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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464 Comments
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Becky - October 6th, 2011 at 1:02 PM
We are only one month "after the airport" and I had 2 friends email me a link to this post as an encouragement, which it was. So many people only want to hear the "rainbows and sunshine" adoption stories, so it has been a struggle to help others understand that our son is grieving. Thank you so much for being real and honest. I would like to link to this post and quote part of it (with proper credit of course), if that is okay.
Amy - October 10th, 2011 at 10:48 PM
My "After the Airport" is post divorce...without children and dancing around 40 years old...5 years later. Most of the time, life is great. God has blessed me with a wonderful opportunity to minister to women who are hurting. I have a great job. Some days, though, all I can see is the empty house that I don't want to come home to another day. You are right that most people don't want to hear the real story...all they want to hear is that I'm fine. Thank you for blessing me with tales from a REAL life...knowing that we all have our moments of gloom makes it even more blessed when we have our moments of vast joy. God indeed will never forsake us...for that boring FAKE family!
Marianna - October 11th, 2011 at 9:03 PM
Hi. I met you on the plane. I was going to go get my daughter. We sat with you in the airport in Addis on the way back and had water. We were on your plane going home and you were there for court. This is completely God. I talked to a friend of a friend at a wedding last weekend in NC and she told me about your blog she knew about from a friend. She sent me the link on facebook today. I started reading it and then saw your pictures! I'm going nuts telling my husband that I know you. I would love to talk with you sometime. If you are on facebook, please friend me. I love your honesty and feel encouraged.
Janie - October 15th, 2011 at 9:36 AM
Speechless...
Kayleen - October 17th, 2011 at 6:00 PM
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! We adopted 3 out of foster care, and there are days I sit in the bathroom and cry--we finalized 4 years ago and they are 8,7,
Robin - February 24th, 2014 at 10:04 PM
And then they called for mom%u2026. We understand. We adopted 2 out of foster care too.
Christine - October 21st, 2011 at 5:25 AM
We are "after the airport" 4 1/2 years with our first (adopted at 12, now 17) and almost 2 years for our second (adopted at 14, turning 16 in about a month). I can't count the number of times people have asked "How's it going?" and I've smiled and said "They are so great," when I wanted to just curl up in a ball and bawl.

They are the two most courageous young women I know, but it's been tough trying to shepherd them as their wounds heal into scars that will fade but never be completely gone. Thank you so much for your honesty and the encouragement and community that you have created.
Leslie - October 21st, 2011 at 7:29 AM
Just found this from Rage Against The Minivan. Great post! We live in Haiti and just finally finished our daughters adoption last year in September. We brought her home when she was two weeks old in February 2008 and had been doing paperwork for 7 months before that.

Our daughter loves books and stories etc. One book that I got before we welcomed her into our home was "Over the Moon" by Karen Katz. At the time I liked the simple message and the bold pictures, and that it talked about international adoption. In the last 4 years our paperback copy has been replaced with a hardcover gift from a friend who had no idea we had the book already. I'm grateful because my daughter likes it a lot and the paperback was pretty much trashed. Just the other night we were able to talk about the last lines of the book, "Forever and always we will be your Mommy and Daddy. Forever and always you will be our little girl." Another good book a friend gave us was "I Love You So Much". Its just a kid understandable way to look at the love of a parent. I can ask my daughter, "How much do we love you?" and she responds with "Way, way more that you know!" :)
motherparadox - October 21st, 2011 at 10:24 AM
you brought me to tears.
Kristin - October 21st, 2011 at 11:48 AM
Thank you so much for your candidness and honesty! We have not even experienced the "airport experience", but are at the very beginning of this journey. PLEASE keep being real and honest for those of us who need to learn as much as possible.
Brenda - October 21st, 2011 at 3:06 PM
What an excellent and honest post! Thanks for encouraging all of us to find people in our communities who need our encouragement. It is an much needed reminder!
Jo Somebody - October 22nd, 2011 at 12:14 PM
I am scared because if/when I adopt (in many years, I'm still at University), I will be doing so without any backing of a belief in God. Sometimes I wish I hadn't lost my faith and I hope it doesn't mean that my future children will be worse of. But I can't pretend to believe in something I don't.

Anyway, please keep writing because I'm learning so much and the more you write, the greater my conviction somehow. Thank you.
Nicole Drysdale-Rickman - October 23rd, 2011 at 6:13 PM
this is beautiful, true and touching to my very soul. thank you for writing this and hugs to you as you travel the beautiful, hard, road you are on...
Mireia - October 24th, 2011 at 2:17 AM
Thank you for being so honest, I have one biological son and two adopted sons, a girl and a boy. From my experience the beginings are quite hard and being parents is an extremely hard work, but things slowly become better and better.
Sara - October 24th, 2011 at 9:30 AM
Oh so right!!! We disappointed our friends and relatives and only let one person meet us at the airport. Which Made us unpopular but the transition easier. I'm most definitely in that place of being "down" wrangling with my Radish for 10 years now, finally seeing progress in less defensiveness, less temper tantrums, pee hitting the toilet, but the stealing is now on the rise. You ask yourself "Will it ever stop." And people look at you funny and judgmentally because they think you are unfair or too harsh. When all your doing is protecting your child's health or keeping your child from breaking out into disruptive behavior in the middle of a GOOD time.

One thing I have found is even if you are honest and tell people your miserable they TOTALLY don't get it! so we smile fake it and hide in our bathrooms crying our eyes out. The world needs to understand Adoption isn't always a win win for the parent.
Donna - October 25th, 2011 at 7:59 PM
We are 2 years "after the airport" with our 4 year old and 4 months "after the airport" with our 20 month old.

THANK YOU for this post. I no longer feel alone.
Ashley - October 29th, 2011 at 10:10 AM
This pretty much describes all of what I 'fear' about having an adopted child who's older (when I finally do) but what I have never read as a concrete fact from anyone else. Thanks! It's definitely not a deterrent because these days will pass, but it's a breath of fresh air to know that the expectation of this kind of thing is not irrational!
natalie - November 5th, 2011 at 8:22 AM
Jen...you are beautiful and have such a gift with words. I have read several of your posts now and discovered your blog through a friends page on facebook. I can not read your entries without tears in my eyes. So many of your feelings, maybe not for exactly the same reason, ring bells in me. It is so wonderful to meet a REAL mommy out there. We ARE allowed to lose our tempers, and have bad days, wish our children in school and CRAVE "me" time. We are allowed to be HUMAN!!!! I have PCOS....my oldest whom I was blessed enough to give birth to is now 9. We continued to try again for another birth child. After years of me wading through bitterness we decided to adopt out of the foster care system and are in the process of adopting to beautiful babies....10 and 5 months. They are the joy of our lives....most days. Dealing with a drug addicted baby straight from the hospital is NOT always a joy. It just simply is not. There have been tears...I think more from me then her. She would scream for hours and there was nothing we could do to comfort her. And then along these few months we find out we are pregnant after 10 years....I am due in March. So yes...i will have 3 children under the age of 15 months. Am I happy, of course. Am I blessed, of course. Am I OVERWHELMED at the thought....MOST DEFINATELY and I'm allowed to be. I am allowed to be frustrated and wonder how I am going to deal with all of this. I have to give myself permission to be REAL....thank you for confirming for me that it is ok and that even though i know this is what is meant to be and that everything happens for a reason, it is allowed to be a rough ride. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Karlyn - November 5th, 2011 at 5:34 PM
Ohmy. I haven't even read all of your post, but I have to get to the bottom
Renee' - November 6th, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Thank you for your honesty! Thank you for sharing your journey. The body of Christ is AMAZING!!!
Allieal - November 9th, 2011 at 4:53 PM
Someone just shared this post with me. We will celebrate our 2nd year anniversary as a family tomorrow with our two adopted "older" children (from Ukraine). Thank you for this post.
Amy - November 9th, 2011 at 8:43 PM
What a very honest post. I am tracking with you all the way. I remember once cautioning another mom about adopting to "save" a child. I suggested that adoption should come out of a desire to be a parent. She was totally offended, but it needed to be said.
I envy your support system. When we came home with our (then 3 year old) daughter six years ago, there was no welcoming party at the airport, no showers or gifts for our princess. No visits, no meals, no nothing. In the small country church we were in, it was like it hadn't even happened. In hindsight, I think they just thought we were totally crazy at best.
We have not had the prolonged struggles that you have had. She adjusted very well almost immediately, but there were a few hiccups. I think that now, six years later, we are facing more hurdles than we did early on. We homeschool, and she is a struggling learner. I suspect some attention issues and we have finally given in and elected to seek some help. That has been hard for me. I thought we could find a way without outside help or *gasp* medication. There are subtle issues around food and eating rearing their head. Most difficult to take is realizing that her attachment to us is tenuous. I think the technical term is incomplete.
I know for sure that I can trust God with all of it. I keep on running to him and asking "what now?" "How do we face this challenge?" Sometimes the answers are not easy, but he always answers.
Janie - November 10th, 2011 at 12:25 PM
We are 9 years after the airport with two from Russia. Thank you for being the voice of truth for the outside world, as well as the voice of support for those of us in the throes of this in our everyday lives. Your authenticity and honesty is so appreciated!
jane - November 18th, 2011 at 2:04 PM
oh my! the first post i have ever read of yours! wonderful wonderful wonderful! i fundraise for special needs orphans and am so excited to find you. much love jane xxxx oh and i also have 3 beautiful children, my eldest with SMS so I know the moments you speak of so well! xxx
LeAnn - November 21st, 2011 at 6:34 PM
I am not alone afterall............oh how comforting to know that there are others who are in the thick of this fight too. Even though I too, would do it all over again, there are days that I am sure I can't keep going, and if I find pee in one more corner I will go absolutely crazy. Thanks for sharing our reality, you are brave and I needed this so much right now.
Melissa - November 22nd, 2011 at 7:41 AM
Amen. Living "after foster care" and thankful that His mercies are new every morning. Thanks for saying it so well!
Kim - November 22nd, 2011 at 7:56 AM
We are almost 5 years home from the airport with our little traumatized and abused China angel. We also have 4 bio kids. I get every single word you wrote and I get every unspoken, unwritten word you still are holding onto. Thank you for being real, it is the only way we can all really help eachother through it....we'll always feel like the "only one" if we're all too ashamed to admit the reality of it all. It's hard. It's really, really hard. But it's also good. Really, really good. Thanks...and prayers for you and yours.
Michelle - November 22nd, 2011 at 8:37 AM
We are 4 months after the "airport" in foster adopting our 16 year old. Thank you. You have blessed me in so many ways and put perfect words to the insanity inside me. I wish I could memorize your post to tell those who have said to us "well, you choose this". We did and we would do it again but I have never been so exhausted in all my life. "Please Be My Strength" by Gungor is played way too much. Again...thank you, thank you, thank you.
Andrea - November 22nd, 2011 at 9:23 PM
What a difficult beauty you share. Today I pray for you in your continued challenges and blessings.
Melinda Jolly - November 23rd, 2011 at 12:36 AM
Thank you for your truthfulness! It's refreshing! We adopted 2 children (2 years and 1 year) ourselves (already had 3) and I felt so alone. My neighbors acted like they hated us because we adopted special needs kids. There is no exhaustion like these kids...my youngest now is 27 and still lives with us. It's so much easier now because he's an adult (sort of...still plays with Happy Meal toys in the bathtub) but we still deal with his being mentally disabled. I just wanted you to know that there are so many of us out there who have given are all for these kids and even though it's been hard and still is, our growth in the Lord Jesus is phenominal.
E. Aucoin - November 27th, 2011 at 7:30 AM
Jen, this is a great post, and a great reminder that the community might not understand what you're going through unless you are brave enough to be honest about what you're facing. Also, I think you need one of these: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8916942/The-latest-in-Wii-technology-video-game-urinals.html

cheryl - November 29th, 2011 at 9:20 AM
I needed that today.......God bless you:)
James - November 29th, 2011 at 11:10 AM
I am sure my comment will get lost in all this, but thank you. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for writing what I wish I could write. Thank you for giving the reminder that He is always there. The Lord never fails, and He has brought many brothers and sisters into His family that support each other as we each follow His leading in emptying one more orphan bed. Thank you.
karrie - November 29th, 2011 at 1:17 PM
i have a couple of questions for you and would like to email you privately if possible. could you send me your email address? thanks, we are 10 months "After the Airport" but seem to be struggling more lately.
Bethany - November 29th, 2011 at 6:10 PM
Thank you for your honesty and perspective! I often feel exhausted and defeated... in addition to crazy because we'll probably adopt again. And of course feeling nostalgic for the simple life with two bio kids... and then guilty for thinking it. Amazing how many emotions can invade in one small hectic moment.
Donna - November 29th, 2011 at 11:26 PM
This isn't exactly the same thing and I haven't read through all the comments but Jen, your statement about the Forever Family really struck a chord with me. Our situation is the daughter-in-law our son brought into our family who's been through somewhat the same (again not exactly I don't want to imply that at all) things as the children and wasn't much past a child really when we got here, so I feel we're dealing with much the same things. I hate to say it took a while for us to see his choice as ours - again, not quite the same, since we didn't choose her and he didn't ask us first (not that as a adult he's supposed to but I'm not sure any of us realized how much we'd all be affected, that is, if we chose to allow ourselves to be out of our love first for our son because of his love for his wife) - to accept her as a forever part of our family (as opposed to as much as we've said we'd didn't believe in divorce dealing with feelings of wishing the marriage would dissolve - there - I said - is that bad? that's honest - but that's where what you say you believe meets the road of do you really, doesn't it? - of coming to realize why we had on our hands what we did and were we willing to step up to the plate for what she needed - in this case, really, parents just as if we had adopted her, because in reality she really hadn't had any and needed and wanted them so badly but just as you mentioned Jen, also so afraid she would be abandoned again - and yet, here we were, almost willing to do that to her again - but God - oh, those words - but God showed us He brought her into our lives to show her Him and that's made all the difference - this is the path He's led us down - I'm not sure He could have done it - for us - any other way - but we've embraced it and it's been amazing to see what He's doing. Thanks so much.
amy - November 30th, 2011 at 12:43 PM
absolutely totally true, my daughter is as yours and even 5 years later she has a level of anxiety you can not describe to those who have not seen it and lived it, it gets better every day but when you start in a hole a million miles down, it takes a long long time to see the light at the end!! you said what many feel-excellent post!! It is so worth the very long struggle.
Cindie B - December 1st, 2011 at 6:21 PM
We never went to the airport. Our story started with a foster home right down the street. It doesn't matter where your babies come from, they all go through the same thing. My son was 4 and had been burned, beaten and tied up and left on many occasions. He is now 12 and truly my very best friend. It's a long road from there to here, but one I wouldn't trade for anything. I have 4 biological daughters and two adopted sons and there is truly no difference in the maternal instinct. The first week with my first son was the calm before the storm the three weeks that followed I cried everyday to God to five me strength. What a blessing it is to know that God knows us better then we know ourselves. Thank you for sharing your story, I have never spoken with other adoptive parents and its reassuring to know that their are people out their who love children enough to weather the storm long enough to make up for humanities mistakes and show them true love and give them a family. I am truly in good company!!!
Donna - December 4th, 2011 at 12:27 AM
Amy, at first I thought you were talking to me, your comment seemed to fit so; until I realized I hadn't said anything about that only related it to Jen's situation but that's exactly the way I feel about our situation; even today we went through something that nobody can understand that, like you said, has not seen and lived it themselves, but it is encouraging to think that it does get better every day cause some days it sure doesn't seem like it but your description is so apt - you are starting in a hole so far down it does take a long time - that's why she wishes we'd started climbing a long time ago and so do I and I remember we tried at least as best as we knew how at the time but couldn't seem to get anywhere then and now it seems we're further down so the climb is longer; just hope I can keep her believing it's worth the struggle; right now she doesn't and wants to just give up! I know this isn't mine and I'll go wherever but I needed to respond to this comment - so thanks so much
Debbie - December 5th, 2011 at 8:00 PM
I enjoy what you say! You are a good writer. You should write a book about your experiences. God bless you!
Jerry - December 7th, 2011 at 2:39 PM
Dear Jen,
Back in May, my Mom died leaving three boys, 11, 14, and 15 for us to raise, some 11 years after our own kids grew up and moved out to college and life. I found your blog yesterday and have read your posts through tears of laughter and relief that I'm not the only one....

God love you and bless you
Lori - December 10th, 2011 at 7:35 AM
Amen, sister! I have lived those dark days you describe and come out the other side. May we all remember to be there for each other "after the airport". For us, it was with a 9 month old, and no one would believe that a 9 month old could grieve and have RAD and disassociate like she did. Everyone blamed me as her mother. It was a painful, painful time. But today, she is a lovely, happy, healthy and well adjusted child of 12. Praise God!
keri Bryant - December 16th, 2011 at 7:49 AM
AH, Jen. I have tears, tears, tears and I have not even adopted. We all have so many "after the airport" moments as parents, and days we fake a smile and say we are "fine" when we are not. This post makes me grateful I sent the flowers yesterday to 2 struggling friends/sister and will push me to do the things our Saviour would do today for my teenage daughter and to be kinder to my other 3. Please keep writing. I will be a forever reader. Just breathtaking words. You have such a gift and you are such an inspiration. Hang in there with your new son and daughter. The light will come.
love and hugs from Connecticut
Keri
Becky Brooks - January 2nd, 2012 at 3:19 PM
Beautiful! And so true!! I wish I had read that 20 years ago and realized that we our family was almost normal!
Gwynne Sullivan - January 30th, 2012 at 3:01 PM
I love your honesty, Jen.
Cheryl - February 6th, 2012 at 1:53 PM
I just found this post and have read your blog once before. We are considering adoption from Uganda in the next year and I am so glad God brought me to this today. The Fake Family is what I have been telling my husband about for the last few weeks, so I am glad I am not the only one with one of those! We cannot ignore the opportunity and challenge God may be putting before us, but I like to walk into things with my eyes as open as possible. I know a lot of it is going to be a faith walk, but I so appreciate you putting things into words and expressing my feelings. Thank you.
Nadia - February 24th, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Jen, at the encouragement of Marla Taviano, I am reading your book 7. Bought it on Kindle yesterday. As I began reading, I realized that you had also written this blog post, which I read some time ago. I cannot tell you how important these words are. We are 7 years past the airport and still dealing with so many things with our sweet girl. The adoption community doesn't talk about this and because it is somewhat verboten, so very many people find themselves in need of help, unsure who to ask and very, very lonely. Thank you for telling the truth. Thank you for saying that struggling is a part of it, that you still believe in this calling but it is not easy. So many people, myself included, NEED to hear these words. I am grateful for you.
Name - March 9th, 2012 at 11:51 AM
xxxn(JUST saw this ) :)n
Jenny - March 11th, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Thank you so much for this! Two years ago we went through this, and we're on our way to adopt again, and I get scared, thinking, "can I do it all over again?" Thanks for encouraging me!
Julie Zaragoza - March 14th, 2012 at 12:17 AM
So, true! I live in Mexico and my husband and I have 15 kids - unable to adopt because of the country's laws, but have legal guardianship and are Dad and Mom to all of them - plus our three biological kids! No "airport moments'- they have come home in all different ways, but the rest is all so wonderfully (horifically) true! And God is sooo good and He adopted me! Praise Jesus!
Jamie - March 20th, 2012 at 5:28 PM
Thank you for posting this! We are still in the pre-airport phase, but will soon be moving in to the 'life after the airport' phase with the little girl we are working on adopting from India. We are trying to read and learn everything we can now and be completely honest with ourselves about what life will/could be like. I truly appreciate your honesty openness, it is exactly what we want to read!
Tracy - April 10th, 2012 at 1:01 PM
I have been in the "life after the airport" for almost four years and I can totally relate. I will say that I do see progress daily, but bringing home an 11 yr. old - now 15 and taking drivers training has not been a light task. My husband and I have become the best of friends through it and lean on each other but always on God for understanding. I don't think anything can quite prepare parents for the task in which God has drawn them to throughout adoption. The best advice I can give to anyone is to "take it one day at a time". Because it can be overwhelming, exhausting, and I've even wanted to quit! But know that tomorrow will be another day to start again and pray, pray, pray without ceasing!! My only hope is that our son will come to the saving grace that Jesus is his ONLY savior! Yes he's endured neglect, abuse and abandonment, but we asure him everyday that he is loved and we will not send him back. Even after 4 years there is still that part of him that withholds from 100% trust. I suppose that's understandable. Our family
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Joy McClain - April 25th, 2012 at 10:31 AM
I've never seen your blog before but your honesty is such a breath of fresh air. Your description of your children's emotional fragility just breaks my heart. And the assurance that Jesus NEVER leaves us. We have 7 adopted children.
Bakker - May 15th, 2012 at 10:53 PM
I just came across your blog. Thank you for your honesty. It gave me comfort today. We just adopted twin 2 yr olds and it was so comforting to read about your 'after the airport'. I can so relate to the feelings you expressed. I was reassured that I was not insane. We have wonderful children but the days can be hard. Thank you also for the verses, I needed the reminders that God will never forsake us and is always there.
Lindsay - May 30th, 2012 at 9:03 AM
Thank you! I really needed to read this today...it's amazing to know we're not the only ones and I don't need to feel guilty!
Katie - June 1st, 2012 at 3:40 PM
I cried reading this. Adoption will be part of my story and children are undeniably central to my story, but two things really hit me hard. When you said you praised your daughter for eating a food that would help her grow, and she pushed it away... I was reminded of my dear borrowed girl A (9, but developmentally stunted due to her past), who, on her first day back with me after nearly 8 months with her biological parents, pleaded with me to french braid her hair the way I did her friend's. I did - two french braided pigtails... hard work... long work... because, you see, I am not good with hair, but I know this child loves to feel like a princess. After I was done, I said, oh, you look so pretty, and snapped some pictures. She wanted to see. She went upstairs and looked in the mirror. She came down. No braids. When I said "Sweetie, where are your braids, they were so pretty!?" She replies, face turned down, voice pouty... "I don't want to be pretty." Break my heart, sweet girl. Fortunately, since A has been in our lives for 7 years, she has built up some resiliance, and for the most part moved past the worst of the issues caused by her RAD (although there are some that I don't even remember that I'm making allowances for anymore, I'm so used to doing it).

The other one was when you mentioned someone bereaved. I lost my best friend on July 15, 2011. She was 20 years old and passed away at home, between her mom and dad, after a near six-year battle with cancer, including an amputation, an artificial leg, having 3/4 of her lungs surgically removed, infection, a stroke, a million other things. I held her hand the day before she died. I stayed all day. I didn't leave until everyone had gone to bed, but for those keeping vigil. I came back again the next day... less than an hour after she'd gone to be with Jesus. I suppose everyone expected me to be upset, that I hadn't been there when she passed, but I told them I wouldn't have wanted her to endure another moment of pain for me. Then, the first week or so, there was a funeral to plan, the showing, videos to put together, meals to make, loved ones who came out of the woodwork to give us their sympathy. Cards from friends and coworkers. That soft "How are you" - the one that everyone knows the answer that you don't actually speak - to. Then it was life as normal. Back to work. Back to living... without my best friend. I couldn't stand it. I wanted to burst sometimes as people talked about the mundane details of their lives, to say, can't you see I'm barely holding it together here? Can't you see my heart is shattered? Can't you see that I'll never be the same again, that I'm NOT okay, even when I say I am? But I didn't. Instead I sat at home and cried at night and thumbed over the bracelet I made - one for me and one for her - when her diagnosis was terminal. The other one is on her urn. I sobbed "I miss you" into thin air. And I wished someone would just reach out to me and say, I know this still hurts and that's okay, how are you? And no one did.

Thank you for posting this. I know it's months and months later, but someone linked to it on an adoption site, and it spoke to me so deeply that I had to leave a comment. Thank you for making me feel not alone today.
Kelli - July 17th, 2012 at 5:11 PM
With tears streaming down my face, please accept my appreciation for your honest words. I originally read this before my airport moment, tucking it away, knowing I would need it someday. Today is definitely an "after the airport" moment- it's only the first, and the intensity about knocked me over. Thank you for being with me, for understanding, for putting words to the emotional hurricane that is my heart. Most importantly, thanking you for reminding me that Jesus is right here with me.
Jennifer - July 19th, 2012 at 1:42 PM
I've read this post many times before, during our "waiting" period. But now that we are living the "after the airport" with our two newest children, I sit here in tears knowing that every word is more than true. Nothing can prepare a person/family for what happens once home no matter how we try but your honesty rings in my ears and reminds me that we're not the first to go through this and for sure not the last. Thank you for sharing your heart.
Allegra - July 29th, 2012 at 4:33 PM
I read your article, “After the Airport” and was stunned at how it answered the questions and anxiety I was experiencing in my own life. And no I have no adopted children and as a single Mom of 3 probably won’t. And I am not an adopted child. I am an adult woman who couldn’t believe that I could keep asking God if he was going to love me, if I could stay and belong to him forever. And as much as friends and a therapist reassured me that it was so, I could not believe them until…
I read that article and recognized that I was a child who was abused and abandoned and because of that I was still having meltdowns, testing, worrying and unbelieving that anyone, even God could love me. And I have thrown my own fits daring him to love me in the midst of them. And I have tried to do everything perfect so I could belong to someone. Your descriptions explained exactly how I have felt inside for 35 years, and honestly I had to hide it cause as an adult, it felt crazy. But as you described how much you love these kids of yours, and described their reactions, and explained that this is what happens to wounded kids, well I was comforted and I believed that maybe it is true. God wasn’t tired of me testing, and trying, and needing frequent reassurance that he won’t leave me and that he loves me; he understands the wounds in me and is not frustrated with my inability to grasp these concepts.
I printed the article out and carried it with me, reading your words and finding reassurance for my heart and healing for my wounds. You gave me an understanding that I desperately needed even though I was not your intended audience. Thank you.

Susan - October 2nd, 2012 at 3:01 PM
I love you! Thank you for your honesty and compassion...what a gift!
Kendra Schlenbaker - October 8th, 2012 at 8:59 PM
Thank you so much for being honest! This is the first time in almost 3 years since we walked out of the airport with our 2 "new" kids from Haiti that I have felt like I am not the most horrible mother of all ages for having "bad" moments. Plastering that smile on your face and saying "we're GREAT!" I have made the decision to use my sense of humor openly and start being honest...thank you for freeing me. It's good to know it's allowed!:) Our councelor gave me your blog...I'll tell her this wednesday how much I'm indebted already. God Bless
Mary Beth Lopez - January 29th, 2013 at 2:42 PM
I have 5 children (one in heaven) 23 year old son, 21 year old daughter, and two 9 year old twin boys. I also babysit my granddaughter who is almost 2. I just lost my beloved Daddy to cancer after a horribly painful, but brief fight of 6 months. 6 months after a life of taking care of himself, not drinking or smoking, being healthy and strong and our family's center... It still takes my breath away how quickly our lives have changed. Your article was wonderful, awful, inspiring, heartbreaking and I loved it so much! I am comforted that I am not the only one in chaos (as bad as that sounds). Not that I want anyone to suffer, but I feel so often like I'm the only one, the only "Mom who loses it", who needs time away from my beloved children who I prayed to God for, just some "me" time. Strong prayers for you and God bless you on your journey!
Jennifer Allwood - February 27th, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Love this. We are trying, so so soooooooo trying to adopt. 3 wonderful bios, we tried domestic newborn route and decided after 1.5 years we really didn't want a newborn (at 41 I just don't want to go back to diapers). So we have been trying to adopt from the very,very broken foster care system. We are getting no where here either as the system wants us to foster only. **sigh** I will have my own blog post on that one. We have always felt called to the states....but it just seem like going international has less red tape. After 2.5 years....I am so over the wait. Bless you and your family on your journey. I felt Jesus all through your post.....and people need to read that. Blessings, Jennifer
Kelly - March 9th, 2013 at 6:28 PM
Thank you! We planned to adopt from foster care, and instead ended up with a complicated 18 month fostering journey. Most of the time, once they came home, I just wanted them to leave again & stop interrupting my life. I think we were just in the 'after the airport' stage, but never moved on to the forever phase. Thank you!
Early - March 15th, 2013 at 8:57 AM
We are in the midst of it "before the airport" and terribly missing our 3 elementary age boys at home. We've been here 9 days and I have 5 weeks and 1 day to go, but who's counting? ME! The pain of missing our children was so overwhelming earlier this week that I thought I would pack up at night and leave. Of course I didn't, but I sure as heck wanted to. I've been praying to be able to go home, if only for a few days, then return. If not, I'm praying that the Holy Spirit will go into overdrive and transform my emotions to want to stay and care for this toddler and bring her home. This morning when I woke, I felt better and haven't cried yet today--but I've been close. I guess I got my answer and the Holy Spirit is working overtime! My husband has been the rock, but he will leave for home in 2 weeks, while I remain. That will be a tough day. Thank you for your honesty!
Jess Harvey - April 3rd, 2013 at 7:53 AM
Just read this today after I posted the following comment on my FB: "it just bugs me a little because you see all the happy happy sometimes, and then you feel like you're doing something wrong because it's not all roses and Steven Curtis Chapman song" and a friend sent me the link to your post. I just wrote my own nitty-gritty-here-it-is-lik-it-or-not post here http://this320life.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-nitty-gritty.html am so refreshed to see I'm not alone. Thank you.

Jess
Laura - April 5th, 2013 at 12:54 PM
I've been home with our Ukrainian daughter for 8 weeks now. I can relate to some of the things in your post (not the uncircumcised part time of the story of course)and appreciate your honesty. I have 3 bio children so I'm now at 4 kids and, at times, feel completely overwhelemed with demands post adoption life brings. For some reason, going to 4 is way harder than going to two or three. My two best friends have moved so I can feel pretty lonely when I'm in such a needy state. Its encouraging to be read these posts. The Lord is using your writing to he'll and encourage others. Thank you! Here is my adoption blog if you ever want to see my little girl. God Bless you!

goingon4.wordpress.com
Laura
Kristin Ferguson - April 25th, 2013 at 2:45 PM
We have been home almost 3 yrs. now from Ukraine with our now 5yr. old daughter who just happens to rock that extra chromosome. This post resonates so deeply within me it's not even funny. Just a few weeks ago, I had one of those moments where the little one was in bed and the 3 originals were watching a hockey game with us and I had to take every thought captive not to wish things back to the way they were. We already have a bio daughter with Down syndrome so we thought, "Hey, we can do this x2...what the heck!" But, Nadia's institutional behaviors as well as her global delays have me feeling at times like the day I brought my first newborn home from the hospital! Ack! Anyway, I too have seen God's amazing steadfastness in my life when I've been ready to bolt from anything that smacks of 'hard' and it's great to read posts like this as reminders to the reality of the 'hard' but the truth that we have a Saviour who has been there done that and is willing to lead me (ok drag sometimes) down that path. Oh! And I'm so excited! I just finished reading "7" and I bought a bunch of tickets to your conference here in Raleigh so I can force (ahem, lead) others to see why I find you so inspiring! God is using you to stir many hearts...and one of them is here in Raleigh, NC! Woo hoo!
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Courtney - May 31st, 2013 at 3:55 PM
Blessed to read this blog today. My son's therapist (a true blessing) shared it with me after we were talking about your end-of-the-school-year blog. We are nearly 4 years "after the airport" and still daily asking "what are we doing". Worse yet, we have yet to find a community to support us, so on the day I locked myself in the bathroom covered in my blood and pee of my son, everyone was "too busy" to come help. In the week we had our son in an inpatient psych. unit, the only help I got was 2 families to help with childcare for our other son. There have been tears and anger and frustration as we watch a child struggle the minefield of PTSD without significant progress. The reality is that mental illness carries such a stigma that even the church is often hesitant to touch it. So, here, 4 years after adopting our 2 sons from Ethiopia, my husband and I have become an island unto ourselves because we too are now too broken for others to want to be in relationship with. It isn't a healthy place to be, but it is what it is. Hopefully we emerge from the other side and even more, we hope to raise 2 boys that can actually be part of a family without fighting it every waking second.
sarah - October 3rd, 2013 at 7:35 PM
3 months home, with a 14 month old cleft lip and palate baby. i'm dying inside. hardest spot i've ever been in my ENTIRE life. thankful for your words tonight. read this post a year and a half ago while we were in "waiting" mode and it definitely resonated, but the words ring so true today. this is hard. i have realized through this what an ugly, sinful heart i have. thank you for making me feel normal tonight.
Char - January 8th, 2014 at 9:10 PM
Thank you so much for this. I've told people there were days after my sons adoption that I thought "I've ruined our family" because I worked so hard to get him home and he was all the things you've talked about. Six years later, I still pray for his complete healing, but IT GETS BETTER!!! God is always faithful, and although my son still pulls away when I try to kiss him and won't look me in the eye for more than 2 seconds at a time, he his south more than he was. And god isn't finished with is yet.
Now, we have moved to Australia from the US JUST 3 months ago. I'm feeling some of the same things you spoke of, but I know there is a plan bigger than I, so I look forward to what's in store.
Praying for you.
Gayle - January 8th, 2014 at 9:21 PM
In November 2007 a couple days before Thanksgiving I got a call at work from a Social Worker informing that there was a 6 week little boy that was available for adoption and she asked if I could pick him up right now! I left the house a wife and came home a Mom! It was of course, not unlike a warranty on a car, after the adoption was final we found out that he had been born with cocaine in his system, under the autism umbrella. Not that it mattered because I was madly in love with him the very first second I saw him. But it would have been nice to have an idea of what to expect. Like, the sleeplessness I would be in the recliner rocking and singing to him until 3:00 a.m. put him into his bed and 2 hours after I put my head down he was up crying for me again. At 8 months we finally started to get into a groove he was sleeping better, most of the time, and I was able to walk out of the room without him freaking out (the bathroom). And then, the Social Worker tells us that his bio-mom was pregnant having a girl and she is due in February and is adoptable as well. We picked our daughter up in January when she was 2 days old from the prison hospital. She too had been exposed to crack but since the biomom was in prison she was forced to receive pre-natal care.

I have always always want to have 2 kids a boy and a girl and I wanted my son to be a big brother. I was given just what I prayed and cried for so long. Good things come to those that wait on the Lord and be of good courage. I prayed, cried and waited and waited for them and at 40 years old I became a first time parent and at 41 I became a Mother of two! Oh and s/n we tried to get pregnant for 10 years and almost 9 months to the date of my hysterectomy I became a Mom.

Like I said earlier my son and I had finally gotten in a grove I was able to manage his night terrors, temper tantrums...and then came my new born daughter. And the groove was gone and I was back to having sleepless nights. I needed sleep and I missed my old friend and for a while I blamed the new addition for my exhaustion. That blame of course lead to guilt, I can I be complaining when God gave me exactly what I had been praying and believing for for so long? Don't get me wrong I fell in love with her the first time I saw her to and I was happy that our little family was complete but I was dog dead tired. I quit my job because my son got RSV in daycare and became a Stay @ Home Mom. Being a stay at home is something different I know idea what I was walking into.

I too have had to fake it till I make it and just today sitting at the dinner table I was in awe of God's goodness and I listen to my two "speech in-pared" children say grace and talk about the best part of their day. I must say that 4 & 6 is much much better and easier then 1&2 and 3&4 and I'm really excited about ages 5&6 and the ages to come.
Lisa Larsen - January 8th, 2014 at 9:27 PM
Thank you for your very candid description of what the real life of an adoptive mom is like. We chose to adopt through the foster care system. My husband and I knew that our baby was coming with some very concerning needs. Never in my widest dreams did I imagine what our life would become. Most people do not understand how difficult our life is. Reading your blog makes me feel like I'm not alone.

Wishing you all the best,
Lisa Lisa
Kriss - January 8th, 2014 at 9:51 PM
As my husband and I embark on the adoption process to bring a sweet soul home from Democratic Republic of Congo, this blog post that you "re-posted" has found me amazed as God's timing is absolutely perfect once again! I needed to hear this as the fears were creeping in and overwhelming me a bit. This post of course still scared me...but there is real comfort in the truth however.

I know our God is greater and stronger than any fear or anxiety that we feel. That is why we keep pushing forward when everyone else thinks we are crazy!

Real growth happens when you get very uncomfortable and very uncomfortable is exactly what we are. But along with that discomfort is an incredible sense of wholeness and peace. We want to love another child, we want to parent another child and we want to introduce God to another child!

God's got this!!

I love your books, your posts and you!




Samantha - January 8th, 2014 at 10:42 PM
Thank you for being so honest, you have given a very real glimpse into the early and sometimes sadly continuing role we adoptive parents have in lovingly parenting our kids- so amazing and wonderful yet so very fragile at the same time. It isn't easy, not ever, not for a single day but we knew that going in, each experience is different for us. I have honestly found every time I come to a point where I struggle, God and good solid social work takes me to the next level. My kids are doing brilliantly 5 years after the airport, I have to keep on top of the insecurities, bonding/attachment, food issues, meltdowns daily don't get me wrong but I am feeling that I am almost at the stress level of a regular birth Moms with "kid stuff". But I will say we worked at it and worked at it every minute for every day for 5 years to get here and as horrid as it can be as exhausting and confusing my kids are amazing, outstanding at school, standout in social activities and loved by all that know them. As my social worked said, we hit the jackpot twice!
Leslie - January 8th, 2014 at 10:46 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are a month "after the airport" and the encouragement you express in this blog was just what I needed. It is so hard to explain yet you just want someone, anyone to know what you're truly feeling.
Christe - January 8th, 2014 at 10:59 PM
Thank you for sharing your story. Each adoption journey is unique but there seems to be a thread that is similar no matter where your find your child (or when they find you...which is more our situation!) We all have to know that God has planned these additions to our families and He alone will be our strength while we paddle through the storms. I am so thankful that God is healing each of our little ones in his time.


Lynette - January 8th, 2014 at 11:00 PM
Thanks Jen! What you wrote was encouraging to my husband and I. You didn't mince words, but said what many of us who have adopted feel; have and continue to go thru. Only God knows the outcome or what lies down the road, but since He is the one who led us to it, comforts us while we're in it, we can trust that He will lead us thru it. Thanks again! We will continue to love our kids (our 2 bios & 3 adopted from Haiti almost 8 yrs. ago); even when it is tough!
Peter - January 8th, 2014 at 11:30 PM
Wow! I felt like I was in your house. Thank you for sharing.
DebbieL - January 8th, 2014 at 11:45 PM
Thank you for your honestly. I am a single Mom doing after the airport for 18 months and it is rough. I read a ton of books on adoption before and after and nothing prepared me for the shock. Blogs like yours and articles like the one I would like to share below are better than 10 books put together. Bless you.

http://www.adoptionarticlesdirectory.com/ArticlesUser/articles_view.php?editid1=Difficulties with socialization and peer interaction in older internationally adopted children
Alison - January 9th, 2014 at 12:01 AM
Wow. I don't have adopted children, but I am living an "after the airport" phase that keeps getting extended. I can exactly relate to the "false" reports, the sense of being forgotten, etc. Both of my life changing events happened in December. The first was the absolute shock of losing my husband in 2012, days before our 25th anniversary. The 2nd was planned surgery in 2013 to repair my right rotator cuff, two ruptured tendons after a fall, 6 months to the day after losing my husband. The loss of my husband capped a year riddle with loss...our family dog in Jan, my husbands maternal grandmother in Apr, my father in Jul, followed my open heart surgery for my Mom in Nov, just over 3 weeks before losing my husband.

My church and work (I work at a Christian institution)...both have been great in the immediate aftermath. But you are SO right about the way "How are you doing" is answered. Telling the truth just doesn't happen...you don't want to reveal the deep, dark truth that you weep in the shower for a break from it all, just a few quit moments. You don't say you are having to actually talk yourself into taking the next step, to start your day, knowing what is ahead for you. We smile and give a positive response because we know they don't want the truth.

But knowing that there are others out there who "get" that is encouraging. I have come to accept that hearing about my truth at Christmas is nit what they want to hear. But God gets it, He can take it, and He does want to hear the truth...always. Whether I'm weeping in the shower because I'm finally able to bathe myself (even if it is one handed), begging to regain full use on my dominate arm (despite the doctor's poor prognosis). Or whether it's sitting in my recliner/bed, hesitant to ask my daughter for help once again. God always wants to hear my truths in my extended "after the airport" phase".
A mom - January 9th, 2014 at 12:48 AM
"Uncircumcised tee tee goes sideways onto walls" WTF? Are you serious? No, INTACT penises do not pee sideways. I think it's lovely you adopted children. I also think it's lovely your adopted children never had part of their genitals cut off. And speaking about his whole intact body in that manner is disrespectful and incorrect to boot. Just, wow on that bit of ignorance.
Another mom - January 9th, 2014 at 1:30 PM
A million times this. Thank you. Did you know that over 70% of the world does not circumcise and those that do are mainly for religious reasons (Jewish or Muslim)? The US is pretty much the ONLY developed nation in the world that routinely circumcises. I'm really tired of hearing how "gross" intact penises are from Americans just because that happens to be what they are used to seeing. And no, they do not "tee tee" sideways. Grow up.
Elizabeth - January 11th, 2014 at 12:08 PM
There is actually a medical reason that a boys urine would go sideways when he pees, whether he is circumcised or not. It's called hyspodais and my son was diagnosed with this at birth. It's a mild defect but essentially means that the opening of the urethra is not at the very top of the penis as it should be but off center ,therefore causing the urine to have an uncontrollable stream that is not straight. It's repairable with surgery. Often they use the foreskin in the repair of this therefore the boy does end up circumcised in some cases. We did have it repaired. Anyway, maybe way too much info but just thought I'd share that this CAN happen :) but has nothing do with being circumcised or not!
Sam - January 21st, 2014 at 11:13 AM
Please don't use this site as a bandwagon for your views on circumcision. (The same goes for the next commenter's remarks.) The point the writer made wasn't a statement that was pro or con regarding circumcision, It was a comment about one of the struggles in her days--mopping up urine that had gone all over the walls because something in her son's genital construction caused that to happen. The entire original post speaks eloquently of tremendous suffering and you choose to be one of those people who makes the suffering worse with your nasty, uninformed comments? Uninformed because, no matter what you may know about circumcision or child abuse in other parts of the world, you know nothing about THIS child's genitalia or what problems he might have. My grandson had a problem with "urine direction" due to an abnormality and needed corrective surgery to remedy the situation; the surgery used his foreskin to do the repair which effectively circumcised him. I have no doubt that you would be someone who would rush to judgment if you saw such a repair and you wouldn't hesitate to criticize his "circumcision" even if you were completely ignorant about the circumstances. Please--if you can't keep yourself from being cruel, critical, self-righteous and arrogant, stay off this site.
Cassie Lyon - January 9th, 2014 at 6:12 AM
I can tell you'll how thankful I am for this post. My husband & I have felt picked on, we have had social services called on us etc because of our sons disability and people not understanding us or him. We often feel really alone and no one gets that. Thank you for the encouragement
Donna Warner - January 9th, 2014 at 8:39 AM
Thank you, thank you, a million times THANK YOU! We are 14 months into our "after the airport" day having adopted two boys (ages 11 & 12) from a Ukrainian orphanage. Now we find ourselves, with 4 other children at home, trying to parent 2 teenage boys that have no concept of love, family, parents, security, compassion, stability, nothing that the rest of us even realized that we had "learned" automatically on our own life journeys of growing up. Really, I don't remember having to learn these things and now I am called by God to teach them. Interesting that you used the phrase "new normal". That is EXACTLY what I tell people that occasionally ask how things are going. "Just trying to find our new normal", I say with my best smile. And yes! We are hunkered down! Very little of our former life remains, particularly time out with friends. Or even phone calls with friends for that matter. I have even had one friend leave me a message on my VM saying, "I guess your mad at me or something and we are just no longer friends". I cried for an hour but didn't even have the strength to call her and explain. I've missed people's birthday, have undelivered Christmas presents sitting under the tree that is still standing in my living room and undelivered Christmas cards still laying on the table. I feel incredibally guilted by the phrase, "the smallest deed is better than the greatest intentions." I have a LOT of intentions laying around. A constant reminder of just how desperate my situation has become. And, like you, I would do it all again! I'm teaching these boys what love is but God is using them to teach me so much more! We are learning about REAL love. A "love you so much it hurts" love. The kind of love the Bible speaks of and I never understood. It's about UNCONDITIONAL love. It's one of the hardest lessons of my life but we ARE making progress! It's baby steps but it's baby steps in the right direction. Thank you for sharing! Thank you for your honest heart. Thank you for your perseverance with your adopted children. Thank you for letting me know I'm not in this vacuum alone.
shellie - January 9th, 2014 at 9:36 AM
This I needed. I gave birth to our first child on 12/19. He is healthy and precious and beautiful and we are head over heels BUT. It is hard. I am tired and weary and questioning and Googling every move I make as a mommy. We're getting the hang of things, but when a friend sends me a message asking how I'm doing and isn't motherhood delicious I lie a little because I haven't gotten to the delicious part yet. And I shouldn't feel guilty saying that, but I do. So it's nice to know that, while you and I are in different phases of parenthood, I am not alone or crazy in my thoughts and questionable hygiene. So thank you! I shall warrior on :)
Cathrine Troy - January 9th, 2014 at 10:43 AM
May I use this for our adoption training? As if so do you have a printable version.
Lisa - January 9th, 2014 at 11:48 AM
I read this with tears. I and our son (adopted from China soon to be 7 years ago) are waiting until 2 for a new psychiatrist appointment. Therapy, meds, IEP, BP, and a whole host of other initials follow. People don't understand that I am tired. Invested, on my knees in prayer, working for and waiting on a miracle. I would love to say we got support from folks but we don't. He scares away people-and they allow it. I am tired of explaining, asking for forgiveness for missing things. Our son is no longer the cute little 4 year old boy we brought home. Everyone has got opinions (mind you none who offer this advice have adopted or offer to help) yet no one has answers. Finally, someone who understands! Thank you for this! I don't feel so abandoned.
Mom x 5 - January 9th, 2014 at 12:25 PM
Wow! As a mom totally in the weeds with 5 children (3 homegrown and 2 hand picked), this is where I am. The crying, the poop smeared by the 3 year-old, the pee pee pants from the 6 year-old, the change in 2 of my home growns since the new ones arrived is more than I can handle some days. I know God has called these two into our family, so I know that it is only by HIS grace, that we can make it through the tough times. Thank you for this today.
April Bowen - January 9th, 2014 at 1:36 PM
I had no idea what this article my friend posted on Facebook would be about, but couldn't resist the adorable picture of Ben in his football gear being read to by Daddy. So glad I clicked on it! I am a homeopath, and so many days I hear different versions of "after the airport" (Though usually I'm getting the sobbing, exhausted, heartbreakingly honest version). I know this article was written a number of years ago and I hope that your new normal has become slightly less chaotic and difficult. But, if not-after all, you'll soon have teenagers-please consider finding an experienced Homeopath. Constitutional homeopathy can make a day and night difference for everyone in the family. Homeopathy works extremely well for PTSD, behavioral problems, can even help with the feelings of abandonment. It will change things on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. I often tell people this, but rarely do they believe me. It's not until later, after treatment, that they sit there marveling, almost in disbelief, how things have dramatically changed for them, more than they could have ever imagined.


Leah - January 9th, 2014 at 3:23 PM
Reading this and sobbing while holed up in the kitchen spooning icing into my mouth...we are foster parents and the last two weeks with our new daughter have been hard...we're not adopting her, she goes back to her dad in a few months...but we are the fourth home, including the bio pare rd, she has seen in a year. And I am tired. I needed this encouragement. Thank you.

Debra Owen - January 9th, 2014 at 3:51 PM
oh dear family--so powerful and touching the depth of the heart and soul your story is. We have friends that went through (still going through?) very, very similar life. Unfortunately there were too many negative voices,angry voices, condemning voices that spoke into their lives. My friend spoke like you and got so slammed (sisters in Christ) and it was deeply painful on top of everything going on in their family.
But GOD is faithful and they hung in and have worked and prayed and got help and moved all to give them foundation and hope. Bless all of you who obey and yield and surrender in and through it all. Comfort .
Yvonne - January 9th, 2014 at 5:12 PM
This is my life. It's so difficult for others to understand what is happening in our home but your writing is a wonderful thing I can share. I wish I could say that my other children weren't damaged or hurt by the drama within our house but that would not be truthful. We have lost so much but in the end God cleaned away much excess that we didn't need. I would not trade my experience as a mother but I often feel broken and alone. Once again thank you for voicing who my family is.
Dawn @ The Momma Knows - January 9th, 2014 at 7:59 PM
We did foster care for 9 years, and were the first placement for so many of those damaged little ones. I feel you. It is HARD. We got to keep two, undamaged (besides prenatal drug exposure) and we are blessed... but it is still work.

I do have a suggestion for the pee issue, as one of ours had an extra small urethra and would pee STRAIGHT UP and hit the wall behind the toilet.... pottyshield.net. I don't remember how I found this wonderful thing but it saved me a LOT of cleaning. I still have ours although we no longer need it. It may come in handy for grandkids. :) I think it was around $30 but money well spent. God bless.
Mom of one - January 11th, 2014 at 11:15 PM
We adopted a baby girl 8 years ago. Her birth mother used street amphetamines during pregnancy but was not addicted. Our daughter didn't have any withdrawal symptoms as a newborn but the damage had been done. At two years old all hell broke loose for almost 6 years. The behavior issues due to the exposure to drugs during pregnancy and challenges were so difficult that I didn't think we would live through them or stay married. My husband stayed when most would have left. When we took our daughter to the chief neurologist at a children's hospital he told us that what we were seeing was consistent with exposure to drugs during pregnancy. We just came through our best holiday season in 7 years. It is never perfect and most of the time it is always challenging. Recently God gave us some of those special moments that you always want as a parent and I treasure them more than most would know or understand.

I could never home school either and I teach! :) And my daughter has so benefited from godly teachers in her life. And I have needed a mental break from the daily challenges that I face.

Thank you for writing this article. This is my life too. A dear friend posted it on Facebook and wanted me to read it.
Jeremy Green - January 20th, 2014 at 9:59 AM
My wife wrote a post on our blog several days ago while I was gone for a week at a business meeting. (Here's a link: http://www.abeautifulroad.com/2014/01/we-can-relate.html) I read it during a break in the meeting and of course started weeping there and had to compose myself as my co-workers came back, probably wondering what the heck was wrong with me:) Thank you for this. Your description is is so perfect. And while I was moved incredibly as I related it to our own life, I was also inspired to look for others who are living After the Airport and whom I might be able to help. Thank you!!!
Lisa - January 21st, 2014 at 11:27 PM
Thank you! Love this article. We have not adopted, nor do we plan to. But instead, I needed to hear this as a stay-at-home mom with two originals. Appreciate your words and honesty. I feel like I can be honest with myself hearing your words.
Mary - February 17th, 2014 at 7:48 AM
Thank you! For such a reminder. You get it. And you can express it better than I. We have 7 bio treasures and 2 adopted treasures. Even after 2 1/2 yrs home, we are still dealing with issues, behaviors, attachment. I have come so close to giving up, I've gone thru every avenue in my head. But the only one I ever come back to is forever. We made a commitment. To them, to our bio treasures, to our God. Forever. Most of my friends don't understand. How can they. Unless you have been thru it, or live with it. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone. My husband is an awesome man/father/partner in this parenting thing. He helps to keep me afloat when I have down times. We are very close to adopting another treasure. Our eyes are wide open and I'm still a little nervous of what is to come. Am I up to the task that God has called us to? Can I be patient enough, calm enough, understanding enough? Sometimes I don't think so. Other times yes. I thank God for His strength that gets us thru all the time, even when we feel spent. Thank you for sharing the truth about adoption and any "after the airport" times in all of our lives. Helping other people can be such good medicine. :) Thanks again.
Laura - March 28th, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Please hear this in the voice I'm saying it: Thank you. I am the weary one who prayed just this morning for graciousness towards everyone around me who I feel has forgotten me, who fails to come along side us even after we were there for them in their struggle, when I feel like screaming "don't you see how much I need you? Fine, I don't need you anyway!" . Isolation has been my home lately and today I needed to know that someone understood. Our adopted 2 yr old and bio 7 m. Old entered our home just two months apart this past summer and, even though my husband did 4 combat tours throughout his 9 yrs in the Marine Corps, we've never known a war like this. With a 7 & 5 yr old (already 'healthy & stable' as you put it), homeschooling, church body ministries, husband in school, household duties, and trying to be present for each of their little souls, I am barely keeping my head above water most days. Thank you for being honest. And for following Jesus down this oh so messy path. I am so thankful for sisters and brothers with us on the journey.
Pat - April 17th, 2014 at 2:09 PM
This is certainly an honest story about what has happened since the airport in your life. It helps us so much in understanding what our son and daughter-in law are now going through since adopting two African boys in November of 2013. I know that these boys will not remain broken and that our son and daughter-in-law will not remain exhausted forever. They all have the love of our Lord and he will continue to help them in their journey. Thanks so much for sharing your story and for being so honest. You have certainly helped us better understand what these children are experiencing. You and your family will also be in our thoughts and prayers.
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