First, let me warn you that this post is heavy. Emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically we are drained. Adoption is hard stuff. Every day we are reminded that the battle for souls and family is constant because the adversary is persistent. He does not want children in forever families where they can thrive. He wants to perpetuate cycles and destroy children and families. Margaret Thatcher once said, “You may have to battle more than once to win it”. And so, we fight…for children we have never met but love, for permanency, for adoption, for a daughter with special needs…for our FAMILY!
When we were matched in late August with our sibling group, we were over the moon! Because we had adopted before, we knew what the next steps were generally. In the state the children reside in however, there were delays in being able to proceed through the next steps. Most importantly perhaps, was meeting the children and to begin communicating with them, especially the teenagers who would understandably have questions and reservations. At one point, the delays were so great that we had to reach out the head of the department to intervene on our behalf.
Fast forward to today. We still have not met the children and they still have no detailed information about their forever family. In fact, even before we were matched, their state caseworker and her supervisor raised concerns that the older girl’s foster mother would not be supportive of the adoption plan and would actively seek to “sabotage” it. Yes, you read that correctly…SABOTAGE a forever family! She didn’t want to adopt the children herself, but didn’t want anyone else do to that either. Unfortunately, the department did nothing to mitigate those concerns and now the girls have expressed that they do not even want to meet us. They are old enough to decide. But consent should mean that they have seen both sides of the coin and get to choose. That hasn’t been what has happened.
My heart breaks for them. Two of our adopted teenagers have had very strong and powerful insight in to what the girls might be feeling because they have also walked this path. Adoption is scary anyway and the department in their state, in all honesty, has done little to help them process the idea of adoption and appropriately introduce our family to them. Imagine if you had only tasted vanilla ice cream your whole life and you didn’t even know that other flavors existed?! On one hand, the older girls have been in the same place for several years and they are comfortable there. On the other hand, they have nothing to compare it to — no information about us, pictures of their rooms and siblings, or even gentle encouragement to ask questions about what life is like in our home. Despite our repeated attempts to get the department to work with us and the girls, frustration has been a common feeling.
In addition to sabotage, several workers have expressed concerns that the foster family is not providing adequate care to our daughter with Cerebral Palsy. In fact, we received a copy of her IEP recently and it was indicated in the document the same concerns. And yet, the department is allowing her to remain in the home. I cannot even express to you how horrifyingly difficult it is to be the matched adoptive family with no rights knowing that your daughter is potentially being neglected! We have shed many tears of grief for her and our own limited ability to advocate for her.
Despite having many years to decide to adopt and ongoing concerns about how they are treating one of the children, the foster family for the teen girls has now been given 90 days by the court to facilitate an adoptive homestudy. We are sick in our hearts that the department did not advocate in court for us (the matched family who would keep them together) and for a much smoother transition plan that could have resolved many of the issues, fears, and unknowns for the teens. We are frustrated that despite documented concerns about our daughter’s care, she is not being advocated for and they are allowing the fosters to pursue adopting her, too. Despite a committee decision that keeping siblings together was the best idea, there is a possibility that the children could be split up as the girl’s foster parents have no desire to adopt the boys.
Today, we should have been meeting our children for the first time. But because of all of the uncertainty surrounding the teenage girls, we made the painful but necessary decision to postpone our trip. It was probably one of the most difficult decisions of our lives. If we had gone, we would have only met 3 of our 6 children. From the very beginning of this journey, we have fought to keep siblings together. Instead, we would be breaking them apart. They would no longer be living in the same area where they could have face to face visits. No matter what we tried to facilitate moving forward, their relationships would be different. Combined with our ongoing frustrations and concerns about the department’s handling of our case, we could not get comfortable with going and splitting the siblings.
Despite the delays, the discouragement, and the hard decisions, we are confident that Heavenly Father’s plan for us to adopt remains the same. Please pray for peace, comfort, and protection of these sweet babies living thousands of miles away. Please pray for wisdom and guidance as we fight the battle to bring them home and if it becomes necessary to walk away, please pray for grace, peace, and love to fill the gaping hole that will be left in our hearts.
Battling on in the Land of Chaos,
Bridget and Ben