1. Four children joined our family through adoption.
2. Two were born in Ukraine, two in the United States.
3. Three of our children have special needs and faced a terrifying future if not adopted.
4. Every Life Matters
1. We are not special. And unlike a ridiculous newsmagazine stated, when they posted a story about us without our permission, we are not “chosen by God”.
2. Our children are not “lucky”.
3. Our children are not defined as “adopted children” and “biological children”. They are our children.
I’m Tracie. In 2006, I had three children who could dress themselves, make their own lunches, and sleep through the night. Very quickly all that changed. We welcomed newborn Elia into our family in 2007 and in 2009, two 3 year olds, Emma and Aiden (from Ukraine). A year later, we welcomed another newborn, Mattie.
By 2010, I was chasing 3 toddlers and had a newborn with significant medical needs in the hospital for the first 11 months of his life.
Our youngest son Mattie passed away in August of 2014. I write about love, life and loss on my blog.
I have worked as an adoption educator and consultant for 8 years. It has been a joy to help prepare others for this journey and to support them as they welcome children into their families as well.
I continue to educate and advocate for adoption, and have broadened my scope to include helping families become healthy and strong. I am passionate about seeing Mom’s and Dad’s take care of themselves so that they are strong and able to love and serve well. I love seeing children who have been formerly deprived, thriving because or love, family, and amazing nutritional support.
You can read more about our family on my blog. I’d love to hear from you if you would like information about adoption or about improving your family’s health. Link in profile.
Knit Together By Adoption, Day 3, Thoughts on Adoption Before Adoption
During the early years when adoption was just an “idea”, one of the biggest things I can remember was being afraid of open adoption. The “Lifetime Movie Syndrome”, as I like to call it, made me afraid of opening my heart in this way because surely it would be “bad for the child” or “confusing” or 100 other things. That fear was washed away the moment we met Elia’s birth family. We are blessed to have a beautiful relationship with this family. They are “our family”.
I also remember being afraid of the cost of adoption. I mean come on, we didn’t even have a savings account to speak of. How would we afford it? That fear was squashed the moment we sat across the table from friends who encouraged us to take the first step and start our homestudy. They also handed us a check to pay for it. That seed caused faith to grow and we watched over the next 4 years as thousands and thousands of dollars came in miraculous ways.
Love it hard work. Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. We do hard things every day because of love.
Loving broken children is harder work still.
I know what you see from the outside. A child “rescued”, now in an amazing, loving family. A miracle!! You might even call this family heroes.
They don’t feel like heroes. They don’t need to be idolized or put on a pedestal. They need to be loved and supported while they do the harder than hard work of loving this child through years and years of healing.
You get to see a snapshot, like this one. A mother and daughter learning how to connect. You don’t get to see the raging torment of pain. You don’t get to see the parent holding their screaming child, trying to protect them from themselves. You don’t get to see the exhausted parent collapse on the bed or hide in the closet in tears. You don’t get to see the times we blow it, the failures and the moments of defeat.
We typically share with you the miracles and milestones, the victories achieved. But we need to tell the whole story. Because the whole story is what adoption is all about. But we must tell the whole story careful, protect it as sacred, because our children’s lives are precious and worth protecting.
Adoption isn’t a trip across the world. Adoption is days and months and years and decades of loving when it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
Love is hard work.
And every life matters. Every life is worth the hard work of love.
Knit Together By Adoption, Day 5, “Outside Perspective”
Today we were asked to write about reactions to adoption from people outside our home. There are sadly people who get negative reactions from family and friends. We were blessed that this was not the case for us.
But what I really want to talk about is what happens when “outsiders” choose to become “insiders”.
Brian and Dorean were strangers to us. They heard about our upcoming adoption and wanted to help. They chose to help in the form of giving in a significant way to our adoption fundraiser.
But they didn’t stop there. They adopted us. They chose to make us family. For the past 6 years, they have cared for us as their own. They come bearing gifts for the kids, they stop by for visits at least once a year. Dorean encourages me on the phone and by text. There are countless ways.
They chose to be grandparents to our children. They chose to stay in it for the long haul. Way past a donation to an adoption fund, this couple has chosen our family to love.
That, my friends, is adoption.
Adoption is choosing to love.
Maybe you’re on the outside looking in. Maybe you’d rather be an insider.
Adopt an adoptive family.
I dare you.
Knit Together By Adoption, Day 6, “How We Met”
They looked like this the day we arrived at the orphanage. They were brought to us one at a time, all bundled up in winter garb from head to toe.
I remember sitting in an office where a woman read over their files. As she was reading, a nurse knocked on the door and in barreled this little boy with a puffy blue coat. He had a puppy hat on that day, but the same brown leather boots. He came in and we welcomed him. I pulled him up onto my lap and our love story began.
A little while later as we continued to go over paperwork, they walked in with Emma. She was shy and hesitant. It took weeks for her to take the first baby steps to begin trusting us. We had to learn the language of love for her broken heart.
We spent 39 days in Ukraine visiting them daily, and eventually going to court. We returned home for a week. And then traveled back to Ukraine for a week of gathering visas and passports.
You can read more about our adventure on my blog by clicking the archives and reading through February and March of 2009.
Knit Together By Adoption, Day 7, “Other Homes”
I’ve had many other homes in my life. A warm, dreamy home on a country road, nestled deep in the woods was my favorite. This was the home of my childhood, of fishing trips and picnics and hikes in the woods. It was in this home where I learned what it was like to welcome children into a family and call them “brother and sister”. I was the sibling of foster children in this home. My perspective on this time in my life has changed over the years because I look back at memories of that time with the eyes and heart of a mother now.
Which leads me to the first home of two of my children. Concrete walls, gated entry way, little beds in rows with bright mismatched bedding, dingy carper, and orange satin curtains. A play room without toys, a tiny kitchen, a 30 year old playground covered in rust. A “baby room” that broke my heart into a million pieces. This was home. This was all they knew. In its brokenness and imperfection, it was all they knew.
There is the misconception that a child taken out of a less than perfect environment will somehow jump up and down and thank you, or be grateful or relieved or overjoyed.
A child taken out of any environment, regardless of how broken, will mourn the loss of the only thing they knew to be “home”. It is only with great love and patient support that healing can take place.
We had to teach these babies what a mother and father were. We had to teach them what family meant. We had to show them how to play, how to cry, how to share feelings.
We had to teach them how very safe HOME should be.
Because two of our adoptions were international we have this big question mark in regards to birth family for Emma and Aiden. There is a huge ache that comes along with that, and the need to lay judgement aside and forgive things like neglect and abandonment. We will never know the whole story. There is also an ache, a deep cry, that longs to say, “Look at them now!!”
We have been very blessed to have an open adoption with Elia’s birth family. Not just with her beautiful birth mother, but with aunts and uncles, a sibling, and cousins. It’s a relationship I will never take for granted. It’s a relationship that grew slowly over time, and has become so beautiful and so natural. We have little concern over boundaries because of the common love we all have for this little girl. Everyone has mutual respect for the roles we all have in Elia’s life. She knows she is deeply loved. Open adoption can be a priceless gift.
We have also experienced open adoption that didn’t have quite the ease and natural flow of steady, healthy relationship. Relationships can’t be forced. We did the very best we could do, yet brokenness got in the way.
Regardless of the nature of the triad in any given adoption, it is important that respect and love are at the forefront of the story. Even when it’s hard. After all, the child’s life began because of birth. And birth is part of their story. Life is a gift, and we must always honor that gift as we help our children understand their story.