Telling Our Kids About the Adoption
Most of you know that Jessica and I have been in the process of adopting a child for 3 years now. We started by trying to adopt children in Ethiopia, but because of the political climate there, we were not able to complete that adoption. We spent a lot of money trying to stick out the situation, but at some point this past year, it became evident that we needed to focus our attention else where. In February, we changed to a local domestic adoption agency, and only a few short months after sending in our application, a birth mother selected us! We were and are so excited about this new addition to our family and we cannot wait to welcome he or she to our home. If you want to read our entire adoption story, just click here.
Anyway, most of you have read about this and we have talked about it a lot on this blog because of how important it is to our family. One aspect of our adoption we have yet to talk about, however, is the affect it will have on our children here in Haiti. So I want to relate the story of how we told our 8 older kids (we call them chefs because that means leader) one night before watching a movie and then how we told our 11 younger kids yesterday after we ate dinner together.
First of all, it is important to understand that this is a very emotional topic for us. We have lived with and taken care of these children for a long time, and we would do anything for them. They love us as well, and they look to us for guidance and for love. We have many employees who are helping us and are doing a wonderful job of taking care of the children, but we have been with them for 3 years, and it takes a while to build trust with children who have been through what our children have been through. With that said, when we sat down to talk with our older children, we were really dreading it. We knew that they would be very excited for us but at the same time they would be devastated that the 2 people that they trust would not be with them for that long. So here is how it went:
We sat down one night with the 8 older kids and we started by explaining what adoption is. Remember, Creole is not our first language, so we tried to explain to them that sometimes babies are born and their parents cannot raise them. This was definitely not a difficult thing for these kids to understand! Then, we told them that we would be adopting one of these babies from America. You could immediately see their faces change. Then, we told them that we would have to be gone for a few months. At this point, you could really tell some of them were struggling. Especially Apolon whose demeanor completely changed immediately and he got this look on his face like he had been betrayed. We immediately began telling them how much we love them still and how they would always have a special place in our hearts as our first children. We told them that they would have a baby brother or sister soon and that we would count on them to help us raise the baby. We told them that they could hold it, feed it, play with it, and be older brothers and sisters to this new baby. At this point you could see them pulling themselves back together and you could tell that they were both sad and extremely happy for us at the same time. We are still worried about how they will act out when we are gone, but so far they have been really good and really supportive. They seem genuinely excited that there will be a baby on campus, and for now they are doing there best to be good and listen to the adults here.
Then, it was time to tell our younger kids. We knew this would be a lot easier because they would just hear the word “baby” and be happy for us. So we tried, in broken Creole, to explain to them that we are adopting a baby. The first thing we asked is if anyone knew the word “adopt” (we said the word in Creole though which is “adopte”). All of them just sat there and we thought we were going to have to explain what adoption is before we could even get into the fact that we were about to have a baby. Luckily, Son Son knew the word (this is absolutely no surprise to those of you who know Son Son and how smart he is) and explained what it meant to everyone else. It was fun to hear a kid’s perspective and he explained it much better than either Jess or I would have. In the end, the kids were very happy. Dinna was a little sad and you could see it on her face, Son Son processed it a little, and Woodlerx asks us every night now, “when are you going to America? When are you coming back?” It is actually really cute and a little sad at the same time. He knows that I am leaving before Jess and he asks each of us which day we are going. Actually, the other day, he asked if Jess could just stay in Haiti and I could go to America. Anyway, these kids took it well, but they were mainly just excited when we told them it was time to go and play again. When we are both gone, it will hit them, but most of them are young enough to not be too sad about it right now.
Finally, it was time to tell our 5 older kids who no longer live at the orphanage but who we still take care of. This was by far the best group to tell based on their reaction. These kids are all around 18, they understand how wonderful it is, and they do not live with us anyway so they do not see us as parental figures as much. They were free to react with nothing but happiness for us. In fact, Angena just giggled at everything we said. We thought she was laughing at how we were pronouncing things in Creole, so we asked her what she was laughing at. It turns out she was just so excited for us and happy about the baby that she was just giggling. The other thing they were very concerned with, and let us know, was that they wanted to make sure we knew that only some kids should be allowed to hold the baby. They told us that Gladine, Mvinsley, Vageley, Malayika, Maekin, Fedeline, and Hiwerli are all too small to hold the baby but they are pretty sure the other kids would be ok. They also really liked the names we have picked out, and they kept trying to pronounce the names over and over to make sure they were saying it right. In general, it was really cute and really fun telling all of the older kids about the baby.
Over the past few weeks, these have been some of the hardest conversations we have had with the children. It is hard to express how difficult it is to leave them for an extended period of time even though we are doing it for a wonderful reason. I am leaving on September 24 to go to a fundraiser in LaGrange and then attend 2 important All Things New meetings and Jess will leave in October (closer to time for the baby to come). I will be able to come back and see the kids in November and hopefully again in December, but it is still really hard. In the midst of telling our kids here how excited we are about having a baby, we both almost came to tears having to tell them that we will not be here with them for that long. Please continue to be in prayer for them, for us, and for our baby!