Four months after losing Vanessa I was awakened from a deep sleep by an outcry down the hall. The late news breaking story was about a little eighteen-month-old boy murdered by his parents. Two sisters were also in the home. We knew the family well. Four days and a court order later, Vanessa was returned to us. She was not the same child we watch drive away four months earlier.
We adopted her and celebrated her return but trauma took its toll. Eighteen months in stable home, followed by a year of visits with abusive parents (they did not physically abuse her during that time but evidence was later revealed that they were abusing the baby boy) in which she exhibited signs of trauma (not sleeping, acting out, fear and rage before visits), followed by four months of abusive custody (there were signs of physical abuse including scars from what appeared to be cigarette burns on her body). All of this during those crucial years between eighteen months and three. The biological parents were convicted of murder. The baby boy’s body showed signs of torture for over a year. Her wounds are deep and her walls are high. She is so very loved but it is so very hard.
I have no faith in any earthly system. I know that adoption can be a confusion combination of wonder and heartbreak. When adopting myself, I did my best not to be attached to the baby in the pictures and was fully prepared for something to go wrong. It took me four years to gather the courage for her readoption all because of illogical fear grounded in real events.
For any parent considering adoption, know that all the things in the books we read can be true. It is tough parenting a wounded child. Prayer, love, and faith will give you the strength to survive but it does not always cure. Nearly sixteen years later our family still struggles, loving someone with a wounded heart. Her internal struggle between love and hate affects every member of our family.
I would never tell someone not to adopt. I would advice that you use caution. Move forward with open eyes and know that attachment is very important. Little warning signs in early childhood get so much worse as time goes on. It is a continual effort at every step of development. And despite your best efforts, the best effort of professionals and experts, despite all your love and praying and faith, you may still be struggling for answers and wisdom and healing twenty years down the road. Prepare for a long hard journey.