The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adoption Truth Part IV: Pressed on every side

we were pressed on every side
full of fear and troubled thoughts
for good reason we carried heavy hearts... (Sara Groves)

For good reason we carried heavy hearts.
That is how I feel. Heavy.
But also free.
The juxtaposition of heavy and free don't sit well with me.
Shouldn't free feel light?

This post is my attempt to shed some of the weight.


Adoption Truths Part IV: Pressed on every side

We are in a situation where it is impossible to please everyone.
I love to make people happy and to please others. But the older I get the more I have come to realize that being a people pleaser is at unfortunate odds with being a truth-teller.

Watershed moment... I can only tell our truth with as much wisdom and sincerity as possible. But I cannot be responsible for how it lands in other people's hearts and whether or not it is "pleasing."

This post is my attempt to put to words the ways I feel pressed, pressed to please. Hoping to find personal freedom from this pressure simply by recognizing it. "Hello pressure, I see you. And now I write this to release you."

When an adoptive parent finds herself telling hard truths about her adoption several things seem to happen. (Generalizing here from a very unscientific observation of the adoption blogging community over the last 4 years.)

1. Close friends and family rally. They pray and cheer and hold you close. But you worry about their longevity. They see you changing. They may suggest that you are putting yourself in danger for a "cause." Can they hold on and stick with you long term? Nobody really wants to be left hanging without resolution forever. Family and friends don't really know what to do or say. You find yourself tucking in, hiding out. Because it is hard. You are not fun. Truth telling sucks a lot of the fun and life out of you.

2. Adoptive families who have been through hard times and lived their own hard stories quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) share your blog, press like, and leave long comments sharing their pain, frustration, and fear. They want you to to press forward. Say it all. Call people out. They hope to God that you can accomplish something that they couldn't. Maybe you will finally be the family that doesn't sign the gag order offered by the agency. You feel responsible as this group's newest vocal representative.

3. Families in process or families who have not experienced difficult stories feel awkward. Sometimes they feel attacked. Sometimes they feel like you are saying they should not have adopted or should not be adopting. Sometimes they extrapolate that your warnings and concerns are actually sweeping anti-adoption statements. Not all, but some, pull away. Some scramble to reduce your credibility. (In our case we've had people say that we are "not real Christians", "frauds", and that we are "crazy.")

"Families that speak out against agencies and tell stories of fraud in their processes and want to warn other families looking to adopt or who are in process are consistently shut down. They are shunned. They are told they are mood killers. They lose real life friends and Facebook friends. They are kicked off of support groups. They are asked to stop talking because they could ruin adoption for everyone else.
But I want it to be clear: families who beg for someone, anyone to listen to their story are not ruining anyone's adoption. It may feel like they are threatening something dear to the heart. Something prayed about, stressed about and let's not talk about the savings and check writing. But really, they are not threatening adoption. The agencies they are trying to chuck a stone at, like David against Goliath, who participate in child trafficking, or forge documents, or don't investigate "abandoned" children's history, or turn a blind eye to poor practices, they are the ones that are ruining adoption." (Staci from Scooping it Up)

4. Adult adoptees. Some, not all, begin to read your blog. Maybe they have read along from the beginning but many are new to you. They are reading because a post went viral. They cheer that someone is standing in their camp. That an adoptive family is advocating for truth, reform, first families and giving voice to adopted children who will grow into adults.

You begin to feel that you owe it to them, almost as projections of your current children's future adult selves, to stay the course. You don't want to let them down. You become scared that they will be disappointed in you. You wonder if they will still be cheering if you end up completing your adoption.

5. The folks who just think adoption is a load of crap. They are out there and they have some valid reasons. They often also have extremely hard stories. They may love one post of yours but hate another. They are often anonymous and while their comments have truths they bite so hard that you have no idea how to engage with them.

6. The faith community. I am part of this community and maybe you are as well. Many in this community do not like public strife and do not want to see anyone question a Christian adoption agency. Some feel that any problems between professed "Christians" should be worked out behind closed doors. Some do not want to recognize that there are people who masquerade under religious "Christian" language but have bad intentions and/or poor practices. You need this community more than ever but it no longer feels safe.

Recently on a Haitian adoption forum filled with Christian adoptive parents someone demanded that I provide "proof/evidence" of my concerns. And then I was kicked off.

"Here is the biggest problem with proof and details: adoption lies and fraud and corruption don't just involve adoptive parents. At the heart is a child or children. And having major or heck, even minor ethical issues in an adoption story is a little like having your child be abused. If you come out against the perpetrator (who may be popular, powerful and big or even really nice) your child's story, the details of their pain is now fodder for the Internets to criticize, dismiss. To seek justice, to warn others, to appease people and convince them "it's true" you essentially must throw your family under the bus and expose yourself and your child to ugliness.

That is the reason most families stay silent. That is the reason many people don't report abuse: it is hard to prove, it can feel like shame, it can harm our kids more than they've already been harmed.... How do you prove to people that fraud happens and that agencies are either complicit or know about it/suspect it but have personal philosophies that justify the fraud? How do you convince people without specifics that throw a kid's privacy in the garbage?" (Staci from Scooping it up) 

What to do? Pressed on every side. There is no way to win and absolutely no way to please everyone.

"There's redemption in confession and there's freedom in the light. I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid...."

I'm going to keep saying that until I feel it. And I am going to keep writing until there is nothing left to hide. I am going to do my best. Thank you to those who choose to stay with me in this Adoption Truths series. I know it isn't light reading. But thank you.

go on and ask me anything
what do you need to know
I'm not holding on to anything
I'm not willing to let go of
to be free, to be free

it's a sweet, sweet thing
standing here with you and nothing to hide
light shining down to our very insides
sharing our secrets, bearing our souls,
helping each other come clean
secrets and cyphers
there's no good way to hide
there's redemption in confession
and freedom in the light
I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid
(Sara Groves)



  1. Beautiful. And I so totally understand this pressing from all sides. You are brave, friend. I am rallying for you and I am in this for the long haul!! :)

  2. Much love and many prayers from our family to yours, Amanda!


  3. I stand shoulder to shoulder with you dear friend in your quest for truth. In your brave voice that is being heard loudly and clearly, even if people are reluctant to respond vociferously. Keep speaking and more voices will join you. There is yet another camp of people -- those who demand proof and then sit in judgment as to whether that proof "justifies the action." As they pretend to stand in the shoes of those they judge. "I know that freedom has a high price, as high as that of slavery; the only difference is that you pay with pleasure and a smile, even if that smile is dimmed by tears." Paulo Coelho

  4. "They may suggest that you are putting yourself in danger for a "cause."" Is there a better reason? For a righteous cause? No. there is not. "Heavy" can slow us down and get us stuck if we let it. Keep fighting for the "light" and the light will do the rest.

  5. “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
    ― Elie Wiesel

    1. Thank you for this quote! We're in the process of adoption. I read these posts, ask hard questions, pray harder and keep pressing forward wondering what outcome God has in mind for us, our children and our future children. We are yet to see and we proceed with caution, in fear and trembling.

      Thank you A for your bravery in sharing. A friend shared your blog and I'm so glad she did.

  6. You are brave and strong and a warrior. You need cookies and hair braiding and shoulders to lean on. You are so, so much- not just one box to be marked off.

    I've loved being witness to all things you, and can't wait to stuff your face with m&m's and berry pie on our next visit. We can cry and laugh and be FULL of juxtaposition... or something.

  7. May you find your lightness and until then, we can all try to lift you up and carry you.

  8. Journalists used to have a saying that sunshine was the best disinfectant.

    Fight when you can, rest when you need to.

    Thank you.

  9. Wow, that is a LOT of pressure - as a people pleaser and adoptive parent myself I can relate. And I want you to know that I am reading your posts, ingesting your stories and sentiments, thinking about my own, and supporting you in however you decide to share your story. In the end , your kids will be able to say they have a brave mother who values truth, even when it is nuanced or not as pretty as others would hope, and they will love you for it!

  10. This is my first time here and my heart aches for you. You are showing a lot of courage by speaking out. I have adopted five children, one internationally, and the stories I have heard from other families make my stomach turn. If we are not honest about the good, bad, and ugly then we risk irreparably damaging the entire adoption process. We must shed light in the darkness and pursue adoption with wisdom and discernment. We have to stand against fraud and abuse no matter how big or powerful the authorities may be.

  11. <3 Continue speaking brave friend. I am so so proud of you.

  12. Thank you for being another voice and I am so sorry you are in a tight spot.

  13. Sigh, sigh again.
    Tucked or hidden, wounded or broken, courageous or daring, crying or weeping, smiling or laughing, I am always your supporter. Jen

  14. Our adoption was cloaked in corruption and we were asked to lie and cover up the ugliness by people we trusted in the US and in our daughter's birth country. We chose to tell the truth. We were ex-communicated from the communities we expected to support us. We were told that we would personally be responsible for all of the children who would never find their families because we weren't willing to participate in the corruption and lies. I carried a heavy heart for months after reporting our facilitator to the US embassy and to her government. The result... that facilitator has been charged with human trafficking. And... more children have adopted from Serbia in the last three years than were adopted in the 7 or 8 years before. God LOVES truth! 1 Thess 5:5 1 John 1:5-7 Ephesians 6:14 Psalm 145:18

  15. I have followed your blog for years, and your voice has been so important to our family as we explored adding to our family through adoption. I remember that you spoke out against some of the care that A received in country, and that made a big impression on me. I am so sorry that you are in this position, but I am so thankful that you are speaking the truths as you see them.

    1. I'm so glad you've been along with me for a long time. It's wonderful when people comment who have been reading since A came home. Makes me feel like we are old friends!

  16. Just found your blog through the Livesays. Wow! You are brave. We are one of the families stuck in the middle. Started the process to adopt from Haiti and are having our paperwork translated. What do we do??? We currently are going to have a big pow wow with our agency stateside about transparency. This happens on Tuesday. Praying for truth and justice to shine through in your adoption and our situation, no matter what comes of it. Blessings to you, my truth teller friend. May God protect the hearts of you and ALL your family.

    1. oh goodness, I wish I had big and good advice. I always feel like we should go with our gut feelings and cover everything in prayer. Also, one of the best things we could have ever done was to seek Christian mentors and family who are level headed and who can give us advise/guidance when we feel like emotions are running high.


Some of my very dearest friendships have been made through writing this blog and reading blogs written by other adoptive families. Comments help to facilitate and grow relationships and I welcome any written with positive intentions.

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