The Truth About Adoption: One Year Later
by Jen Hatmaker on August 21st, 2012

Yesterday, we got up at the crack of 8:30 (farewell Summer Sleep Schedule, parting is such sweet sorrow), threw dirty clothes into hampers behind closed doors, yanked our bedspreads up, wiped the crumbs off the kitchen counters, and made sure everyone was wearing mostly clean clothes.

This was as much as we prepared for our social worker’s final 12-month visit.

12 month visit.

Our kids have been in our family for one year.
I get asked all the time: “What is adoption really like?” Well, sit down, my curious friends, because I’m going to walk you through the first year of adoption with absolutely no only a moderate amount of hyperbole.

Of course, our story is not everyone’s story – we adopted unrelated, older kids from Ethiopia with no major health issues, and we already had three bios at home. This might look very different with babies or foster kids or domestic adoptions or kids from other countries or kids with severe physical needs or families with no other kiddos. But some stages will be identical, no matter. Adopters, if you are in the waiting part (WE HATE YOU, WAITING PART), or the early days, or the later days, or maybe you’ve got an adoption itch you can’t shake, let me share the fairly common stages to expect:

Pre-Stage: Waiting for Your Kiddo

I just want to touch on this stage, as it bears virtually no resemblance to every single phase that follows. This is the hungry, manic process of paperwork, dossiers, referrals, court dates, in-country travel, Embassy appointments, and deferred hope. Maybe 5% of my adoption friends sailed through this stage. For the other 95% of us, expect delays, frustrations, snags, unforeseen interruptions, bottlenecks, slow-downs, obstructions, and an obliterated “timeline.” (Dear People Who Give Us Timelines, please stop doing that.)

Here is the upside: This is the stage you realize God can put a vicious fight in you for a kid without your blood coursing through his veins. Those early doubts about loving a child without the helpful instincts of biology are put to rest. Of course, you don’t know this kid yet, but you love him in your heart, in your bones. You’ll fight like hell to get to him. You can’t think of anything else. You are obsessed. You dream about him like you did when you were pregnant. You realize that when God said He sets the lonely in families, He meant it, and He doesn’t just transform the “lonely” but also the “families.” He changes us for one another. God can create a family across countries, beyond genetics, through impossible circumstances, and past reason.

Stage 1: The First 4-6 Weeks (Honeymoon)

She is home. You can’t believe it. It’s been 18 months or two or three-and-a-half years since you started this process, and here she is, sitting at your dining room table. Look at her sitting at the table! Look at her eating eggs! Look at her in her pajamas! Your bio kids are treating her like a pet. All outside life has stopped. People are dropping food off on your porch. You are in lockdown, circling the wagons around your treasured one and spending more time with your kids than you have in the last three years combined.

This is Fake Life, and everyone is smiling. Your bios are more helpful than they will ever be again ever, and it’s like you are at Weird Family Camp. Nothing is normal. Everything is fragile and bizarre and unfamiliar. Your new one appears compliant and easy-going and obedient, and dear ones, this is because she is about to have the Most Epic Freak Out in the History of Life.

For her, this is like the part of the sleepover when you just get there, and the games and toys are awesome…but then all of a sudden it’s bedtime, and you’re like: wait a minute. This is not my bed. That is not my mom. This is not my space. Good feelings are gone.

Stage 2: Spaz Out (4-6 Weeks – 3-4 Months)

Who knows what the straw on the camel’s back will be – maybe one more food he hates, maybe one final conversation he can’t decode, a moment of discipline, just a smell might trigger it – but something will happen, and your little one will finally lose it. Honeymoon is over. Once the damn has broken, it will flood for months.

There is screaming, kicking, hysterical hysterics. There is wailing and tantrums and full-out meltdowns. You may chase your beefy 8-year-old down the street where he ran screaming barefoot into traffic, throw him over your shoulder and lug him back home where the two of you hunker down for the next two hours, drenched in sweat, while you hold him tight and whisper love into his ears and he thrashes and yells and finally passes out. It is so helpful that your husband is out of town on this day.

Your sweet one is grieving. This is sorrow and loss and fear and trauma; it is visceral. It is devastating. You and your spouse are haunted, unshowered, unhinged, unmoored. You stare into each other’s eyes, begging the other one to fix this: What have we done? What are we doing? What are we going to do?

The house is a disaster. Your bios are huddled up in the corner, begging grandparents to come rescue them. You can’t talk to anyone. Everyone is still beaming at you, asking: “Isn’t this the best thing?? Is this just the happiest time of your life?” You are starving for truth-tellers in adoption. You scour blogs and Yahoo groups, desperate for one morsel of truth, one brave person to say how hard this in and give you a shred of hope. You only find adorable pictures and cute stories, and you despair. You feel so alone. You’ve ruined your life. You’ve ruined your kids’ lives. Your marriage is doomed. Your adopted child hates you. You want to go back to that person pining away in the Pre-Stage and punch her in the liver.

Stage 3: Triage (4 Months – 8 Months)

Somewhere around the 4th or 5th month, you realize the fits are under ten minutes and only happening every fourth day. This alone is reason to live. You’re out of the weeds. Your little one has been pulled from the burning building and subsequent terror and spaz-o-rama, and she is now in triage. You are definitely not out of the woods – the assessments, the precision surgery, the rehab is still to come – but she is out of immediate danger and stabilizing.

Evidence of her preciousness keeps peeking out. You see her real self more and more frequently. She is feeling a teeny bit safer, just beginning to trust your love. Some of those tricks Dr. Purvis taught us are working. (Except for those bitterly frustrating “scenarios” in The Connected Child when the kid follows the script to a tee, auto-corrects immediately, and goes back to playing blocks, nodding his head like, “Lesson learned, Mom. You do indeed know best.”)

As for you, you’re coming out of the fog. You start returning phone calls. You brave a Date Night. You look at your bio kids and ask, “Oh, hi there. So how have you been the last seven months?” Maybe your new role as Trauma Counselor won’t be permanent after all. You color your two inches of gray and get a haircut. You step on the scale and realize you’ve either lost or gained ten pounds from stress. Okay, it’s gained. I’m just trying to give you hope.

Stage 4: Rehab (8-12 Months)

The meltdowns are over. You wave praise banners and start speaking in tongues over this. Your new son is telling jokes in English. He is reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid by himself. He is a soccer phenom. You start grooming him for the Olympics. (No you don’t.) (Yes I do.)

You start dealing. You engage Life Books and play therapy and creative ways to honor his birth parents and birth country. You get serious about addressing his brooding and manipulations or whatever coping skills he’s trotting out. He is giving you more amazing reasons to praise him, and you’re no longer resorting to things like, “Um, I really like the way you buckle your seatbelt. You, uh, click that thing right in place every time. Totally nail it.”

While typing this very blog, I was serenaded with happy "music."
This is only slightly better than Stage 2.

You remember how your dear social worker told you on your 3-month visit, as she looked into your bloodshot eyes and you burst into tears, that attachment takes time…for everyone. Adoption is not the normal way, biology is, which helps us love that screaming, no-sleeping baby just madly, irrationally. But in adoption, it takes everyone time to fall in love.

And that’s okay.

So in those first few stages, you might feel like you are raising someone else’s hysterical kid. You might be chockfull of resentment, anger, disappointment, and regret. Love may feel elusive, even impossible for awhile. You might wonder if God called you to something then left you.

Normal, dear ones. So very normal. You are not a terrible person, nor is your new son or daughter a lemon. There is so much hope for everyone.

I read this paragraph by Melissa Fay Greene on the first year of adoption, and I’ve never forgotten it:

"Put Feelings on a back-burner. This is not the time for Feelings. If you could express your feelings right now, you’d be saying things like, “Oh my God, I must have lost my mind to think that I can handle this, to think that I wanted a child like this. I’ll never manage to raise this child; I’m way way way way over my head. I’ll never spend time with my spouse or friends again; my older children are going to waste away in profound neglect; my career is finished. I am completely and utterly trapped.” You see? What’s the point of expressing all that right now? Put Feelings in the deep freeze. Live a material life instead: wake, dress, eat, walk. Let your hands and words mother the new child, don’t pause to look back, to reflect, or to experience emotions. “Shut up, Emotions,” you’ll say. “I’ll check back with you in six months to see if you’ve pulled yourselves together. But no whining meanwhile!”

Here is the good news: eventually, you can pull Feelings from the deep freeze, and you’ll discover surges of genuine love sneaking up on you for this kid. You’ll find out: Oh! He’s funny! She’s sassy! He’s good at science! She is compassionate! I had no idea! You’ve mothered with your hands and words, and God did the heavy lifting, just like He promised. You don’t have to be a miracle worker; that has always been God’s territory. You just have to be the ordinary disciple who says yes.

Is adoption easy? No it is not. Is this simple? Nope. Complicated and long-term. Will bonding be immediate and seamless? Maybe, but probably not. Will you struggle with guilt and fear that first year? Yes, but you shouldn’t. You’ve agreed to partner with God in some difficult, heart-wrenching work, and it’s no kum-by-yah party. Give grace to yourself; God already has.

Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting through, and adoption is one of them. I can hardly think of something closer to God’s character, who is the “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy.” Certainly, we are his difficult children who spaz out and pull away and manipulate and struggle. We distrust His good love and sabotage our blessings, imagining our shame disqualifies us or that God couldn’t possibly be faithful to such orphans.

But He is. We are loved with an everlasting love, and it is enough to overwhelm our own fear and shame and humanity. In adoption, God is enough for us all. He can overcome our children’s grief. He can overshadow our own inadequacies. He can sweep up our families in a beautiful story of redemption and hope and healing. If you are afraid of adoption, trying to stiff-arm the call, God is the courage you don’t have. If you are waiting, suffering with longing for your child, God is the determination you need. If you are in the early days of chaos, God is the peace you and your child hunger for. If your family feels lost, He is the stability everyone is looking for. If you are working hard on healing, digging deep with your child, God is every ounce of the hope and restoration and safety and grace.

In Him, you can do this.

He is enough for us all.

Where are you in adoption, and how has God shown Himself to be enough? Our stories give each other hope and courage. Thank you for being truth-tellers for one another.

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Sarah B - August 21st, 2012 at 2:51 PM
I loved this post. Even though we've never adopted, it helps to see how it really is so we can try to help and support those who have. Thank you.
Barbie - August 21st, 2012 at 9:36 PM
Thank you for a picture into the future. After two years, they are officially mine in Haiti. Preparing the I600 and truly panicking. God called me and now they are almost here and I'm asking Him seriously how did He think a single woman at 52 could handle three teenagers, 16, 14 and 11? Praying for strength to do all that is ahead.....for finances to fix the 21 teeth that my son Daniel needs to have fixed, for better education options than my city provides, for peace when there are communication challenges. Reminders that God will provide are needed more than anything. And I trust Him, just not the reminders that He will do the heavy lifting are perfect.
Laurie - August 22nd, 2012 at 1:17 PM
Barbie ~ We are going thru it together! I'm a phone call (and a four hour trip) away!

ALL of this what I needed to read today as I wait for Djemson and Sophia's Dossier to get a number.
Michelle - August 22nd, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Are you adopting from GLA in Haiti?
Karmen - October 10th, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Are you adopting from GLA in Haiti? My husband and I are! We just found out that we have 2 little girls there that will be joining our 3 girls here. Would love to connect with you if you are also a GLA family!
Barbie - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:15 PM
Laurie, Looked back at my pictures from July - photos of your dossier delivered by Jessi, photos of your sweet Sophia and I forgot how Djemson fell asleep in my lap and didn't want to wake up to move! We are going through it together, which is a true blessing from God. God willing, I have definite plans to take road trips on my school vacations to visit KKO cousins.....a definite blessing for my Haiti three to know so many going to so many wonderful homes
Laurie - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:27 PM
Hi name is Laurie..I too am 52 and I also adopted 2 teenage girls from Haiti. They have been home with us for 15 months now and we are still alive and together!!! LOL. The girls are now 15
Laurie - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:40 PM
Barbie - August 25th, 2012 at 8:14 AM
Laurie, Any advice to prepare for teenagers. I've been blessed with six visits to Haiti and my last visit was for a month teaching and I spent 5 weekends with my Haiti three. So I know them, their personalities; feel close bonds with the oldest two....working to get to that level with the youngest. Thank you for offering hope and sure your girls are a true blessing to you!
Gina - September 7th, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Barbie & Laurie, I too am 52 & adopting only one 12 year old daughter from Haiti. I am in the very beginnings of my adoption and wondered if there were any other single parents adopting! This is something I never expected but when God puts something on your heart, ya best get ready!! I feel so very blessed to be a part of His plan for this precious child who I am sure He has a wonderful plan for! I will be thinking of you & praying for both of you as we all walk this incredible walk. Blessings to you! Gina
Heidi - December 2nd, 2012 at 8:40 PM
I'm 28 and single - planning to adopt in the very near future (already certified for foster care). You are right, when God puts something in your heart - get ready! :) I am not the youngest, single person I know to adopt either. Hello single (soon to be) mommas! :)
mirela - December 5th, 2014 at 4:58 PM
Lol...i kno wat u mean im 25 and i live with my fiance...we are planning on adopting..
Susan - August 23rd, 2012 at 3:01 PM
Wow! And I thought adopting more into our 2-parent family (I'm 50, husband is 51) family of 3 bio (25, 22, 18) and 2 adopted 6 1/2 years ago from the Philippines (now 14
Angie - August 24th, 2012 at 9:07 PM
Barbie, I will pray for you and your children. Raising teenagers of your own is hard enough, bless you for adopting three of them! You are an inspiration. This is something I would one day love to do. Don't forget that 'it takes a village' and to seek out the love, support, and help of those in your community. Your church will surely provide whatever support they can. You may even be able to get scholarships for your children if education is a concern. I think Jen has provided some very valuable words and insight here. Come back to it often to regroup.
Best wishes to your family!
Monica Kunz - September 6th, 2012 at 8:41 AM
Such a great post- we have 3 bio kids- 20,11,9 and just redid our paperwork- sigh for Ethiopia- but hosted an orphan 12 yrs old from the Ukraine this summer .. through a ministry called & praying as God leads us..
janine - September 12th, 2012 at 7:03 PM
We brought in one teen two years ago. God Bless you and keep you! I will be praying for you and your lovely three and all the provision you need.
Audrey - January 12th, 2015 at 2:42 PM
Barbie, I am right there with you. We are going to be foster parents in a little over a month to 3 unknown kids. Panic in exactly what is rushing through my veins right now. Prayer is the only things that seems to slow my rushing heartbeat. I sit in the kids rooms at night and wonder how I can provide stability for these kids who have had all they have know ripped away from them when we don't have a lot of money, our school system isn't good, I currently work a full time job, and I have never been a parent. I have no choice but to hand it all over to the Lord. He has called me and he will be faithful.
Tiffany - March 31st, 2015 at 11:12 PM
Yes. I do absolutely believe that and who knows, you may not want to hear from me, but you are right to think that these children have most likely been through more in their short years than you could imagine. Truthfully, depending upon the circumstances, unfortunately a HUGE amount of the pain has been put upon them through the very institution who claims to be acting "in the best interest of the children" They have been ripped out of the only home they know and when I say "ripped", you'll could never imagine!
I lost 5 of my children in one big fast scoop, late on a Fri afternoon, my socialworker accompanied by uniformeded police officers, and told they had 5 min to get dressed and ready to go. It hurts me for them i even recall this and it was about 3 yrs ago. I have just read someone, I believe an adoprecalling how the to be adopted child/children had PTSD and a hard you blame them? My children came from a home in which my children were all Iived for.Our visits are still heartbreaking. Our kids were taken from me because they believed the father was controlling and since I couldn't stay away from him, I could not keep them safe but the department did accept the cadoption of my 3 eldest boys with the paternal grandmother, giving he and his family ultimate control. As for my 7yr.old, she will not allow berself to become a part of the family she's been placed with because she feels she's betraying me.
My advice to anyone adopting children in a situation like ours, unless the child was taken be
Linda - March 15th, 2015 at 4:35 PM
Hi, Barbie! I am 56 and single. I adopted 2 kids from China a year and a half ago. What was I thinking?!! I am not qualified!! But we are a beautiful family of 3. My kids are ages 14 and 10. Both are striving in spite of my lack of qualifications! I love these kids! It's so much harder than I ever imagined, but I wouldn't trade it for anything( although in our 1st year I would have been tempted! LoL) Pray for us as we pray for you too!!
Colleen - September 4th, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I loved Jen Hatmaker's post also. But I truly adored your post, Sarah B. 'Extreme adoption' isn't for everyone, but there's a very important part for others to play. The prayers and support from those not on the front lines are invaluable. Thanks for knowing that.
Ana Fazzina - April 25th, 2016 at 9:10 AM
Kristen - August 21st, 2012 at 2:51 PM
This is phenomenal. Thank you for sharing so candidly!!!
Gretchen - August 21st, 2012 at 2:56 PM
I'm in stage one, and loving your honesty. I've often come to your blog when I needed just a bit of fresh air, and once again, God leads me not only to fresh air, but living water in the hope that is your story.
Kristin - August 21st, 2012 at 3:10 PM
Stage one. Adopting from Bulgaria. Waiting on a referral. Our time frame is always " about a year". I'm 39. Say something like, " that's not too old" or something cool like that
Anne - August 21st, 2012 at 3:55 PM
Kristin, I'm 38 and just brought my two year old home from ET four days ago, he is snoring beside me right now, we are totally honeymooning it, and I/We are definitely NOT too old!
Kelley - August 21st, 2012 at 4:55 PM
I can one-up you husband and I are 45 and waiting on a referral of a little girl, age 3-5, from Ethiopia.

Thank you, Jen, for this post.
Pam - August 21st, 2012 at 8:47 PM
My husband and i were 53 and 43 respectively when our Liberian son arrived. You are as young as you feel!
Name - August 23rd, 2012 at 3:32 PM
Hi Pam,
My husband 47 and myself 34 just adopted our son from Liberia. He has CP and is deaf 11 years old. First time parents. God is amazing! The journey long and the days are some times tough but feel like we are right where God wants us. Surrendered.
Richard - August 22nd, 2012 at 6:02 PM
I am 56 and my wife 55. We have a grandchild. In about a week we will bring home our two new teenage sons from the Ukraine. We are fearful but know that this is all Gods work. He won't let it fail!
Dana - September 19th, 2012 at 9:12 AM
What agency did you use for your Ukraine adoption? We are struggling with finding one for Ukraine.
sarah - September 25th, 2012 at 10:03 PM
we used Reece's Rainbow. They're not an agency, but a ministry helping find families for kids in Ukraine with special needs. We have been home with our daughter for two and a half months. This post was great...Jen always tells the hard adoption truth with enough hope to keep me from running away screaming! :)
Iva - January 5th, 2013 at 4:47 PM
I'm a single 37 year old mom of a 6 year old and completely fell in love with an 8 year old little girl from the Ukraine, I would love to adopt her, but apparently single women are not allowed to adopt in the Ukraine. Is this true? If so, do you know why?
Searching for an answer in the Internet, I read an article that in 2006 or around that year a single man 54 years old or so from California had adopted three boys from the Ukraine (one every year) and had been molesting them, he got caught and is spending 65 years in prison now. Apparently for that reason the Ukraine won't take single people anymore...
Any information would be great help.

Ruthanne - August 21st, 2012 at 4:53 PM
Kristin--39?!?!? You're just a baby! lol I was 42 when I brought home my first son, 44 with the second and now I will be 47ish with the third. And only God Himself knows how old I'll be when the 4th one comes home. ;)
Barb - August 21st, 2012 at 6:07 PM
After adopting because we were declared infertile , the wee one was only 8 weeks old when I discovered I was pregnant ! I was 39 when she was born a month premature
Jenn - August 21st, 2012 at 6:33 PM
Praying for you as you wait!!
Jenny - August 21st, 2012 at 9:34 PM
You are not too old!! I was 38 when we started the process, and I turned 40 in March and we brought our precious 3 yo home from Russia in July...hang in there!!
Jennifer - August 22nd, 2012 at 8:35 AM
My husband and I are 46 and 49, we have a bio kids 25, 10 and 8 and are towards the end of bringing home a little boy from Haiti that will be 2 in November. We are not too old!
Anne - August 22nd, 2012 at 1:52 PM
That's not too old. I just adopted as a single woman. I was 43 when I got her as a foster child @ 5 mo old. I'll be 45 in a few weeks and not long after that she'll be 2. I often feel my age (like trying to get off the floor after reading books or trying to run after her in the yard forever) but there are many good things I bring to the table now I wouldn't have been able to at 30 and I don't mean financial or material things. I figure, I'm pretty immature so it all evens out!
Linda B - September 29th, 2012 at 6:22 AM
Adopted the first time when I was 38 (Had 3 bio kids 7, 9 & 11) & again last year at 48 (my newest is 6) - A dear, sweet, "older" Mom said, "Kids won't keep you young but they'll keep you current." - I'll keep up on technology, boy bands & trendy clothes for quite some time yet!

Angie - August 23rd, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Kristin, you are definitely NOT too old. My husband and I were 38 when we adopted our first girl from Russia 9 years ago--our daughter was 9 months old at the time. And then we were both 43 when we brought our second daughter home from Russia--she was 2 at the time.
Dagmar - August 23rd, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Adopted for the first time at 43 and the second time at 47 and both were babies! :-) Nope not too old at all. You are as old as you feel.... but let me warn you... kids make you feel old no matter how old you really are! :-)

Rebekah - August 24th, 2012 at 7:29 AM
39? Old? No, no that would mean that I'm old. I'm 39 and we have 3 through adoption and are in stage 1 with #4. We traveled with people in their 50's who were adopting.
Lisa - August 25th, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Kristin: My husband & I received a phone call out of the blue that our adopted son's bio mom had a baby & if we'd like to take the baby into our home (straight from the hospital) while they figure out what's happening. We are 52/53! Our adopted son will be 7 in October. This is totally from God, and we are all just in love with eachother & are a family. We have no biological children, and got our son at 5 months old. He was our first child & we were about 45 yrs. old. It has taken us about a month for the attachment for each one of the kids when we received them into our homes (easier when they are teen tiny :) ) It is looking like we will also get to adopt the little girl who, by the way, is the cutest thing in the world (next to our son!!). We are so thankful to God for bringining them to us at this time in our lives, and we realize that it is His plan for us all to be together. When God is involved, you don't ask why or wonder if you are too old :)
christy - August 21st, 2012 at 2:59 PM
Thanks for this! We live in you neck of the woods and are adopting a little girl with Down syndrome from Eastern Europe. We've just mailed off our dossier and are waiting, waiting, WAITING to be matched and get travel dates. Your blog post made me laugh out loud and buckle myself (and my emotions) up for a long ride. Thanks for your honesty, and your humor. I needed it!
Kirsten Boyd - August 21st, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Christy, I'm in the same neck of the woods as Jenn. We just brought home our daughter last October from Russia. Would love to chat!!
Misty - August 21st, 2012 at 2:59 PM
I'm in the pre-stage, my 2 best friends are in stage 2 and 4. It's so great to read this and know how better to pray for them. I just got back from Uganda last month (where we are adopting from) and it was amazing and heart breaking at the same time. We *should* (haha, I know) have our referral by Christmas. I'm not a crier but I've been doing it a lot lately (none of it is hormonal....wait....) and my kids keep asking me what's wrong. I'm in the 'overwhelming how can I love this child I don't even have a picture of yet God is so good I know it's about to get hard how can we do this?" stage. And I'm thankful for a God who totally gets it.
Fallon - August 21st, 2012 at 5:00 PM
Hi misty,
What agency are you using for your Ugandan adoption? My husband I are in the very beginning making the decision stage:). Thanks
misty - August 21st, 2012 at 6:40 PM
Hi! We are using Lifeline Children's services (out of Alabama). My good friend used them a couple years ago and we have had nothing but good experiences so far. you can email me if you'd like newsomes4adoption [at] gmail dot com
Karen - August 21st, 2012 at 9:09 PM
Fallon, we are using Lifeline as well for our adoption from China, I cannot say enough good things about them, just wanted to add to the encouragement.
Michelle - August 23rd, 2012 at 2:49 PM
We're using Lifeline as well..waiting on our referral of a sibling set from Hungary. We couldn't have asked for a better agency. They've been amazing to work with.
Dan King - August 21st, 2012 at 3:00 PM
You're so awesome Jen! Thanks for this perspective. It really touched me, and I'm not even an adoptive parent. But as one who has been adopted by Him, then it all makes sense...
Jennifer - August 21st, 2012 at 3:01 PM
You NAILED it, girl. Thank you :)
Britany - August 21st, 2012 at 3:01 PM
I'm filling out the I-600 now. Finally after a big "snag" we can move forward. Thank you for your honesty. You give us hope. P.S. I think we have the same social worker, she mentioned you during our home study;)
Aimee - August 21st, 2012 at 3:03 PM
Still in stage one, watching friends go through the other stages and praising God that life is calm right now because I know the storm is about to come! We've made it through storms before and while all the storms are different, I must cling to the fact that they (eventually) end and that God is bigger than all the storms! Thank you for your honesty!

And wait...if we try the Karen Purvis way, they do not all react perfectly?! Not acceptable!!
Sheila - August 21st, 2012 at 3:03 PM
I could not possibly love this more.
Emily - August 21st, 2012 at 3:04 PM
We are waiting again. We brought home our first child 2 1/2 years ago and are ready to rumble again....just waiting for "the call." And watching God blow us away with provisions to pay for this adoption. He definitely is in the miracle business.
Mary (Owlhaven) - August 21st, 2012 at 3:05 PM

I was grinning ALL the way through this whole thing which is maybe a bit bizarre since you were sharing about hard, hard stuff. But it was because I was saying YES! the entire way through. You described it right. (Our adjustment timeline with our older girls adopted at 9 and 11 has extended much, much longer -- at FIVE years home we are still a work in progress, but I started feeling like we were making headway around the three year mark.) But nonetheless, I recognized every bit of it. And this is the honesty that we need when talking with each other about adoption.

Also, this Kari Jobe song is MADE FOR this post. Listen,OK?

Praise God! Our God saves.

I am looking forward to meeting you in person in Birmingham next month, OK? You're going to the blogger thingie Thursday night, right?

Mary, momma to 10 including 2 from Korea and 4 from Ethiopia
crystal - August 29th, 2012 at 7:51 AM
I was say YES to the entire post as well and couldn't help but laugh at how it really is for us. Made my husband and I feel ok for struggling right now. We are fostering to adopt and 3 weeks ago after a year of no placements got the call. 2 kids (3 months, 18 months) needed emergency care. As we went to the hospital with them, my emotions were of excitement but fear of attaching to them only to be returned to mom. This Monday started visitation with mom and dad and every time we drop them off my heart aches feeling awful that I secretly pray they screw up big so we can call these boys our own. We are in the non emotion stage, just trying to get through the day. Our 5 year old son is acting out for attention and I feel like a prisoner in my own home as I answer caseworkers emails, home visits, and now all 3 kids sick. I know God has to love on these kids even for a short time and praying to grow our family soon. Thank you for this post, made me feel "normal" as my friends are still excited and rejoicing as I am sitting at home wondering if they will truly be ours one day.
Colleen - September 5th, 2012 at 5:22 PM
Crystal, Please remember, as difficult as it is to achknowledge, sometimes they really do go back. Our sweet baby was the 10th child born to opium-addicted parents. All 9 of the other kids where already taken and living out of home. We took placement at 6 wks from a medical foster home. We had her until she was 11 1/2 months. Then the judge 'ruled' for her to be returned. It was the most difficult thing our family every experienced. That was 14 years ago. God uses our tears and broken hearts. I will be praying for you.
sonya - August 29th, 2012 at 2:19 PM
Mary....just have to say you are beautiful in your effort to live out God's amazing plan for your family. {& thanks for the song; listening to it now}
Jen thanks for bringing so much honesty to the journey we are all on. Just LOOK at all these comments from God's precious mamas, created to walk the path we are on.
THANK you.
Lindsey - August 21st, 2012 at 3:07 PM
This was awesome! I'm going to forward it to all of my friends who are in the waiting phase of adoption. Also, I do not have adopted children, but I feel like a lot of the feelings were things I felt when I had newborns and was struggling during those first few months to find myself amidst the feedings, poopy diapers and constant dirty clothes. Thank you for your honesty!
Siriana - August 21st, 2012 at 3:11 PM
We are waiting, on this very day, we've been waiting for 5 months for our Ethiopian babe. Thankful for this post and it's perfect timing! Love your words and truth, thanks for writing!
Jada - August 21st, 2012 at 3:11 PM
Thanks for being a truth-teller, Jen. It's amazing to me how God has used several friends' adoption stories (yours included) to cause me to really think about my own adoption story (38 years ago). Learning to view it differently. Now, I have a parent's perspective, instead of a child's perspective. It's healed some of the broken places and I've discovered some of the missing pieces, I think. And now we are on the (slow) journey of adoption ourselves. Beginning to discern where? when? how? All has been necessary parts of the process, I am sure of it!

Shelley - August 21st, 2012 at 3:12 PM
Have a 6mo old through domestic adoption. We have our first cold, so yah... Honeymoon over. You speak the truth, Jen.
Sarah R - August 21st, 2012 at 3:13 PM
thank you so much! we are anxiously awaiting a court date for two we are hoping to adopt out of DFCS. so obviously we are in the Pre-Stage. but your quotes of Dr. Purvis made me laugh out loud because i was reading that book (again) yesterday and thinking "oh my goodness i will never remember to talk like this!" :-)

thank you for pointing us back to Christ and that it is only through Him working in us that this is even possible. when we were first matched with these kids i had a complete freak-out and almost quit all together because i realized that i honestly and truly couldn't do this. a kind and wise friend reminded me of the same thing you did - i CAN"T do this. only god can. there is rest in that.

thanks for your honesty, hope, and humor.
tracy B Niles - August 21st, 2012 at 3:14 PM
As I read this I want to cry and laugh and cry and run back to social services where I just dropped the signature papers that make the move in next week official.! haha! :) But I press on. We are adopting a 12 year old girl, we have a 5 year old (ours) and two 21 year olds (his and hers) and now we will adopt. and after her we really really pray to adopt her little brother...whom is in another foster home. Thank YOU. God Bless YOU for a realistic look and a humor filled view and a terrifying leap of faith that YOU others can see that they too can do it! Amen!
Kim - August 21st, 2012 at 3:14 PM
We're in triage. And yes, we're normal. Thanks, as always, for your honesty. Why do we waste time with anything less??
Stefanie - August 21st, 2012 at 3:14 PM
We've brought home seven kids from China, each time it was so very different. But you've really nailed here - there truly are stages that evidently are pretty much universal!

Bravo for being a beacon of hope to so many who are reading and will read this post in the future :)
Carol - August 21st, 2012 at 3:16 PM
Thank you! We are in the pre-stage, and I have imagined all of the things that you are describing. Thank you for the honesty and the beautiful truth that God does the heavy-lifting miracle stuff. Since I certainly won't be able to. We are hoping to bring home brothers from Ethiopia!
Pamela - August 21st, 2012 at 3:17 PM
Excellently done, Jen. Should be required reading for everyone considering adoption.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
Melissa - August 21st, 2012 at 3:19 PM
Thank you for this. I'm in pre-stage, adopting a 4 year old boy from China.
Anita Neuman - August 21st, 2012 at 3:19 PM
I was afraid to even read this. Afraid that by your one-year anniversary you'd have everything all figured out and I would just be the big fat hairy loser who, at the 4-and-a-half-year mark wrote this (just this morning):

It's hard. It's all so hard. But your last paragraph says what I need to hear. Thanks, and blessings to you and your dear kiddos as you carry on.
Stacy - August 21st, 2012 at 3:19 PM
Wow! Thank you for your complete honesty. We are in the pre-stage. Matched with two beautiful kiddos in Ghana. Just found out our adorable little girl is the terror of the orphanage. Oh yeah! Stage 2 is looking pretty scary right about now! I will be praying for the strength of the Lord to carry me through daily!!!
Lauren - August 21st, 2012 at 3:20 PM
Irony that you asked people to stop giving timelines, then you gave one? :) Thanks Jen... love your perspective as always.
Christy McDonald - August 21st, 2012 at 3:21 PM
Thank you for your honesty. We are in the waiting stage on our third adoption, and we have been through all of this with our other children. I actually discovered/experienced there is such a thing as Post Adoption Depression, because you come off this extreme high of doing/waiting and then when there are actually home, the excitement/activity wears off. You don't have anything to "look forward to" anymore. It is done, and it isn't easy. I would not trade it for the world, but it was real and hard. Obviously we made it through and are doing it again and again. God is faithful. And adoption is addictive and obsessive. We can't get enough about Haiti or adoption now :)
Courtney Laib - August 21st, 2012 at 3:21 PM
Thanks for these words Jen. You always nail it if not for everyone, for someone. My husband and I are in the waiting process of foster care. We are officially licensed in the state of Illinois but no calls yet. Waiting is soooo hard. We have a two year old boy (biological) who already wears the heck out of me so I'm a little concerned as to how I am going to take care of more children, especially those who are "not mine". And then I see people like you who have FIVE and I wonder "how!?" Ha. I'm grateful for women like you who share their stories of real emotions, real failures, and real victories. I know that the hard seasons of raising children that did not come from my belly will still have a glimpse of joy because of Jesus and because of people who have been there and done that and are still alive to tell about it. I love you and your little family.
margaret - August 21st, 2012 at 3:24 PM
Um...technically stage 3.....however he is a toddler so depending on the day we regress to stage 2....home 5 months now..this is hard stuff...our only child and pick your other simultaneous transition. Day by day we move....thanks for your humor on these hard past couple days.
Millie - August 21st, 2012 at 3:26 PM
Thanks for the honesty. The adoption of my baby girls has by far been the most sanctifying experience of my life. It's hard, it's messy, and it is most definitely Holy. Thanks for being you Jen.
Becky - August 21st, 2012 at 3:29 PM

We are just about 5 years down this road. Girl, you speak what is in my head and in my heart. You articulate everything I ever knew (and didn't know) I wanted to say. Our son is from Liberia, just a hop, skip and a jump from Ethiopia. Thanks for writing this! It feels like we've lived in the same house...
Kelly Jo - August 22nd, 2012 at 5:59 PM
wishing our timeline was only around that year mark :) Enjoy where you are at Jen and whoever else. Be prepared for regressions-THEY.DO.HAPPEN. Some aren't as bad, and do (hopefully) get better with each one. You go back into honeymoon for awhile...then spaz out and triage just feel harder, but rehab happens once again too. Thanks for the honesty-it's finally become okay to talk about how hard adoption is! We just formed a new Liberian Mamas group and it is heavy and hard for me to think of some of these women just not thinking it was okay to talk about it, still, years later.
Brian Seay - August 21st, 2012 at 3:29 PM
Absolute truth - thanks for being the one people can Google now for a sense of reality. Our children have been with us for 3 and a half years (Ethiopia plus 4 biological kids) and we still navigate pieces of these stages.
Lora Loggins Hill - August 21st, 2012 at 3:31 PM
We wanted so much to adopt or foster, but now my husband and I are past 50, sneaking up on 60. So, I look at what you awesome ladies have posted and I PRAY for you!! I will love on other little ones, be OH so grateful for the bio I have, who is to turn 21 in one week. And I will praise and exalt our Father God, who pours his grace out in buckets on us - JUST when we need it!
Asap in NC - August 21st, 2012 at 3:33 PM
Still in Stage 2 after 15 months. Ok, me. Not the kids. One of them even seemed to skip Stage 2 althogether which doesn't freak me out at all because I don't overthing things like that (unless I is me, in which case, I do). The other one (kid) has special needs for which we were/are not prepared (either her special needs were undetected or undisclosed, we don't know for sure). We are NOT out of the woods :( but we pray like maniacs for His miracle to soothe our tired and broken hearts because the road is A LOT longer than we thought and we were prepared for a long one...
Megan Card - August 21st, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Once again, I am blown away by your honesty and I'm incredibly grateful that you have spoken the truth about adoption. We are in the Pre-Stage, and as I have searched family blogs regarding the adoption process and what to expect, I noticed a similar tend that you mentioned in your post: it's too picture perfect.

I don't want sugar coated answers to my questions regarding the adoption process. I want to see real life. I want to see how and where we may struggle. I want to see that it's worth the heartache. Worth the pain. Worth all of the tears that are spilled. So, thank you, for being real. And I promise as we move forward in our own adoption journey to pass on that same authenticity.
Sherry - September 4th, 2012 at 7:51 PM
Megan Card-
I know what you mean. We are 5 months home with a 2 yo from Russia. There are a couple of reasons you see that, depending on where someone is in the process. Our reason (now) is that the blog became his baby book and I don't want to remember the exceptionally hard stuff. I want to celebrate the every day. Though I do keep it real, I generally do it in a funny way. However that said, please feel free to email me and ask ANYTHING you want. Having someone ahead of you is like gold. Especially when you're waiting. And waiting just sucks.
Christy - August 21st, 2012 at 3:39 PM
We just hit 3 months home. We're coming out of the woods a bit and starting enjoy the time with him more, but we still both collapse after bedtime most nights and say "Wow! This is just so much work! Worth it, but a lot of work!"
Amy - August 21st, 2012 at 3:40 PM
Stage 4--Just had our 12-month post-placement visit. My favorite line of this blog?

"You’ve mothered with your hands and words, and God did the heavy lifting, just like He promised."

Oh yeah, he had a LOT of heavy lifting to do. But He is (more than) able. Praise be to God!
Fliss - August 21st, 2012 at 3:41 PM
Remember our honeymoon well.. Now our 10mth old when we got her is 3yrs... Certainly joys and otherwise... Lol
Monica - August 21st, 2012 at 3:42 PM year already! Congrats. And if you are really crazy, at the 12 month post placement for your first two adopted kids, you accept a referral for a third (older) child and start the insanity all over...a little bit wiser, a little better prepared, but because every child arrives with his or her unique story that led to their adoption, it is never easy. A beautiful mess, no doubt. I have tried my best to be as honest as possible, especially about the hard parts..documenting bits and pieces of the ups, down, and ins and outs of our three Ethiopian adoption journeys here:
Kim - August 21st, 2012 at 3:42 PM
Love this! We just received our referral from Ethiopia and are waiting for a court date (after rainy season, of course). So thankful for the truth you shared!
ErinBeth - August 21st, 2012 at 3:43 PM
Thank you for this.

We are about 10 weeks out from our son's birth. I am so excited I can hardly stand it one minute, slammed back into the reality of becoming the working-mom I never thought I'd be the next minute and crying on the floor thinking about the loss our child will experience in his life the minute after that. This three-minute cycle happens almost 500 times a day. every day. Of course, there's all the "what-if" this and "what-if" that sprinkled in there. The cherry-on-top for me right now is how to manage the open-adoption I felt so strongly about a few substages ago. It's a sundae of insanity.
Jennifer - August 21st, 2012 at 3:43 PM
Early stage (3-4 months) - love when You said You want to go back to that person pining away in the Pre-Stage and punch her in the liver! ~ Oh how many times I've thought that. And how many times I've looked at others adopting
Jennifer - August 21st, 2012 at 10:22 PM
(my entire post didn't go through)

...and wanted to tell them - "No, don't do it!"....... But, of course, I never have. It's just been WAY more difficult than I ever imagined. We were at about day 3 still in our hotel room in China when our newly adopted 4 year old proceeds to slap my 5 year old baby bio boy in the face for no apparant reason that I began to think.... What have we done?? I'm so very, very thankful for the transparency of you and so many others. So that we can know we are not alone in our feelings that God has left us, or why did we do this, or will I ever really love her? Those are not things you feel that you can say out loud. Thank you thank you thank you. I needed this.
Dawn - August 21st, 2012 at 3:47 PM
Love your honesty.

We had a three year honeymoon with the 16 year old we adopted. But, found out in March he's been lying to us from way before we adopted him AND doing things behind our back that threaten our family's safety. That's fun. Not to mention, we adopted again a year we have 6 kids, we home school, we moved in April and EVERYTHING has gone wrong in the "new" house (for example, the one rain we had all summer caused a huge oak tree to fall and smash three of our cars including one we had purchased 12 hours before) OH and our well went dry so we're living at my parents house and our marriage is a MESS. (It wasn't before...) So happy you are real, but so wish I had people in my life that I could share this with. I wish I knew what to do and where to go for help and I wish that even if I found it I wouldn't be going alone...

Stephanie C - August 21st, 2012 at 4:58 PM
Dawn, My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time in your life. Just remember - you are never alone, He is always with you. It may not seem like it but trust in Him and yourself. It is at these lowest times in our life when we must trust Him the most and even though it doesn't seem like it - things will get better and you and your hubby will be better people in the end. Persevere dear Dawn.
Naomi - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:06 AM
Dawn, there are moments when, despite being surrounded by children, I feel isolated
Jennifer - August 21st, 2012 at 3:48 PM
Um, you may have just really wanted to say the word "damn", but I think you meant "dam". With 2 step, 4 bios and 3 adopteds, I feel ya!
Karen - August 21st, 2012 at 3:49 PM
Great commentary on the stages - but for anyone who has not walked with a trauma kid- please remember that the timeline periods will vary with every child!
Julia Leinen - August 21st, 2012 at 3:54 PM
thank you. we are in the waiting stage. way way too long on wait list.

this is very encouraging. thank you for being real.
Joy - August 21st, 2012 at 3:56 PM
We have five bio children. One daughter home from China for 17 months, and waiting for loa again. This post is So true. I loved her so before we ever went. But then, I didn't know her. And it was HARD. For us ALL. Fear, grief, rejection. Life totally turned upside down. She completely rejected her Daddy for months. I wondered what had I done to us all. And then I went face to the carpet and gave it to God,and He came. It wasn't overnight, but oh, how He is enough. How beautiful it can become.
Bethe - August 21st, 2012 at 4:06 PM
Loved this post. My husband and I know we want to adopt but are in the "collect all the info, talk to everybody to soak up their adoption wisdom" stage, and we're not sure if we want to do local or international. So posts like this help us gain realistic expectations and help us craft our prayers in advance. Bless you! (PS--You're speaking at my church, First Euless, in September and we are UBER excited!)
Steph {HopeUnbroken} - August 21st, 2012 at 4:07 PM
Okay, I would (probably) never say this to another living soul, Jen Hatmaker, but since I've read and blogged about 7, like, ad nauseum, and that book talks to me every single living day I breathe. . . well, I feel I've earned a few rights :-)

You speak truth. And another truth--it doesn't always get easier. And love can be a LONG process. And those stages??? They keep happening. Over and over again.

We're nine years down the road of international adoption. And my heart keeps getting ripped out just like it did the day we stood in court and told a Russian judge we'd love that boy better and forever.

Is it worth it?


Because through it all, BUT GOD.

He is present, and I begin to see how He cares for ME. How He loves ME. And I have felt His holding of me unlike any other time of my life. And just as we felt we saved his life (literally). . .

In the process so has mine been saved.

But it can be a brutal truth to embrace.

Thank you for sharing your one-year mark. I hope to hear the updates in the following years. :-)

Blessings to you and yours,

Audrey - August 21st, 2012 at 5:52 PM
You said EXACTLY what I was about to type up. :) It's worth it-- it's all totally worth it. But these stages tend to cycle, over and over again, sometimes for years and years while kids reach different emotional stages and hormonal surges and realize again, on a totally new level, what "happened" to them at some point. I'm the oldest of seven-- three bio, four adopted, and it's been twelve years (almost thirteen!) and there are STILL things my parents and the family as a whole deal with daily. Every joy and every pain remind me though that I, too, was adopted and I, too, cycle through my own honeymoons and tantrum-tsunamis with God. But every repeated stage is higher up and further in.

So, Jen, as a warning and as an encouragement, don't feel like you've failed or you're starting all over if in another six months, you suddenly find yourself wrestling a screaming kid for two hours again-- you aren't starting over. You've made progress! Everyone has. But kids that endured YEARS of suffering/abuse/neglect/poverty/whateveritwas will also take YEARS to heal. And thank you for your honesty! There isn't enough of this out there, and there needs to be!
Katie Gonzalez - August 21st, 2012 at 6:11 PM
You so hit the nail on the head! Great wisdom Jen! And Audrey, thanks for sharing honestly from the kid's perspective!! We are 13 years and 2 1/2 years into our 2 adoptions of 4 kids. You may as well say stage 4 lasts a lifetime with surges of the other 3 stages. :) Full of blessings, challenges, and thankfully, healing!
Miff - August 22nd, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Thanks for saying this. 2 years in, and it's still verrrrry ugly. But God is at work, and we have total faith. We are being transformed, each
Deb - August 21st, 2012 at 4:14 PM
LOVE LOVE LOVE this piece. I can always count on you for pure unadulterated honesty and humor! You are the truth-teller people seek! We passed court in Ghana for our 7 year old daughter in late June and are awaiting I-600 approval. Oh the waiting....
Cortney - August 21st, 2012 at 4:14 PM
We have been home 6 months with our 1 year old Ethi*pian daughter. We have 3 bio's. Still very much in the trench, but see such beauty. Thank you for always giving me truth...and making me feel very normal!
Mandy Mills - August 21st, 2012 at 4:22 PM
Pre-stage. I feel like we will never get out of this stage. But your blog and your words inspire so many. I heard you speak last year at MOPS convention and had what I like to call my "Jesus Moment" while you were telling us about your adoption journey. While you were speaking my teeth begam to chatter, my heart was about to explode out my chest, my hands were shaking, tears were pouring out of my eyes, my whole body was trembling, and I thought I was dying. I heard the Lord's quiet voice in my heart telling me that He wanted my family to adopt too.

Thank you for being bold, honest, funny, and giving me hope through the Lord.
MainlineMom - August 21st, 2012 at 4:28 PM
We are in the waiting. We have two awesome bio kids and as we wait for our Haitian daughter the whole system is changing and laws are changing and our timeline is out the window and we have absolutely zero idea what this whole thing will look like. But we are trusting God. I've eased up on the dreaming because I was dreaming of a baby and via the Haitian law God said nope. So maybe now a toddler? Anyway I feel hesitant to dream.

Your story is so so so so helpful and hopeful and nerve-wracking for me. Thanks Jen.
Micah - August 21st, 2012 at 4:34 PM
I'm in stage 2/3...home four months with two unrelated baby boys! With three bios. Its CRAZY! Thank you for sharing...I loved it.
Kristi - August 21st, 2012 at 4:36 PM
Unbelievably accurate! If I had only had truth tellers like you in my life 3 years ago when we were adopting from foster care. It took me a long time to realize that there was nothing wrong with me and that all the crazy emotions I felt were okay. Adoption isn't the normal way, and like you said, the love can take time. Some days are so, so hard. Thank you for being a voice of honesty- the good, the bad, and the ugly!
Jennifer - August 21st, 2012 at 4:40 PM
6 month "forever family" anniversary today of a 7-year-old adopted from Eastern Europe - cognitively typical but major orthopedic issues - so lots of medical intervention. Our honeymoon ended within 24 hours of "gotcha" - but thankfully Stage 2 was neither intense nor long. However, we go back and forth between 3 and 4. We were not prepared for how socially and emotionally delayed our son would be - reacting/behaving much more like a toddler/preschooler than a first-grader. Things are much improving, but he can be 2 and 40 all in the same conversation. Having a group of adoptive families who "get" me has saved my sanity.
Kristine - September 6th, 2012 at 3:48 PM
Oh my goodness - your statement "but he can be 2 and 40 all in the same conversation" is such a great way to describe our 5 year old (who has been with us exactly 1 year this week). Ours is a domestic adoption, out of foster care, and he is incredibly smart but incredibly delayed on an emotional/social level. We had a nice honeymoon, and then an AWFUL Stage 2... he would physically attack us, call us names that a 4-year-old shouldn't have even known, tell us he hated us and wanted us dead, attack the other children in his preschool, ugh. We still cycle back to that at times, but now, it's for much shorter periods of time and much less intense. He even goes weeks at preschool (sometimes) when he has NO physical aggression! But really, it is so bizarre how he can be so mature at one moment, and then the next moment, act like a 2 yr old. I'm really glad we're not alone in these feelings. And yes, there have been SO MANY times when I wanted to go back to my pre-placement self and kick myself in the liver and tell me to be really happy and content with being a really awesome aunt. But, mommy it is.
Amy - August 21st, 2012 at 4:41 PM
This post is so right on. So NECESSARY! I wish we could just be honest and stop worrying about scaring people away with the truth of adoption. God's sovereignty is certainly big enough. We are about to celebrate and I do mean celebrate 2 years home with our sweetie from China. She is now 4. We went through every single stage though some were mingled. She grieved, with tantrums from day 1 about an hour after we adopted her, had a few days of honeymoon, then began grieving again for oh, say, a year! We dealth with 5 months of PTSD that were only resolved when God orchestrated a reunion with her closest friend from the orphanage, and she was 2 when they parted, yet the bond was apparently very deep. She talks of him often and we get together often, even 4 states away.

We came home to hour long tantrums sometimes 5 and 6 a day. Which bled into sleepless nights or lots of night waking. BUT....interspersed was a joy emerging out of a cracked shell. Hers and mine. Love like I can't explain....deep, abiding, maternal and strong. Even in the midst of it all, we had glimmers of hope and definite confirmations we had not gone crazy, ruined our family or messed up our lives, as we sometimes thought inside where its safe.

Instead she changed us. We didn't even realize how much we needed to change, how much I needed to change, until she came along. She restructured our family, our family tree, our family mission. We have been called to a love that is other-worldly, supernatural. Watching her react to rescue and redemption reminded me of my own reaction to God's rescue and redemption of me and it's been life-changing.

With everything we've experienced, I am thrilled to say, we're going back. We're adopting again. Because too many children need someone to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with them. I can't imagine my girls walking that path alone, without me, without our family, without God. And so we return, but maybe this time with a few less expectations and a whole lot more determination.
Hayley - August 21st, 2012 at 4:41 PM
A wonderful breath of fresh air this is. I always say there's an elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about, but it's very real and it's there. The elephant takes many forms and in our crazy story it was the struggle of attachment and loving my child, my sin, her sin, and the painful realizations of unmet expectations and the impact they can have.

We are only fostering and are at the 4 month mark with our little one. I empathize with gutting through the first two stages and solely focusing on daily functions and the Lord to be my daily bread. God forbid I think about tomorrow. And celebrating the milestones and wanting to throw a party when we get through a full week of not getting kicked out of daycare for hitting, biting, etc.

No one said this would be easy. But thank God for community and Jesus to be our everything. I wouldn't be able to get out of bed each day with hope without those two things.
Kirstjen - August 21st, 2012 at 4:45 PM
We're in the stage before the Pre-Stage…and it's hard in and of itself. Hubs and I aren't wholeheardetdly on the same page yet with starting the adoption process. It has mostly to do with adding a fourth child to the family (3 bios, all boys).

I appreciate knowing that you'll share a raw view instead of the sugar coated stuff a lot of people put out there.
Trace - August 21st, 2012 at 4:51 PM
As you know, we've reached the one-year mark as well with our 13 year-old (domestically adopted) who's about to turn 14. It's been very hard on our family. We have 3 bio-kids and have always been very close. Adopting was like throwing a bomb in the middle of that. We've had very hard times when we had to see sides of our bio kids we've never seen before, and seen them hurting like they never have. As a parent, it's hard to see your bio-kids struggling and hurting as a result of a decision you made. And what's also been very difficult to realize is that we thought we could adopt and love our new child just like our bio-kids, but that has not been the case YET. We are working on it, and I know God is working on us.

We have, of course, also seen some amazing things happening with our adopted son and he has come SO far in 12 months. He's just more comfortable here, he has more trust, he talks back less often and lies less often, and he's trying his darnedest to be a part of this family. He's now off all medication, which is a victory in itself, considering the way they dope them up in the foster system.

I wish there were more people talking about what adoption is really like! Good job. I do think "damn" might have been a Freudian slip! ;)
Jen Hatmaker - August 22nd, 2012 at 5:13 PM
1.) Thought of you so often while writing this. 2.) I caught the "damn" error, said the exact same thing about the Freudian slip, and kept it because it made me laugh so hard.
Sarah - August 21st, 2012 at 4:52 PM
We are in the pre-everything period. We have 1 year, 2 months before they suggested we even start the home study and the approval part, so that we fit all the requirements. My husband and I both have had hearts for adoption, long before we even met. It's a God given desire that we find very hard to ignore. At this point it is hard knowing that even though we can't start the process for over a year plus the time for the approval process, that we then have to wait for an unknown time period before we may get paired. Whenever I think too much about it makes me want to pull my hair out. It is a time in which I just have to pray that God gives me patience and that He will use this time to grow us and prepare us for what's to come.

Thank you for providing an insight of what might come. I loved the part in the Pre-stage section where you said: "This is the stage you realize God can put a vicious fight in you for a kid without your blood coursing through his veins". Knowing that our (Our?!) children may not even born yet makes that statement even more profound to me. Because we are so far from the beginning of the process we haven't told too many people. It seems that almost everyone we tell is excited for us but always ask why? Can I not have children, or why don't you have you own while you wait or why don't you have your own first than see if you still want to do it. Some may find thise highly offensive questions. I saw them all as legitimate question, though all stung the first few time I heard them. I will admit I was more offended when family asked them. What helps us through those questions is knowing that we both have such as desire that we know God gave us, and that was always our answer. It didn't matter to us if we could or couldn't have biological children. If God chooses to bless us with bios, then He will. At this point in time we know where our desires lie and we know only to follow God.
Jen - August 21st, 2012 at 4:58 PM
Almost 3 months home with our new toddler and I no longer need to comb the web for truth-tellers. Thanks, Jen, for taking the time to wrap these truths up in words and share them with us. I'm a little wrapped up in spazing out right now, but my heart has hope as I read your words. It is absolutely worth fighting through.
Tina - August 21st, 2012 at 5:03 PM
We brought our deaf son home from China 5 years ago this summer when he was 10. We have 4 bio kids, two out of the home, two still in our home. We have pretty much been through most every experience and feeling others have, and we are still walking through many things today. As a matter of fact, we had to see a probation officer this morning for his latest runaway charge.

Our son was so hurt physically and emotionally by his parents who abandoned him and in his SWI in China that it took years before he understood what it was like living as a family and being loved. We endured every bad behavior imaginable. We have been physically assaulted, things have been thrown around and broken, he has run away, etc... He did everything in his power to see if he could make us abandon him as his family did. I wanted to give up so many times, but I knew all this was all a possibility before we adopted him. (Our kids are older, so we didn't have the safety of younger children to consider) Don't get me wrong...there were times I wished we had never adopted him!

In the beginning, he wouldn't allow us to touch him. After huge blow ups, I would sit next to him and offer him tissues. Eventually, he allowed me to rub his back as he sobbed, and after a HORRIBLE explosion a few years ago where he lost all control, he allowed me to hold him, then he sat quietly as I removed everything from his room except his bed and clothes. We have tried to teach him alternative methods to express his anger other than lashing out physically. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it's getting better!

One thing we have always been consistent with is showing love even as he is being disciplined. In the beginning, it was hard showing love to a child that we didn't love. That's right! I said we didn't love him. It's soooo hard to love a child that is not biologically yours and that sets out to try to destroy your home and assault you! It was hard to walk into his bedroom with dinner when he was grounded (after destroying our home and hurting us) and not throw the food down with a look of utter disgust and turn and storm out slamming the door. I took a deep breath, put my best "I'm sad that this all happened, but I still love you" fake look on my face, and sat with him while he ate his supper. The tears and regret I saw on his face melted my heart. Over time, we grew to love him. He now understands that no matter what he does, we will not stop loving him (even if we have to visit him in jail). That has made all the difference in the world!
Becky - August 21st, 2012 at 5:07 PM
Our Ethiopian son (6 years old) celebrated our year anniversary this summer by having his biggest tantrum ever! But, they are few and far between by now... we are safely through the stages. Phew! Our "honeymoon" lasted only until our first day home.

His sister was 15 months when we came home (two at once! woooooeee!), and her process has been very different. I think older children do a lot more processing up front, while babies and toddlers process little by little as they get older and start to understand more. Also, her grief manifested itself in an evolution of sleep issues, which I think is fairly typical.

Good luck and God Bless all you waiting families!
Tina - August 21st, 2012 at 5:12 PM
And... I typed, typed, typed away without telling you how much I enjoyed reading this Jen!!! I laughed and I teared up. This is a first for me to actually hear someone give an honest reckoning of true, raw emotions. I've wanted to punch a few livers too...LOL! I do believe God wants us to share EVERYTHING with one another, not just the good times and by putting a sugar coating on things. When people are not honest with others, it makes people believe the enemy's lies even more.
Sarah - August 21st, 2012 at 5:19 PM
Thank you, thank you for this post! We've had our little girls for 8 weeks now. We're committed to adopting them (foster care) but I have had many times in the last 2 months that I have seriously doubted my sanity and reality of God's call. I have wondered if we have taken on too much, and how much damage I am doing to my marriage and my 4 bio children. I have operated in a fog all summer long with a heart that feels seared and emotions that are numb from the manipulations of a hurt 3 year old. Love takes time, I'm finding. But two days ago, my daughter began calling me "Mom" for the first time. Slowly, I am seeing glimmers of hope for brighter days.
Stephanie Burrage - August 21st, 2012 at 5:21 PM
I loved this!!! Loved the humor, honesty and everything in between. I just celebrated my 10th gotcha day with my sons...and I would redo all the stages over to get to where we are today!
Donna - August 21st, 2012 at 5:25 PM
Wow. I can't believe it's been a year. I remember y'all waiting and waiting and finally going to get them. I almost feel like I've been there with you in some strange, alternate Facebook stalking universe. I was certainly there with you in prayer. I love that all your children - bigs and smalls - are one family now. I'm 49 years old, WAY past adoption age, with one bio so while this doesn't apply to me, I needed to read that last part. God is enough for all of us for all of our needs. His promises apply to us all. I don't know that I always believe that applies to me. Thank you for correcting that misinformation. I very much appreciate you, Jen Hatmaker, for being so open.
Deena - August 21st, 2012 at 5:29 PM
AMEN! Love this...your writing is so full of the truth. I love it when adoptive moms "keep it real!!!"
Amanda - August 21st, 2012 at 5:41 PM
THANK YOU for your brutal honesty. We're eleven years into our adoption journey, and I think it's fair to say that it's never as easy as we think it will be in our pre-child fairy tale imaginations. Around here, we seem to repeat the cycle you mentioned with every life change or dramatic event, and though it's abbreviated all these many years in, it is never, ever easy on anyone. God is indeed enough, and it's so glorious when you hit the other side of the hard parts, knowing full well you didn't get yourself there (because if you're like me, you're still curled up and whimpering somewhere back near the beginning). Thank you for being so frank. This post blessed me, and I know it will bless many, many more to come.
Rachel - August 21st, 2012 at 5:52 PM
We are in Triage...8 months home with our little Ethiopian prince. Took us about 6 months before we felt like we were out of the "fog" and were like "oh crap we forgot we have other kids too who need us!!!" First 3 months home are a total blur...can't even remember them. Survival mode. I look back on pictures and don't recognize myself...Glad to be out of the "blur/fog/gaining weight but didn't seem to eat anything (how does that happen??!)/who are you?/you aren't my mom" phase and now so thankful to be in our new normal....which looks different each day...but I'll take it.
Leslie - August 21st, 2012 at 6:08 PM
Thank you! We are 6 months into our third adoption. This time with our 13 yr old so and we are just beginning to feel like we are becoming a family, a real family! This is the hardest thing I have ever done but it is so worth it. Thank you for sharing the real story!
Sandra - August 21st, 2012 at 6:10 PM
We are in year 6 and 5 from our adoptions from ET. We adopted 3 unrelated children in 2006. While there we "met" our next daughter who we would eventually adopt in 2007. For the first three I think our honeymoon only lasted about 2-3 weeks! However, God blessed us with the first three in that they were "easy" kids. We didn't have too many issues like tantrums, running off, etc. They bonded really well. Their ages were 6 mos, 5
Kristen - August 21st, 2012 at 6:13 PM
Thanks for writing this. Your honesty and humor about adoption keep me from climbing on the ceiling. We are in the Pre-Stage and waiting on paperwork and court approvals to bring our 3 year old daughter home from India. We went to Dr Purvis' "Empowered to Connect" training and are trying to be realistic and prepared for the early stages. I am so grateful for truth in this process. And I keep telling all of our friends and family to read your "How To Be The Village" post. I know we are going to need a VILLAGE. I just keep telling myself that the God I believe in is good and He gives hope to the hopeless.

And the Women's Group I lead is reading 7 in September... LOVE IT!
christie - August 21st, 2012 at 6:15 PM
Great post! We are at year 9, year 8, year 7 and at 17 months, with 4 girls all adopted at older ages..5, 6,8, and 11.

Maybe the definition of insanity is doing it over and over and over! LOL

Our most recent child is now 12. She is awesome. She was disrupted TWICE before she came home. I remember for 2 weeks her saying, "Mama, I have a bad side.... It is really bad..." Oh how she was right. :) But God.....

She was baptized after being home for a year and her life is CHANGED forever!

They are now, 14, 13, 13 and 12. We also have 4 bio boys who are married.
darci - August 21st, 2012 at 6:24 PM
you've nailed it. month 3 of bringing our 2 older children home from Uganda to live with our 2 bio kids. thank you for the hope :)
kristine - August 21st, 2012 at 6:34 PM
Best blog post ever! We're in the pre-stage and oh, yes, we hate you waiting part. I am going to file this away for the days ahead. And thanks for the heads up on the additional stress induced lbs. I've already gained 5. I better get running.
Anne - August 21st, 2012 at 6:36 PM
After being home with our guy for over a year, we have seen all the stages - and still go between them all. We are thankful that there are more good days than bad now and can see our heart really growing for our guy - which we totally know is a God thing. Wow, what a long road it has been, however, with the big surprise that it has been me who has had the hardest time adjusting. Thanks for sharing, as always. Adoption IS a blessing that we hope to pursue again, however it really rocked my world in a painfully sanctifying way that was totally unexpected.
exmish - August 21st, 2012 at 6:42 PM - I pretty much tell it like it is too - thanks for this post! :) We're halfway to where you are and I'm soooOOOooooo grateful the spaz-out phase is just about done. (And FWIW, our honeymoon lasted from the day I picked him up in Ghana until we hit the airport in Amsterdam....that's all. It was spaz-out city up until about a month ago!)
Lindsey - August 21st, 2012 at 6:50 PM
several years of fostering and now 2 adopted. . . love the post. One of my adoption friends said that we could've never known before, or might have been too afraid. But we knew just enough to know we would need to trust God 100% and that it would be hard.

Wanted to ask if you worried much about attachment disorder when adopting your children. This post definitely rings true for most of my children, but my child with attachment issues is a whole other story. I find that most of my friends/acquaintances know little about even when adopting older children internationally.
Brittany - August 21st, 2012 at 6:55 PM
Just weeks away from bringing our 10 year old boy home from ET. We have a one year old whom we adopted domestically at birth as well. THANK YOU for helping me set realistic expectations as we enter into a new chapter in life! A part of me is thrilled to be bringing this youngster into our family
Brittany - August 21st, 2012 at 6:58 PM
Full Comment

Just weeks away from bringing our 10 year old boy home from ET. We have a one year old whom we adopted domestically at birth as well. THANK YOU for helping me set realistic expectations as we enter into a new chapter in life! A part of me is thrilled to be bringing this youngster into our family
Paige Betterton - August 21st, 2012 at 6:58 PM
We just had our 1 year visit. I thought I would die from all the excitement of finally "making it." I, too, longed for truth tellers, albeit this was our second adoption and it was SO much smoother than the first! Wish I'd had a truth teller then!
Jeanie - August 21st, 2012 at 7:06 PM
I loved this post. I am an adoptive Mom to two grown up kiddos that we adopted as infants. One adopted at a few days old and one at a few months. They are now in college and high school and even though they came to us as infants, I had some of these same experiences. The hope is that we trusted the Lord and made it through. They are the joy of my life and there isn't a day that went by that even though it might have been hard, wasn't sweet in the end. Thank you for your honesty, Jen. I think every adoptive parent deserves to know that they aren't alone and they aren't "the only one" experiencing the feelings they feel. They are probably pretty normal. :)
amanda - August 21st, 2012 at 7:07 PM
I can relate with bits and pieces of all of the stages... the similarities weave through even in the vastly different stories we carry. We are adopting twin 18-month old boys through foster care. We became foster-to-adopt parents due to some missteps by the State. We never even considered that option until it was revealed as the only option - and God had already knitted that love in our hearts so "No" was no longer an option. Thank God. Its been hard, and beautiful, and exhausting, and amazing...often within a half hour.

I so relate with your feelings toward your bio kiddos. Oh my word. Spot on. That is a perspective I haven't found as often and I deeply appreciate it.
Kameron - August 21st, 2012 at 7:12 PM
Thanks so much! 6 weeks ago we brought home our 4th child, 2nd adopted from Ethiopia.

We have been cocooning, and I nearly lost my mind..having a 17 mo old insist on being held 24 hrs/day all the while screaming in my face. Yeah, that is great for mamma to baby attachment! I felt myself slipping into an unfamiliar black hole, an abyss without hope, but thankfully I had the where withal to actually call, text, email... my friends who I can trust and tell them "I am not OK! I need you. I need prayer. I need to get OUT for a playdate, coffee, something!" Forget extreme cocooning, I will wear him in an ergo all day! Now, 3 weeks later, I am better. Yes, I have mornings when I just have to cry for a minute because I know what is ahead of me for the day, but God is good and faithful.

Thank you for sharing this. I am going to share with others!

God bless
Heatner - August 21st, 2012 at 7:15 PM
We just sent our dossier and I-1600 a off for our 4 year old daughter in Ghana :). I am terrified and hopeful after reading this post and all the comments
K - August 21st, 2012 at 7:20 PM
I'm 2 months in with my teenage foster child (he's an Unaccompanied Refugee Minor from the DR Congo. So even though it's technically foster care, I met him at the airport and he's mine until he ages out of the system. Some weird middle ground between foster and adoption.) We're in stage 2, for sure. I have chased my teenager into busy traffic, although he's entirely too big to throw over my shoulder and take home! Instead I looked like a kidnapper, driving 2 mph down the road with my window down asking/begging/demanding he get in the car, all to no avail.

It's good to see in the comments that there are a lot of us who have blogged about the nitty-gritty, and not just the sunshine and rainbows.

Jen Hatmaker - August 22nd, 2012 at 5:09 PM
WOW! One time I was driving alongside Ben while he was riding his bike (no meltdown, I just wanted to show him the way to the park), and a woman kept circling back around, and finally she stopped in front of my car and hollered at Ben, "Son, is this woman bothering you?? Do you know her??" We died laughing. A while woman driving slow next to a small black boy on a bike looks suspicious I guess. ;0)
Jessica - August 21st, 2012 at 7:25 PM
We brought our daughter home 7 yrs ago. She was 2 when we adopted her and it was stateside, but I loved every word of this post. I laughed and cried my way through it! Our social worker warned us about the honeymoon phase, but completely left out that Most Epic Freak Out in the History of Life FOLLOWED honeymoon phase!! And mercy, I scoured the web looking for something to assure me we hadn't made the most epic mistake EVER!!

We got up each morning and dealt with the Tantrums to beat all tantrums, the head banging (against the wall) and the anger. I had NO IDEA a two year could feel such powerful emotion!! It was weeks before I recognized her grief through her anger.

I kept thinking, it's not natural... You have 9 months to fall in love the baby that grows in your belly. But this little darling is HERE. And she needs me to love her Now. And I remembered tentatively that only Jesus could and still can, heal her broken heart.

And, now... 7 years in... I forget that I ever struggled through those first months. She has SUCH a big heart and she is amazing. At more than just buckling her car seat! And I so used that as a line of praise!! She was quite masterful at buckling (and UNbuckling!) her 5 point harness car seat! I've never seen another 2 yr old with skills like hers!

I loved your post and identified with all of it!

Thanks for your honesty!
Stacy Wareham - August 21st, 2012 at 7:37 PM
Oh Jen, you make me SOOOO sorry we moved from Austin 10/ are my kindred spirit! And I simply love the complete lack of BS;}...I can say this but I don't have a tat to blame it on:)

My adopted boys are now 11 (twins!) and yes I got them as babies....but I DO get you!

Big Hug!
Ellen Stumbo - August 21st, 2012 at 7:39 PM
I wish I could have read this when I first got home! We did not have a honeymoon, the meltdown happened while we were in country and I secretly wished the bio mother would show up and take her back. The first time I confessed any feelings to a friend (who had adopted) and she nodded and agreed was the beginning of some serious "healing." Thank God for friends that have walked this path before us, and thank Him once more we do not have to do this alone!

Now after 2.5 years, she feels like my very own. Still working on attachment, but so glad we are past the "really hard" and we are now in the "we really do love each other." stage.
dawn - August 21st, 2012 at 7:42 PM
this touched me and spoke to me deeply - home 6 months from China. Our second adoptoin - first time a 22 month old little girl, this time a 5 year old little girl..different..we also have 3 bio boys. thanks for making me feel as normal as possilbe and claiming hte promise of hope.
Amy - August 21st, 2012 at 7:54 PM
Kasey Ellis - August 21st, 2012 at 8:20 PM
Love, love, love how you always tell it like it is!! We had a 2.5 yo bio son, brought home a 5yo from ET, gave birth to a baby girl 4 weeks later. Holy freakin cow. He is home two years now, and I leave in 2 weeks to pick up THREE more from ET! A 9yo, 7yo and 4yo. I have fought this fight. It sucked. But today? I love my son and that is an awesome battle that I fought HARD for. And now we start all over again. God is so faithful.
Sarah - August 21st, 2012 at 8:20 PM
Thank you for this post. This is week three home from Ethiopia. But, we only got one day of "honeymoon" and then our six year old was in the hospital for a week. The three year old has been is "spaz out" since the airplane. Thanks for giving me hope that there are other stages.
Susan - August 21st, 2012 at 8:39 PM
Dang it! I missed the honeymoon and went straight to the ICU! We are 3 months home from The Philippines with our 8 year old daughter and have 3 bios. is rough! Connecting with others who have been down this road and aren't afraid to be honest is a life raft in the deep waters! Thank you for being fo' real!
Kasey - August 21st, 2012 at 11:15 PM
We didn't get much of a "honeymoon" when we brought our then 5yo home from ET either ... It gets better. It really does.
Alicia - August 21st, 2012 at 8:46 PM
WOW! Our son is now 4..came home at 2, having lived in an orphanage since birth, and this is EXACTLY our experience! I remember timing the tantrums and if they were 1 minute less, we were making progress.
Jules - August 21st, 2012 at 9:01 PM
Thank you - you made me laugh, and right now, I've been mostly crying. Thank you for honesty
Chris Weaver - August 21st, 2012 at 9:02 PM
Oh my, you had to remind me! We are down to the last 8-10 weeks away from bringing home a 2 y.o. girl from China...4th time around this mulberry bush....twice with 9 month old babies and once w/ a 10 y.o. son...oh and 3 older bios that somehow still keep growing and encouraging us to adopt.well one of them got married and moved out-
Jody - August 21st, 2012 at 9:04 PM
One year for us was in May. Great blog, Jen. Keep them coming!!!!
Kelli - August 21st, 2012 at 9:08 PM
We are in Stage One, buried in paperwork, nervous and anxious and wondering if this will really happen. Will we really be able to pull this off? To afford it? To get it all together? To survive? And all I want to do is go scoop that baby up, whoever she may be, and hold her tight in my arms.

Thank you for this post. It was everything I needed to hear.
Martha - August 21st, 2012 at 9:12 PM
Thank you for your post. It touched me on so many levels.

Chris Seay - August 21st, 2012 at 9:17 PM
beautiful, honest, helpful...

Thanks for this!
Stephanie - August 21st, 2012 at 9:23 PM
Thank you for this. We're on adoption #3. Wish I would have had this during adoption #1...but I wouldn't have believed it.
Bethany - August 21st, 2012 at 9:23 PM
We're about two months in to having our new little one home with us. It's beautiful and messy and exhausting and fun, and it basically boggles the mind. So true about feelings! Too many for a body to feel... Thanks for telling the truth. Again!
Chris - August 21st, 2012 at 9:28 PM
Shared many smiles and meltdowns with you while reading this. We adopted a 17 year old son in October, so we haven't quite hit the 1 year yet. We are still hanging in there though.
jen - August 21st, 2012 at 9:28 PM
YES!!!! I think our honeymoon lasted all of 3-4 days. It was over quick! We are at year 3, and getting to good places, but still have quite a bit of relapsing. We are still fostering....and therefore still WAITING to someday adopt this sweet boy. Thanks for the honesty!
desiree - August 21st, 2012 at 9:30 PM
Loved this. Unfortunately our honeymoon period lasted until the last day in Ethiopia. We started stage two early the day we left - the plane ride was HELL. Pure exhausting not gonna lie, labor was easier HELL. So glad we are somewhere in stage three or four now. Love does take time. And for those mamma in sage 2 - you can do it and it does get easier, and we who have gone through it totally get you
Julie Knappj - August 21st, 2012 at 9:31 PM
Oh girl.  The Knapp crew are settling into Stage 3.  Not just according to dates but also what is actually occurring.  THANK YOU GOD!!!  I'm surveying the land now and there are only a few tried and true friends
Christy - August 21st, 2012 at 9:42 PM
THANK YOU! I couldn't agree with you more. We are waiting to finalize our adoption of an almost 2 year old little boy domestically who has been with us six months...and we have been waiting a year for a little one from Ethiopia. I LOVE the quote you shared about our emotions. I need to put that one up somewhere so I can see it every day! :) Thank you for your honesty that this is hard, but your passion to do what is God's heart! Just finished Interrupted...thank you for that too!
Amy - August 21st, 2012 at 9:44 PM
Thank you so much for writing this! We are still waiting...18 months into the process and still waiting. God has sealed my heart to the hearts of our two to-be adopted sons. I am still in the get-them-here-quick-Lord stage. The hurt, the hunger, the ache, the constant is all more than I thought I would be capable of. It is surely from Jesus.

I will be sure to bookmark this and read again once my sweet boys are finally home. Thank you for your honesty...but more importantly...your focus on Jesus.
Carol - August 21st, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Thank true. So nice to be understood! We just celebrated 4 years with my beautiful, almost 7 year old son from China...and your blog brought tears and laughter in remembrance. We are blessed! Thanks again... Carol
Joy - August 21st, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I feel like our paths have always been crossing, although we have never met. We lived in Corpus at the same time as your family, and were in Ethiopia at the same time as well.

After reading this post I'm thinking that are paths are not merely crossing, but you are in my head, eloquently writing about what I could never fully articulate.

Reading many of these comments has teared me up again and again! We all say thanks!
T knight - August 21st, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Trying to figure out how in the world we can ever afford to adopt, even though we've felt the call to do so for many years!!!
Sarah - August 21st, 2012 at 10:16 PM
We're almost 2 years into the wait...adopting from South Africa.
Audrey - August 21st, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Awesome, awesome, awesome post! We are in triage, 5 months home with our Ugandan twins. Beginning to see the light and starting to feel human again.
Raina - August 21st, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Wow. We've been home one week with our 22 month old son from Bulgaria. I had thought he would freak out quickly since he's too young to understand what just happened and why his whole life just changed. Thank you for dashing my false hopes now everyone! I'm glad to have read everyone's comments and at least know to still expect the epic freak out. I'm terrified now, but realistic. My son is super spunky, so this should be exciting!

BTW, I loved your comments about the bio kids treating him like a new pet. LOL! So true!!!
Jay - August 21st, 2012 at 10:27 PM
We are a week into stage 1 and frankly terrified about what stage 2 will bring. I am crying as I read this because tonight I dont even know if I LIKE this child and I feel like the worst mother in the world.
Jen Hatmaker - August 22nd, 2012 at 5:00 PM
Hang in there, Jay. This will get better and easier. PUT YOUR FEELINGS IN THE DEEP FREEZE. Don't assess ANYTHING right now. Just mother with your hands and words. Life will look so different in three months, six months, one year, five years. This is the crap storm. You can do it. Have a glass of wine tonight and make your best friend come over and sit on the porch with you. Do the things that keep your soul encouraged. Hugs and love to you.
Kelly G. - August 21st, 2012 at 10:34 PM
We will celebrate 4 years since we received our referral of our sweet Ethiopian boy on Sunday. He came home when he was just 7 mo. old and everything went pretty darn smoothly. Now he is starting to ask more questions and I believe we will hit more processing stages as he gets older. We are in the pre-stages of adoption #2. Right now, we are at the "YES! let's adopt again!" point and trying to figure out where, exactly God has a child for us. Leaning in and praying lots and listening and praising all the while. This post encouraged me so very much.
Erin J - August 21st, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Seven months today. And you nailed it. Our daughter acts "in;" rather than spazzing out she turns into a turtle, goes into her shell and ignores me. It's just as heartbreaking as the tantrums. She's also been "Mommy-shopping." At church, she'll pick a likely motherly older woman and begin snuggling up to her, trying to get the woman to take her home. Nope, kid, you're stuck with me and I am more stubborn than you. I will love you! And yes, glimpses. I see glimpses of her true self, of the beautiful little flower I saw in Africa, who wilted upon being transplanted, but is beginning to put out tentative new shoots and even a few hesitant buds. We're getting there. :)
Sondra - August 21st, 2012 at 10:39 PM
God Bless you TruthTeller!

We were not planning on adopting, we were a medical host family...until a translated phone conversation brought theses words: I think it would be too hard for him to come back, he should stay with you, to be adopted into your family. We are 2 years in, not finalized, and need someone with wisdom past the first two years! We also need someone with experience in TRAUMA! Any advice appreciated! Peace, Hugs
Tina - August 21st, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Wow. Thank you for truth. As an adoptive mom to three (one international, one domestic agency, one domestic independent), I can relate to your story in parts and pieces with each of our kids. Even though our two youngest were adopted as infants and are now 8 and 5, we struggle with questions and heartbreak over closed adoptions and discussions about who their "real" parents are. And my Haitian-born son still asks if we can find out if his birth mother survived the earthquake, and go find her.

I don't regret adoption one single bit. After infertility, it was our only option to become parents. But do I wish sometimes that we could just be parents without the complications of adoption and all it comes with? Yes. Now and then would I like to be looked upon by strangers who think, "What a lovely family" instead of fielding invasive personal questions about their adoptions and birth parent relationships.

But I look at my amazingly beautiful kids and I know that God entrusted them to us for a reason. I have learned not to question God's reasons. Our family was put together with careful consideration and perfect precision by a loving and merciful God. All that is good is worth fighting for. I have, I am, and I will continue to do so. No matter what.

Peace and love to you and your beautiful family on your journey together.
Tammy - August 21st, 2012 at 10:43 PM
The beat advice I can give is to attend a "empowered to connect " seminar coming in sept in Nashville or read dr Karin purvis book on this. It's for children who come from hard places. She is an expert. I have adopted 3 children and have fostered many teenagers and we must parent them differently or we can make their wounds worse! You can also find videos on YouTube that are helpful!

Adoption is a journey of love and selflessness and we are

Commanded by Christ to do it!

I admire ever person who answers the call to adopt! There is nothing like having your child who was an orphan for 13 years wrap her arms around your neck and say, thank you for adopting me mom, I'm sooooo happy to have a family! ;)
Flower Patch Farmgirl - August 21st, 2012 at 10:52 PM
We are in Stage

Something like that. It's a little bit of everything, every day! Today's highlights: His Epic Freak Out was kept to under 10 minutes AND he invited a quasi-homeless, convicted felon, drug-addict to come and live with us in our new house.
Melissa - August 21st, 2012 at 11:01 PM
So good. I love your posts. We are celebrating 1 year home this month with our second adoption and third child. I got my first face to face hug, that he asked for, 1 month ago. We still have a long way to go, but we are slowly making progress. When we went through stage 2, I thought our family was falling to pieces...we were back and forth between both adopted kids in that stage for months. I went on anti-depressants. It was insane. Thanks for putting true words to that experience for me.
LeAnn - August 21st, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Love it! We are soon to celebrate our 4th Forever Day with our 5 year old sweet Guatemalan boy. The hard stuff is SOOOO hard, but the big picture is beautiful! Thankful that my Father sticks with me through Epic Freak Outs, sassiness, resentment, confusion.......
Jori - August 21st, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Oh how I wish I could have read this as "normal" for me. I SOOO withdrew and thought how horrible of a person I was. Thank you so much for sharing (honestly) ;)
Miranda R - August 21st, 2012 at 11:29 PM
We are foster parents, not adoptive parents, however I definitely see all of these stages so far in what we are doing. Then you add in bio parent visits every other week and a upcoming transfer to an out of state relative home at some unknown date in the near future and I feel like we fast forward and rewind back and forth through each stage! And instead of months (or years) to prepare for the child coming your way you have less than 24 hours! It was all worth it when our little guy accepted Christ and was baptized only a month ago. I was every bit as proud of him as I was when our oldest bio son did the same last year.

By the grace of God we have survived every second and thanks to Him alone we will continue to persevere. When you do the work of the Father, he will carry you and never let you down. We are part of his story and he is part of ours. We are learning something from each other every day. It's an amazing journey once you look past the weeds and I'm thankful that He has called us into foster care. (Even if I did kick and scream every step of the way in the beginning.) Maybe one day we will become adoptive parents to a child along the way to add a permanent addition to our bio family.

Thank you for your brutal honesty. You have been a huge inspiration to me during the whole process (starting from when you came to speak at our little church over a year and a half ago). I love your words and I love your heart.
~Laura~ - August 21st, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Then there's me... we adopted out of foster care two Novembers ago. We never had a Honeymoon phase with this child because we knew better. We knew the trauma that he had endured (severe physical abuse
~Laura~ - August 22nd, 2012 at 6:11 PM
My entire story didn't get posted, so these two sentences might as well get pulled down. I thought this was an open forum to share all of our truthful adoption situations....
Jen Hatmaker - August 22nd, 2012 at 6:58 PM
Of course it is! My blog has a weird glitch. A lot of comments get truncated, and the only commonality is that if you use the "
Jen Hatmaker - August 23rd, 2012 at 8:49 AM
So hilarious!!! I just did it myself and my comment got cutoff! If you use the "and" sign, everything after it gets cut off. Weird glitch!
~Laura~ - August 24th, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Thank you, Jen!!! I thought maybe my ugly truthfulness was too much...

Here's the full length version:

Then there's me... we adopted out of foster care two Novembers ago. We never had a Honeymoon phase with this child because we knew better. We knew the trauma that he had endured (severe physical abuse and neglect) and knew the behavior he was already demonstrating (he'd been kicked out of another pre-adoptive home he'd been in for 8 months). But I was determined to love our adopted child before he ever came to live with us as a foster child. And I did love him... for a time.

Our adoption was finalized within 7 months of his arrival. His birth dad was in prison, and birth mom had waived parental rights, so he was all ours, without a fight. He had just turned 5 yrs old and was as cute as the day is long. The first week here he had called me the B-word, spit in my face, hidden a turd under the bathmat, kicked and punched me, and set about destroying the fashionable room I had decorated for him out of love.

We spent the first year knowing it would be TOUGH, but believing that we could parent him successfully (heck, we'd raised our two birth sons 12 and 19 yrs old at the time), and that God would see us through.

For MONTHS he used to challenge us with almost every command/request DAILY. If we said to get his coat on, he would fake that he couldn't get his arm in the sleeve, or put it on backwards, inside-out, or even upside-down (I'm NOT kidding!) We homeschool, so most days this child would spend anywhere from 2-13 HOURS at the garage door (my version of standing in the corner) because he would REFUSE to do his simple school work, such as pronouncing the word "cat". And while he stood at the door, he would SCREAM. Again, anywhere from 2-13 HOURS. Did I mention this happened DAILY?

He would (and still will) steal food at nearly any opportunity and eat until he could and would puke. I have found wrappers in and under dressers, behind all his furniture, stuffed down the bathroom sink drains and in the heating vents. I even found a hardhat full of cereal on his top bunk once. Chocolate milk cartons and apple cores stuffed under dirty and clean clothes. Oh! And I should mention, the child wouldn't just take prepared food. No, he would eat dried beans, glue, chapstick, unsweetened dark chocolate, whatever. Let me just tell you, dark chocolate is almost impossible to get out of carpet after the black puke has soaked in all day and night.

This beautiful, charming, and highly intelligent child has urinated in his shoes, etched hateful things in his bedroom and bathroom doors, as well as his windowsill. He has attempted to open his car door while I was flying down the highway at 70mph (legal speed in IA). He has lied through his teeth to his therapists, to the point that had I not been there to counter his tales with the truth, ugly things could have happened. His Christian psychologist (who's been practicing for over 20 yrs) confirmed for me that the child is teetering on becoming a sociopath. I have had visions of him stabbing me. He cannot be trusted alone with our family dog or visiting small children. Really, he simply can't be trusted, PERIOD.

Anyway... here we are, over 2 1/2 years later and I struggle daily, because that feeling of love
Patty - August 21st, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I stumbled onto this post via Flower Patch Farmgirl. How I wish I had read this when we adopted 22 years ago. I can't believe it has been 22 years. We adopted bio sisters at the age of four and five. No instruction manuals just a list of what these girls may or may not have been exposed to. It was a county adoption and the records were sketchy at best. I can remember vividly the feeling of being totally overwhelmed the first week. Tears were a common occurence, (by me) and thoughts of buyers remorse and returning the merchandise ran through my mind daily. But as time passed and we allowed ourselves to feel past the self preservation numbsness, God's plan for our family became evident. I wish I could say that it got easier but those adorable children become teenagers and all of their past enters the stage with them. Now on the other side with the blessing of grandchildren I can honestly say that God in his infinite wisdom and grace was more than sufficient. I cannot imagine what our life would look like without them.
Amber Stutzman - August 21st, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Wow, love you, love your books and all that your write! We have been home 3 weeks with our 2 new kiddos 13 and 7 and have 5 other children also (yes that is 8 and yes, we are crazy) but it is SO hard and you hit everything that I could say. The fear is hard, the doubt, the what-ifs, but God is good and he is here. Growing is hard work and it hurts, but I know that on the other side of this will be beauty! Here is the post that I wrote on this week two of being home!
Mel - August 22nd, 2012 at 12:35 AM
the 10lbs are gained and we are almost at stage 4 :) So many many similarities to your post! All of our children are adopted, but out oldest 2 were newborn... our newest gem is 2 and a half now! We have had her for 7 months and are beginning to see the beauty that we imagined before meeting her :))) Thank you for your honesty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ps- we adored her before we even met her... it has just been a long road!
Jamie - August 22nd, 2012 at 2:03 AM
We are in the "early stages" about a year-and-a-half in to bringing our little one home from India. We can't wait for our little girl to get home, though I'm sure it will be a little like when I had my first child. He came out, something I wanted him to do sooooo bad, and then I thought, "Oh crud, what do I do now?!?!?!?!?" That stage makes me nervous, but I can't wait! Oh, and "trimester 1", aka paperwork stage, that was my 10 pound stage ;)
Linda - August 22nd, 2012 at 2:20 AM
Funny how God plops people in your life.... for a reason. Yesterday my sister handed me your book "7". I read several chapters WAY past midnight, woke up in the morning and downed a few more. Today a fellow facebook adoptive mom in Phoenix links to this post. Wow! Another great read. Thanks for the encouragement in all areas. We have been home with our Colombian princess for 20 months. She just turned 9. I started feeling like myself again around 12 months along. TOTALLY worth every out-of-body experience that God brought along the way. Blessings!
Kristin - August 22nd, 2012 at 3:22 AM
I think we are in stages 2, 3 and 4 ....

We adopted a sibling group of three. We had no kiddos at the time. A bit of a shocker. Throw into that a little Reactive Attachment Disorder and PTSD and well..... yup. I can totally relate to your post. Except for the international bit. Ours are from the states.

I love your honesty. I try to be very open .... one of the truth tellers...... Thank you for giving all of us hope.... for helping us to feel less horrible .... less guilty.
Jennifer - August 22nd, 2012 at 7:15 AM
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!! We have 2 bios and 2 kiddos from China. After our first adoption I was a HOT MESS. Convinced I was a horrible person because I regretted this road and hated my kid. And I could find NO ONE who would be honest about the hard times. Oh man, how I wish I had this blog post then!!! But, God is faithful, and now we are on the other side and it is awesome...just as you describe. Our timeframes were a little different, but otherwise, the same!
Dawn - August 22nd, 2012 at 7:51 AM
Sobbing like a big wussy.

I would also like to add that for some kiddos the spaz out and triage stages are much longer. Mine spazzed out for 2 years. We triaged for another 2. And now, on year 5, we are finding our groove. Moments of the crazies, but much, much more of the normal.

And we are jumping back into it again. ;)

Love, love, love this post.
Jackie O - August 22nd, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Wow, thank you. That's all I can say. I already shared this post with others on my blog.
Brittni - August 22nd, 2012 at 8:30 AM
We are in the waiting stage! Almost on month 2 of being on the waiting list! Should I go ahead and punch myself in the liver now??? hahahaha.

Very much enjoyed this. Love the reality check, and the truthfulness of your posts. People need to know adoption isnt always pretty, we need to be prepared for he hard stuff. And thanks for making that something were aware of.
Lynne - August 22nd, 2012 at 8:31 AM
Adoption is not for the faint of heart - especially older child adoption. You must know that when God calls you, HE also equips you. Adopting two American sisters from foster care at ages 12
Auntie J - August 22nd, 2012 at 8:46 AM
We didn't adopt, per se. We agreed to take in my three young nieces (at that time, not quite 3 and 18-month-old twins) when their parents were splitting and my brother needed help. It was supposed to be a short-term deal. It's now over four years and a 14-month-long court battle later, and these are MY kids. Heaven help anyone who thinks differently (including my brother).

We had the benefit of loving them from the perspective of aunt-uncle/niece to begin with, but it didn't take long for the fierce love of motherhood to take control. We had no children of our own at the time, and we probably never will. We have these three. My husband loves them as if they were his own, rather than his idiot brother-in-law's. (And he doesn't hold that idiocy against me!) We can't imagine life without them.

That's not to say it's been easy. The two oldest girls pushed boundaries as they got comfortable with us. But they pushed a couple at a time. The youngest, however, remained timid and shy and reserved for over a year...until she decided, "hey, this is for keeps; let's see how they do" and proceeded to push every boundary known to man. All at once. All three of them were developmentally delayed and have required therapy. The oldest still requires speech therapy, and the twins may well need it this year. It's been a crazy ride. I have not been bored in over 4 years. By the same token, I've been exhausted constantly for the last 51 months.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Pat - August 22nd, 2012 at 8:48 AM
All I can say is...It has been 4.5 years and I am still trying to lose those 10 lbs!
Amy - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:02 AM

Yeah I gained 10lbs too! Maybe now that our sweetie leaves for kindergarten tomorrow I can work on that.

This article is hilarious! We are almost at the 2 yr mark. I promise you, it gets better and better! Oh and did I mention I can't wait for kindergarten to start tomorrow? Ha ha Seriously, things are soooooo much better. Not perfect but pretty darn close and I actually have forgotten on occasion that our sweetie is adopted. A crazy but well worth it ride ya'll!
Pam - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:02 AM
Oh my goodness, thank you so much for this post. I can't wait to read the comments that people posted. I could hardly read (especially phase 3) because I was laughing and crying so much. I've been reading your blog for at least 9 months but I've only read it once since we returned from Ukraine the end of March with our 16 year old, at that was to re-read the much needed "After the Airport" blog. I haven't had time to read and I think I've only blogged once or twice since we've been back. 3 surgeries for me since adopting have added to the already stressful event. We are going through all these exact things you talk about even though I absolutely love and adore our son with all my heart. This is the hardest thing we have ever been through by far but we know we would go through it again if God called us to do it. He is so faithful!
Jamie - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:02 AM
Picking up our little 5 year old girl who has Down syndrome from Hong Kong in two weeks after the waiting game of 18 months. THANK YOU for your honesty, your humor, being candid and REAL. It is a breath of fresh air.

I'm a fellow OBU grad, class of '94 and I am proud to see the Lord do such awesome work in your lives that touches so many.
Kelly - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Thank you!!!!!!! I had one of the worst nights with my "new" family last night and my dear friend sent me a link to your blog. I am definitely in Stage 2 - UGH. I feel like the walls are falling around me and all hell has broken loose. I walk around like a zombie just feeding kids, doing dishes, laundry, driving people around, and putting out fires (not literally yet - fingers crossed). Oh, and my husband happens to be out of Japan. I am trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel and pray it's not a train.

We adopted our 1st son demestically when he was 4 months old - he is 6 now. We started transitioning with a sibling group of 3 from foster care in June and they moved in August 1st. They are 6, 4 and 3. OY! As I have told many people, there are issues flying all around my house. Again, thank you and your timing (God's timing) is perfect.
David - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:46 AM
We've adopted two kids from China. Our daughter, five years ago
David - August 22nd, 2012 at 9:51 AM
We've adopted two kids from China. Our daughter, five years ago and our son, two years ago (we've also got three bio kids). Three things we've learned the hard way:

(1) Grace. We've got to give ourselves lots of grace through this lifelong process. It's hard
Eryn - August 22nd, 2012 at 10:05 AM
"You’ve mothered with your hands and words, and God did the heavy lifting, just like He promised. You don’t have to be a miracle worker; that has always been God’s territory. You just have to be the ordinary disciple who says yes."

Loved this! My husband and I got to go on our first date NINE MONTHS after our foster-to-adopt kiddos came and after all the "hey remember me? oh yes, I forgot how fun you were!" was said between us we talked about the kids. My husband got a word from the Lord that God says "I will do the heavy lifting- let me do it!". That has been such a great comfort to me ever since!
Name - August 22nd, 2012 at 10:33 AM
And yet sometimes there is no happy ending. Sometimes you marriage falls apart and you are the one blamed by your (now) ex-husband for all of adopted childs issues. Blamed because you didn't do more, you didn't love her enough. 6 years later still wondering... will she ever accept me....
Anne (Adopted Mom) - August 22nd, 2012 at 10:49 AM
No words. Praying for you, unnamed to me, now. Praying that it is just 'no happy ending... yet."
Jen Hatmaker - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:52 PM
I'm so sorry. Truly. Adoption can be such a pressure cooker. I hope you have a group of friends and loved ones who have stuck with you and your daughter. You can do this, Mama. Even alone. Praying for you this afternoon.
Andrea - August 24th, 2012 at 8:37 AM
Adopting kids with special needs has its risks including a divorce rate of 75%. the stress is high and rad kids triangulate one parent against the other
Su - August 22nd, 2012 at 10:34 AM
I have always enjoyed reading your blogs..."The Airport" was the first one I ever read. And I enjoyed reading this one today. I just wish all adoptions were a process w/4 stages and a "this too shall pass" application. Our daughter and husband felt called to adopt long before they ever married. Now, having been married 16 years, they have 5 children...2 biologically and 3 adopted. While every adopted child is different, some definitely come with more issues than others. Our daughter's home is a Christian home, filled with the love of the Lord who is the primary focus in every aspect of their lives. The children are home-schooled and from all outward appearances, life is good. But one of the adopted children suffers from fetal alcohol affect, has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, anxiety disorder, and ADHD. He was 6 when he became a part of our family, having been in 6 homes previous to our daughter's. He turned 10 last week, and after 4 years in a loving, godly home, he still appears to be in stage 2 due to all his issues. He recently spent 5 months in a treatment facility after threatening to kill himself and his mother on multiple occasions. It is heart wrenching. While we all know God is sovereign and in control, life isn't always as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4. Sometimes 3 never arrives. Our son-in-law and daughter have never questioned God's call to adopt (they are praying about adoption number 4 now), but life with their son may never progress past stage 2. It will be only by the grace of God and a miracle that life will change for him...and them. Encouragement is needed for those, like our daughter, who have a child stuck in stage 2...possibly forever. We all love this little guy and pray for God's intervention. In the meantime, life is tough, and God's grace is sufficient. He doesn't call everyone to an easy road. We just pray that through it all He will receive glory. For others who may find themselves in a similar situation, the book, "Wrestling with an Angel" is an amazing perspective.
Jen Hatmaker - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:50 PM
Bless them all. Those are a lot of serious medical issues to handle. And they are praying about another adoption! You can count on me to pray for that sweet boy and his parents and the whole family.
mary - August 22nd, 2012 at 10:43 AM
God Bless you in your journey~I have twin girls who came home @ 23 months. The first year was the hardest. Each month gets easier I promise!! Love does cover all, holds all, heals all.
Penny - August 22nd, 2012 at 10:51 AM
This blog is a gift; thank you for sharing
Anne - August 22nd, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Thanks for this. I'm an (older) single woman who has just finalized the adoption of a 22 month old girl from foster care. She has been with me since she was 5 months old. Even though my story is very different I see so many similarities. I know most people would like to think... you 'got her' at 5 months, she'll only know you as her Mom, she won't remember the early months or separations, the drugs that were in her system were gone before you got her... what a perfect situation...easy. The temptation is to let them think that it is easy. Thank you for being a truth teller about some adoptions. Our situation isn't going to be as difficult as many of the stories I just read in your thread but it's never been easy. The fits are less frequent now, the sense of of being connected and "attached" gets stronger every day inch by inch, the doubts and fear that I may have screwed up both our lives by my choice are more infrequent. God has shown himself so faithful. He has filled in so many gaps and provided so many needs. He has been a wonderful co-parent which I realize sounds a bit crazy! But He has. In the too tired for tears and I'm so far beyond the end of my rope I don't remember dropping it moments, it helps me to remind myself that He loved her first and will always love Her best. He saved her from a situation I wasn't there for. Even knowing all my shortcomings and inadequacy he still chose me to step in and be her Mom. With all that, he can be trusted with all that is to come. Even if it's always hard. Even if (insert any one of hundreds of my scariest fears)... He is faithful. And in the end, it will be worth it. Even if. Thanks for your post.
Jen Hatmaker - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:48 PM
I love how you describe God as your co-parent. Wonderful. Super proud of you for just going for it, sister. I hope your story encourages other single parents to throw their hat in the ring. Prayers for you today...
Erin - August 22nd, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Beautiful, beautiful truth. Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly! We just celebrated our 3 yr. "gotcha day" with our sweet 7 year-old Yonas. I relate to everything in your experience....and know that it will bless so many! Adoption has been the hardest, most wonderful, life-changing, sanctifying journey I've ever been on. And I'd turn around and do it all over again. Quite amazing to look back at what was and now what is. God is so faithful.
Angela - August 22nd, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Cried, flat out cried over this! Thank you so much for posting! I know I have felt so much guilt for feelings and thoughts on the negative side I have had on this journey. Though our situation is so mind boggling and unique we have seen God move, not in only small ways but in the miraculous! Yet so much pain through it all. Everyone had really made adoption look easy and like a pretty package with a bow but that is not the REAL! You my friend and REAL and what we need to hear! It gives us hope. I am almost to month 8....Rehab. :) Cannot wait. Love to be in the spot where I can see God move in big ways!

Much love,

Susan Killeen - August 22nd, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Hi Jen,

Just wanted to say thank you! I loved how you told the truth with humor and hope! I am a mom to 5...2 of whom were adopted as older kids from Ethiopia as well. I am a therapist former adoption agency director that is just launching 'Apples and Honey Resources' to come alongside others in truth and love. I would love to talk to you if you have any free time about a book idea. Info below! Thanks!!
Lana - August 22nd, 2012 at 1:03 PM
Somewhere between freak out and triage here in AZ with 2 from Ethiopia (5
Holly - August 22nd, 2012 at 1:13 PM
Thanks for writing this! We are in the waiting phase on adopting 3 siblings. Although they are our biological nieces and nephews (they are my husband's half-sister's kids), we don't know these kids. They have been in foster care for over a year and the oldest is coming to us with serious behavioral issues already, so we are not going into this naively. I and scared to death and excited all at the same time. I am reading all I can now hoping some of it sinks in. I am dreading some of those hard days of transition, but I am also very hopeful that we will come out of this. My husband and I know this is ministry--we are being called to minister to and serve these little ones and give them a better life. I bookmarked this post. I know in the coming months I will need to return to it and remember that God is in it with us....and He will get us through. Thanks for sharing.
Gretchen - August 22nd, 2012 at 1:57 PM
So so very good. We are in stage 5--Some 13 years out from going to China to get our precious girl. She is now a teenager. What. were. we. thinking. OR we are just like all those parents of teens in every way, shape, and size who wade through the drama, trauma, and disaster to catch glimpses of the child who was, and who is becoming, through God's grace, an even more amazing human being. And guess what? We are too. God is like that, I've found. Surprise! You get to grow whether you birth or adopt! It's a family affair. Thanks so much for sharing it all!
Marie - August 22nd, 2012 at 2:06 PM
A year? Really? You can work through all of these stages in a year? Really? We were in the honeymoon stage for 1 week and have been in Stage Two for... two years. TWO YEARS.

There's really no more I want to say here because I'm sure I'll be pummeled by all the people who think adoption is great, but it's hard for me to believe that it will actually get better. Maybe. I completely gave up this summer, but then I found out that my husband feels much the same as me. At least he and I are in this together, but we feel we are watching the adoption destroy our life and our family. And, yes, we are totally surrounded by people who think adoption is great, which is totally unhelpful. An unrealistic timeline doesn't help either, sorry.
Jen Hatmaker - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:46 PM
Marie, I am so, so sorry. I can so hear your despair. (Like I said in this piece, this is just our story and might bear no resemblance to anyone else's.) Do you and your husband have a decent support network? Have you tried counseling or therapy for your child and yourselves? How old is your adopted one? If you are surrounded by adopters, I bet at least SOME of them are struggling and might be a potential lifeline? Do you mind telling me where you live and some details? I'd love to help you if I could.
Myra - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:48 PM
Im so sorry Marie...Please try to take a break, take care of yourself...this is hard exhausting work and you have to have agood support system. I hope you have a really good adoption therapist. I will pray for you! Hang in there! Myra. Feel free to email if you need to
Kelly - August 22nd, 2012 at 2:08 PM
Oh thank you. We are in stage 1 - adopting from ethiopia struggling with how to find a notary whol will come to my Drs. office and thinking wow I can't wait. My two bio kids have been extremely good and excited about all this and I'm thinking this is probably not goign to be the flowery cake walk it is fantasized about in my head. All I can think of is holding him and loving him and seeing him at our dinner table. However, I am thankfully blessed to have two super close friends with adopted kids to know that it won't be but until he gets here and even through the Attachment in Adoption book and through it all it's the only picture in my head. I'm so thankful for your writing and for your truth and hyperbole they both help. May God continue to bless through all that He's take you through. Thank you again.
Katinka - August 22nd, 2012 at 2:16 PM
Thank you SO much for sharing! I've written about the same issue just last week, as we are also almost one year at home with our daughter (3.5y). It is in dutch, so you won't understand it, but the story is basically the same, save the honeymoon part. She didn't even pretend to like us. She started screaming and kicking the very minute she saw us and only stopped when she fell asleep, exhausted, fleeing from her trauma. It took 4 grownups to get her into the taxi from the orphanage.

I was SO angry with all the pink fairytale stories I read on blogs, which made me feel so insecure. Oh no, I didn't love her those first few months. I desparately wanted to, because I thought everyone did so. But even now I sometimes doubt my love.

Like I see here, people were gratefull for sharing this 'truth' and some, who didn't know anything about adoption, really had opened their eyes. They didn't even realize that adopted children wouldn't be grateful AT ALL. I'm glad I could educate them in this matter...

One of the worst parts for me was the feeling I had destroyed our family. Our biological son was in shock. He couldn't handle her tantrums, he was devastated by seeing me really upset and angry and screaming. I never had been like that before, because he never drove me that far. He hated his new sister for that. And I cried my heart out when he told me he was getting scared of me, when I was angry with his sister. He would run outside untill my anger or her tantrum was over. Luckily I was able to pull myself together and stop expressing my anger. Now, I don't shout anymore and peace has returned. More or less.

An even worse shock came a few weeks ago, when our neighbours accused me of abusing our daughter. They had seen me 'handle' her in those first months (being: taking her by the arm and dragging her inside because I couldn't carry her when she was hysterical) and had heard her screaming for hours afterwards. They were convinced I had been beating her half to death. While all I did was trying to calm her down, holding her, keeping her safe from not hurting herself. They are now convinced I'm beating her, every time they hear her scream. They threaten to call child protection if it doesn't stop. Because yes, she sells a lot of drama, she doesn't just 'cry'. I was (and am still) truly devastated by that accusation. In part because I do féél that I haven't been the best parent for her. It has been so hard. I'm blaming myself every single day for not being infinitely patient by her, for shouting at her that first year. I REALLY don't need the extra blames...

KC - August 22nd, 2012 at 3:40 PM
Your last 2 paragraphs sound SO much like our experience. We adopted a 2 year old girl three years ago and I was so upset by what I saw our older daughter going through. After the honeymoon stage, our once peaceful home was filled with yelling, by the 2 year old and me. I've never been so disappointed in myself, but it was really, really hard. I just wanted you to know that you're not alone, and that for us, things have gotten much better. My kids are normal siblings now, some fights, but a lot of love for each other, too. Saying a prayer for you right now.
Nanette - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:23 PM
Katinka, oh sweet girl. I yelled a lot the first year home with our then 3 year old from Vietnam. We all survived - he, his 7 year old brother also from Vietnam and his other brother who is our bio son. He is now 14 fabulous, funny, smart, loves Jesus, excels at gymnastics, etc. We are headed to Colombia soon to adopt our 4th and 5th boys. You get through the hard stuff and one day you I'll wake up and realize your family is THRIVING.
Jen Hatmaker - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:39 PM
I honestly believe "love covers a multitude of sins." UGH, I have so many moments this first year I wish I had back (one this very morning, in fact). That you figured out how to regulate your emotions is amazing. As for your neighbors, have you considered taking her out for coffee and giving her a no-holds-barred tutorial on what your life is like, what adopted kids are going through, etc? She has no idea, and you might make an ally out of her. Love to you.
Katinka - August 23rd, 2012 at 3:34 AM
I actually tried to, but it's an old crancky couple that doesn't remember how to smile anymore and sees the negative in all. As an example, one day the woman asked me why I was taking the children for a picnic in the forest, rather than having it in our garden. As I didn't really understand that logic, she explained she was convinced I was going to the forest where nobody could see me hitting my children. She would rather have me in our backyard where she could keep an eye on me, she said. My being speechless after that and angrily trying to mumble an explanation that I was going for a forest picnic, because it was on our son's wishing list, seemed to prove her right: if I didn't know how to answer to that and get angry, I was certainly guilty...

I tried to explain how hard it was for our daughter to be adopted, of all she had been through, of all wé had been through, but she just didn't listen. She 'knows' children, she said. 'They don't act that extreme'. Sigh. She didn't want to come over either, because 'she was afraid of me'. People who know me, would laugh about that. Being afraid of a woman who even catches spiders in the bath tub to put them outside peacefully :-)

So I'm trying to let it go. We're saving to put a very long and high fence between our gardens, so she can't spy on us anymore...

And for the blaming myself part: I'm working on it. Convincing myself I don't have to be perfect. That children learn more from real mothers than from perfect ones. It actually helped our son to see that I too struggled with my anger. He accepts my help now in controlling his own temper, because he knows I can relate.

But still, there are a multitude of moments I would like to call back and handle better. I have a lot of regretful tears left. But luckily not the ones regretting our adoption decision, not anymore.

Thank you all for your kind words and supports! Although things are getting better now, it still means a lot to me.

Love from Belgium,
Marlene - August 23rd, 2012 at 1:11 AM
We adopted a sibling group of 4 from Haiti. Their ages were 10, 9, 4 and 2 ......the oldest had some very traumatic experiences that left her hating everyone
Terri - August 22nd, 2012 at 2:19 PM
LOVE this post. Love the honesty mixed with the truth and beauty that comes from these hard realities. We have adopted three (at different times) from Russia. Our third had a really hard first year, skipped the honeymoon phase and was spazzing from the beginning! I did three things that helped me (these things mainly helped *me*; we did tons of other things to help him: occupational, speech, physical therapy to name a few). First, I would identify lies that the enemy whispered in my head. If I thought: "He's ruining our lives" or "we should never have adopted him" or "we/he would be better off if he was still in the orphanage" I would immediately tell myself that was untrue and move on to something different. Second, I committed to telling him I loved him at least 5 times a day whether I felt like it or not, with as much physical touch as he could handle at the time. If he could handle a big hug, I would give him one, but if he couldn't I would just sit beside him and say it. (he is now the most affectionate and vocal about his emotions of all of my 3!) Third, I wrote out his story from his perspective. I went from the time he was born through all the details that we knew, to how scary it must have been when he met us and we took him from the orphanage. I tried to imagine how those experiences must have felt to him and wrote it all out. That exercise gave me so much empathy for him and really helped me relate to him.

Other things that helped in the spazzing out period (he was two, so I don't know how helpful it would be for other kids): Remember that they may have to learn things that you wouldn't normally think you need to teach a child: big things and little things like how to trust you, how to eat when there is unlimited food available, how to sit still for 5 minutes, how to self-sooth/lay down/relax for bedtime, how to know your parents come back at day care or when a sitter comes, how to live outside of an institution (this is especially true for Russian borns; they've had their entire day tightly scheduled so that the freedom and free time of family life can be overwhelming. really overwhelming.). This means limiting activities, events, and even the amount of "things" they have (your "hunkering down"). Another thing to remember when they first come home is that slowing down/stopping a fun activity means they may actually have to start thinking about all that has happened and actually feeling the grief in their hearts. Constant movement and activity keeps all of our minds off of the sadness in our hearts--thus the defiance and difficulty with transition and bedtime that some of our kids experience.
Addie - August 22nd, 2012 at 2:21 PM
We didnt really get a honeymoon period at all - maybe the plane ride home? We were in that stage 2 for over a year - where every day was hard, hard, hard.... I think it was compounded because we didnt have any family, friend or church support during that time... only recently - probably the last 3-4 months have we been in that stage 3 where our good days outnumber our bad (been home for almost 2 years)... its still really tough some days, but its worth it.... about to start our second adoption!
Niki Burdett - August 22nd, 2012 at 2:29 PM
I sit in my hotel room in Uganda reading this tonight. We were in court today and will get a ruling tomorrow. Pray that it is favorable! Thank you so much for your honesty, it's rare and wonderful! I especially liked when you said "Will you struggle with guilt and fear that first year? Yes, but you shouldn’t. You’ve agreed to partner with God in some difficult, heart-wrenching work, and it’s no kum-by-yah party. Give grace to yourself; God already has." I strive to give myself grace.
Tracy - August 22nd, 2012 at 2:51 PM
We are 10 months into adoption with two kiddos from Foster Care - adoption should be finalized within the next 3 months. Yes, our journey has been a bit different, but let me tell you, what you laid out? NAILED IT. I used to tell myself nearly every night for the first 3-4 months "In 6 months this will look different" and it does. IT WAS HARD. Still is some days, but God has been at work in every aspect and I would totally do it again. Truth tellers, I'm convinced, are a lifeline of hope for someone walking the adoptive journey. Truth tellers kept me from losing my sanity some days!
Yvette - August 22nd, 2012 at 3:03 PM
Wow, we are jsut entering 9 months and I looked at our Holy terror the other day and thought - we made it - and believe me I didn't think we would. He IS funny, and sweet and starting to get it. Our daughter (home at the same time) I went through the steps and thought where did she fall. SHe is a joy and happy, but at the 3-4 months she was so sad, and compared me to her CHina Momma. Although we didn't have the screaming holding that we did with our son, there was still holding to comfort and a strength of character that is required to get them to understand THIS is a family.

THank you - we are stage 1 for our last little "oops".
Sandra Taylor - August 22nd, 2012 at 3:17 PM
I cried reading this post. We are 5 months home with our 18 month old daughter from China and I have felt everything here. And I'm finally realizing...I'M NORMAL. Praise God!

This post is absolutely brilliant. Every parent in any part of adoption needs to read it.
Kijsa - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:08 PM
Wonderful post...we are a year and half home from south Korea with our youngest son- everything went somewhat smoothly (as smooth as I guess it could know night terrors, bonding, bio jealously) ...but bonded well. I would live to find out if people wonder about the biological parents as much as I think about them- more than I imagined...does she know where he is...does she care...does she remember at all or try to find him on the streets...does she know she gave us one if the greatest gifts one could ever receive-

True...adoption is harder than the smiling pictures of gathered families and certificates of citizenship...

...but WOW! Is it even better than you could imagine...that your heart could stretch and your children could grow and you could look at your husband and say..."we are blessed"

Thank you for you post!


stacey - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:12 PM
Thank you Jen Hatmaker for "Truth" that sometimes is just so hard to share with family and friends.
Tonya Garrick - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:15 PM
We are waiting but have been matched. Bringing her home next year?! Hopefully! I feel like when I was about 4 months pregnant, everyone had been told about the baby, didn't know what it was, sick and tired all the time, strangers didn't know why because I wasn't showing... excited/nervous/scared all at the same time!:)

I hope I don't neglect my bio boys when she comes home, but I'm counting on that extra love to show up, just like it did after baby #2 was born!
Kris - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:16 PM
Oh my goodness...I've had several of my friends post this for me to read, but this is the first time I've had the chance to read it. I can SO relate. We are 4 yrs into adoption #1 (Chinese infant) and 16 months into #2 (Chinese teen) we adopted out of birth order. We completely found ourselves in Stage 2 at 4 weeks...EXACTLY at 4 weeks...she COMPLETELY freaked out. We got through that. We moved into stage 3 and then into stage 4...I would say that today...we are back into stage 3, probably, but some days stage 2. Seriously, I think on some level with our teenage we are on a different stage EVERY DAY. Its like living in a haunted house--not knowing what we're going to wake up to every morning.

Its horrible on child #1 (now the youngest), who's more mature most days than my teen. She has her own hurts that we attempt to "contain" to prevent further damage that continues to be caused by #2. I feel like a horrible mom that I want to spend time with #1 instead of manage the behavior of a 7yr old in a teenager's body. She needs more sleep, wants to have the "benefits" of a teen, but want to behave like a 7 yr old--or younger often. Our SW is clueless. Our agency is MIA. Thankfully we had #1 in play therapy with an exceptional therapist before we started the journey for #2 who's helped me try and stay stable since we brought her home. I'll be honest, most of the time, I feel like we're in Stage 2, especially when boundaries continue to be implemented/reminded she goes crazy because she doesn't like to give us control, especially lately.

God is good. God brought her to us, but today I would be lying if I said I do not look forward to the day she moves out. I pray that changes. Soon. We walk this path, not because its easy, but its the one God called us to walk. And obedience trumps comfort every single time.
joy - August 22nd, 2012 at 4:19 PM
>> obliterated “timeline.” (Dear People Who Give Us Timelines, please stop doing that.)
Love that. Speaking from the standpoint of an agency that refuses to give timelines when asked.... We do the best we can to disclose to our families the latest-greatest info as soon as we can do so without jeopardizing others' processes--because we want families to be able to adjust their expectations accordingly. When we don't have control over the circumstances either, the one thing we can give is the information we do have. But yeah--we're constantly asked to give a timeline. It's an understandable request, but all parties involved will end up regretting it....
Jeana - August 22nd, 2012 at 5:37 PM
This is just what I needed, someone to tell me the flat out truth. We are adopting a little girl with Down syndrome from Russia, a month from our court date. I've been getting more and more anxious as I know this is going to be a major adjustment that we really can't prepare for. We are really excited, but know that it is going to be a challenge. I will be returning to read this as we push through and remember that it really isn't about us, it's about God and what He can do. He has made it all happen up to this point, and He won't leave us in the midst, even when it might feel like it. Thanks again!
Noreen - August 22nd, 2012 at 6:44 PM
My 6 year old son just came home from Bulgaria in Dec 2011, as a single mother I have had a very rough 9 months. I was not braced for the impact of the change... no one every was honest.. thank you for this post, I have shared it with my adoption blog and find it valuable insight... my son is in the daily rage and aggression (hitting mode)... but I know I was selected by the Lord for my little boy and persevere for his wholeness... thank you for the time you put in to compose this.. well done...
Chris - August 22nd, 2012 at 7:07 PM
Yes, yes, and yes. We were the ones with the melted down screaming child on our river walk... you know, the ones that had the police called on them. 4 years out and it gets better and better. I still can't believe that after all the trauma they suffered that they love us and are bonded. And I can't believe the change wrought in our own hearts. Ours lives are so much bigger and better.
Dee - August 22nd, 2012 at 7:27 PM
Thank you, you have probably given a lifeline to many by this post...we are 11 years out from adopting a 4.5 yr old from China. had 3grown children and 6 grandch.ildren at the time. We were 57.. She was diagnosed with RAD and given counseling, so needed for some of these kids. I encourage ALL adoptive parents to read up on this disorder and if needed find reputable counseling, counselors who do not know how to counsel a RAD child can cause more damage. Books by Gregory Keck are wonderful, parenting the hurt child and others...but God is above all the great parent!!!
Rachel - August 22nd, 2012 at 7:54 PM
We had our one year post placement yesterday. My Ethiopian daughter is 3ish and God help us, it has been a year. Somehow I underestimated being a single parent to a toddler from an orphanage in a foreign county. Imagine that. She is amazing, she is joyful, she is a firecracker, and it appears that she is cognitively gifted. But she is also biter, she doesn't sleep well (I adore sleep), and she has tested just about every last nerve I ever had. I spent 8 months hating every last person who told me how lucky I am to have her. I am that lucky, but when I was about ready to throw a bag in the car and drive to anywhere where no one knows me to start my life completely over again I did not feel very lucky. Thanks for this post - adoption is wicked hard. It is amazing and (I shudder to think it) I'm going to do it again. I wish I had read something like this earlier because I did think I was a crappy mother and my kid was a lemon. To be perfectly honest, I reached a point where I thought ok, I will never love her like I'm supposed to but I can fake it. I can raise her and hopefully she'll never figure out this is all a sham. And then, on a random day, I was gobsmacked to realize that I loved her. Loved her so much that I can't imagine there was a time when I didn't.
Addie - August 23rd, 2012 at 8:47 AM
thank you for being so totally honest... I had many, many of the same feelings - if only it wasnt so hard for adoptive parents to be honest without being harshly judged... thank you
Christine - August 22nd, 2012 at 8:09 PM
We are home 2 1/2 years with our 4 1/2 year old daughter from China. I wish you had written this 2 1/2 years ago when we came home from China! You hit the nail on the head!
Babette - August 22nd, 2012 at 8:43 PM
Thanks so much for writing this. We're 13 year veterans of this process. I literally laughed out loud throughout.

As a friend once told me, "We think we get our referrals from an agency. They really come from God." There is no other reason (other than these are truly our kids) that we would struggle, bleed, cry and suffer through this (and pay with our life savings for the experience) if this wasn't meant to be.

Erin Davis - August 22nd, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Jen -

I really appreciate your honesty and transparency (as always). What families in the adoption process don't need is sugar coating. It is not helpful to deal with the real obstacles that come with the journey.

My husband and I had a failed adoption. Despite the outcome, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Nothing else on earth quite shows the reality of what God did to adopt us as heirs (and what He is still doing for us) like adoption. I just wrote a post on on what to do when they (meaning foster kids in my case) don't love you back. The bottom line is that we love them because we are called to, not because we are promised a specific result. Might help someone in the throws of the difficulties with adopted or biological children. Here's the link:

Grace and Peace!

Erin Davis
Amanda McAlpine - August 22nd, 2012 at 10:30 PM
We are one year home as well. (We were on the same flight home from Ethiopia to Amsterdam with your husband a year ago). We still feel like we're struggling through rehab stage. We've come a long way in 12 months which gives us hope for the next year or two but it's still hard. Got many laughs from this post because it described much of what we've been through too. It's so surprising how long it's taking my heart to bond to them. I used to feel a lot of guilt about that but I'm finding it's more normal and that I can't be content with stagnant....I have to preach to myself daily and pray for my heart to have love for them. Here we spend so much time researching how to get their hearts to bond to us and we feel like we already love them. But it's a lot easier to love a referral picture than a screaming, biting, lying, toddler who acts as if they hate you. Thanks for sharing. LOVE reading your blog posts. So refreshing. You have a voice and the Lord is using it!
Kristin B. - August 23rd, 2012 at 5:47 AM
My name is Kristin. I'm a 31 year old single woman who has a HUGE heart for adoption and I am in the (pre) in I'm praying about where God is leading me and if adoption as a single woman is the path he has for me. I am actually attending an international adoption informational meeting this weekend, just to start gathering some info and start educating myself. I read this and while one might think it might freak a single girl out and make her think twice about wanting to go down that path full of all the ups and downs and struggles that adoption can be (and do it all while becoming a single first time mother at the same time), in reality reading this has actually made me want this even more! I know that God has placed the desire in my heart to adopt for a reason, but I am just waiting on His timing! I am leaving to go to Uganda in less than 2 months with the organization Visiting Orphans and I know this will be a life-changing trip, but I'm praying about whether this may be the start of a door opening for something more down the road. Thank you so much for sharing this!! It has been a huge encouragement to me and helped me see even more that this desire in my heart to adopt is real!! Thank you!
Lindsey - September 3rd, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Kristin, I'm reading your comments a year later and wondering where you are on your path? My husband and I brought our son home from DRC 6 months ago.
LEONARD - August 23rd, 2012 at 5:48 AM

I wanted to let you know Dr Ekaka how absolutely rapt I am with the Lucky Coin you sent me! From day one things just started to work for me. Suddenly job offers have started coming my way, my creativity has been re-energized and I can’t believe how many lucky coincidences have suddenly entered my life. I carry it everywhere with me now, it makes me feel safe and secure. Each day I look forward to what new surprises it’s going to throw my way you are the best
Michelle - August 23rd, 2012 at 7:43 AM
I am bookmarking this for future reference...

We are currently waiting for a child from Ethiopia (DTE 3/2/12), and in the process of changing our request from one infant boy to siblings up to age 7. We also have 3 bio-kids ages 12, 10
Michelle - August 23rd, 2012 at 8:21 AM
hmmm.... the rest of my post disappeared :/ Jen, I hope at least you got to read the whole thing.
Looking forward to Empowered to Connect in September to go with my reading of The Connected Child. I have NO romantic notions and am preparing for the worst-case-scenario with our adoption. Getting prepared and prayed up!
Erin - August 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 AM
I am sitting here in tears after reading your post, and then all the comments underneath. God is so good - I am SO thankful that He led me to your blog. Thank you for being so honest and transparent, and for sharing your heart and your story.

I am 26 years old and single, and I know that God has placed a call on me to adopt in the somewhat near future (I say "somewhat near" loosely). I have no idea how this thing will turn out, but I'm trying to let go of control and let God lead me in His timing.

I look forward to continuing to read your blog and learning more about your journey.

Kristin B. - August 24th, 2012 at 8:45 AM
Hi Erin,

I'm Kristin. I'm 31 and also feeling a call on me to adopt in the "somewhat near" future. I would love to get to know other women who are thinking about and going through the adoption process. Email me or check out my blog if you'd ever want to chat. or or @nurse_girl77 on Twitter. Good luck and God bless!

Kristin B.
Andrea - August 23rd, 2012 at 9:37 AM
We have adopted two kids from foster care in the U.S. None of your timelines applied to us. Ten years into it both kids still have major psychiatric disorders from their trauma. They most probably will have lifelong disabilities. I dont think you should give false hope to people that their adopted kids will be healed from their RAD or trauma in a year. I believe God is involved in our adoption and in any healing but many times they need the expertise of professionals to help. My kids have both needed institutional care because of safety issues they posed to themselves and others. Does this story ever get told in the adoption world? My daughters care costs $11k a month! is this ever told? Will the organizations that placed them or the church that helped with the cost help with their care if or when they need this care??

This story needs to be told so that people adopting have all the facts.
Melissa - September 3rd, 2013 at 5:01 PM
Andrea, it's year later. I just read your post & hope you found the help you need for your kiddos. Bryan Post deals with RAD kids and kids of trauma that are fostered or adopted. His website is or Heather Forbes with For even more help check into EMDR therapy with a fully-certified therapist. Praying & hoping for your family!
Kristen - August 23rd, 2012 at 10:13 AM
Thanks so much for writing this and giving me a realistic picture. I have wanted to adopt from Haiti for as long as I can remember. I was days away from modge-podging some cute black faces onto the glass of all our family photos for my reluctant husband in a little thing I was calling "Operation: Visualize the Future." I see that I had a very skewed picture of what things would be like and the struggle that would be involved. I just assumed that every single moment was as happy as the homecoming video posted on YouTube. Operation: Visualize the Future is officially terminated. I will wait for God to move in my husband's heart because I certainly want us all on the same team! Although, I still think I would've made some headway with the modge-podge thing...
Mel - August 23rd, 2012 at 10:25 AM
Our son has been home 10 years, after spending his first 3 years of life in an orphanage in Kazakhstan. We have dealt with off/on crazy rages since the beginning, and unfortunately they are still there. We know now that he has PTSD and cannot handle stress. We have read all the books and seen the best professionals; we work with a therapist and psychiatrist on a regular basis and are continually tweaking medication. But still, we live in fear- for him and for all those in his life. I am continually begging God to help this child and to protect us all.
Mary - August 23rd, 2012 at 10:37 AM
Our timeline is a bit different, we are at the 10 month stage with a 10 year old and the disobedience and discipline related meltdowns are worsening. We are foster to adopt and talking more about adoption and wonder if it is a trial to see if we will still want him, We assure him daily that he is already part of this family and he can't make us not love him (although privately I wonder sometimes how much more I can take). We pray that someday he will understand that he lives in a Christian loving and non-abusive home and what family truly means.
UnconditionallyLoveMyKids - July 11th, 2013 at 3:12 PM
If you "will still want him"? "How much more [you] can take?" I guess "family truly means" only loving someone if it's easy for you. Spoken like a true Christian hypocrite.
Nicole - September 3rd, 2013 at 8:01 PM
What a hateful thing to say in response to Mary! I pray she never sees your comment. She is clearly struggling, and even if you think she is falling short, it is awful to confront her so cruelly. Especially anonymously! Mary, I know it's a year later, but I'm praying for you today, wherever this journey has taken you. For wisdom, for love, for peace, for whatever you need to make it through the day.
Nina Wasserman - September 5th, 2013 at 8:58 PM
AMEN Nicole. I hope Mary never saw it. Adoption IS hard and it tests your resolve.
CW - September 6th, 2013 at 12:46 PM
Nicole, kudos to you for writing your post. "UnconditionallyLoveMyKids" must have wandered here from a nasty commenting page, like CNN or Fox, etc. I think that Mary's comment of "to see if we still want him" was not about her, but about the boy testing her. All kids do this at some point. In our family, we call it "No Dealbreakers", meaning there are no deal breakers when it comes to my love for my children. This is what Mary meant when she said "he can't make us not love him".

Mary - you are protected by a loving God who can see the light and the path. I know that it is so hard to follow Him when the road is so dark, but faith will get you there. Keep letting him know that there are no deal-breakers when it comes to your love. Let him question you, Like "What if I punch you in the face?" or "What if I kill somebody". Your answer will always include "There is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you" along with,"I would be very sad, mad, etc."

I am proud of you for having the courage to write on here and know that you are not alone. My prayers for you!
Lynn - August 23rd, 2012 at 11:58 AM
I've been thinking the last few weeks that I wish that I could talk to you, Jen. We adopted three siblings from Russia when our third biological kid was finishing college. It has been much, much harder that either of us ever expected.

I have been praying that God would fill me with the love that He has for one of ours. She is exceptionally difficult, unable to control her anger, and specifically hurtful to me and my daughter-in-law. The two other kids are at least reasonable... she often is not even able to be reasonable or rational.

We have had the kids home 21 months. I'm not sure what stage we are in... probably in triage still, to a large degree.

I get discouraged, but know this is where God has placed us, and them. The whole adoption process for us was God-initiated, miraculously accomplished. I realize that God is working on me, growing me, showing me where I need to be changed, transformed, honed. I don't think I have ever had to rely on Him this much, or would have, except through this adoption. I think maybe that was some of what you meant in your blog.

God has made progress in our kids, too. Two of the three have accepted Christ as Savior. We are praying for the third one!

I keep telling myself that hurt people hurt people. I am praying that God will heal their hurts and that He will grow them up so that they can be functioning adults. It is going to take a miracle...

Thanks for the encouragement and the forum to express what is deep in our hearts about this amazing plan that is in God's heart... adoption
Rachel - August 23rd, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Awesome post! I'm a post-adoption peer counselor and plan to share this with the families I work with. I am also an adoptive parent and loved everything you wrote. The only difference for our family was that most of our kids didn't give us a honeymoon period - or if they did it lasted about 3 days! For those of you who don't have a honeymoon, it's ok and it doesn't mean there is something wrong with your kid or your family - your kid just settled in real fast! LOL.
Katie - August 23rd, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Thank you for taking the time to write this post! Honest words about adoption are so helpful.
Deanna - August 23rd, 2012 at 12:35 PM
I'm not sure what 'stage' I am in, but my daughter has been home for 10 years and is 14. We have had the most horrific 3 years of our lives and it doesn't seem to be coming to an end any time soon. We have entered back into the temper tantrum/meltdown stage and it is much more difficult to console a child that is at this physical stage of life. As I read the post, I was still identifying with pretty much everything that was being shared in accordance to the 'stages', but we are having a very long term revisit to Stage 2. So, people, for those of you who think once you've gotten to Stage 4, it's clear sailing, think again!!! Maybe not for everyone, but we've been bouncing between Stages 2 and 4 for years, searching for help and just trying to keep our heads above water. Returning a phone call almost seems impossible as I don't have the emotional energy to talk to anyone and what would I talk about? There's pretty much nothing else going on in my life other than the fact that I have an emotionally broken teen living in my home and I never know from one day to the next, one minute to the next, what's going to erupt from her. Others get sick of hearing it, they don't understand, it's just as easy to not bother trying to connect with anyone else. I hold on to the hope that one day we will all pass through the end of the tunnel into the sunshine as be better for it, but it's hard to see right now. Can I see my life without my daughter.........absolutely NOT!!!
Stephanie - September 18th, 2013 at 1:03 PM
Deanna I read your comment and I am there too. My adopted daughter turns 12 in a few weeks. We have been battling for years her anger and resentment. She is so resentful of being given up for adoption in the first place. She 'hates' me and has made me the target of her anger since I am her mom and she doesn't have contact with her birth mother. I pray for her to reach a point of understanding we love her, wanted her and that her birth mother wanted the best for her and she wasn't able to give that to her. I know about not being able to call anyone. I call and talk but they don't understand their children are not adopted and do not come with a broken heart that needs healed. I took cling to hope that someday there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Barbara Paden - August 23rd, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Fantastic awesome wonderful!! Our son was adopted from Russia at 7 months. The honeymoon lasted 6 YEARS until we adopted his sister.....She was a nightmare for 2 1/2 YEARS until about, oh, a month or two ago!! Our son lost it (totally frickin pooping on the carpet lost it) for 6 months. Damn straight I thought WHAT THE HELL DID I DO TO OUR PERFECT LIFE!!??! Phew, we have almost turned the corner, almost. I was a super-duper young 47 (another marathon run, anyone?) and now I'm 50 going on 100. But, as I said, we've turned the corner! I'm just going to call a personal trainer, my hair stylist, maybe get some botox.....
Rob - August 23rd, 2012 at 1:02 PM
Awesome post. Thanks so much for writing it. We had 3 bio kids when we adopted a 5 year old from Ethiopia, and we are now in month 11. So as you could imagine, reading this post felt like someone was stalking my mind. :-)
Kimberly - August 23rd, 2012 at 2:54 PM
Thank you for writing this. We are in that horrid waiting stage and you described it to a T. Thank you for being honest and sharing hope that this is God's story...and he will be with us through all the scariness and difficulties...and for giving me something to bookmark and come back to when the honeymoon passes!
Melissa - August 23rd, 2012 at 3:05 PM
I am a single mom by choice. I adopted from foster care. I had my son in my home for 2 years before the adoption was finalized. We're on year 3 of adoption, 5 total. I think we have finally hit safer water as of this spring. I faught like hell for this kiddo and have come to realize I will fight anyone and everything to get him what he deserves. Not just in the beginning, but EVERY DAY! Yes, some days are easier than others. He is the love of my life, light in my eyes and beat of my heart.

NO ONE was there for me when I was drowning in the stormy seas. So I make sure I can offer any guidance for others walking the beach.

Thank you for your story.
Liz - September 27th, 2013 at 10:39 AM
Need some advise as single woman who wants to adopt. Do you have email address I can fwd you some questions please
Jess - August 23rd, 2012 at 3:23 PM
Wow, I don't know what to be more grateful for - the honesty of this blog and the courage it's giving me or the massive fist-pump YES! I feel in my heart when I realize how many people out there are adopting! What an inspiration!

We're pre-adoption phase, one precious 13 month bio making up our family so far. But we've always felt like adoption is part God's family portrait and some day I'll be able explain to my child that I was pregnant in my heart for him or her for a very very long time.

But our situation is that we're South Africans who will inevitably adopt domestically yet cross-culturally and have the unique, devastating, yet-being-redeemed history of our country to add to myriad of things to wonder "how will we navigate this?" about!

This post is such a blessing because it really feels like truth regardless of our unique circumstances. Thank you Jen!j
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