Friday, November 11, 2011

My Little Garden

People have often thought it a bit weird that my husband and I chose to adopt two older special-needs children when we were, at the same time, having babies the "old-fashioned" way.  In all honesty, it wasn't what we set out to do.  We were open to the thought of adoption, but figured that if we ever did, it would either be before (as in years before) we had biological kids, or long after we did (as in after our kids were grown up).

Well, God doesn't always ask us to do things that fit into our own plans.  Unfortunately, sometimes we're so wrapped up in those self-blueprinted plans that we fail to hear His voice...but on this occasion we listened, we heard, and we obeyed.  And we ended up acquiring our first four children (two babies, a four-year-old, and a seven-year-old) in just a shade over two years.  Yikes!

It's been difficult, to say the least, especially since our adopted kids (and our daughter especially) have struggled greatly with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Sometimes I marvel at how God has kept each of our biological children safe from the often-ugly effects of RAD, not only protecting them from physical harm during violent outbursts, but also protecting them from emotional harm.  It's obvious to us that God hand-picked the personalities of the babies He gave us.  They (all three of them now) are resilient, secure, content, and spite of the turmoil they have been witness to.  Granted, we've been vigilant in protecting them ourselves, removing them from sketchy situations whenever possible, but it still remains a miracle that none of our biological kids (now ages 5 1/2, 3 1/2, and 9 months) have ever for a moment imitated one RAD behavior or given us any reason to think they are scarred in any way.

(Having said that, I want to acknowledge that having young children (especially babies) in the home along with RAD kids can be extremely dangerous.  Kids with Attachment Disorders can be very violent and controlling, loving the feeling of power over "weaker" things (babies, toddlers, pets).  Children with severe cases of RAD should (for their own protection and the protection of the "weaker" things) be kept away from young kids and pets.  Our kids, while they do have control issues, vent them by being incredibly bossy with their siblings, not violent.)  

So in response to the question of "Why did you...?", the answer is "Because God asked us to."  But the other, even greater question for me has always been "Why did God ask us to?  Why now?"

Five years after obeying God's call to adopt, I think I'm finally seeing part of His purpose in giving us all these kids at the same time.  Since the day they came to us, my older, troubled kids have been learning to love and attach to the cutest things on Earth....babies.  The imprinted images of neglect from their early years are being replaced with images of Mom cradling babies, singing lullabies, of Daddy tossing them in the air, of happy, drooly laughs and chubby arms waving at them as they walk through the door.  They've seen first-hand what love and laughter and tenderness and care does for a baby.  They've seen each of their young siblings blossom into cute, entertaining, healthy little people...and at the same time, they themselves are blooming into something more beautiful than any of us ever imagined.

Watching my now nine-year-old daughter's face as she plays with the baby, seeing her glow with adoration as her three-year-old brother is learning to write his letters, hearing her say "He's so cute!" or "You're the best baby ever!" or "I like my little sister" absolutely melts my heart.  She is learning to love!  She's becoming compassionate!  Where these feelings were once foreign to her, she can now feel them and even express them, and I know that the babies have helped her in ways I couldn't. 

RAD kids often turn into RAD adults, and have trouble bonding with future spouses and children, thus spreading Attachment Disorder into the next generation.  Hopefully, my kids will be able to grow up, have secure relationships, and raise healthy, attached children because they've witnessed it being done.  God made them key players in a functional, happy, God-fearing (though incredibly imperfect) family.  It was His plan, and I firmly believe He will be glorified in their lives because of it.  God is so good!

I would never go around telling anybody they should adopt troubled kids while they're already raising a young family.  I know the risks, the heartache, and the sacrifices involved.  I would, however, strongly urge you to follow whatever it is that God is asking you to do.

His plans are always greater than our own. 

Living out a life of obedience to Him has been the hardest, most humbling, and most rewarding thing I have ever attempted to do, but my little garden of children is blooming and thriving and growing...all because we listened...and obeyed...and we continue to try to live in His light.   


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