Wednesday, May 16, 2012


When you adopt internationally it is possible that you will look at a child's picture for a very long time before you are able to actually travel to pick up your child. It is amazing how much you attach to that child that you have never met.  every delay is agonizing.  When we committed to Joselin we were told that she was 7 years old.  She was sent pictures of our family and we sent care packages through our adoption worker.  Guatemalan adoptions were in turmoil at the time.  They even stopped for a short period of time.  It took a year to bring her home after receiving her referral.

When we got to Guatemala it was quite apparent that her age was wrong.  She was at least 3 years old.  So instead of dealing with an 8 year old we had an 11 year old, we were able to get her age changed to 10 so we all know that she is actually 1 year older then her documented age.  She had not been to school and obviously spoke only Spanish.

While in Guatemala she asked about her brother.  We didn't know anything about a brother.  Actually we were approved to adopt 2 children in case a sibling group became available.  Her brother was quite a bit younger then her, actually she was his primary caregiver.  He had been taken to a different hogar and she had been told that he was adopted by a family from France.

When we got home we started a search for her brother.  She was very upset about losing him.  We were able to find his adoptive family in the US.  he lives in a family up in the frigid north.

The years were filled with lots of struggles.  She didn't want to do school, do chores, pouted on vacations, lied and stole from us.  As she became older her behaviors became very self-destructive.

We offered her all that we could.  We offered her our family.  She wasn't interested in anything that we had to offer.

When she turned 18 her behaviors reached the point where she was not willing to live by our rules.  Her behavior was detrimental to the younger children in the home.  She left and for 6 months we didn't hear form her.  Once a month I would send her a message on facebook telling her that we are here.  She couldn't live under our roof but she is still our daughter.

I sent her a message on April 1st and a few days later she called me wanting to meet for lunch.  We have since met other times and she has joined us at church.  Most recently she called me wanting to meet for a Mother's Day meal. 

We sat and talked for 3 hours.  She is processing her life and how she got where she is today.  She does have regrets and wonders "what if".  What if she had been accepting.  She told me that her biggest problem is that she is hard headed.  Yep, I agree! 

Why was it so hard?  What prevented her from accepting her family?

From her....

In Guatemala she had no rules.  No expectations.  No chores.  No homework.  No following the clock.  Heck, they had no clock.

If she really wanted something she could steal it or do some small job to get it.  Churches gave them clothing and toys. 

She comes to America and there are rules, expectations, chores, homework and always doing everything by the clock.  Her freedom was gone, being poor was more fun.  She also says that she didn't realize that learning to speak English was going to be so difficult.  Academically she was behind.  Socially she was awkward.  She was teased.

By middle school the desire to be popular became the most important thing.  She wanted everyone to be her friend, even if she had to go against her family's values.  Lie to her family.  Reject her family.  Heck, her family wasn't that important.  She already had a family in Guatemala and didn't need a new one.  Her Guatemalan mom told her to just use us and go back to Guatemala to support her when she grew up.

By high school she was totally entrenched in a lifestyle that was totally against her families values.  She was angry and confused.  Why was she doing what she wanted and still not happy?

Therapists didn't help.  She wasn't willing to open up to them.  She refused to talk with them.

Finally after she was on her own she was able to do what she wanted without parental controls.  She should be happy but wasn't.  After 6 months she realized that she did want a family.  She contacted me.  She says that she is happy but there is something missing.  She still misses her brother.  He shared a very difficult time with her.  He doesn't remember it but she does.  She felt like she was his mom.  She realizes that she has to wait until he is 18.

We have known that her separation from her brother was very difficult for her.  It is one of the reasons why we adopt sibling groups.  That loss will always be with her.

Why do I write this?  It gives an insight into why an older child adoption can be difficult.  What could I have done to improve it?  I honestly don't know.  I couldn't adopt her brother, her mom made that impossible.  I can't change the American culture.  Perhaps I could have homeschooled her. However, I feel that she would have rebelled against that. 

Perhaps all we could do was let her come to her own conclusions.  Give her time to choose what she wanted.  Give her the control over whether she wants us or not. 

In the end that is what we did.

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