How I Got My Sisters (Part One of Our Adoption Story)

June 26, 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) ——– Taiwan was a fabulous place to grow up.  According to the Taiwanese people, my family ideal – two sons and then a daughter.  They called it having an heir, a spare, and a little princess.  Nothing, in their minds, should make us unhappy with the way our family ticked.  The thing was, my parents didn’t agree.  They thought our family was missing something…  Or, more accurately, someONE. Taiwan is right off the coast of China so we heard all sorts of stories about little girls abandoned in China due to the one child policy.  It was so horrible to hear about.  The thought of little babies being left on the side of the road to die was heartbreaking.  Through a lot of thought and prayer, my parents came to the decision that, although they couldn’t change the laws in China, they could change the life of one of the abandoned girls. So many families adopt babies from China and my parents really didn’t want to be back in the baby stage, so they decided to look into older child adoption.  My parents decided that they wanted to keep with the natural birth order and adopt a little girl younger than me.  I was five when the process started and the girl they chose was just eleven months younger. Note to adoptive families: Be very conscious about your birth children (or previously adopted children)’s dispositions.  Do you have a very mothering, “bossy”, mature daughter who definitely has an older child disposition?  Do NOT adopt a child, especially one of the same gender, older than her.  That was the daughter I was and it would have crushed my spirit to all of a sudden have an older sister.  Do you have a “needy”, attention-seeker, fun-loving son who definitely has a youngest child disposition?  Do not take that position away lightly.  It’s a little easier to adopt a child younger since that would be a natural occurrence if you were to give birth but possibly consider a child older than the child you have.  There is no easy answer regarding birth order except to say to be extremely conscious of the children you already have in your family. GARDNERA (263) My parents included my brother and me in so much of the adoption process.  I always thought of it as “our” adoption, not “my parents'” adoption.  Bringing my sister home was a family goal and my brothers and I were completely on board. The little one we adopted was my sister, Rebekah.  She was a precious, fun little sister who had been born with a cleft lip and palate.  My parents longed to give her love and the medical attention she needed to thrive.  They believed we had done our part and had served the Lord by bringing one of his loved orphans into our family.  Two boys and two girls.  Our family was complete. Note to adoptive families: It’s a very good idea to keep the kids already in your family an important part of your adoption.  If they’re old enough, let them know the process you’re going through.  Make sure the younger ones understand adoption and that there’s no way THEY will be put up for adoption like their new sibling was.  Explain to them their new sibling’s story (age level appropriately).  Be intentional about involving your children.  Know their maturity level and what they can handle but, no matter what, keep them involved. GARDNERA (96) A year or so after Rebekah had joined our family, my oldest brother, Peter, was reading through a magazine for adoptive families.  In this magazine there was info about a few orphans throughout the world who, for various reasons, especially needed families.  Peter brought the magazine to my parents and expressed his desire that we adopt another child.  He shared about how he believed this little girl would be a wonderful friend to Rebekah and me and would be such a great addition to the family.  He then turned the magazine to my parents and showed them a picture of a gorgeous East Indian 14 year old girl. He was 13. Needless to say, my parents weren’t too thrilled with the idea of bringing this teenage girl into a family with a hormonal 13 year old boy.  Peter laughingly told them he hadn’t been serious about that girl.  The girl he really wanted them to consider was a little four year old Russian girl…  who had been born without arms. My parents’ initial reaction was to tell him no.  They didn’t feel as though God was calling them to adopt again…  They didn’t think they could properly care for a girl without arms…  They didn’t understand the Russian culture as well as they had understood the Chinese culture…  Peter wasn’t having it.  He asked them to pray about the possibility of adopting this little girl.  What parents can tell their 13 year old kid that they’re not willing to pray about something?  Pray they did – and God made it very clear that Deborah was to become a part of our family. Note to adoptive families:  Take your kids seriously.  Obviously YOU are the parents and the decision makers in the family but if your children have insight into your adoptions be sure to listen.  It really helps children not begin to resent the adoptions and could possibly be a way that God speaks to you. GARDNERA (83) In Russia, orphans with disabilities who are not adopted are sent to “orphanages” for the mentally disabled where the care is horrendous.  The reason Deborah was in the adoptive magazine was because she was going to be moved into one of those “orphanages.”  My parents came to find out that, if we hadn’t started the adoption process, she would have been moved there on her next birthday.  It absolutely breaks my heart that any child would be in conditions like that and that intelligent children like my sister would be treated as though they were mentally disabled simply because they have a physical handicap.  Every child should be loved and cared for – even if they are orphans. GARDNERA (166) Once again, we were certain our family was complete.  Three daughters and two sons.  Such a wonderful sized family…  But, of course we know that’s not the end of the story… GARDNERA (221)

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