We Lost Two But Gained One (Part Two of Our Adoption Story)

July 12, 2013

How did a family with three *fairly* normal birth kids morph into a family with twelve *crazy* kids with a nineteen year age range?  It’s an amazing, God-filled story with so many crazy twists and turns.  Like I promised, I’m here to share my part of the story and give you a little insight into the brain of one of those birth kids.  I’ll be including some tips for adoptive families for things to do and not to do to attempt to make your adoption a good experience for the whole family.  I’m no expert but I feel that I’ve learned a lot from talking with other birth kids, leading workshops on the topic, and experiencing it myself.  If you have question about what I suggest, don’t hesitate to email me at susannah.kellogg (at) gmail.com If you missed part one – adopting my two sisters – you should check it out! ——– Deborah had joined our family while we were living in Taiwan.  Two short years later, our lives had changed drastically.  We had moved from Taiwan back to America and we were all getting used to the American culture – something we hadn’t truly been a part of for six years.  At this time, my parents realized God was calling them to adopt another child.  They had heard about a little girl, living in Thailand, who needed a family.  Pearl had been born without an arm so she was a special needs adoption and was harder to place.  Since Deborah (who’s missing both her arms) had adjusted so well and we had helped her figure out how she could do pretty much all every day things, we thought it would be easy(ish) to add another girl with a similar disability.  The girls could help each other out and show each other that they’re not alone.  Rebekah was also struggling with being the only non-caucasian in the family and my parents knew that another Asian girl would help Rebekah out a ton. My parents began the paperwork and I began to get attached to this little girl.  The more paperwork that was done the more I loved her.  I had her picture hanging in my bedroom.  I prayed for little Pearl.  She was beginning to become my sister. A few months (I believe) after we began the process of adopting Pearl, my parents called all us kids together and sat us down to have a talk.  They told us that the Thai government had decided that we already had too many kids in our family for them to allow us to adopt another.  They had decided to deny our family any access to adopt from Thailand. I was heartbroken.  This little girl needed a family.  Why on earth would the Thai government think it was better for a child to live in an orphanage than to live with parents and siblings who loved her?  So what if we already had five kids.  We had more than enough love to go around!!!! This was kind of my wakeup call to adoption.  The system was not the answer!  I began learning about all sorts of corruption, legal silliness, and, ultimately, how helpless orphans are.  I gained a passion in my heart – at eleven years old – to be a voice for the children that don’t have one.  (Also, check out the bottom of the post for more info on what happened to Pearl!) Note to adoptive families: If you do end up losing a child, be aware of how the children at home are handling it.  I am a passionate, loving person and I took it so incredibly hard.  I don’t think it really phased one of my older brothers, though, because he didn’t grow that attached to the kids until later in the adoption process.  Each child responds differently.  It is SO important that you are able to help your kids through their emotions.  They may not understand why it happened.  Give them the ability to ask questions and grieve the loss of a potential sibling. Since the paperwork had already began, my parents looked into countries that WOULD accept our family.  Through a lot of prayer, paperwork, and more prayer we found out about a little blind boy in India, in need of a family.  We were told that John’s vision was basically the equivalent of looking through a piece of wax paper.  He could see muted colors and (kind of) shapes but nothing distinguishable. GARDNERB (427) We followed God’s leading in our lives and brought John home.  John and Deborah are the same age and became fast friends – being in classes together and sharing tons of friends.  John was such a special addition to our family.  Three boys, three girls.  Three adopted, three biological.  Perfect. Note to adoptive families: Be cautious with twinning (adopting a child the same age as a child you already have or adopting two unrelated children the same age) your kids.  Out of our twelve kids, we have four sets of twins (within one year of each other).  One set has a pretty rocky relationship (getting better as they get older), two sets are decent friends, and one set (the baby girls) are best friends and have psychologically truly become twins.  If you do chose to twin your kids, know that it could go either way.  Don’t expect them to be best friends and don’t ever compare on to the other.  Do not adopt a “twin” thinking you’re getting your child an instant playmate.  That mindset could go horribly wrong or wonderfully right – Just don’t have expectations and think hard about whether or not twinning is for your family! GARDNERB (417) Not for long, though.  A few years after bringing John home, all us kids were once again rounded up and sat down for a talk.  This time our parents told us that they were praying about adopting another little girl from Russia.  She was an adorable little four year old redheaded girl who was missing a leg.  We were excited but this time I was a little more timid.  I didn’t want to fall in love with a child before I knew that child was truly going to be my sister. My attitude during this time shows.  I can’t remember this little girl’s name or why Russia decided to not approve us (probably family size again).  I never let myself grow attached to the little one.  I’m sure I would have once I knew my family had been approved but I had already begun not trusting the system.  My heart had been broken and I didn’t want it to break again.  In some ways, losing Pearl caused me to grow up faster than I would have otherwise. Of course, like before, having already begun the paperwork spurred my parents on to look into another country – Ethiopia – and that started us down a road that brought a whole slew of kids in to our lives…  But that’s for next time. ——– God is so good and we did end up finding out what had happened to little Pearl, my “lost” sister.  My mom used to put on adoption conferences and shared the story of not being allowed to adopt Pearl many times.  At the end of one of the conferences, a couple came up to my mom with some clarifying questions.  They wanted to know what year this happened and other things like that.  After telling them, they happily were able to let my mom know that THEY had adopted Pearl.  She had been adopted by a wonderful Christian family, brought up to love the Lord just as we had prayed she would be.  To make matters even better, we had planned on naming her Hannah when she joined our family and this family had named her Anna.  Without a doubt, it was a God thing!

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