by Heidi Khalil February 15, 2022
Imagine if we lived in a world where every child had a loving home available for them, even if they had no relatives or had been hurt by those who were supposed to protect them.
Elizabeth is a lady who I have known for several years. Our paths have crossed over the years from time to time. We have been in each others homes and shared meals and great fellowship. We have visited together at multi-church functions, and have always enjoyed each others company. She is good-natured and jovial most of the time, with a well developed sense of humor. Her story is one that is full of struggle, sacrifice, joy, and love.
Elizabeth and her husband David decided in the year 2000 that one day, when the time was right, they would adopt. They didn’t know when, but they were convinced that this was a road they were being called to travel. First, let me say this. This couple does not stand out in a crowd, do not have genius IQ’s, and are not independently wealthy. David is a veteran, who has a soft spot for children in need of protection, and apparently a soft spot for Elizabeth, because there are not a whole lot of men who would agree to an undertaking such as this.
Elizabeth has had an in-home daycare for many years. She answered her calling to work with children, while earning her living. She and David had been blessed with 3 beautiful daughters, and experienced the pain of 12 heart-breaking miscarriages. Yet, every time I saw them, they seemed to have a long train of children and babies along with them. They also seemed to be quite comfortable with “kid challenges” intermingled with everyday life.
After some time, they decided that their family was financially stable enough to start adopting. Their first adoption was a little 5 year old girl, who had been considered by the system as “unadoptable”, because of early childhood trauma and a failed adoption. She is now 16 years old, and has a bright future ahead of her. She is in grade 11….only she is not your average 11th grader, because she is taking all freshmen college classes, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She is dearly loved, cherished and helpful. Elizabeth said that many times she forgets that this blessed child didn’t come from them.
Their second adoption was a 13 month old baby boy, who was later diagnosed with autism. Although autism is very hard on them (and their house), he is very loved, and is quite bright. He often has very interesting conversations with his mom, that show her the depths of how deeply he thinks, at age 8. David found out some time later that he and his new son shared a great-grandmother. (God works in mysterious ways.)
Their 3rd and 4th adoptions were a two for one….full-sibling group of 2 girls. They had already experienced early horrific circumstances that were both shocking and heinous. They are now 8 and 9 years old. They are doing well. In Elizabeth and David, they have found parents who have unconditional love for them, and are allowing them to be children and have created a safe place for them to be inspired and to thrive in. CLICK HERE for skin care products
What kind of couple takes all kinds of children, with any and all kinds of long-lasting effects of traumatic events and sometimes medical issues to boot? What kind of couple strive to create an environment where these children can explore, create, imagine and grow? What kind of people take each child’s emergency and makes it their own? The answer is Elizabeth and David.
What happens when you take a child and present them with a consistent love that they have never before known? How about when that couple is a praying people, who are expectantly waiting for God to take full control of difficult situations and bring victory? I would say…..the sky is the limit.
Elizabeth says that all of her adoptive children have been diagnosed with severe “Reactive Attachment Disorder” (RAD). This is not easy. She deeply feels that churches where adoptive children and families attend, should have classes available to the congregants. This would be helpful in alleviating some of those painful things that the children and adoptive parents are going through, and bring insight, understanding, and compassion to the people who are their closest support system.
I can honestly say that I have been in church my whole life, and have been around adoption in churches and in my own extended family, and have never once heard of any type of classes being offered or suggested to help out with this. It never even entered my mind that any classes would be beneficial, until the last few years. Although I sometimes hosted these children for a day or afternoon, I never even thought about dealing with them in any alternative way. I was not aware of the level of trauma, nor what it does to them or the extent of what they had been through, and how their minds work as a result of that. However, I will say this…..Information and praying through that information, both with and for adoptive families would be a God-send to them. There are good organizations out there to help families, unlike CPS, who in my opinion, have been counterproductive in putting the children first on more than one occasion, to say the least. When we feel like we don’t want to be bothered or inconvenienced by these families burdens, we need to remember that if we have been born-again, we were adopted into God’s family, through Christ Jesus. Adoption is an extremely powerful act of love. Some children come more broken than words can say. Such is the case with some of Elizabeth and David’s children. Love can and will, little by little, day by day, night by night, heal their broken parts and make them whole.
Elizabeth relayed a story to me about a really rough day she had had, when her oldest adopted child was about 10 or 11. She had cleaned up lots of excrement that day, and some of the children had starting telling her about the different abuses that had taken place in their birth homes. She was very exhausted physically and mentally. She thought that she was alone, and that the oldest adoptive daughter was in bed. As she was wrapping up her trying day, with personal prayer time to the Lord, she said, “Lord, I’m just not cut out to be a foster or adoptive Mom!” Then, she felt 2 loving arms wrap around her from behind. The 10 year old daughter said, “That’s okay Mom. No kid is cut out to be a foster kid either.” This affected Elizabeth in a profound way. She said to me, “I really don’t think we are special. We are just normal parents trying our best….begging God to fill in the gaps.”
If you have friends or brethren, who are adoptive parents and you would like more information on how to communicate with children who have been through traumatic events and experiences, I have added some resources below, where you can start learning and growing in this area. I realize that there may be people reading this article who just won’t get it, and think it is unimportant, and psychological fluff.
Let me give you some real-life scenarios that perhaps you have never thought about before…….Let’s say that you had a close friend adopt a 9 year old girl. Let’s say that you invite her over to your house, and you think she is weird-acting, not thankful, and maybe you feel that she is too sensitive and doesn’t fit in with the other children. As a result of that, you never want her over again. Okay, what if you knew that she had been raped and or beaten many times. What if she has certain triggers that remind her of those situations, that make her want to recluse inward or run. What if she was used to eating from dumpsters and is always afraid that she will have to return to that life at any given moment, so she eats a lot of your food, and stores some in her pockets, just in case. After all, she is only 9. Her mind never had a chance to develop under the normal circumstances of a child who is protected physically and emotionally. Now what? What about a child who has lived in filth all of her life? She is not trying to offend and be “unhygienic”, but has no idea that having to brush her teeth, bathe, comb her hair or wear clean clothes is important. Maybe the reality of these children’s lives has taught them that as long as they are safe, have a roof over their heads, and nice food to eat, everything is life is wonderful! They may not how to keep a room clean or how to perform any type of organizational skill. While many of these kids may be eager to please the new adults around them, they still struggle tremendously.
Again, I will say that Elizabeth and David are not perfect people. They are just down-home folks. They work hard, and have to go through all of the ups and downs that come with this calling. While I was interviewing Elizabeth, I couldn’t help but be touched by her passion and love for every child. It was then that I realized, I was in the presence of greatness….not the kind that wears a crown, or has a luxurious lifestyle or is infamous in any way. Actually, if you saw her at a public place, she wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. She wears a warm smile and comfortable clothes. Her kind of greatness will sit and hold a child, pray for them, clean up their throw-up when they are sick, bandage their wounds, and help them learn to dream. Not just once, but many many times…. for days, weeks, months and years. This couple has willingly embraced a type of servanthood that calls for a very intense level of love for children, who most people would like to pretend do not exist. These children’s lives are forever changed, because of Amazing Love!
When next you say your prayers, please remember David and Elizabeth , and their entire household, and for all of the unique challenges that they face on a daily basis. They are raising an army for the Lord!
HK: Mighty Hand Publishing (copyright February 15, 2022…use by permission only)
Resources for being equipped to make a difference in the lives of children from hard places:
- Trust Based Relational Intervention TBRI (Caregiver Training) by the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (USA) (self-guided courses available on You Tube…TBRI 101) or http://www.child.tcu.edu for classes.
- Connected Kids with Dr. Barbara Sorrels. They have a website with lots of online training available. http://www.connectedkids.org