adopting toddlers

Maybe you’re like me and you hear the words “toddler adoption” and inside you cringe just a little bit.  I know I did.

Honestly when we started this process  – I was hoping for a baby. We said under 2, I said we would provide a family to any child who needed one, but I was really secretly (or not so secretly!) hoping for a baby.

I’m sure I didn’t admit it to anyone but the thought of adopting a 2 year old made me pretty nervous.  When we got our referral information and had to pick between the two boys (both days apart in age and almost 2) I actually emailed the lawyer back to ask if there were any younger children available.  I did.

Toddlers aren’t easy in the best of circumstances. But to adopt a toddler – to take one from the only home they have ever known (even if it was an orphanage) from the only “family” they have ever known (even if they are paid caregivers who are caring for far too many babies for far too little pay) to take him from everything familiar…It can very easily go from the happiest time of your life to the most overwhelming.

I seriously prepared myself for the worst when we decided to adopt Mayer. I gave Keith all these warning of things we may see from him, how he might act, behaviors he might have. How everything in our lives would be different.

I was literally preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Our  first week with Mayer was exhausting.  We did get overwhelmed at times as we tried to figure out the best way to help him through his grief.   We were a little unsure of how to handle certain things.  We were nervous.

But day by day his attachment to us grew and he was more and more comfortable.  And we started to see the child he really was.

We started to see Mayer.

As we got to know him I kept thinking to myself, this little boy is so amazing!

His entire life was just turned upside down. Can you imagine what you’d be like left in a strange place, with strange people who look, speak, act and smell different then anyone you’ve ever known? And yet he was still smiling, still laughing, still playing, and was attaching to us. What a resilient child!

Mayer’s adjustment since he’s been home has been amazing.  Nothing like what I had expected.   It is going on six months from the time we first met him. Sometimes I look at him and think “was that really six months ago?? It seems like a lifetime….” And sometimes I look at him and think “just six short months ago this child was an orphan. He was living in an orphanage with 40 other babies.  And now he is an adored son with a mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins….so many people who love him so much.”

The contrast is just staggering…I think of what his life was like compared to what it is now.  I think of what may have happened to him (do you know what happens to many orphans who age out of orphanages?) and what his future can look like now. I am so thankful God led us to Mayer. So very, very thankful that we said yes to him.

While I am so very happy right now that my son is home, I can’t help but think about all the other toddlers out there.  Toddlers like little Nicholas…the little boy we said “no” to when we chose Mayer.   I struggled then on whether we should say yes to both. But it didn’t seem practical or even really possible at the time.   I recently saw a picture of Nicholas.

Still at the orphanage.  Still waiting.

And my heart breaks for him and for all of the children that are so often turned down by adoptive families because they are too old, or have too many issues, or are not quite healthy enough.

Those children who are just as amazing as my son but who may never have the opportunity to show that to a mom or a dad.

So I pray for them. I continue to advocate for them. I hope we can adopt one of them. I encourage others to adopt them.  I do what I can. And it still doesn’t feel like enough.

We recently asked our lawyer in Uganda about Nicholas.  We thought he had an adoptive family six months ago when we went to get Mayer but he’s still at the orphanage. We’re trying to find out what happened to the adoptive family and if he is still in need of one. Pray with us for little Nicholas.  Pray for all the waiting children.

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2 Comments to “adopting toddlers”

  1. How much I identify with this, as someone who has adopted both newborns (and I LOVE the newborn stage) and also a 12 lb two year old from China who has special needs. We have seven girls and one boy who wants a brother SO much, so I had decided that this time I was going to do another newborn, domestic, boy adoption. Well, when you make those plans without God, He laughs and says, “Nice plan, but here is mine…” We are now racing the clock, adopting a 13 year old boy from China. The agency head said in twenty years no child has affected her more, that he walked for miles to plead for a family and she thought it impossible, but told him she would try. When we called to say we wanted him, she burst into tears. At 14, he would literally be turned out on the street, and with identity papers that read ORPHAN apparently couldn’t get a job, would die or be enslaved somehow. He is so sweet and kind and smart and so thankful. I know it won’t be easy, and the reaction from the people around us has not been supportive. If I hear one more time, “There will always be kids in tragic circumstances, you can’t save them all…” (yes, but this is the one God put in front of US, and if everyone saved one, they could all be saved) I must admit I am panicking about where the money will come from, with three kids in college and five at home, it isn’t like we have alot of money in the bank (and we have used it all to get to this point) but I am trusting God to make it work.

    These children break my heart. I can’t tell you how very much I LOVE newborns, but the kids who will never have a chance at love because they aren’t babies or because they are boys or because….break my heart….It is like the angel tree at church- everyone always picks the little ones and the young teens and pre-teens are left. Thinking about my beloved teens not having a Christmas really changed my perception about all of that.

    Yes, there are challenges with older children, but so many rewards and so much love as well. Praying that others will think about the kids less likely to be chosen….Wish I was rich….I would adopt so many more times…..

  2. Don’t forget friends. Mayer has new friends too!
    Love, JuJu

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