Adoption Fatigue

The Family Network

A year after bringing Julia home, we started the process again for a little brother or sister. It took longer than expected, but two and a half years after Julia we brought home little Rion.  We adopted Rion, our ever energetic second kid, from Taiyuan City in the Shanxi province of China in May 2012.  He was a little over 3 years old and brought with him a whole new set of adoption challenges.  Our social workers at The Family Network prepared us to deal with the feelings of grief and loss during the adoption transition.  After our relatively smooth adoption of Julia from China in 2009, we felt well prepared.

Rion had lived in one foster home since he was an infant and he had been spoiled and loved!  While the spoiling wasn’t so good, we knew the love he had experienced would give him the ability to love us too and it was a great start for his life.  But the transition was HARD!  Imagine taking any 3 year old from the only family he knows and handing him to strangers who don’t speak his language, don’t look like him, and in an instant he has lost everything he knows and loves.  He has the clothes on his body and that’s it.  It was tough!  The first days and weeks were filled with Rion’s grief and anger at being taken from his foster parents. And despite our training, and the obvious grief he was dealing with, it was hard for us to love him when he was so difficult.  We felt protective of Julia who was dealing with jealousy issues.  We ourselves were tired, jet-lagged, living out of suitcases in a foreign country, and just having a rough time.

The second day with Rion, we ‘d reached our wit’s end.  At one point late that afternoon, Tricia and I sat for a brief rest on a park bench in China with Rion throwing a terrible tantrum.  The deafening noise caught the ear of a police officer who stood across the walk and stared at us.   Of course, our guide and interpreter had the afternoon off.  Tentatively, we started walking to the Pizza Hut at the park edge for dinner.  Thank God, the officer didn’t follow us, even with Rion screaming at the top of his lungs.  And trust me, we found out early, the boy’s got lungs.

It didn’t get any better at Pizza Hut either.  Rion kept screaming at the top of his lungs inside the Pizza Hut.  Quickly, we decided we couldn’t torture the other diners with his noise.  So, I took Rion outside and sat on the steps with him, holding him and listening to him screaming.  Trish sat inside with Julia and ate pizza.  Then, she came outside and took her turn with Rion.  Tricia and I struggled mightily to keep it together with the help of a lot of prayer.  By night’s end, after we’d finally put the kids to sleep, we just wanted to take Rion, go home, and not think about another adoption.

Even after we got home it was hard.  Rion threw insanely long and loud tantrums when he didn’t get his way.  We had to try and put aside our desire to discipline and instead to focus on helping him through this complicated grieving process, but it was so hard.

We’d dealt with adoption, the adoption paper chase, the home studies, the waiting, the praying and the agonizing since May 2008.  We’d had one failed international adoption attempt in Kyrgyzstan, one joyful adoption in China in 2009, and, so far, one challenging adoption.  We needed a break from it all, period.

We agreed not to talk about adoption again until 2014.  Then we agreed to talk about it in 2013, but just not do anything until 2014.  However, despite all our plans, throughout the summer God was moving in us….