Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family Friday

A child can teach us so much and  today we are sharing in the story of a family who adopted a very special girl.   This wonderful girl's gift to me was to teach me that the children in China are waiting and longing for families just as parents wait for them. She showed me what that really means.   She loved her parents before she even met them.  She told me to tell them that she loved them and I could hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes.  She is really and remarkable girl who was adopted by and incredible family.  They are very supportive of Superkids and are generous and giving enough to share their story here.  Thank you Ellen and Dennis!  

  
Adopting the Older Child

For as long as I can remember, I had dreamed of adopting a little girl from China.  My dream was pretty typical – a baby or young toddler.  But, time passed and I was not married so I placed that dream on a shelf where it gathered dust.But God had other plans.  I met the man of my dreams, Dennis, and we began our life together.  Being “older” we choose not to have a family and for the next 9 years enjoyed our life together as a couple.  But again, God had other plans.

From time to time we would say, “Hey, maybe we should consider adopting.” Rarely did the conversation go beyond that comment.  Then, we kept hearing about adopting, the needs of orphans, our responsibility to care for them…it came at us in so many ways and places that it was hard to avoid.  So we pulled that dusty dream off the shelf and started gathering information and advice on adopting.  My dream looked very similar to what it had been so many years ago – a baby girl from China – but Dennis’ dream was a bit different.  He pointed out to me that as we were quickly approaching our 50’s, maybe an older child would be a good choice and that frankly, older kids had a harder time finding families.  My dream soon reflected Dennis’ dream and we began the journey to our daughter.  To make a long story short, we adopted our beautiful daughter, Brooklyn, when she was almost seven years old.  (If you want the long version of the story our blog is (www.Dennis-Ellen.blogspot.com)

For many people considering adopting, adopting an older child is filled with questions and we had plenty. 
·         What had her life been like up to this point?
·         How would we communicate?
·         Why was she not adopted before?
·         Would she accept us as her parents?
·         What about school when she does not know English?

Brooklyn when she first met Gladney staff

Let me tell you about our time as a family and hopefully answer some of these questions along the way.
Because Superkids Charity had met Brooklyn we had some basic information about her development.  This helped us to be able to talk with Pat who had met her when she was in China.  In addition, Pat met her again while we were in the process of adopting and took along a care package for us.  We have great first hand reports, videos and pictures from these trips that helped us as we waited.  We learned that the reason she had not been adopted was that her paperwork had never been completed and submitted to the Chinese government to make her available for adoption.  If our agency staff had not met her while in China and requested this be done, she may never have been made available for adoption.

Brooke receiving her care package

When adopting older children, many families worry about communication.  We were assured that this is not that great of an issue and that in fact, it resolves itself very quickly.  Let me assure you, this is very much the case.  Brooklyn understood some basic words in English even while we were still in China.  We all got very good at acting out what we needed to communicate.  Being older also had the advantage that she could read and write in Chinese.  A tablet and Google Translate got us through those early days as we could communicate back and forth with it.   In a matter of months she was using simple sentences.  At school, her teacher also used Google Translate.

Brooklyn let us know, after a very short time home, that she wanted to go to school.   We choose to enroll her in school even though the school year only had about 7 weeks left.  This was a great decision. Being with other kids helped her language develop very quickly.  As her language grew, she shared many memories of her life in China.  These memories have helped us to meet her needs and understand her better.  It is definitely an advantage in knowing what her life was like, what she misses and how she is feeling about it.  One of the really neat things is that Brooklyn told us about another little girl that was in her foster home.  We have been able to find that family and the girls have kept in contact even though they were adopted to families in different countries.  We would never have known about this strong attachment she had to her foster sister if she had not been older and able to tell us about her.

We readily admit that Brooklyn has been a relatively easy older child adoption.  She has attached to us from the beginning.  We are her family.  That does not mean that it has been without bumps in the road.  But, like any child, regardless of age at adoption, when a family comes together and works through hard times, it makes everyone stronger.  We have learned together what it means to be a family.


Adoption is not for everyone and older child adoption is not either but it can be amazing!  


Brooklyn with her Dad



growing up!


Sledding with Dad


Family Picture