Beauty from Ashes – Lindsey Dispenza
Adoption, whether it comes from foster care, domestic, or international is a beautiful but broken affair.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes from Isaiah 61:3 “I will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair”. This scripture reminds us that as humans we are messy, but with God he can redeem us into something beautiful.
Adoption is exactly that. It can’t happen without the deepest of pain, but with it comes a whole new life, the exact same thing that comes when we accept Jesus in our hearts. Adoption is never easy no matter which way it comes, but today I want to share my opinion on foster care adoption versus international.
Foster care is a touchy subject, one that is a national crisis but also one deemed with no real solution. Children enter foster care for many reasons and the primary goal is always reunification, whether that be with their birth parents or another family member. When that is not possible, then a child may be available for adoption.
When I talk to families wanting to adopt their number one reason for choosing foster care adoption is because its “free” or low cost. I have to strongly disagree. Foster care adoption comes with a price that no one can understand unless you have been there. It is so emotionally draining that you often feel like giving up, but then your reminded that if you don’t do it, who will.
Foster care adoptees come from all different backgrounds, many who have known their families and were torn away in a moments notice from everything they ever knew. The trauma continues with weekly visits, or maybe their family doesn’t show up at all. They just vanished and never reappeared.
Adoption is always surrounded by trauma and as the new adoptive parent you have to deal with that trauma in a healthy way and understand the roots of it. Many people think that if you get them as infants you are all they know and they don’t have that much trauma. That could be farthest from the truth. I will even argue that foster care not only causes trauma to the child, but also the foster parent. Watching a case worker make decisions for a child that you care for and love that may or may not be in their best interest is heart-wrecking.
This is the tricky part, while unlike domestic or international adoption, you have time to build a relationship and trust with that child before adoption. This can be an amazing attribute to foster care adoption. You get to decide if that child is a good fit for your family, you decide if permanency is best, and you decide if you are ready and prepared to meet all that child’s needs.
International adoption is also painful and doesn’t come without a price. Most international adoptees come from orphanages. The trauma formed comes from even their basic needs not being met such as food, emotional responses, physical touch, etc. Many of these children have no idea what a family is like or what they are missing, they have never had someone to visit them or care for them as a parent would.
Although your heart may be ready to love them and nurture them and be their parent, they have to learn to trust you and build a bond they have never experienced before. A judge just made a permanent decision for the rest of their life. They had no choice, they once again lost everything they had known, and although you know it is for their good, they don’t know that yet. Sometimes it takes weeks, months, or even years for them to understand.
It takes a lot of commitment to adopt a child you have never met, or maybe met one time and say you will care for all their needs permanently from now on. There is no way of knowing their past trauma, medical records, or anything. Unlike foster care, you are starting from a blank slate and filling in a puzzle. But, as challenging as this is you know they would never have a family without you and all kids belong in families.
No matter how your family chooses to adopt, it is hard, challenging, ugly, and beautiful. Watching our kids thrive when they know they live in a family that loves them, provides for them, and cherishes them gives me more joy than I can even describe. God has called each of us to care for the orphans in some way. I understand not all of us are able to adopt for various reasons, but each of us can do something. When we all choose to do our part is when we truly see him trading the ashes for beauty.