Friday, June 29, 2012

5 Reasons Adoptive/Foster Families Need Each Other

Yesterday, I admitted it feels as though our family sticks out in Mobile.

Later, I worried over what I'd written.  No one has been rude to us.  (We've been stared down in groceries and playgrounds, yes, but it hasn't felt menacing.) In fact, our church rolled out a plush red carpet and welcomed us with food, parties, acceptance, and warmth.  Every word I wrote yesterday was true... but don't read between any lines.  It is as simple as this:

Adoption is a huge part of my calling and my world.  It feels lonely without others to join me in that. Or at least know where I am coming from.

Thanks to everyone on Facebook who yesterday gave me some leads on where in Mobile I can look for others passionate about adoption.

Why is it so important for me to connect with families similar to ours?  After all, not everyone is called to adopt.  Why can't I simply accept that and not care whether we know other foster or adoptive families?  Well, there are several reasons:

5 Reasons Adoptive/Foster Families Need Each Other

1. For our children.

Children like seeing other families like their own.  It is healthy.  Not everyone looks like their parents or siblings, and it helps our children to see friends who look nothing like their families.  In the teen years, I imagine Caroline will moan with friends over how she was born to such lame parents, and Amelia can moan with adoptive friends about how she and they were adopted by such lame parents.  And I'm okay with that. :)

2. For our sanity.

Every parent faces parenting challenges.  Some doubts and fears are unique to adoptive parents.  We need to call each other and ask, "Do you think she's stuffing wads of food in her mouth and holding it there because she has food issues from the orphanage, or because she's a typical crazy two year old?"  

3. For ministry.

Adoptive/foster parents help each other.  Besides sharing advice, stories, and shoulders to cry on... foster parents swap babysitting duty.  We swap books about attachment.  We encourage each other. AND... we minister together.  We have a common passion to help orphans, birth mothers in crisis, and prospective adoptive parents.  We brainstorm ways to serve the foster system with the light of Christ.  We organize prayer meetings.  We share with others how adoption on earth looks like what God did for us.  We cheer for each other when an adoption is finalized or a milestone is reached, and we cry with each other when a foster placement is lost or our chosen country faces adoption delays or closings.

It is truly a beautiful thing.

4. Because we really don't like being weird.

The nutshell story of how our family chose Uganda for our adoption:
We felt called to adopt.  
We watched too many Lifetime movies and were irrationally scared of domestic adoption.  
We checked our agency's international requirements chart and thought Uganda looked like the easiest route.

The end.  

We didn't set out to adopt outside of our race.  We simply were not opposed to it.

Even those who specifically feel called to adopt outside of their race rarely do so BECAUSE they want to be odd.  Race is simply not a top consideration.  (And then you, blog reader, have to put up with the after effects: weeks of me processing race relations NOW because I rarely put thought into it on the front end of adoption!)

Sure, it seems like our family should be fine with being different.  We chose it.  Okay, okay, so I'm a little over-sensitive this month about the race issue because I'm new to town and just want to blend.  But most of the time, race issues are not even on my radar.  

Even so, it's sometimes nice to hang around people who are the same kind of different as us. :)

5. Because there's just a special bond.

Not long after starting the adoption process, I began to meet other adoptive families online.  There are instant similarities.  Instant bonds.  Instant life-passions and Christian callings that cross in a way that creates friendships where we'd otherwise be strangers.

Then I began to meet other adoptive families in my town.  It was heaven.  I'd never known so many people who I shared so much in common with.  So  yes, I want that to happen again here.

And I think it will. :)
In time.

Help me out.  What did I miss?  Are there any other reasons foster/adoptive families need each other?

(Example: To scour Facebook for you when you move and need to find adoptive families in your own town... Y'all rock! Thank you!!)


Emily said...

I agree with the special bond part, but for the children as well. I know in my own experience that finding out someone you know is adopted is an immediate bond. Just through discussing my adoption out loud in a class in high school lead one of the new girls to tell me she was adopted too, and we've been best friends ever since!

L.O.T. said...

You are spot on with your list! I can't tell you how incredibly thankful we are for you and the (growing) numbers of families that are similar to ours. Mobile sounds promising too! It's such a blessing to have others to share life with (for our kids and us).

RACHEL said...

Emily, that's a great point. I love hearing from the perspective of our adopted children!

L.O.T. said...

I agree, Emily's point is a great one. Just read your comment about telling your story in class and finding out about a classmate's adoption story! Amazing! And you're right, those bonds are so immediate and strong---just knowing someone "gets" you. :)

at the brown house said...

Hey! I have been reading your blog and so appreciate your heart! I found it linked in from T Via's blog. I would love to connect with people in this adoption journey, I just have a hard time finding them. What were your best resources in finding people? This may be a really obvious question. It seems like a lot of people connect via the internet, but I wondered how? Commenting? We live in Charlotte,NC. We are trying hard to adopt from Uganda. We just lost our second referral this week though. I know God has a plan. I love to read how He has worked and met other families on their journey.

RACHEL said...

That's a good question. A lot of my early adoption contacts were from commenting and getting comments on blogs. A lot of people find friends on Facebook groups -- I think there's a Ugandan adoption FB group, although I never joined.

Our agency in 2008/2009 would let us share contact info with other families in process for the same country. That's who I felt closest to, even if we never met. but they may have stopped that becuase rumors went flying that way, sometimes out of control. (about what was happening or not happening with Ugandan adoption.)

Google and find out if there are adoption support groups in your town. I'm doing that now in my new town. And I'm getting a few leads.

Most of all, we can pray about it. I think community in adoption is so important.

Kristy said...

So so true. We are a foster and hopefully will be adoptive family in Texas!