Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What the "Gottcha Day" video didn't tell you...

You know this... we've seen a ton of videos that bring us to tears... it shows a waiting family, a waiting child, and the glorious day where they "instantly" become a family... in love. The video ends with hugs and smiles. We are hooked, and some are convinced this represents the adoption journey. (here me out here, i'm certainly NOT anti-video... we have one, and I believe it is a BEAUTIFUL picture of the gospel... of a family's start of a story... and it certainly SHOULD be celebrated!)

What I've found, though, over the past couple of years is that adoption is so easily fantasized. I was guilty of it, despite my walking with many families through it as a social worker. We want to think "that's not going to happen to me" or "because I'm adopting an infant it will be easy."

I've worked with families recently who have said "Wow, I didn't know it was hard." And some even consider walking away from a child.

So... Here's 10 things that OUR video... nor anyone else's I've seen... doesn't tell you:

1. You might not feel the way you expect when you get "The Call." While I've been madly in love with E from the beginning, when I saw his picture I wasn't necessarily overwhelmed with emotion. I knew he was the son God had for us. But ultimately I was in love with the possibility of being in love with him.

2. While you are all excited and counting down the days until you meet your child, they basically have no idea about you (unless they are older). They are just living life until one day this strange couple shows up and starts snotting all over them.

3. They might not like you at first... and you might not like them. Check out the first pic we have of E as he is laying eyes on us... yes, it is SCREAMING that he is in complete love with us... LOL. It also took us almost 2 hours before we could pick him up. We didn't take him with us the first day, because we felt it was too difficult for him. Slow and steady... and it was miserable for us, but in the end it was the right thing for him. And there were times in the first 6-9 months that frustration was the overriding emotion.

4. Your children will grieve. They will be sad to leave whatever environment they were in. They've built relationships, bonds, and routine that will be missed.

5. Because of this grief, they may not want you to hold them... they may actually hit, kick, scream or bite at you. Luckily for me, E took that out on his siblings at first. We went from 99.9% happy to 99.9% conflict when E came home. Happy to report, we are back to approximately 94.3% happy. Pretty darn good.

6. Regardless of age... YOU and YOUR CHILD might be EXHAUSTED due to little sleep, sleep disturbances, etc.

7. There's no guarentee for a happy ending.

8. It takes a LOT of work... and you may find yourself locked in the bathroom crying. (and I ain't talking about the happy tears, either)

9. There will be days you say "did I just ruin our lives?" (the answer is no)

10. The most tender, sweet moments that occur make the videos look stoic in comparison. I look back at our video now and think... wow... we were just getting started. We are MADLY in love now in comparison. It's kinda like marriage, with age it just gets sweeter. (I didn't necessarily say easier)

So hear me on this... adoption is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and amazing journeys of our lives. I'm blessed to say that with E, many of the difficulties disappeared within the first year of being home. I just think so often times we get caught up in the emotion, and sick of the wait... when we could be using that time to spiritually prepare, and educate ourselves for the journey ahead. I also don't want any families out there to think they are weird because they didn't "feel" the way they thought initially. Of course, there are families who would say they didn't struggle with ANY of these things, but I would venture to say that is the EXCEPTION to the rule.

My prayer for my family, and for yours, is that we love our children the way they are... that our relationship with them will help them and us become more fully the person God created us to be... and that regardless of how hard the road may be ahead, we know God has called us to walk it.



  1. I guess from my point of view, I think ALL parenting comes with its own struggles, whether your kid is born premature and with some kind of disease that requires an extensive hospital stay in the NICU, you adopt an older child with abandoment issues and psychological disorders galore, or you have a child born with a disablity or you desire to adopt a child with a disablity, regardless the situation. When you decide to be a parent, you decide that you want to take on a gigantic responsibility and you are willing to do no matter what it takes, because God is Sovereign and he knows what is best for your family. Regardless if it is your child through adoption or child birth, you really don't have a choice in what God has fashioned for your family. You got to be ready to deal with and draw strength from the one who KNOWS what HE is doing, regardless if we do or not. While I think adoption parenting is glamorized, I think parenting as a whole is glamorized, both can have there own struggles, the question is am I ready to give unconditional love regardless of how or by what means God chooses to bless children into my care. Love you, good thoughts! Thanks for being REAL!

  2. I had a very similar post thought out as I prepare to share our adoption video. It shows bits of time. I know many people will notice our newest daughters stance gem she met us the first time... Others will just see my smile. Great post and thanks for writing it!

  3. Really well written with tons of truth. I used to watch all the gotcha day videos and think that's what it was all about. Now, after having gone through my own gotcha day and afterward, I view the videos MUCH differently. It's a journey... and it definitely doesn't end at gotcha. It's just beginning. Wish I knew (or believed) that before. Thanks for this.

  4. I have serious goose bumps right now... you just said everything I've been thinking but couldn't get out on paper. SO TRUE!!!
    We've been home a year and I agree with you 100%!! Our sweet boy is my hero for all he has been through but it's been an amazingly trying year!
    My blog is private but I would love to send you an invite if you would like. My blog is gladheimfamily.blogspot.com and my email is cgladheim@gmail.com

  5. Thank you for your honesty. As my family is beginning this journey, I have to remember the reality of the tough times. And also remember that we serve a mighty Redeemer!

  6. Found your blog through Christy's link. Thank you - great post!

  7. Sometimes I get worried about those things as we begin to walk down the road of adoption but then I think of all the things in life that are so trying but so worth it. Thing like post partum depression, babies that don 't stop crying and teenagers that use every ounce of will power to rebel against you. All the best things in life do not come easy and they force you to grow. They force you to grow closer to your family and most importantly God. Thanks for your honesty!

  8. Thank you for this post. I am a 16 year old high school junior, and as I am nearing the end of high school I am looking ahead to what I want to do with my like. I feel that, when I am older and hopefully married, God has called me to adopt. I know though that it won't be an easy road. Posts like this really help me see what some of the struggles are and help me from glamorizing adoption because in reality it is really hard. Instead of turning me away from adoption (and or foster care) posts like this spur me on to want to do as much as I possibly can to help. So thank you!

  9. Amen! Thanks for your honesty. Our moment of meeting our daughter was in an infirmary--our sick, grieving baby was not so happy to be scooped up by complete strangers. But the eventual rewards are great--the tough emotional work on everyone's part is what makes the blessing that much sweeter.

  10. Thank you for sharing this. Often times we like to always paint the pretty picture. My son and I didn't have a fairy tale meeting and struggled for the 1 year (as I grieved thinking I was horrible at the adoption thing) then people just like you stepped up and was honest. Once I let go of the guilt and let God heal us our relationship started to grow.