Module Four: Adoption

OVC Essentials Spring 2020 Module Four: Adoption

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    • #64590
      Leah St. Pierre
      CAFO Staff

      Reflect on the experience of reading Kathryn Joyce’s article then followed up with Jedd Medefind’s response to The Child Catchers. Where do you find yourself resonating with Joyce and what was most helpful in Jedd’s response?

      OR

      What stands out to you as most significant or meaningful from the content this week and why did it impact you?

    • #65227
      Debbie Douce
      Participant

      My heart and mind are still absorbing and processing the impact from this week’s material. Relinquishment and belonging. The pain of loss for the joy of gain. Great sacrifice both by the birth mom and the adopted mom. The reality that there are children today separated for an entire lifetime from their birth family, and maybe they didn’t need to be. Only Jesus can redeem so much loss and sort through the muddied waters.

      My husband and I chose to not adopt believing that we were called to love and invite into our hearts “the many”, to love each wounded child  towards understanding that God’s family includes all of us. God desires to adopt all, every single one of us. But as I reflect back on our 37 years of marriage and loving the broken and abandoned, I ask myself, “Were we wrong?” This week has painfully brought back to my heart and mind the faces of children who were part of our family for different seasons before we came to the mission field, some who even begged us to adopt them.

      When our youngest daughter was talking to me recently about how she and her husband are considering adopting, I talked about how years ago when the opportunity presented itself through foster care, we did not have a peace about adopting, even though my heart wanted to. She graciously told me that we never could have done what we have been doing the past 18 years if we had. But I wonder still. And I pray for the Relinquishing One and Redeemer to gather those ones who asked us in words and sometimes without words to make them ours, that He would gather them  safe to His heart and let them know that in Him they can belong, not just for a lifetime, but for eternity.

      • #65231
        Connie Becker
        Participant

        Hello Debbie, The section on relinquishing was very enlightening. We think often and mainly about bringing them into a new belonging, loving and caring! It was good to be reminded maybe someone who loved had to do this or felt like they had to. Also the pain of not knowing and understanding the before or past. Loved how she said it was important to throw out pebbles to open doors to their hearts!

      • #65358
        Debbie Douce
        Participant

        Thanks, Connie for your response. The idea of tossing pebbles has stuck with me as well!

      • #65303
        Olivia Milliner
        Participant

        Debbie, thank you for your vulnerability. Your outlook is so valid in a world that is moving further from adoption as an answer to supporting families as a whole. Not every family is equipped to take on the mission in the large way as you and your husband, so your work and ministry are a gift to all you served! I think you story speaks to the importance of how different people are needed to serve vulnerable children in so many different ways. Thank you for sharing your perspective. It definitely has challenged my thought process surrounding the “right” way to serve; there is none! There are many good ways, and God will use each of our individual gifts and talents to further His kingdom!

      • #65357
        Debbie Douce
        Participant

        Thanks so much, Olivia for your encouragement!

      • #65342
        Alyssa McIntyre
        Participant

        Debbie.

        I so appreciate your honesty in this. I closely follow an organization called “The Archibald Project” that shares stories of adoption and foster care from many, many perspectives. A while ago they shared follower stories of people who had acted in some way because of something that had been shared and one reader responded that “Because of the Archibald Project I didn’t adopt.”

        The reader explained that they realized their calling was instead towards advocating in a different way or short-term domestic foster care. I loved this response because it was vulnerable and so real. The only wrong response is ignorance, which you clearly don’t have. What you have done and continue to do is beautiful and obviously glorifying to the Lord. Thank you for sharing and being honest!

      • #65359
        Debbie Douce
        Participant

        Thanks so much, Alyssa, for your encouragement!! I pray that “ignorance” would never be our response. Today, in the midst of the virus crisis, may we respond without fear because we are NOT ignorant, rather we are secure as God’s children and carry a message of hope.  Blessings from Quito!

    • #65230
      Connie Becker
      Participant

      Kathryn Joyce brings up some good points that I feel everyone believes need changed and worked on. I was glad to hear that wasn’t the final say on it. I felt like what I read was a lot of the wrong without much help on solutions. Also she isn’t updated on Uganda. Like I said on one of the other sessions that Uganda closed over 500 orphanages in 2018 which I’m sure some needed to be. I just wanted to know what they did with the children and if there was help preparing the children and finding best place to be. People like Kathryn make things happen without slow good healthy solutions. You can’t hardly adopt in Uganda anymore which I’m not totally disagreeing with but her info needs to be updated. I felt like Mr. Medefind was much more balanced with the issues and trying to find safe, healthy ways to make transitions in how we help vulnerable children.

      I enjoyed the two ladies who shared their stories of being adopted and one also being a mother of adopted children. It is always so good to here from someone who has walked through it. I loved Carissa saying Less about rescuing more about Jesus saving all of us, Less about them needing you and us needing each other, Less about us doing Gods work but joining God in what He is already is doing among us, Less about being a good Christian but believing in one another’s goodness and Gods goodness and Less about defining who is needy and helpless but reminding us who we are and created to be. More focus on The Lord and not us as rescuers.

      As I was on the last information and they talked about divorce is leaving and belonging in a new situation all of a sudden I remember I was adopted. I was adopted when I was six by a step father. I didn’t know my natural father and my mother and father  (because I don’t think of him as a step father) raised us in a loving and caring family. So most of the time I never think about being adopted. I thought it was sweet for me and my family that I didn’t even think about actually being adopted until close to the end of these lessons. I know this isn’t true for some but I’m very thankful for him being a loving father to me so I never felt less loved!

      • #65307
        Mindy Russell
        Participant

        Connie,

        Lyn was telling us about your adoption epiphany today. What an incredible blessing to be raised by someone who carried the values that your father did, and gave you a safe place to grow and belong… so much so that you didn’t even recognize it. Praying that God will continue to call other adoptive Dads (and Moms) to step up and be family for other kids in need.

    • #65286
      Pam Taylor
      Participant

      This week was very impactful for me, both as a professional in the field, but also as an adoptive parent. As I think back on our adoption journey, I remember so desperately just wanting my love to be enough to “fix” things for my two precious boys. While I desired more than anything for my unconditional love to be enough, I knew that Trent and Mike ended up in our home and in our family as a result of deep loss and pain. While I will admit that it was not always easy (believe me when I tell you we messed up plenty), my husband and I were determined to not only allow them to grieve their losses but pledged to walk the healing journey alongside two young boys who were dealing with so much pain. If you ask them how they were able to heal, one of the first things they will tell you is that they were allowed to feel their pain and knew that we were there to feel it with them.

      As a professional who works with adoptive and foster families, this is an issue that I see very often. Adoptive families often lack the understanding that the adoption story involves a painful journey that must be processed. We encourage families to dive in and walk the painful journey along with their children and remind them that so much beauty can be found when this can be achieved.

      A new term for me this week is ambiguous loss. This term is so important when understanding how to best serve children and families. I often serve children who have very vivid memories of their birth family. It must be so difficult to process a loss that does not involve clear memories and lacks detail. Even when examining the healing journey in our own family, Trent, who is now nineteen vividly remembers details and was able to process his pain far easier than our youngest son who suffered abuse pre-verbally. This is an important concept to remember and I am very thankful for the reminder.

      • #65315
        Amber Allan
        Participant

        Pam, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your reflection on this week’s material given your experiences. I cannot imagine what it would be like to process emotions regarding loss of abuse if you cannot even remember where it started or occurred. Each child’s story is different and your post brings light to that. In the end, the best we can do is not only encourage others to feel their pain but be there to feel it with them. Thanks for sharing!

      • #65317
        Marsha Baker
        Participant

        Pam,

        I hear you and have been on the same journey of wanting to “fix” my daughters pain while learning how to be with her in it as she processes her adoption journey.  There is no fix in her loss, but we have been pledged to walk the healing journey with her as your family has… and it has been a mix of beauty and pain as I am sure you have experienced also.  We were blessed enough to know from the beginning talking about her story was so important and it really is a part of her.  I feel like this has helped her in tremendous way… when she is with other adoptive friends that have not had this process she already can tell and often asks “Mama, why don’t they know their story?”

        With you in this journey!

      • #65321
        Marsha Baker
        Participant

        Relinquishment by Kelley Nikondeha was extremely meaningful to me. I have studied alot through the years on adoption (being an adoptive mother and helping with other adoptions through our ministry in the past), but I had never quite read anything like this article that really speaks from the voice of the birth mothers/fathers.  My daughter’s birth mother is deaf and mute with severe mental delays, so though she is alive and we visit her she has never been able to communicate with us.  However, I always see a longing and brokeness on her face when my daughter is with her and wonder what she is thinking. This article really gives her words and is so powerful for me.  It also will help my daughter as she gets older understand how she must feel also. What a beautiful image of Christ and God and the whole journey of adoption it paints.  It truly is something I will continue to ponder alongside my daughter and other adoptive families I know well.

      • #65322
        Marsha Baker
        Participant

        Sorry this was suppose to be my main post and not sure how to edit it, thanks yall! 🙂

    • #65300
      Olivia Milliner
      Participant

      Reading through the Karyn Joyce article and then Jedd Medefind’s response was eye opening! I was struck by the blunt distaste that Joyce expresses about the adoption movement. After learning so much about Christian’s involvement in deinstitutionalization, I wish she could’ve touched on the MANY things that are being done to serve the world’s vulnerable children. I did some further research into the Holt family, and I was surprised some of the things that were reported regarding how the children were brought into the country, and the families that received them. After reading some of this, I understood more about the skepticism that could be drawn from a secular perspective. That being said, I appreciated Medefind’s approach that we live in a broken world, so even solutions will experience brokenness. I chose to live each day to the best of my current ability and do better as soon as I know better. I believe this is how God calls us to ministry as well. Even if our best has brokenness, there will still be more beauty through following God’s call than not obeying at all.

      • #65349
        Margaret Hoffer
        Participant

        Olivia,

        I also thought Jedd Medefind’s response was well written.  Joyce is correct, that there have been challenges in the Christian approach to serving orphaned and vulnerable children, but as you mention from Medefind’s article, there will always be missteps when working in broken.  However, we would be even more at fault if we did nothing.  What I like about the Christian movement in orphan care, is that as they learn better, they do better.  The approach is constantly evolving and changing based on new research.  Some of the places that used to have practices that not the best for children, are now leading the effort for family strengthing and reunification.  We do our best, and as we learn better, we do better.

    • #65306
      Laura Marinucci
      Participant

      Reflection on Karen Joyce’s article and Jedd Medefind’s response caused me to reflect how unbelievers and believers look at the same scenario through different worldview lenses.  Ms. Joyce articulates well and sincerely emphasizes, though with vast generalizations, the problems associated with adoption/fostering. While her honest criticisms should be taken into consideration as we strive to do better to serve the world’s vulnerable children, she fails to acknowledge that sin remains in our world. She seems to cast aspersions and target Christians for ‘the problem,’ with some valid points and statistics. Like Olivia stated, “I understood more about the skepticism that could be drawn from a secular perspective.” In an Utopian world all would be solved and resolved, however that is not where we actually live. Ms. Joyce offers no solution toward ‘utopia’ in the adoption discussion. The logical conclusion to all the ‘problems’ she addresses is that any attempts to help have ended in problems and futility; so ‘why try?”  Jed Medefind’s analysis of the Child Catcher reminds me that brokenness, sin, trauma and pain remain. From a Christian perspective, the acknowledgement of this realization, and that we will never have the power to resolve all the problems of this side of heaven, does not deter us from engaging and obeying our Lord. We recognize that God calls us individually and corporately as his Church to love our neighbor, including the orphan and the widow. While our attempts may be imperfect, by His Spirit, we can and must connect with the brokenness of this world in mercy, love and justice.  In so doing, we have  HOPE that God will work His good and perfect will in and through us.  Ultimately, even our feeble efforts, mistakes and failures will ultimately be used by Him and may even speak to a watching, skeptical world, such as Ms. Joyce.

       

    • #65314
      Amber Allan
      Participant

      The information this week was overwhelming, but I hold fast to the truth that God is a redeemer. As we learn more about the adoption process and seek to listen to those who have both adopted and been adopted, we have the opportunity to relentlessly pursue improvement.

      Kathryn Joyce’s article was certainly an interesting read and it led me to consider things I hadn’t before. I most appreciated her recognizing that the ethical problems didn’t begin with the Christian movement but are rooted far back in history. Before this, I’ve only heard bits and pieces about the Orphan Train, but I am now interested in learning more to see what past mistakes have been made and how we can learn from them.

      I found Jedd Medefind’s response to be raw and honest yet dripping in grace. He laid out the realities of adoption and didn’t try to gloss over them meanwhile using the flaws and mistakes that have been made as encouragement for us as a society and specifically Christians to pursue the highest ideals. Ignoring or minimizing past mistakes nor leaving out important information is going to help anyone involved. But as Christians, we have an amazing opportunity to recognize the flaws in the movement and be the first one’s to offer viable, Christ-like solutions in hopes to better care for orphans around the world from this point forward.

    • #65318
      Trent Taylor
      Participant

      One of the biggest points that stood out to me was the need to allow the children to feel the pain associated with their early trauma and that families should walk the healing journey by their side. It really resonated with me when Carissa Woodyk was talking about the fact that, even though parents want everything to be wonderful, the children need to feel their pain. I cannot express enough how important it is for former foster youth and adoptees to feel their pain. I thank God every day that I was placed in a family that allowed me to feel my pain. They cried with me, held me as aI mourned the loss of my siblings, and were there with me every single step of the way. I had to face it no matter how hard it was in order to truly heal, but knowing that they were on the journey with me was life-saving. I believe that all foster and adoptive parents need to understand that facing your past is the most painful thing a child can ever face, but it is so worth it in the end. When a parent walks the healing journey by their child’s side, it helps create attachment. Hands down, God and attachment are the two key components to healing.

      Another thing that resonated with me was some of the topics discussed in the podcast. I understand where she was coming from when she was discussing how the term orphan feels like a label. I felt the exact same way when I was in foster care. I felt like I was walking around with a big stamp on my forehead that said, foster kid. I felt that everyone knew I was in foster care. Another point that stood out to me was when she discussed how some people say “Down Syndrome kid”, instead of a child with Down Syndrome and how it hurts. The same thing is true with children in foster care; we sometimes are called a foster kid. It should be a child in foster care, not the other way around. When you put the word foster before kid, it makes us feel like foster care is the key component to our identity. For many of us, our greatest desire is to feel normalcy. I know it is just subtle difference wording, but that difference has a greater impact than you could ever imagine.

    • #65341
      Alyssa McIntyre
      Participant

      I have so very many thoughts about this week. I truly enjoyed reading Joyce’s response to The Child Catchers, as well as the analysis by CAFO. I truly could comment on nearly every sentence.

      It’s notable that I do not have direct experience with adoption. However in the last couple of years I have closely followed adoption trends and movements and volunteered in the US DHS system. I have many friends pursuing or interested in pursuing foster care/adoption and have advocated for/followed many families that have adopted through Reece’s Rainbow, I special-needs focused adoption website.

      I felt both readings did an excellent job acknowledging both sides of the coin. There is a great amount of hope in the way Christian adoption is trending. I truly think there is greater understanding everyday of the entirety of adoption, the triad, and other options.

      I recently read that Bethany Christian Services will not renew its international adoption accreditation in 2021 and instead is making major shifts to focus on in-country adoptions/foster care/reunification. I think this is HUGE!

      (https://bethany.org/campaigns/whats-ahead-for-bethany-around-the-world)

      The families that I have followed are truly making an effort. There is an intense desire to care for children in the best possible way, and I could name a dozen organizations attempting to do this correctly. Ultimately there have been some major mistakes and the church needs to own those. There is heartbreak and challenges ahead for children that were caught up in the ‘adoption frenzy’ and the church must respond to that as well.

      The other thing I want to touch on is special needs, since that’s where my job will have me landing. I was grateful that CAFO acknowledged this in their analysis because as The Child Catchers demonstrated these kids are often left out of the equation. In reality children with special needs are quickly becoming the only children left, and things are not changing for them.

      While children with special needs also generally have a family their situation is entirely different in the possibility of reunification, the role government has played in their orphanage placement, and their needs. These children are also much more likely to be found in horrendous conditions/institutions, and are not able to leave when they age out.

      A really good example of this is China, which is still a top country that Westerners adopt from. A researcher that works with foster families in China just wrote an article in 2019 that estimated 98% of orphans there have special needs and over half of inter-country adoptions from China are of those with special needs.

      This is a similar, yet different kind of crisis. Reunifying/preserving families of healthy/’typical’ children is extremely challenging. When one adds Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism, or other special needs to the mix it gets much more complicated. Not only do these families need the same help/services as other families, but that need is magnified in funds, medical care, understanding, childcare, and the reality that their child may need help for the rest of their life. Autism Speaks estimates that a child with Autism in the USA can cost about 1.4 million dollars for lifetime care. Even middle class families here struggle to handle the costs of raising a child with special needs. To ask it of a family in rural Africa or China is practically impossible.

      While adopting these children out, away from their families, is not necessarily the solution, these situations have to be thought about differently. This is especially true because there are thousands of special needs children that are on the brink of death and honestly right now adoption is their only hope- the movement towards available services needs to begin, but some of these kids can’t wait.

      I would love to hear any other thoughts about special needs and adoption. I apologize for such a long post!

    • #65346
      Margaret Hoffer
      Participant

      What stood out to me this week was the talk given by Carissa Woodyk.  I thought it was such a well stated, poignant reflection on what it means and feels like to be adopted.  When we went through our adoption training and even in subsequent years, as we have learned more about adoption, most of the resources came from the perspective of adoptive experts or parents.  This was such great perspective for me on how my children might feel.  So often we focus on the joy of adoption (and we should), but we forget the loss involved.  I also loved how Carissa shared that parents can’t “fix” their kids, but they can stand with them in their pain.  I loved this article.

      • #65379
        Emily Tiner
        Participant

        Yes! That’s so good, Margaret. It really was incredible hearing from Carissa’s unique perspective and the voice that she was able to give to children going through this process. I’m not an adoptive parent, but I can imagine how powerful and impactful hearing this would be while going through the process of adopting a child or having already adopted a child and now walking through that loss with them and really standing in their pain with them.

      • #65921
        Ana María Sanchez
        Participant

        Right? I think knowledge and science are precious, but there is great power in testimony. I certainly enjoyed and appreciated Carissa’s speech, it was so full of truth. Thank you for sharing Margaret.

    • #65347
      Mandy Haffer de Ramírez
      Participant

      The two things that stood out to me most from this week’s content were the voices of other parties in the adoption world (adoptees, birth parents, etc.), and the idea of ambiguous loss.

      We have never adopted, but we are foster parents who hope to. For that reason, much of our perspective thus far has been shaped by other foster parents who “get it.” However, we hadn’t ever really gotten the chance to listen to the perspectives of those who had been adopted or those who had relinquished children. The voices of the adoptees that we heard from this week sort of validified a lot of what we’ve been seeing in our child (e.g. the reminder that even in so much gain, there is always immense loss.) The idea of relinquishment and that term specifically was a new way to think about the position of the birth mom for me. Our daughter was removed from her family for abuse and attempts on her life at the hand of her birth mother, so for me to REALLY love that woman has been a struggle, but the article on relinquishment opened my eyes to what a loving, heart-wrenching choice that truly is in most cases.

      Also, I had never heard of the term “ambiguous loss.” I liked the explanation given in one of the podcasts that said that this could include a person physically but no longer psychologically present, or a person psychologically but not physically present. It helped me to understand the idea of there being no closure, and the example of a soldier lost in the war with no body found really brought it home for me. I was reminded that my child is daily trying to move forward from something that has no clear explanation, no clear ending, and no memory of “good bye.”

      • #65381
        Katrina Brown
        Participant

        Thank you for sharing part of your daughter’s story- I appreciate your willingness to share that perspective.

        I also had not heard the term “ambiguous loss,” but I felt it gave me a better understanding of loss that can’t always be processed to bring closure. I kept thinking about all the children in the foster care system, orphanages, ect. many who have and are experiencing ambiguous loss and I am wondering what we are doing to support children in this loss they feel. I was also processing this week around caregivers, and what tools and perspectives they can be given for a child in their care who has experienced ambiguous loss.

      • #65391
        Mandy Haffer de Ramírez
        Participant

        Yes, of course!

        You present a really good question: What are we doing to support these children in this type of loss? Especially when we don’t understand their acting out as a result of the pain they have experienced. I think the info on trauma from a week or two back was extremely helpful, but would also love to know about other tools as we dream about implementing foster care in our context!

    • #65348
      Ryne Isaac
      Participant

      First of all, I really appreciate that a course put on by CAFO would use reading material that critiques the work of CAFO. I think this is so helpful in learning. If we want to get better at serving vulnerable and orphaned children, we need to learn from all asides.

      There were points of Joyce’s article that shed light on issues, but most felt manufactured and overblown.

      I was very encouraged by Medefind’s response. It really did have the posture of understand, admitting mistakes, and yet standing firm on why Christian adoption is so important. As Medefind pointed out, it is one thing to critique the current situation, but you must also come with solutions about how things need to change.

      It was a reminder to me personally that though the awareness for fostering and adopting has risen in the church in recent years, there is still a lot we need to learn to do better. It’s a never ending journey of trying, assessing, and improving.

      • #65360
        Debbie Douce
        Participant

        I so agree with you, Ryne! I greatly appreciate CAFO’s willingness to self-critique for the purpose of better serving vulnerable and orphaned children. We will miss the gift of opportunity to learn if we are afraid to face and grow from our mistakes. And because we are God’s kids, when we surrender our inadequacies and short-comings, He will redeem and use those very detours and errors as His gift for the future.

    • #65350
      Holly Freitas
      Participant

      This was an interesting week for me. I really, really appreciated the reading on relinquishment and what that means to let go, give up, and to release. I’ve come to realize that we actually relinquish many things in our lives and as believers, we are furthermore called to offer ourselves to Christ, relinquishing ownership of ourselves and our plan for His. Relinquish–a verb that results in loss and grieving over something precious to us. For my husband and I, this week it is the loss of our adult daughter, her husband, and our grandchildren who are moving across the country. I’m not giving them up for adoption, but as I have been pondering, I’ve realized that relinquishing them is an action of the heart, painful and deep, and I’ve only a taste of what a mother must feel when relinquishing her child.

      The second thing that happened this week, was that my husband was contacted by the family of his half-brother who was relinquished for adoption at birth 60+ years ago. As we think of the repercussions, and what would have happened “if”, we can only imagine as both mother and child have passed away having never found each other, but extended family who has. What did it mean for the child (man) who was relinquished? Did he have a better life than he would have in her care? Was it more difficult because he struggled with his identity and searched unsuccessfully for his birth family for 20 years? So many questions…

      Not so many answers.

      • #65361
        Debbie Douce
        Participant

        Holly, I loved your post. The story of the family of your husband’s half brother contacting him is astonishing, and so full of potential for God to show Himself. Still, even today after child and mother are no longer present. And what a gift that in the same week you are learning about relinquishment!

    • #65355
      Heather Hall
      Participant

      Ultimately, I feel like since I am not an expert in the world of adoption that I cannot make a fully unbiased assessment as to which writer made the most objective presentation of the facts, but I will say that when solely comparing Kathryn’s article to Jedd’s, his paper cited many more sources and examples and appeared to more fully present all sides of the issue, including the weakness of the Christian adoption movement.  I found Kathryn’s article very persuasive and without having Jedd’s article to counter it, I find it somewhat scary to think how easily swayed many readers can (and have) become in the direction of Kathryn’s opinion.

      In addition, I found the article by Kathryn to sound familiar in the sense that I have read very similar articles with similar undertones on short-term missions.  I think in a lot of ways the two topics have similar difficulties and it is easy to come to the conclusion that it would be better to not make any of these types of efforts at all.  One thing that really resonated with me in Jedd’s article was the pull towards either one end of the spectrum or the other—perfection or nothing at all.  I tend to be an idealist and feel pressure to do things perfectly, especially in a professional context when the actions can hurt someone else or I am unsure of their full effect, so I can really relate to feeling like I must move forward perfectly, but instead, I end up frozen and not moving forward at all.  One thing that I am really taking away from this class, and am again reminded of when reviewing these two responses, is that there is a continuum of care and, unfortunately, in order to work and survive in the world of adoption one has to be okay with living in this difficult tension.

      • #65377
        Emily Tiner
        Participant

        Heather, I completely agree with you. Not having much education on adoption or foster care and not having had experience in either until I starting learning more from working at BTCM, I am SO glad that I had Jedd’s response to balance her argument with. Because like you said, Kathryn was incredibly persuasive, but was missing a huge chunk of really important reality about the good being done, but he did so well at responding to it with evidence and such a thought-provoking idea that we must be okay with living in that tension if we are to thoughtfully, seriously engage the world’s hurt.

    • #65356
      Heather Hall
      Participant

      Mandy–I too really appreciated the focus on the idea of ambiguous loss.  I have two adopted cousins and have probably never truly thought about what they lost in losing their original family until now.  It seems like such a unique form of grief in that I imagine the adoptee will never fully know the specific details of what exactly they lost, making me wonder if the adoptee ever feels a full sense of closure or being able to fully move through that grief with so many unknowns.

    • #65362
      Holly Freitas
      Participant

      Thank you, Marsha for sharing about your adopted daughter’s bio-mom and the challenges of relationship with her. I can only imagine that it is disappointing to your daughter to never know what she is thinking. I imagine that she might have sense of responsibility for her bio-mom as her mother ages. How lovely that your daughter has you walking this path of life alongside her. May she find her deepest sense of identity rooted in Christ. I am finding myself more and more intrigued by the stories of adopted children. It will be especially interesting to hear the perspectives and descriptions of the ambiguous loss and gains experienced by the many children who were adopted internationally in the 90’s.

    • #65376
      Emily Tiner
      Participant

      Reading both Kathryn’s article as well as Jedd’s response, I could tell both of their hearts felt so strongly about what they wrote and although her article showed little hope and was pretty harsh, the goal of ultimately wanting children to be cared for was common ground. It just shows me we really need each other to do this thing well. We need different perspectives and different eyes to see things from all angles and Jedd was so humble to really take into consideration her argument and admit weaknesses that need addressed but also help her understand the absolute necessity of Christian adoption as well. It was incredibly eye-opening to me reading both the information she shared that was heartbreaking, but then to hear from Jedd’s side, his optimism and hope saying, “certainly, there’s a fierce tension we must grip here. We balance precariously between error on either side: flippancy toward problems on the one hand and fervent perfectionism on the other. But that is where we must live if we are to thoughtfully, seriously engage the world’s hurt.” Knowing that yes, while we’re going to make mistakes and there are risks in addressing deep human needs, it doesn’t mean we shut the effort down, it just means we seek to improve it as best we can. He had such a good point in this quote: “If our standard is zero tolerance for error, we had all best pack up and go home. We will not only need to abandon adoption, but virtually every other attempt to engage the world at its most hurting.” And that is certainly not God’s desire, design or His best for us. I love that he mentioned he has interviewed her several times and that shows openness and dialogue in the conversation to learn and grow from each other that I think is so important. I think Jedd did such an amazing job at responding to her article with opening other people’s eyes to so many other angles and helping readers understand that there is so much hope and such good things that are happening and being done to improve our efforts to help vulnerable children.

      • #66458
        Danita White
        Participant

        Hi Emily,

        You did such a great job briefly summarizing both Joyce’s article and Medefind’s response. It is clear that they both desire for children, orphans in particular, to be cared for and treated with the utmost respect. Because, ultimately, vulnerable children should not be seen as a statistic or a number, but as human beings uniquely created by God.

        I admire Medefind’s humility in admitting that problems have been made in the Christian adoption movement, especially in its early days. But also his faith in moving forward despite those mistakes. I also like how he redirects the focus of why Christians are dedicated to helping orphans and vulnerable children. It’s not a crusade to save foreign children. It’s not a PR campaign. It’s not about us trying to be the hero in someone’s life or the savior in a story. Sure, some who are involved may have ulterior motives. But, for most, it is about reflecting the love of God which we have so richly experienced to a broken world. I pray it always remains that way.

        Grace + peace,
        Danita

    • #65380
      Katrina Brown
      Participant

      I read the Relinquishment chapter of the book twice this week because I was so impacted by it. I was so struck by the perspective it offered and the need for this perspective. I want to be sensitive to those who have experienced relinquishment in some form.

      Growing up in the Church I have heard a lot of different things around the topic of adoption and “orphan care,” but never did I hear the perspective from a birth mother/father. I recognize that relinquishment, pain, joy, loss, belonging, redemption and love can all be held in the same place and that’s a beautiful thing. I know relinquishment is complex and there’s more to every story, but I loved that Relinquish stated, “God’s experience of family includes relinquishment.” In the Safe Families + Foster Care ministry I am part of at my church, I realized this week that we have been unintentionally leaving the voice out of birth mother/fathers. I believe the Church is and should be a place of belonging so I see a need for all voices to be held equal and to reflect God’s family as He intends it. Moving forward, I hope my team can be more intentional in creating a wholistic space where all voices, perspectives, and people can be heard (if they choose) and be valued no matter where their story led or leads them.

      • #65392
        Mandy Haffer de Ramírez
        Participant

        I loved the Relinquishment chapter, too! Couldn’t agree more. I think we have (at times) traditionally thought about orphans as being sad and in need of rescuing, and adoptive parents as incredible people with huge hearts, but where have we placed biological parents in the equation? Had we even really thought of them at all? I am very glad our perspectives are shifting!

    • #65920
      Ana María Sanchez
      Participant

      One of the learnings that stands out to me as most significant from the content of this week, is the reflection towards the question that Carissa Woodyk asked in her speech: are you listening to the adopted person´s voice?. That really had an impact on me, because Carissa was referring not only to the words and body language but to the story behind those words, the emotions behind that story…and all the pieces that attach to every word.
      This week we learned the complexity of adoption, and that´s exactly why I found -being willing to listen- as a tool so incredibly near to us, to our humanity. How beautiful is that we get to do something so simple and at the same time so important in order to improve our bond with the kids in our ministries. It´s not foreign to us the practice of listening, we can all practice it and get better at it. This is something so accessible for all of us and that can actually change our relationships and even our ministries. We certainly have to take bigger steps to improve, but as we do, we can seek for the practice of listening as an accessible place to start with.

      • #66399
        Carlos Ramirez
        Participant

        I totally agree with you. It’s something really impact that the voice of the person’s adopted has to be hear to take everything out to let things in the past to move on. Thanks for sharing your point Ana Maria. Bendiciones 🙂

    • #65945
      Mindy Russell
      Participant

      I know this was content from several weeks ago, I needed some process time for this.

      Being a young, idealistic, Christian school teacher during the North American church era where adoption and foster care were pushed, my husband and I lost three pregnancies as we started to build “our” family. I saw this as God calling us into adoption by way of foster care. We obediently met every requirement asked by our state agency. In that season, I saw nothing wrong with foster care with the intent to adopt.

      After all the work was done, home study and book submitted, I started to have stomach issues. Everything made me throw up. I had a very rough group in my classroom and had lost an aunt to cancer. I was positive it was an ulcer.

      My ulcer is now 11 years old, loves Star Wars, and has very stinky feet. God made it very clear that my family was released from the call to adopt.

      I have carried around guilt for years, scared that my time spent pursuing adoption may have caused pain for someone, or that it damaged my reputation and someone may see me as being flaky, or not following through….hello, pride.

      I see now that God purposed me for something else. That my calling and my gifts were to be a mother to my three bio kids, to love and care for hundreds as an educator, and now to be an advocate and a champion for the vulnerable.

      The pervasive narrative that “if everyone adopted or fostered there would be no US kids in need” could have changed everything for me. But it wouldn’t have been the right thing.

      I am grateful for the lessons learned during this season, and I am thankful that the content gave me peace about the choice we made to walk away. I do not have to carry the guilt, because God had another plan. And having walked through the experience gives me another perspective for the families in foster care.

      May God bless all of you who are working for the vulnerable in any capacity. I pray that we will hear God’s voice and go when we are called, and will stay put when everything inside us wants to rush ahead.

      Thank you for allowing me to share.

      • #66311
        Philip Douce
        Participant

        Mindy,

        I so appreciate a glimpse into your journey on this topic of adoption and caring for the orphan and vulnerable child. Your journey is refreshingly real, bold and sound. It has helped to ground my feet a bit as I wonder through this jungle of adoption and care. God bless as you speak into the lives of your bio kids and the other kids in your life.

    • #66312
      Philip Douce
      Participant

      I appreciate what Debbie has shared as it is also part of my heart and story. I am still wrestling with…what if? in several specific situations with kids in our lives. However, I guess I am glad that I am wrestling at this level now and not overwhelmed by having hurt or caused more damage to a child. Not sure if that makes a lot of sense to anyone else but me… and Debbie. I had such a strong aversion to adoption and such a strong pull to love, walk with and parent without adoption. This module on adoption affirms that, but also have some angst looking back to those kids that really did need this bold step. I think this is a topic Debbie and I will continue to unpack and walk through for ourselves and for others.

    • #66398
      Carlos Ramirez
      Participant

      One of my favorites of the learnings that stands out to me as most significant from the content, is the reflection towards the question that Carissa asked in her speech: Are you listening to the adopted person´s voice? That’s something huge and that impacted me and my wife because we don’t have an adopted child but we do have an foster care daughter and she has been going for so much in her life and when we brought her here to our home we realized that she needed to be hear, she needed to take out everything that she has been going through. That;s why I really liked what Carissa asked I agreed in it’s very truth.

    • #66457
      Danita White
      Participant

      I grew up in a relatively Christian household. So, as a child, I read numerous biographies and stories about orphans and about Christians who felt called to build orphanages in other countries and/or adopt children to bring them out of poverty and give them a better life. These people were like heroes to me and I dreamed about imitating them. I believed that the only reason orphans existed was: (1) because their parents died or (2) because their parents were selfish and abandoned them. I had no idea that some people were involved in adoption to make a profit off of children or that there were parents who really loved their children and only gave them up so that they could have a chance at a better life. I realize now that my beliefs back then were wrong.

      Joyce’s article highlights some important points and they should not be tossed aside in the slightest. They are, however, points that can be ascribed to almost every movement of passion. When people are involved with something with which they are passionate about, but not well-informed about, mistakes are bound to be made and people are set up to be disappointed and hurt. Medefind did a really great job in his response and I agree with him that Joyce’s criticism paints an incomplete, highly inaccurate picture of the Christian adoption/foster care movement.

      When the modern Christian adoption movement first started to take off there was much that was not known about how orphans came to be or how they were treated in their home countries. Not much research had been done, it was probably harder to get accurate information, and it may have been difficult to work honestly with government officials who weren’t trying to gain from an adoption taking place. Yes, mistakes were made in the early days of the Christian adoption movement. But now we know better and we’re trying to do better. CAFO is a leading organization in that regard.

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