Adopting Teens

by Rachel

When we went through infertility to start our family, God started us down a path of saying "Yes" to Him.  In advance, mind you, to whatever he would ask.  This is a tricky business to get involved in because you have zero clue what you're going to be asked to do, and yet, you've already said yes!

God got us involved in all sorts of crazy business like fostering, mentoring, housing a single mom and her kids and inviting families to live with us. All sorts of adventures that stretched us and brought us closer to Him.  I think I have to say, though, that the craziest thing He has asked us to do is to adopt teens.  Not just once, not even twice, but {so far- gulp!} THREE times.

Our big kids don't come slowly over time either; the three teens all came within three years of each other.  The first two came in one calendar year, and I had a pregnancy and birth in that time as well. 

In short: It was madness.

We knew without a shadow of a doubt we were supposed to say yes to God, and to the teenagers.  But, man oh man, did we have days where we found ourselves asking, "What in the world did we do to our family!?"

There were days I thought we were ruined.I believed God had a plan. He HAD to(!), but I could not fathom how it would all turn out. 

One of my kids had RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) to the point that we wondered if it might take fifteen years for him to settle down and be able to function normally.  The things our family has gone through, as a result of saying yes, have been intense.  If you can think of it, we probably went through it.

We've had:

Police investigations
Sneaking in
Sneaking out
Running away for days
Drinking and driving
Throwing parties
Theft
Using our credit cards
Psych ward stays
Attempted suicides
Selling drugs
Getting caught selling drugs

The list can go on, I'm certain, but that paints a detailed-enough picture. As a result of that list, we have learned we need to lock up our cash, our wallets, our keys.  We are now the proud owner of four safes; we lock up alcohol, medicine, gift cards, spray paint, even gasoline. We have alarms on all our doors, windows and bedrooms.  We have security cameras in our home, we own drug tests and a breathalyzer. 

In short, our lives were turned upside down.

Three years into this, we still live with occasional drama. Something triggers one of my boys, and we suddenly have a situation on our hands. 

Yet I can say that every single thing has been worth it.  Every dollar spent, every inconvenience of locking things up, every time we have to go after a runaway in the middle of the night, or hire a sitter for some unforeseen circumstance; all of it has been worth it.

Easily a person could ask,  "How can you say that? What in the world makes it worth it?"

I would probably ask that myself if I weren't in my shoes.  My answer, however, is simple: it is worth it because they are worth it.

My kids deserve to learn stability, healthy living, what it means to have security and be loved.  They came to us only knowing how to push people away, for fear of being hurt.  They needed to be taught how to let people in.   They are coming to us in giant bodies, but needing to go through all the attachment cycles starting from birth. 

They missed them all.

What I am learning is this: it is never too late.

It is always worth giving someone a family. It's always worth sticking it out for them to learn those important life lessons, to teach them they are worth being fought for, worth being run after, and worthy of unconditional love. 

So yes, my life can be crazy, and sometimes comical.  But I would not trade it for anything. I would not trade my kids for anything.

That list? It's far from the norm for us now.  We are well past most of those things.  Some of them pop up here and there, but for the most part, it's pretty chill in our family.  But I am certain the only reason we are here, on this side of that list, is because we fought for them over and over. When hard times hit then and hard times hit now: we do not run.  We get on our knees in prayer and we stand with outstretched arms waiting for them when they came back.

One of my kids looked me in the eyes one day with defeat and asked, "When will it be enough? What will finally cause you to walk away?"  He was tired of fighting us, tired of all the work it took to push us away.

I would be willing to bet anything he already knew the answer in his heart.

"Never, my dear boy.  Never."

Rachel is a 32 year old mom with 6 kids married to the best man she knows, Joey. Her kids are 2,4,7,16,20, and 21. God keeps bringing them teens and asking them to adopt them. Like crazy people, they keep saying yes. What could seem like the worst possible age to adopt in the world, has become God's beautiful redemption story playing out right before their very eyes. And it is good.