Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Second Chance Adoption

What is a second chance adoption? Occasionally families who have previously adopted children both domestically and internationally come across a child who has not adapted well into the new home.  Most adopted children do wonderfully in their adoptive home, but now and then the child does not connect well, and a very difficult decision is made to find a new adoptive home.  Though Second Chance adoptions seem cruel, sometimes it is the best hope for a child who is struggling in their adoptive home and for parents who have done all they can to help but have come to the difficult decision that they have no more resources.  On a positive note, it is shown that over 90% of children from second chance adoptions thrive and do exceptionally well in the new adoptive home.

My initial reaction about an adopted child needing a new home was that it made me sick at my stomach. I couldn’t imagine someone not wanting their child anymore. Hopefully, when you have a child that seems to make life a little harder, you pray and trust God to give you guidance and resources to help parent that child. God has a plan and it is always perfect.  Our job is not to second guess it, but to trust His decision.  I believe that all six of my children, biological and adoptive, are children God wanted us to parent.  It didn’t matter if these “Blessings” came to us biologically, through foster to adopt, or second chance adoption, he called us to be their parents.  To be honest, raising children in general can be very hard at times. We’ve had just as many difficult times with our biological children, as we’ve had with our adoptive children. In other words, all children are different and all have different needs. It’s just life! This, my friends, is where our story takes off.

Sunshine, was originally adopted by a (non christian) family when she was 3 years old. The adoptive parents had tried for seven years to have children of their own, but had no success. Adoption through foster care became their plan.  They immediately were given the chance to adopt Sunshine and her younger brother.  However, shortly after being adopted, the adoptive mom became pregnant….as a matter of fact, she gave birth every year for the next three years. Two adoptive children, plus three biological children equals…….. a home of five children in three short years.  It was more than the family (and their marriage) could handle. 

Immediately Sunshine felt lost and unloved. She didn’t know how to deal with her feelings and did what most kids do at this point…..she acted out. Her grades dropped, she manipulated situations, picked on her siblings, had numerous accidents in her pants, lied, hoarded everything, stayed awake most nights playing and wandering through the house, and mentally separated herself from the family.  However, God had a plan…..

Sunshine came to us when she was eight years old. She was so withdrawn that she couldn’t look anyone in the eye and always spoke with a whisper.  Our mornings began with her fighting for control of every situation, which resulted in her whining like a two year old, and crawling around on the floor.  The evenings became tough too because she wanted my attention and didn’t know how to use her words to ask for it, instead she picked fights, stomped, kicked, slammed doors, and simply chose defiance to get it;  even though it was negative.  

At these times of acting out, I simply told her that behavior like that was not tolerated and she could dismiss herself to her room.  After 5-10 minutes, I had to stop whatever I was doing (one time was right in the middle of cooking dinner), appear before her and show her how important she was to me and to our entire family.  It required a lot of compassion and patience on my account.  Every confrontation started with reassuring her by saying, “Sunshine, we’re disappointed in your behavior but we still love you and you’re not going anywhere. You are stuck with this family forever!” Then we talked about what she did, and why she did it. This caused her to take ownership of her behavior and to identify with what she “really” wanted.  Later when everyone was calm, we role played.  My husband and I would show what we witnessed (the misbehavior), then we would show the correct behavior.  Finally, making sure the concept was understood, we would then have the children act out the right way to get attention or how to communicate their frustrations correctly.

Unfortunately, Sunshine does have a rough past with some horrible memories, and there are a lot of details she still has hidden away. Because of this we see a wonderful christian counselor on a regular basis, who helps her deal with memories as they surface. Positive reinforcers and rewards helps Sunshine feel loved and successful. 
However, there are consequences to every negative behavior. Consistency has played a big part in her success (consistency with Rewards and Discipline). 

I’m not going to lie and tell you that I do everything right because truthfully, many times I fail as a parent. Especially those days when I am exhausted or stressed. However, it is important for us (our whole family) to be intentional and proactive with Sunshine, because we want her to see how a Family after God’s own heart looks like. 

I’m convinced that God wanted her with us and He has big plans for her.  And even though we still have some rough days, it’s God’s goodness that gets us through them.  In our weakness, God shows us His strength.  At the end of the day, we want our children to know why we do what we do, and to hear our voice (besides the Holy Spirits) echoing in their heads that “When we Do Good, we Feel Good!” and “The words of our mouth and the meditations of our minds (need to be) pleasing and glorifying to God."

Since Sunshine joined our family, her grades have improved (mostly straight A’s), she gives people eye contact when spoken to, and most of the time speaks in a normal tone. When she wants my attention, she calmly and politely says, “Mom, I think I’m needing some attention from you.” She will tell me if its a hug she is wanting or just to sit on my lap, with my arms securely holding her. It’s those little things that have made a huge difference with her, not to mention melts my heart.  When I and the many others, have witness the changes she has made, it makes life even more rewarding than I could have dreamt.  

Sunshine is blossoming so much, even to the extent that she has made lots of friends and gets invited over for sleepovers on a somewhat regular basis. She has developed a big heart for others and is becoming more obedient with her day to day choices. Sunshine is now a christian too, and her spiritual growth has amazed me in the three years she was introduced to church, God and Jesus Christ.  Even though she has been diagnosed with RAD (reactive attachment disorder) and many others,  God has been doing some miraculous healing in her life and she has bonded to us very well; especially me, her mom.  She and I always joke that she’s my little shadow. HA! 


In conclusion, I now believe that second chance adoptions can be a good thing.  Especially when you are able to give a child, like Sunshine, a second chance to thrive, connect, feel loved, hope and given a true Forever Family!  A promise of God’s we often remind Sunshine of is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  We still don’t have a simple life, but every year is better than the last, and improvements are always taking place in her life and in our home. We give God the Glory for these amazing changes, His perfect plan, and for this Joy in our Journey.

   My last year’s Mother’s Day Card from Sunshine (with her permission, of course):

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