting needs to read this post. I've been here and periodically my son and I return right to this point. Episodes are more periodic but still occur after 5 years. Interestingly, these episodes only happen with me never with my husband. Would I adopt again, absolutely. Would I adopt an older child, absolutely, however I would go in with my eyes WIDE open now. We have adopted 4 children and only one has had huge attachment issues. Prayers for your family. This is te first time I have read your blog but I will return and I will keep your family in my prayers.
Monica - September 7th, 2011 at 7:11 AM
Thanks so much for your honesty. It is so good to know that there are others in the trenches with us. I have cried my way through this post and I do believe that they have been tears that have washed away the guilt that I have struggled with for feeling this exact way.
Lisa - September 7th, 2011 at 7:11 AM
Wow...thank you so much. We celebrated no tantrums this morning as our five year old got on the bus by herself with no drama. It's these things that are celebrated a bit more.
Jamey - September 7th, 2011 at 7:12 AM
We've been "after the airport for almost 18 months". I cried all the way through your post. So well done. For you, or any of your readers. I started a FB group for "Moms of Attachment Challenged Children" (you/anyone can search FB for us) who those of us parenting children who are hurting and we are struggling with their attachment challenges on a daily basis. It's a really supportive and confidential group of women.
autumn - September 7th, 2011 at 7:20 AM
wonderful...we are less than 2 weeks "after the airport" and our little toddler is having a really hard time dealing with having boundaries placed upon him....poor little man, - he is super affectionate and then so confused why a mommy/daddy would tell him not to lick the tv (especially after he had been cuddling with us for an hour)- he is having to process so much "structure" but its so needed....and its not easy...and un-circumsized pee is crazy!!
kim lehman - September 7th, 2011 at 7:34 AM
I love your comment about not being just into adoption but into parenting. A couple of my bios gave me moments of questioning my ability to parent through crisis struggles and personalities that , yes, left me feeling , at least int he way back of my mind a bit homicidal....to put it mildly.

Parenting is the ride we are on.....not adoption , that is only for a moment
Shannon Wheeler - September 7th, 2011 at 7:34 AM
Your honesty and heart are beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us. I'm very blessed by your words today. Many of my friends live "after the airport," and I'm convicted to remain in support of them. My husband and I personally have had a couple failed adoptions and just spent time in Ukraine with a boy who's aged-out and could not be adopted but who we love as son, so I'm struggling with having enjoyed time with him and having to hug him goodbye-for-now at the airport just a week ago. It's so hard, I haven't even been able to update my blog.... Thank you for making it ok to struggle. Your honesty is a blessing. Thank you.
Lisa - September 7th, 2011 at 7:34 AM
I needed this so badly right this moment. There are tears on my cheeks because here is exactly where I have been swimming. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
http://pocketfullofmustardseeds.blogspot.com/
Jillian - September 7th, 2011 at 7:48 AM
2.5 years after the airport for us...one child is doing pretty well, we still have the adoption issues in general. Change in authority is hard (school to home or our home to a respite provider, etc)...our other son is still deep deep deep in his valley of trauma, abuse, neglect...He is diagnosed severe RAD and chronic PTSD. His rage fits last for HOURS! We have had poop smeared on the walls, pee on EVERY step in the house, the closest, his brother's bed, the stealing is endless, the offering himself to strangers is endless, hoarding things like paper clips to form into weapons is non stop...he is extremely abusive to me and his adopted ET brother...

When I first spoke out on the blog about "Vivace's" challenges, I lost "adoption friends"...but many people in our community have stepped forward to pray for us, pray for healing, love on us and support us. Thankfully several of them have picked up the attachment books and want to get in the "know" and really dig deep to help....God has blessed us with some dear friends.

We were homeschooling everyone, now 1 son is in an RTC program, one is at the local base school (we are military) and the 3 littles are with me....so I am only homeschooling 7 year old and preK 4 yo while taking care of 19 mo baby. I know many families that would love to homeschool, but it doesn't work out, or would love to put them in school but the school doesn't have the resources...it is such a hard thing to balance. I felt it had to be all or nothing for the longest time but finally made peace with doing what was right for each of them, even if it meant they were all doing something different.

2.5 years home...and still praying for healing, still not seeing the "light at the end of the tunnel" for one son...it is a hard isolating place to be at times....it is such a great reminder that we need to check in with others days, weeks, months...in so many situations in life.
Robin Rankin - September 7th, 2011 at 7:48 AM
I stumbled across your blog somehow. I wanted to say thank you for being so raw and brave. We are 2 years, 2 months post adoption on a pair of siblings. One has made it through to the other side is an incredibly loving child. The other child is still very much a challenge to me in every way....I will pray for you, that God will give you strength to make it through EACH MOMENT. Take time for yourself to breath....take a bubble bath.......and try to sleep as much as you can. Most of all, take the time to nurture your marriage any way you can. This can and will take a dramatic toll on your marriage. Please feel free to email if you EVER need to! We've made it to the other side and are living in a new "normal."
Cheri - September 7th, 2011 at 7:49 AM
I am so glad to have read this. We too are in the weeds. As I was reading this I recognized that you put into words many thoughts I have not uttered in fear of being ostracized. I too deeply love my little guys but sometimes long for the days of the ease with my bio kids. Thank you for your inspiring message.
Heather - September 7th, 2011 at 7:51 AM
thank you! We adopted 2 adorable twins from their mother at birth, after waiting 10 long years for more children, and there are days I DO feel like this, and it is painful to admit!!!! I know this time will pass and on the other side is the healing in my mind and heart and spirit. God bless you for your honesty and your "rawness" (as Lisa said). You have not, for a moment, changed my mind about doing it all over again...just helped take the rose colored glasses off again. Blessings to you!!
Kim Jones - September 7th, 2011 at 8:00 AM
So thankful to know Im not alone in my feelings of exhaustian and frustration, all while being completely in love with my son (adopted from Benin City Nigeria) Thank you for sharing your story.
Jennifer - September 7th, 2011 at 8:01 AM
Best adoption blog post I've ever,EVER read. Two years after our airport arrival I guess I'm just over the whole typical: "Well we're settled in at home! And mastering our new routine! And speaking English after only two weeks! And guess what? My kid has already asked Jesus to be her Savior!" -type posts. Nothing like what my family walks in daily. What you wrote about nostalgia for the simpler days? Yeah- that part had me weeping. Because I feel that on a regular basis but cannot speak the words out loud because noone wants to hear it. (especially not the body of Christ who seem to want adoption stories to look seamless and perfect) I find myself searching for blogs- any blog written by someone, ANYONE who is willing to be real about what this life of ours looks like. Because essentially it looks a lot like my redemption story. It is hard. And messy. And wonderful. And frightening. And God is not only good- but worthy of my worship in the midst of all of it. Thank you..
Tanya - September 7th, 2011 at 8:29 AM
What a gorgeous post. I will try to keep this in mind in the future - to follow up with friends and family months "after the airport."
Shawneepooh - September 7th, 2011 at 8:30 AM
I experienced PADS, post adption depresion syndrome, after bringing our daughter home from Russia. She was only 8 months old with minimal sensory dysfuntion, and is a healthy, sassy tween today.
A dear friend and biological mother of 6 who adopted a daughter from China said all the emotions are the same as having them biologically. You KNOW this!
Normally, parenting is very hard physically when they are young and hard emotionally when they are older, but you've got a mix of both with children with tramatic stress. The wander of it all...God equipped you and your husband and children for this reverse mission. I'm so glad to follow you and be inspired by you!!
May God's grace continue to rain down on your family, so the flowers and rainbows make your life bearable!!
Roxie Avant - September 7th, 2011 at 8:35 AM
I love you Hatmaker family!! You are in my prayers!! Keep the faith!! Have a glass of wine!! I am just up the street if I can ever do anything for you!! Roxie
Erin - September 7th, 2011 at 8:43 AM
This makes me pray all the more for my future husband, for my own wholeness, for my one-day kiddos...and it makes me so thankful for my sweet friends: the ones who fight for me on their knees and in action and the ones I get to love on and fight for as well. The truth woven throughout is awesome. But also, for me, it is such a picture of what I feel God has designed me for. I am getting to see more and more of the real-ness of the life as adoptive parents and to be honest it scares me a little, but even through that fear, I am drawn further and further into the heart of God for the fatherless. I am glad I am seeing people live it out now because I will need to have footsteps to follow when the Lord allows me to walk that path.
Gwenn - September 7th, 2011 at 8:44 AM
Thanks for these observations. I have many similar stories... I am more afraid that I will talk someone into adoption than I am talking someone out of adoption. I don't know if that makes sense. But yeah, it takes a unique outlook to parent kids who've survived trauma.
Linds - September 7th, 2011 at 8:49 AM
Thank you, thank you. Tears of relief and understanding. It's all so true and it balms my heart hearing someone else being so real.
Susie Brezik - September 7th, 2011 at 8:52 AM
Although we have never met.. your story filled my eyes with tears and joy. I have often wondered how my friends do this amazing thing... and I know now with GOD every step of the way. I went along the journey of Kara and Tulio when they had every set back then a step forward.. then back again.. Then GOD blessed them all with thier daughter. You are such an inspiration to me with your words and your story. Thank you for blesssing me today with your family.
Shelby - September 7th, 2011 at 8:57 AM
What a wonderful post. When we brought home our 3 child I was in the throws of a massive struggle. Our youngest 2 adopted children challenged us in ways I never knew existed. I was tired, scared, full of guilt and even though I reached out every single "friend" in the adoption community turned away from us. They blogged about helping and supporting but in the midst of my chaos and pain, we were left. It was lonely and challenged our faith, not I'm God, but in people. Thankful we are 2 years out of that situation, but your courage and honesty is a blessing.
gwen oatsvall - September 7th, 2011 at 9:01 AM
wow, I have never visited before, but a friend sent me over ... thanks for saying for what so many are feeling ... I am pretty raw w/ most people cause I feel they need to know what it is like after the airport ... I live in JOY, but it is Christ's joy not world happy joy !!! days are long and hard ... My 6 just went back to school (four of whom are adopted angels) and for the first time in 13 years I have 12 hours a week to myself and I am trying to find the way to TURN THE SWITCH off to being ON GUARD 24/7 ... thanks for sharing !!
Lory - September 7th, 2011 at 9:02 AM
You have written the story of my life. From adoptions to after the airport to everything else. Thank you for verbalizing the things I cannot summon the energy or strength to say myself...
Amy - September 7th, 2011 at 9:03 AM
Jen, You post is flying around fb and Yahoo adoption support groups. So well said and SO true. You need to keep writing and one day you will have a book entitled "After the Airport". This is information that people need to read BEFORE they adopt. The adoption is the easy part. Parenting is when the real difficult journey begins. Our children are broken and damaged and the infuriating part is its not their fault. Its still exhausting to deal with the tantrums, night terrors, defiance day in and day out. Believe me, I know. It does get better with time. Holding you up in prayer today.
Angela - September 7th, 2011 at 9:17 AM
Wow....from an adoption professional: You NEED to submit this post to one of the major adoption magazines. Thank you for opening your heart to all of us.
Hill for Hatmakers - September 7th, 2011 at 9:19 AM
Thanks dude. My next door neighbor had her baby a week and a half ago. I only know this because of the balloons on the mailbox. I only know it's a girl because I had my mom drive closer around our culdesac so I could read the sign from my shot gun location. Food will be made for them within 2 days.
Tonya Ricks - September 7th, 2011 at 9:19 AM
Jen,
I love this paragraph!!! This is a brilliant way to say that LOVE is what God desires us to do every day to all people! Thanks for sharing your stories!

"Maybe one of the most brilliant ways God "never leaves us" and "never forsakes us" is through the love of each other. Maybe He knew that receiving love from people with skin on is the most excellent way, so He gave us an entire set of Scriptures founded upon community and sacrificial love for one another. I guess He realized that if we obeyed, if we became more like His Son, then no one would ever want for mercy when their chips were down. No one. Good plan."

Elle J - September 7th, 2011 at 9:22 AM
Amen!!!! Beautiful and raw - thank you for sharing your heart to touch and stir the hearts of others.
love - September 7th, 2011 at 9:40 AM
thank you for this. will be sharing. redemption is beautiful, but hard. in them and us. thank you.
Jody - September 7th, 2011 at 9:45 AM
Beautiful. We have had three of those after the airport times. One lasted for about a year and the other two...PRAISE THE LORD...lasted only a few days. I can only imagine the terror that goes through our children's little heads. Blessings to you as you share the raw truth. Adoption isn't all fun and games...but, oh, is it worth it!!!
Rachel - September 7th, 2011 at 9:57 AM
Thank you...from a mom who's perhaps just moving out of the "after the airport" stage with my first daughter, but will be entering it again in a few short months when I bring my second daughter home.
Kathryn - September 7th, 2011 at 10:03 AM
This is one of the most powerful, God honoring and honest posts I have ever read. Thank you for being brave enough to post this. Although I haven't adopted we went through infertility for over 2 years. When we were finally blessed with kids it wasn't the rays of sunshine I imagined. One of my kids was diagnosed with autism and another has developmental delays. It is relieving to know that it is ok to not always put on a smiling face. Thanks again for posting and I'm happy u have a loving community to support you.
Liz - September 7th, 2011 at 10:14 AM
Aren't we all like Remy? I mean, those of us adopted by our Heavenly Father. Okay, I won't speak for the millions of other; just for myself!! At moments, I bask in God's amazing love, my heart at peace; sure in my trust. At other moments I doubt that God will actually do what I need, what He has said He will do, despite ALL He says I just can't accept it, trust falters. Why would He actually do THAT for me? I'm not the best person in the world, I'm insignificant, there are others that capture His attention more than me, others that need Him more than me. Why? How? When? I'm not sure of my future, do I have any hope in my future? In fact, this was the very question I was wrestling with in my quiet time this morning. I was reading Genesis 15 where God gave Abram hope for his future in the promise of a physical son, so I asked God, why can't you do that for me? Why can't you give a hope for my future (in my case NOT a physical son), because what I'm looking at is really and completely bleak. I won't bore you with details. But I've been riding the trust roller coaster for quite some time. Anyway, then I read your blog post and the promise that God will never leave me or forsake me. Well, I said, I guess that is the Holy Spirit's way of saying, here is your hope for a future. For a while all was well, trust restored. Then I began to argue in my head that this was a spiritual hope and not the physical hope I had asked about, and how could this mean the answer to all my concerns. Ug, just shut up Liz and be happy that God isn't going to forsake you for having this stupid argument with Him. Sigh, I don't want to be this way. It just happens. So I completely understand Remy. One day (soon I hope) I will rest easy in trusting God without all these little doubts popping up and know that all He has promised is truth. One day Remy will too.
Molly - September 7th, 2011 at 10:16 AM
I just found your blog through someone else's and I love this post. Thank you so much for your honesty--as a prospective adoptive parent, I really want to hear the nitty-gritty of life after the airport--the good, the bad and the ugly. And I never knew that uncircumsized boys shoot pee to the side! Laughing out loud on that one!
:-)
Suzanne - September 7th, 2011 at 10:19 AM
Thank you. This is amazing. Our kids have been home for almost 18 months, but only ours for three weeks. It's still not all well. But this is God's story, not mine, not even theirs, and God's story ends WELL. So we pray and work and wait...
Renae - September 7th, 2011 at 10:28 AM
Thank YOU! My daughter didn't come home with grief...but I DID! And that depression you talked about...that's ME! But I'm alone in it....no one understands:(..... Thank you for reminding me that GOD is here today!:) And that's all that matters!
Stephanie - September 7th, 2011 at 10:36 AM
I shared a link to your post on my FB and blog ... there is such a need for honest, transparent stories like this one which don't sugarcoat the truth yet still point to the grace and sufficiency of our Savior! After three domestic infant adoptions, our international adoption of two toddlers rocked our world (and even so I know our experience was much smoother than so many.) I am beyond thankful for our five precious kiddos but think we all need to be reminded as you aptly wrote, "You cannot just be into adoption to adopt; you have to be into parenting." It is a challenge and a journey, but one so worth taking!
Brooke - September 7th, 2011 at 10:43 AM
3 1/2 years later I have nearly forgotten all of it... kind of like labor! I can say with all honesty that I would doit all again and I have 6 of the most amazing kids in the world! My 3 from Ethiopia have adjusted beautifully and life is good! Thanks for your honesty!
Nina - September 7th, 2011 at 11:35 AM
Wow. You did an incredible job of putting this to words. Thank you for sharing!
Angela - September 7th, 2011 at 11:37 AM
I know I'm just an ignorant unmarried 25 year old and I'm new to this story, but I am so thankful for these posts! They are changing my heart to a new level of tenderness and compasion I never thought I would have. I don't have parenting struggles but I have battled severe depression and know what it's like to fight an internal battle that can barely be expressed and feels so lonely. It's these times that we must turn our eyes to God and dwell on who He is and what He is done- what is truth. MAy you be encouraged that although so any of us who do not know you personally or live in your area, that we are praying for you and your family. May you be Christ to those hurting little children that He has entrusted in your care. Praise you Father; You are good and what you do is good!
Jenny - September 7th, 2011 at 12:17 PM
Thanks for the encouragement and reminder of God's faithfulness along this journey. Adopting kids is hard, parenting them is even harder. Thanks for your transparency and helping me to not feel so alone in doing this...even if there's no support around us, His is still there.
Holly - September 7th, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Wonderful and refreshing post! I empathize with you. Would have loved to meet you and share stories when I was in Austin last weekend for a soccer tournament! May God bless your family each and every day.
Denise Grosch - September 7th, 2011 at 12:34 PM
Well spoken my friend:)
Donna - September 7th, 2011 at 12:36 PM
I was just crying out to God, NO ONE UNDERSTANDS what I am going through!! And then this came....you do understand!! you put words to my feelings..thank you...thank you...for being real so the rest of us in the same trenches can find hope and enough strength to put one foot in front of the other to deal with the daily battle. I wept as I read and words can't describe what this did for my soul and spirit....thank you
Tiffany - September 7th, 2011 at 12:38 PM
I'm at the beginning of adopting one possibly two little boys from Uganda. I needed this.
Janice Baker - September 7th, 2011 at 12:46 PM
WOW! This hits so close to home! I have adopted three siblings and this has striked a cord with me today as I have been going through some "stuff" with my oldest adopted son. Thank you for sharing!
Nicole - September 7th, 2011 at 12:57 PM
I can't tell you how your writing has brought air to my lungs so many times! I am certainly in an 'After The Airport' moment...our family of 4 (soon to be 5) just moved across state lines to Charlotte, NC to start a church. We left an amazing community of friends and family to obey God and it's been a month in our new city. The boxes are unpacked and life is trying to get to "normal" but that's when it really hits me that we're really doing this. It's not just a pipe dream anymore. Oh crap. WE ARE REALLY DOING THIS! And it's hard!

My mom passed away a year ago this month, and it sometimes feels silly to cry out, "y'all, I'm still heartbroken over here!!!!" But I am so thankful for the ones I can say that to and especially those whom I don't even have to say a word...they just know.

Thank you so much, Jen, for sharing your thoughts...your REAL thoughts. As a pastor's wife, sometimes I feel people get so disappointed when I'm just real with them about our lives and struggles. Like they just want to hear the good stuff that makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside. But the real "warm fuzzy" feeling comes when you hear someone tell you how life is trying to kick them in the teeth and they are just barely holding on but still trusting God...and you realize you are not alone, cause you feel the same exact way.

Keep pressin' on, sister friend! You're rockin' my face off with this stuff, girl!

Lord, pour more and more grace and mercy and love and patience and all that You are into the hearts of the Hatmakers.
Courtney - September 7th, 2011 at 12:58 PM
i can't NOT respond. you have spoken my heart. we have only been home 2 months. but the pain we've been through is more than i've felt in my entire 34 years. deep, deep pain. yet the GRACE i've felt has also been more than i've felt...

such a journey.

thank you for being real. so many are not. and i, like you, am determined to be real and honest.

i laughed and cried and related and tried to not relate to so much of your post.

thank you!

(when i got up this morning and checked my email, at least 3 people had sent me the link to your post :-))
Kristin - September 7th, 2011 at 1:01 PM
This was my life. I honestly thought we would not survive. But we have. And now our 9
Pastormac - September 7th, 2011 at 1:05 PM
This is one great blog. You write in a very balanced and honest way of both the grief and the hope. As someone who adopted and planted a church at the same time just a couple years ago, I find much wisdom in what you've got here. Thanks!
Laura - September 7th, 2011 at 1:09 PM
Only word I am left with is: Beautiful. Just Beautiful. Thank you for being so real!
Tracy - September 7th, 2011 at 1:14 PM
Beautiful honesty. Bless you and thank you for sharing and for the love that you give.
Jen - September 7th, 2011 at 1:15 PM
Wow. Wow. I have also made a vow to remain honest in our adoption journey/saga. It has been ugly at times. I laughed out loud at your paragraph about when you are left with just your 3 bio kids and the sweet peace of that. We have 3 bios and I have thought,"Did we actually think these kids were troublesome before?!" lol I so hear ya.

We have been home 10months with our Kimberly(who is at this moment having me kiss everyone of her bears as I am typing). Kim has special needs but the most challenging need is simply raising a hurt child. At 2-3 months in( we refer to this period as our 'dark' period) it was BAD. Very BAD. I am an optimistic person and found myself completely hopeless and not at all in love with this child-I could hardly muster in like on the best days to be honest(just had Miss Kim lean over and give my a big kisser). But God was there and I had to cling on to him during those times. Things are obviously sooo much better now, still challenging, but better.

When people would ask how things were going I would say one of two things depending on how things were truly going either 1. 'Better' or 2. "Rough" I can now honestly say, "Good" PRAISE GOD!

The truth I have discovered is that just because God calls us to do something doesn't mean it will be easy. I somehow thought that. Silly me. I would do it all over again and also still advocate adoption but I too want people to know the truth of the journey that is adoption. If my simple words can scare off a potential adoptive family then they aren't ready to adopt anyhow.

Anyhow, thanks for the honesty and I have a close friend in the midst of the 'after the airport' moment who I will be passing this along too. Thank You.
Fasil Abraham Nega - September 7th, 2011 at 1:26 PM
I was very confused about Adoption and many others like me. such kind of very human love should give me trust and clear out my stupid thinking from my mind.
"We ourselves feel that we are doing is just a drop in the ocean but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop" Mother Teresa.
Fasil Abraham - Ethiopia

Christy - September 7th, 2011 at 1:29 PM
Thank you for this awesome post. I actually came to your site because we're doing one of your bible studies and lo and behold found out that you just adopted! Congratulations! And hugs while you breathe. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. We are in the (long, drawn out, crying and begging) process of adopting. I know that exhaustion is ahead and right now I would welcome it with open arms. I can't wait to not sleep through the nights and to deal with the grieving (well, that does scare me) because I'm ready to have our child here with us! But I know it will be tough and that without God none of it would be possible. Thank you for being real and sharing this post. Enjoy the school day! :)
Sandra - September 7th, 2011 at 1:35 PM
Thanks for your post. We are several years "after the airport," and your article poignantly addresses these issues. "You cannot just be into adoption to adopt; you have to be into parenting. And it is hard, hard, intentional, laborious work. Children who have been abused, abandoned, neglected...require parents who are willing to wholly invest in their healing..." So thankful for a God Who "heals and redeems, who restores wasted years and mends broken places," my sinful heart being one of them.
Karen Kelly - September 7th, 2011 at 1:38 PM
There was no "after the airport" for us. Our son DID sprint like Usein Bolt past the cheering crowd and across the skybridge. I didn't catch him until the elevator, and I was just praying the whole time that those elevator doors would not open until I got to him. How you can be so overwhelmed by a child and yet so terrified to lose him is a mystery and a miracle. He started kindergarten today, 19 months later -- happy as could be. We are sometimes in sunny fields and sometimes in the weeds, and I am brutally honest about it in my blog too (karensadoptionjourney.blogspot.com). Adopting the older child is hard work, except for the lucky few, and agencies don't do enough to warn and prepare parents, probably out of fear of discouraging parents from adopting older children. It's not fair to the parents and it's not fair to the kids. So keep the honesty coming. Hearing that others face the same struggles we do makes me feel less alone. And it can only help other parents and prospective adoptive parents.
kendra - September 7th, 2011 at 1:39 PM
i am also living "after the airport" right now--going on month 8. this post was several months ago. http://4boys1girl-kchiolis.blogspot.com/2011/06/progression-in-transition.html but i still feel like i'm there.
thank you for this. i am hopeful.
Trina - September 7th, 2011 at 1:57 PM
Thanks for your honesty and humor! We are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia with 4 bio kids. We know that it won't be easy but oh so worth it!
Amanda - September 7th, 2011 at 2:07 PM
HI- I think we were on the same flight home as your husband and son from Ethiopia to Amsterdam. He looks so familiar. This is my first time at your blog. A friend sent me here because our lives have been very similar. We brought home 3 and 2 year old Ethiopian children and have a 4 year old bio daughter too. We got home Aug. 21st too and life has been SO chaotic. This blog post is exactly what I have been saying to our friends and family. It's been tough and super draining but we're hanging in there. Glad to know there are some families who "get it" and have been there or are in the muck with us now! God is sovereign- Amen?!?!? Amen. ; )
Bonnie Kreiser - September 7th, 2011 at 2:08 PM
I pray you're still here with wisdom and truth and reality when my Haitian grandsons get here and we enter the "after the airport" time of God's plan. God bless you all.
Lynne Stazzone - September 7th, 2011 at 2:17 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your honesty. We adopted four drug exposed kids locally and everyday we live an "after the hospital" experience. We adore them all and they fill our lives with humor and love. But the juggling act I have to do to raise four kids with sensory processing disorder (thanks to their drug exposure) is exhausting some days. They are thriving and with lots of help from their amazing school and our even more amazing OT, we are fighting our way through the weeds. So nice to know we're not in the weeds alone! Bless you!
Amy Engle - September 7th, 2011 at 2:26 PM
I am so there right now! My husband and I can so relate to what you said! Thank you for your honesty and transparency. It has been 5 months since we adopted our 10 year old daughter out of the foster care system. She is a wonderful girl but it is so hard at times we shake our heads and wonder why we did this! At other times we can't wait to begin the process again. Thank you again for your refreshing honesty! Amy
Cassie - September 7th, 2011 at 2:27 PM
Beautiful!!!
Kelly Raudenbush - September 7th, 2011 at 2:27 PM
Would you be willing to allow us to repost this on www.wearegraftedin.com? It's a great, honest, real post that would be so worth many more people reading. Let me know!
emily anderson - September 7th, 2011 at 2:28 PM
i can't tell you enough how much i appreciate this article. i am in the "after the airport" phase, and it's rough. really rough.
Angela W. - September 7th, 2011 at 2:43 PM
Jen,
We adopted a beautiful, broken and battered 2 year old girl 7 years ago. Watching her life come undone and being rebuilt has been one of the hardest and greatest things I have ever witnessed. We have held her tight during massive moments of heart break and rebellion. We have cried out to God so many times and shed many many tears. Now 7 years later, she is an amazing example of God's love and healing. I asked her if she has an advice for your little girl. She said, "I think she will be brave." She couldn't have said it any better. These little ones have been to hell and back. Yet, they continue to go on and be brave. We are thinking and praying for you.
Bekah - September 7th, 2011 at 2:45 PM
My daughter has been home with us for almost a year. It has been so hard, so many deep, deep lows. Your blog really has been my life for 11 months and it was good to see your honesty. I am SO glad we have her, our dream, along with our 2 other children, but it has exposed a side of me that has been devastating at times. Thanks for your words. God is still on His throne. May we seek HIm in each difficult moment of each difficult day.
Jennifer - September 7th, 2011 at 2:45 PM
Beautiful, honest, so grace filled. It's messy, hard, and still God is there always and sufficient.

Sharon - September 7th, 2011 at 2:46 PM
These are wise words that anyone contemplating adoption needs to hear: you have to be into parenting. There's a lot of work to be done after the airport. Thanks from a first time visitor.
Jennifer - September 7th, 2011 at 2:54 PM
Wow! I don't know you....but I read this on a friend's page on Facebook. You really should write a book. I absolutely LOVE your honesty and wit. So nice to see good, faithful Christian women who can be so raw and truthful. We are waiting to bring our sweet daughter home from Ethiopia. She is 6 years old. Prayerfully preparing for the "after the airport" life. Thanks again for sharing your heart. God Bless. Jen Bittner
shelly foster - September 7th, 2011 at 3:10 PM
Thankyou what a blessing! As an adoptive mom and and an adoptee at 3 yrs old I heard the truthss in this!! Adoption is a tough and emotional road!! Worth every step and worth every minute!!
Gwen - September 7th, 2011 at 3:33 PM
Thank you so much for this post. We came through the airport on Feb. 15 with our two, and things have been.... tough. We're just about seven months in, and although things are easier than they were in the first few weeks, we have a very, very long way to go.

I have not admitted to anyone except my husband that those beautiful moments alone with our happy, secure older bio daughters, after the Littles go to bed, sometimes catapult me into despair and regret and second-guessing. Hearing that somebody else feels this way alleviates the guilt I feel about my feelings. Thanks for this post -- it's so encouraging to hear someone express my thoughts with such honesty and gentleness.
Pam Kim - September 7th, 2011 at 3:41 PM
I can so relate to much of what you are saying (although we did circumsize) :) . God is good all the time, but some times the times are tough. Thank you for your encouraging words. I got this from a friend off of Facebook- Thank you for your honesty and boldness!!!! T=I felt so guilty when the first few weeks after the airport- when is was exhausted and wondering what in the world had I just done.... After 14 years of longing, you can't say that to anyone! But Jesus will NEVER leave us- as you have shared- and He will carry us always. Thank you again for your insight and for making me not feel alone in my struggles!!!
Starshine - September 7th, 2011 at 3:42 PM
Thank you for writing this! I wish I had this post a year ago, when I was so exhausted after bringing home 2 boys that I couldn't get up off the couch. Yes, I knew it was a life I chose (and I'm SO GLAD I chose it!!!), but wow, I had never been so exhausted and I needed community around me so much. Your honesty is a huge encouragement, and I'll be sharing this post with others.
Jessica - September 7th, 2011 at 3:43 PM
What a blessing! Thank you for your candor on "after the airport". God bless!
Tonggu Momma - September 7th, 2011 at 3:45 PM
One of the best posts about adoptive parenting that I have ever read. I don't say that lightly.

I am the adoptive mom to an amazing seven-year-old who experienced tremendous trauma both prior to and because of adoption. It took years to come to a place of healing. We are also newly home with a fourteen-month-old who is so darn HAPPY I still pinch myself. I know stuff will appear - it always does - but our experiences are like night and day with these two adoptions, even when simply comparing days one through 100.

Thank you for your transparency. It will bless many.

May I link?
Kaylee - September 7th, 2011 at 4:05 PM
Thank you for how much more sanely I will be able to face the future "after the airport" moments because of your honesty. I often feel that when God leads me/us into something and I/we excitedly share with others how amazing this new thing will be, then how can I/we admit when it isn't as shiny a bauble as it appeared before we held it? And does that mean it wasn't a bauble intended for us after all. NO, it was. It's just that God brings us into things with excitement because His vision is big and to be a part of that is exciting. But when reality hits we realize that vision is bigger than us. Thank God He is bigger than we can imagine. And how wonderful to be in a time when Christian brothers and sisters can say, "Yes, God called me into this. But, darn, it's really, really hard!"

9 years ago, I became a stepmom of 3 boys. It has been the most wonderful and painful journey of my life. It feels so good to admit that. I know God was there at the start and has been there every day. I know because if He hadn't been, I wouldn't have made it through this far.

Thanks for making it safe to share reality! Love you, and your clan of 7, tons!
Amanda - September 7th, 2011 at 4:26 PM
Well, I have no idea if you will even have time to read this comment. :) But I had to say--Wow. Amazing post. Thank you for your honesty. And the reminder to be there for friends going through really any kind of transition. Blessings on you
Kristy - September 7th, 2011 at 5:01 PM
Thank you so much for this post. Perfect timing from the LORD. We are living in the "after the airport" phase with a bio son who is 4, a son from Ethiopia who is 3, another son from Ethiopia who is 2 and our youngest bio son who is almost 1. Our house is crazy, and most of the time I am convinced that I am beyond going crazy too. Just today I went to therapy with our 2 year old who has some serious issues. Even after two different sessions of therapy today for him I have felt so defeated and just TIRED. So tired! It is tough to convey to others that I can be so thankful that we adopted our boys and at the same time feel so exhausted and overwhelmed and long for something easier at times. There are days when it seems like TOO MUCH. I have felt so much of what you talked about, it is uncanny.
This part especially ministered to me because I feel this way so much, but feel like I can't really say it to anyone: "Actually, I haven't had a shower in three days, I lost my temper with my uncontrollable daughter this morning and had to walk outside, I'm constantly cleaning up pee because uncircumcised tee-tee goes sideways onto walls, and sometimes when my two littles are asleep and we're downstairs with the original three kids who are so stable and healthy and easy, it creates a nostalgia so intense, I think I might perish. But enough about me. How are you?" (Except, we had our boys circumcised because I just couldn't clean up that pee anymore! haha.)
Thank you for your honesty, and at the same time giving glory to our amazing Heavenly Father, who has blessed us beyond measure, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Anna - September 7th, 2011 at 5:12 PM
one year home and tears pouring down my face. Our story is different but so many things you said shake me to the core because they are the same.
Michelle - September 7th, 2011 at 5:49 PM
Wow...I found your blog through a friend who is also adopting. I am not. We just had our first baby a month ago, but had also considered adoption. Thank you for your honesty. I wish more mothers could be this honest. It was so refreshing and real to read! Even though I only have one baby (does two dogs count too?) I can relate with you on being tired, but oh so grateful for these blessings from God.
Ali - September 7th, 2011 at 6:06 PM
I love this part: "My children will not remain broken. They are loved by too good a Savior. I will not remain exhausted and spent. I am loved by too merciful a Father." We indeed have too good a Savior and too merciful a Father, to allow the brokenness and exhaustion to remain forever. This is so uplifting and just what I needed to hear!
Paige - September 7th, 2011 at 6:18 PM
Thank you, thank you for reminding me that I am not alone. We are home with our daughter from Peru....10 months home. It's been hard. We are starting to see some progress, but it is so long coming. Thank you for verbalizing what I have been unable to say. Again, thank you!
Lori - September 7th, 2011 at 6:23 PM
I can't relate to your 'after the airport' but I CAN relate to the "most wonderful time of the year" (song) - school starting. 20 years ago I shocked a church mom's group by stating the same and was expecting Social Services to be paying a call soon after. Thankfully they didn't, but I am so glad that there really are some Christian women who do feel the same. Thank you!
Carolyn - September 7th, 2011 at 6:26 PM
Great post! In the midst of mothering a preemie, very unexpectedly thrown into our lives, and it has brought up so much turmoil and questions for my two beautiful adopted sons. Sunday morning as they walked out the door to go to church with daddy, I took a deep breath and worshiped because for 3 hours the intensity was gone. Oh yes, I love them and I wouldn't trade them but oh yes, I.get.weary.
MommaBe - September 7th, 2011 at 6:38 PM
I'm four years after the airport. And it's hard. And it hasn't gotten better. I know my timing is not the LORD's timing, but boy, am I tired. My 13 y.o. daughter and especially her 16 y.o. brother (home four years) have aged me more quickly than even I can imagine -- then I look at the pictures of myself from 4 years ago and the image in the mirror now and I no longer have to imagine. You see, I would be the one sobbing into the French Bread if anyone noticed and took the time and effort to bring me a meal. God bless you. Thank you for the words of encouragement.
sleepyknitter - September 7th, 2011 at 7:15 PM
Brilliant and painfully true. Thank you for writing! Linking to Facebook now.
Kate - September 7th, 2011 at 7:42 PM
You are an amazing author and parent and I want to print your article, laminate it and wallpaper my bedroom with it. I am the single mother of 2 adopted daughters, one via embryo adoption and the other via foster-adoption. In the last year, we have lost my husband, their beloved Daddy to a tragic accident, and have had to come to terms not only with grief, but with our younger child's oppositional defiance disorder, anxiety, uncomplicated grief plus other undiagnosed maladies, and the effects of probable fetal alcohol syndrome. My image of mothering 2 adoring daughters on my own with love, care and compassion came screeching to a halt, when the screeching I heard was from my 5 year old, along with many other lovely behavioral issues. God wants her here, God wants me here; we are finding a way, day by day, second by second. But most days, it is horrible and I feel like a failure -- the anti-mama picture I never wanted to be. The screaming, impatient, and tired of negotiating, arguing and time-outing mother I never saw myself as. My heart goes out to you, and feels hope through your words. Blessings, xo
Deb - September 7th, 2011 at 7:56 PM
Thank you for this post. It has to be said... And you said it all so well. I worry so much about parents not being prepared for the realities of adoption. This post will surely be a blessing to so many!

Barbara - September 7th, 2011 at 8:05 PM
You don't know me but I stumbled across your blog. I am now 24 years "after the airport" and want to write to give all of you hope. Our son was six years old from Thailand when we adopted him and he is now almost 30. Parenting him was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I always said it was a good thing I didn't know how hard it really would be as I don't know I would have had the strength to do it. But God knows best and was with me the entire time. I now have a wonderful son that I couldn't love and be more proud of. However, I still see those signs that reveal his first six years. Even now I would wish love could erase his pain but know that won't happen. I can only be there for him as he still needs those reassurances.

You are right in that what you are doing is really, really hard! But know that you are blessed to be chosen to do this. God knows what he is doing and gave your children to you knowing you will be able to handle what is coming your way. Hang in there - it is worth it!
Jill Samter Photography - September 7th, 2011 at 9:02 PM
Jen - I'm an adoptive mom of 7 children. 5 from Guatemala and 2 from Ethiopia. I have never read your blog until this post. We have 9 children. I have written similar posts but this is by far THE BEST post EVER on how I feel inside and have yet to take the time to share. I'm going to share your post on my adoption blog and pray God leads many to find this post through it.

God bless and know if you ever need encouragement I'm here. Our children are in school for the first year as well and let's just say after three weeks of it - I finally feel like there is really a light at the end of the tunnel we have been in. One of our adopted children has put our family through the emotional ringer and to say I am one exhausted Momma is putting it lightly. I needed a break or I would have truly become ill from all the stress of the daily drama. Thankful you are getting a break too!

God is so amazing and He will provide for all of our needs!
Hugs and blessings,
Jill
adoption blog: http://adoptforeverstories.blogspot.com/
Diana - September 7th, 2011 at 9:02 PM
We are 8 months "after the airport" and know exactly what you mean. THanks for sharing!!!!!!!! I was literally in tears. Just last week a friend of mine fell and bruised her face badly. My son was so hurt by her pain.... he insisted that someone did it to her, not that she fell. He said we lied to him. This is just one of the many instances where his insecurities and sadness hace surfaced. If only I knew just what his little eyes saw in the 5 years before we met......
Lisa Wernstrom - September 7th, 2011 at 9:03 PM
Bless you sweet soul. XOXOXOXOXO . You are walking with HIM, this knowledge shines through your blog. " Well done, good and faithful servant." Peace and love to you and your family.
Kari - September 7th, 2011 at 9:10 PM
I checked out your post after seeing it linked to like a zillion times on Facebook. I just want to say, I get it, oh so do I get it! I just posted about our most recent experience in welcoming our 9 year old daughter home from Haiti. I however do not have your skill for writing. It is so incredibly important for prospective adoptive parents to know what they are getting into, good job!
Rachael - September 7th, 2011 at 9:27 PM
Amazing Post ... Just what I needed to read today. Thanks for sharing.
Laura Anzai - September 7th, 2011 at 9:41 PM
Thank you! So beautfully expressed!!! We are living "after the airport" with our 3 children. And I feel as if we have walked in each other's shoes. I am so thankful that God carries us through Parenthood!!!! You have been incredibly encouraging!
mandy w - September 7th, 2011 at 9:43 PM
The truth is so refreshing to read. Thank you. We are still in the weeds three years later. Tired doesn't begin to describe us. We love our girls. We are tired. You are so right. My advice is keep strong, lean to God and eachother and know you are not alone.
Malissa - September 7th, 2011 at 9:50 PM
Thank you! I needed that. We adoped one of our children from foster care and I can so relate to your post! You encouraged me!
lauradodson - September 7th, 2011 at 10:10 PM
excellent! we're 2 years after the airport and i can finally say that i am happy most of the time with our new family...2 bios, 3 news. we're in texas, too. brought our 3 boys home from Uganda 9/24/09. Your time is coming. Hang in there!
Mindy - September 7th, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Yup...totally with you. Press on, dear one!
Katy - September 7th, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Wow....how did you read my mind? Home 19 months with my now 4 1/2 year old who was in an orphanage for three years, and I so appreciate your honesty. She is the love of my life, but oh so exhausting physically and emotionally. And her attachment issues are so similar to what you've experienced. Mommy is TIRED. Thanks so much for sharing!
Maek Walker - September 7th, 2011 at 10:35 PM
I have started many times to write this and deleted every one.I don't feel like I'm qualified to speak on the topic of adoption.I have friends who have adopted but We never have.The only experience I have with it is The Adoption of me by Jesus Christ, There is only one word that comes to mind from your writings and that is WOW!!!!!!! I Love your Honest and Open telling of your story of adoption although, I am really blow away at you and others who have posted on the blog about the support from our Father Gods' children. The Community that you and so many others have talked about is truly what is all about.
ALL of your Children will also see that and Grow The Kingdom(Community) even larger to the Glory of God. Praise God through all of this and Commit Everything to The Lord and HE will continue to Bless you. I will Pray for your family and all those that chose to adopt.
jennifer - September 7th, 2011 at 10:36 PM
This goes down as one of the best blog entries I have ever read!
Lisa - September 7th, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Thank you! We are also adoptive parents. Our now nearly 24 year old is in prison. She's making great progress, but it's been a tough go. We tried our best, yet it has been a struggle and heartbreaking. Don't know what we would have done if it hadn't been through Christ supporting us!!

Diane Osborne - September 7th, 2011 at 10:42 PM
Uncircum . pee does not go all over the wall . It is the same as circum. pee. I know from whence I speak. Your little guy may be doing it for another reason.
Alison - September 7th, 2011 at 10:44 PM
Thank you Jen. I will pray for you. I have had many of those "terrible, awful" parenting seasons. A verse that came to mind, that I hope Remy and Ben can claim one day is Joel 2:25-26. My Grandma was saved when she was 49, and she claims those verses for the blessing God has done since then. Thanks for you continued honesty and faith in our Lord! Alison

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm[b]—
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;

SPM - September 7th, 2011 at 11:01 PM
WOW! 2 sentences in I began to sob I believe 15 years of emotions finally caught up with me thanks for giving it a voice!

Denise - September 7th, 2011 at 11:13 PM
Thank you so much for your words, I am a homeschool Mom of three and some days I want to pull my hair out but I do love my life - I wouldnt have it any other way. I also just recently lost my father in March and we have been having a tough time dealing with it as it was unexpected. May God bless you and your family, loved reading your blog!
Jill - September 7th, 2011 at 11:17 PM
We got home with our two adopted kiddos on July 14 and you just wrote everything that is happening in my house including the pee :) We have two bio kids basically the same ages as our adopted kids and they are really, really struggling. Adoption is a calling and I am so thankful that God made it clear this was for our family because if I didn't know the One who planned this for our life I can't imagine living the day in and out of it all. It is clear your words have spoken to so many of us and just knowing there are others walking this path is encouraging in a crazy kind of way. Thank you.
Shaena Crespo - September 7th, 2011 at 11:25 PM
Thank you. We just planting in Phx and I totally get this. Change and trials are like childbirth, yes there is joy, but there is pain, and that pain is real. Thank you for not minimizing it, and for saying it's okay to admit you feel both and sometime you just need a break (like an epidural if you will). Sigh... yeah I get it, right there with you. Thanks.
Audrey - September 7th, 2011 at 11:48 PM
We are four months "after the airport," and I so appreciate your sharing. Thank you! Your honesty is a blessing and your writing is brilliant. Love it!
Robb Wilson - September 8th, 2011 at 12:16 AM
Jen- Thank you for your honesty. Your words and life inspired tonight's post on my blog. Thank you.
http://scholar-redeemer.blogspot.com/2011/09/different-or-weird.html

In Christ,
Robb
nicole - September 8th, 2011 at 12:25 AM
quite simply thank you for truth.
Daniel Ibn Zayd - September 8th, 2011 at 12:36 AM
O Destruction! O Jezebel! Come with your "white" face, come with your bulldozers, your wealth extracting machines, your business ventures; come with your wars of attrition, your staged political wars, your economic warfare; come with your NGOs, your corporate non-profits, your organizations of dependency; come with your churches, your Bibles, your Word: We have noted your face, your smiling face of gnashing white teeth, your lying eyes crying your crocodile tears, your gnarled, grabbing hands; we have remarked on your selfishness, we have acknowledged your bogus gifts, your empty promises; we have listened to your translated words, your "promises" of relief, your falsehoods falling over each other, one atop another, piled endlessly higher, and we have something to say to you: We will come for our children. We smile as the powerless are forced to smile, we laugh as those bereft of agency are forced to laugh, we listen to your idiocy as those without ability are forced to listen to those selfsame vultures who deprived them of their very capacity, their very humanity, their life and livelihood. We will come for our children. We see you, the aberration in our world, the slummer, the kidnapper, the thief; we know you. We will come for our children and we will tear them from your arms, we will take them from your homes, we will relieve them of your hold, and we will bring them to their land, their people, their place. And they will be whole, and you will be Hole. Keep your abysmal darkness to yourself! O Grief! O Great Dishonor! Your day is come. We come for our children, and you have no say.
Simply Authentic - September 8th, 2011 at 12:52 AM
Absolutely perfectly written testament to the beauty, struggle, and determination of the successful adoption. You've got more prayers headed your way and a God who is so in awe of the way that you are living His desires. Absolutely LOVE this post....
katie - September 8th, 2011 at 1:13 AM
much love from katie in new zealand. i have five 'originals' - one of whom has already left home - crying reading your story - much love x x x
beth - September 8th, 2011 at 6:34 AM
Jen - I can't NOT comment. I read your book last summer, and this post was linked to by Marla Taviano - where we are reading James together. Talking about living out our faith and "couting it all joy" - that's how we learn to learn on God. I guess there's no other way.... but wow. I promise to pray - for strength when you need it most.
Dawn - September 8th, 2011 at 6:56 AM
This post is going to go viral. Just sayin. :)

You nailed it for SO many of us.

God bless you.
Jennifer - September 8th, 2011 at 7:02 AM
THANK YOU for all of us serving in the trenches with you. We are two weeks post-airport and I needed to read this so much today. PS This is the first post I've read of yours and you are an amazing writer.
Daniel Ibn Zayd - September 8th, 2011 at 7:25 AM
Yours is a killing hand, and you've brought us to your killing jar. We are not exotic butterflies for you to examine before collecting us, placing us in the jar, gently and lovingly place us inside with the ether or the cyanide, screw on the lid and then wonder why we tremble and shake, why we fight with no flight possible, before settling into our Death, at which point you place us on a pin, you stick us on a board, you display us to all and sundry like a living museum we did not ask to showcase for. You wear your crime on your sleeve, proud of your act, your deed, your theft, your murder; you are Mengele with your experiments and deeds and crimes against humanity, just as racist, just as classist, just as hateful toward entire races that you need to subdue, that you need to make quiet, that allow you to be Whiter than White. I read between your lines and I see your experiments and therapies, in holding children down; in pinning them and propping them and labeling them. How you wish we were dolls, of porcelain or wax! How much easier the task! We have heard the screams of your children crying to break free, and we are come for them; we have listened to the cries of the children, and we will come to set them free. We know the killing house, and we know the killing jar, and we know what kills us inside. And we are coming. And we will be set free.
Ady - September 8th, 2011 at 7:49 AM
OHHHH MYYYYY GOODNESS! Your at the exact same place as me. We adopted our son from Rwanda two years ago. He started his first year of public school this week. Now all four of my kids are in school and I return home to a peaceful, fight free, strife free, empty home and I am down right giddy. Yippee, Yippee, Yahoo. I need this time to refuel and get my feet under me. It's been an intense season. No guilt.
marty nunez - September 8th, 2011 at 8:55 AM
thanks for the raw real honesty that those of us who have adopted feel on a daily basis. we have 2 "original" kids (17
karen yingling - September 8th, 2011 at 8:56 AM
thank you for writing so honestly - and to everyone else who commented. It is so nice to know we are not alone...19 months after the airport - and still counting.
karen - September 8th, 2011 at 8:59 AM
Thank you for your honesty, your vulnerability, your heart, and your commitment to your kids. We're right there in the trenches with you, fighting for these beautiful kids from broken places to have hope and a bright future.
Stephanie - September 8th, 2011 at 9:08 AM
God bless you for your honesty, and your faithfulness.

I work with foster children. My birth children are still babies, and we have not ventured into the world of adoption yet, but what you are describing is exactly the reason why I want to adopt. I see these babies, every day - who will fall asleep on anyone's shoulder, because no one is safer than the other, no face is recognizable or comforting. Who stare with vacant eyes, who don't speak. And I want, more than anything, to give them the kind of home my children have. Some day. So often people talk about and imagine the "air port moment," as you called it, but not what will come next.

Thank you, again.
Ruth - September 8th, 2011 at 9:12 AM
Through blurry eyes I am writing to thank you for your lovely (and honest) post. You are truly an angel. May you continue to be blessed each and every day of your life.
Cynthia - September 8th, 2011 at 9:25 AM
I literally stepped off the plane into Katrina in 05 with my 14 mth old and into the storm of my life. Love her to death but it has been HARD! Counted the days until she could go to kindy and I could give her my all when she is home. Good for you to be able to see your limitations and putting them in school. It has saved my sanity and I can give the best part of me when she gets home......not to mention the night duty we have as well. She is our hurricane and we never know when it will blow up and where but it's getting better now that I have MYSELF under more control. Thanks for writing this.
Penny - September 8th, 2011 at 9:28 AM
Dear Jen,
My friend sent me a link to your blog. I've been out of the blog world since we brought our two sons home from Russia over 3 years ago. It's good to come back for a visit.;) Thank you for writing such a perfectly honest and true post about what it's really like to parent adopted children. I think you should write a book if you haven't already done so. You have a wonderful gift of communicating.
The Lord alone gets us through each and every day.:) I am so thankful for my boys but I recognize that I could not love them and care for them as I should without His Holy Spirit taking over my sinful flesh. Like you, I jumped for joy when our oldest went back to school this year! Parenting is exhausting and I'll take whatever break I can get!:))
Thank you for encouraging me and so many others. God bless you dear sister.:)
Captain Murdock - September 8th, 2011 at 9:28 AM
Wow - thank you so much for this article. I linked to it on my blog and on facebook and literally begged people to read it. I may go back and re-read it numerous times as our After the Airport is coming soon ...
Lisa - September 8th, 2011 at 9:38 AM
I have never read such an honest adoption post - ok, I have not read too many adoption posts, but THIS post is what I have been searching for - I really need to know this. Not coz I think God won't be with us when we do (possibly) get our own adoption process going, but because I just want to know what it's really really really like down the track. Thanks. You're a blessing to so many.
Jen T. - September 8th, 2011 at 9:51 AM
I almost didn't comment, b/c there are already so many, but one more time is not too many for you to hear that a) I so appreciate your honesty. We are just a few months out from our airport moment, and posts like this do not make me regret my decision, they empower me with knowledge and preparation and allow me to educate my people. And b)now I have some new faces and names to pray for specifically! May God give you the strength to get through each new day!
Jane - September 8th, 2011 at 9:52 AM
We do not have an "after the airport" story as we adopted locally but so much of what you said is true. I love my child with all my heart but it is not easy to parent her a lot of the time. My heart goes out to you and I will pray for you and all adoptive families.
Terrie - September 8th, 2011 at 10:20 AM
Jenn, thanks for writing this honest picture of parenting adopted children. Sometimes I think that most families that adopt have it peachy, they are not experiencing what we are. It helped so much to hear your story and that you have the same hope and faith that we are clinging to to get through this difficult time.

Kim - September 8th, 2011 at 10:30 AM
Like so many of the other folks who commented, I want to thank you for giving voice to the experience of parenting children who have been through trauma. Until you have done it, there is no way have any clue what "after the airport" is truly like. Definitely NOT sunshine and rainbows all the time. This was spot on and truly one of the best things I have ever read about adoption (and the aftermath of any huge life change). EVER. I've already shared it with family, friends, my social worker... thank you again for being so very honest and yet encouraging about parenting. Blessings to you and your entire family!
Cari - September 8th, 2011 at 10:32 AM
Wonderfully said! I have three adopted children of mixed race. My son has Asperger Autism, Tourette Syndrome..and our oldest has Trauma induced psychosis..cause from many foster homes. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all.
Miriam - September 8th, 2011 at 10:44 AM
Breathtaking. What you wrote is so desperately needed in our adoption communities. Some of us have been or still are so ashamed, so scared to let people know how we really feel. Six years ago we adopted a 4 1/2 year old boy from Kazakhstan. Life as we knew it shattered not too long after we got home. All of a sudden we were living in a hellish nightmare. Unfortunately, I let go of my awesome God and began living in my emotions. Easy to do. I was tired of him peeing on me or everything else every time he was angry. I was tired of the tantrums. I was tired of the disobedience and the lying, and I was tired of him hitting his new brother. Sadly, regretfully, ashamedly, embarrassingly, I sank so low, so terribly deep, that I became a person that I nor my family could recognize. I said and did things that I never dreamed I was capable of. I mourned for my "original" family over and over and refused to accept my new reality. We were living in hell, to say the least. Fast forward: I got a grip. I got help. We all got help. But it wasn't from the adoption community, and that's what still saddens me. Stories like yours and mine and everyone else that's experiencing the not-so-glamorous-days-of-adoption need to be shared and heard. What helped me the most was what God revealed to me one day when I was screaming to him to give me love for this child. I felt as though He whispered this help in my ear: "Miriam, love is BEING patient. Love is BEING kind. Love is BEING not easily angered. Love is BEING long suffering......." It blew my mind. A new explanation of love for me, that day. I could literally walk into my house and be patient when I didn't feel like it and that meant I LOVED him. I could be kind when he was being hateful even though I didn't feel like it and that meant I LOVED him. I believe God was telling me that I didn't have to FEEL love for him. I had to CHOOSE to act out love for him. Many people may have already understood this, but I didn't. It was monumental in our healing to have the knowledge that I could be so angry or irritated inside, but that I could CHOOSE, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to do right to him, to act right to him. By doing that, I was acting out love, which meant I was loving him. Unbelievable. God is good. My son and I have had many heart to heart talks regarding those hard times..... we've forgiven each other over and over. God has restored a right relationship between us. I came home from a 5 day vacation to Puerto Rico 2 days ago, and at the airport, he was the first to run up and hug me tight as he yelled, "Welcome Home, mom!" Thanks for your honesty and your encouragement. We need it. And we need to help each other. Much thanks!!
Christy - September 8th, 2011 at 10:49 AM
Wow! Thank you for that! So beautifully written! May God give you strength in your "after airport moments!"
Gwen - September 11th, 2011 at 4:32 PM
Oh my... as if I'm not already crying enough. Thanks for this comment, Miriam. I have been praying for the last 7 months -- "Lord, I just can't love them, I can't do it." I know (in my head) that I need to CHOOSE to love, and act it even when I don't feel it -- but it's so hard to do. I feel like I'm being crushed by the weight of what we've done to our family (incl. our older bio kids who are reeling from the devastation our new children have caused) and it seems like there's no hope in sight. You've said the words I needed to hear, and given me encouragement to let the Holy Spirit love through me -- because I'm not strong enough to do it myself. Thank you.
Bill - September 8th, 2011 at 10:54 AM
Spot on. Great, great post.

Brought our 5 yo Ethiopian son home two months ago today to join our other three boys.

Joyful, but at the same time so very frustrating and exhausting. Brings intentional parenting to an entirely new level.

Things generally improve every day though, praise God!
Justin - September 8th, 2011 at 10:57 AM
The most honest, true, God glorifying thing I have ever read about adoption (apart from His Word). I appreciate your honesty, transparency and willingness to share the story that so many of us have. Thank you for your clarity in telling the story that God is working out in all our lives.....


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