Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Emmitt (+ What Makes a Successful Adoption)

Welcome to TWOB, or, if this is not your first visit, welcome back! 

I'm happy to report that Jack's mom has stated that Jack is now $3,273 closer to coming home due to your support of their August fundraiser! Jack's family is a little more than halfway to their total fundraising goal of $40,000! Please keep Jack and his family in your thoughts and prayers, and please keep an eye out for my upcoming fundraiser to help bring Jack home!

Today is Thankful Thursday, and in that tradition I would like to relate another tale about my thankfulness for my own sweet boy. Yesterday evening, as I was lying on the couch reading to my two younger kids, my oldest child appeared at the door carrying a fledgling bird. My nerdy child immediately sprang to the computer to read up on how to take care of an injured or ill wild bird. My son hovered around, cooing at the bird, asking lots of questions, and coming up with the name Gary for our new little friend. While I phoned some friends who run a wild animal sanctuary for advice, the three children created a nest for the bird in a curriculum box I had and gave it a capful of water. Unfortunately, yet predictably, the young bird was with us for only about 20 minutes before it died. All three children were very sad. My son, whose compassion is wide-ranging, helped my husband bury the bird in the backyard. When he came back in, he told me that he was glad that we had the chance to show the bird it was loved and valuable while it was still alive.

As I have mentioned before, my son has some behavioral and learning challenges that can be frustrating. But his sweetness, kindness, care, and concern for others is always evident. The children he meets love him. He is very popular on his hockey team and in our homeschool group. He is friendly and easy-going with his peers. Although my son still struggles with post-institutional issues, he is the nicest kid you will ever meet. My son is a fighter; through all his therapies and educational interventions and discipline trials, he struggles on, determined to have fun in life. He dreams of being a fire fighter (or a pirate) and adopting 5 (or 10) boys of his own. He recently realized that he won't actually be able to marry his sister, but he accepted this realization with maturity and has occasionally discussed potential suitable marriage partners (my 40-something, married friend from our homeschool group, who was the first and remains among the objects of my son's affection, has also, reluctantly, been ruled out).

I know I just spent a lot of time singing my son's praises. I do it for two reasons: one, because I am continually impressed with my son's ability to rise above his challenges and two, because I want you, my readers and friends, to understand that children can recover from early abuse/neglect/malnutrition and go on to have happy, loving lives.

I recently posted in an adoption forum, in a discussion of trolls and anti-adoption sentiment, that as adoptive parents we all wish and want to believe that all children can be healed from the wounds they received before they came to us, that all children can be redeemed from the tragedies they have suffered. I have been around the block enough in this world of adoption to know that not every adoption story has a white-picket-fence ending. Not every family lives the soft-focus Hallmark life. But I do know that many more families than not have had success in this venture of adoption, if you define success as loving relationships and children with vastly widened horizons and potential reached. Success in adoption is not defined by the absence of challenge or the absence of conflicted, tangled, messy feelings. It is not defined by looking just like the neighbors, looking just like a bio family, or not needing supplemental services, or having a child who astounds others with his progress. Success comes from children who otherwise wouldn't have experiencing the love of a family, receiving necessary medical and educational services, and reaching the potential that they were given in life.

We have struggled at times as an adoptive family. It hasn't always been easy. I am not insensitive to the thoughts and emotions my children have surrounding their adoptions and the tragedies that beget them. But like everyone, my children are learning that although the past will always be with us, it needn't define them and their lives. They are who they are because of what they make of their lives, not because of what life did to them way back when. We are a happy, silly, crazy, loving, imperfect adoptive family, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now I would like to introduce you to Emmitt. Emmitt is a child who is running out of time. He will turn 15 in January and, as you may be aware, if he is not adopted by the time he is 16, the window of opportunity will close for Emmitt, and he will, literally, spend the rest of his life in a crib. Emmitt lives in a mental institution, where he has already resided for years. He has spina bifida and a severe deformity of his legs, and he can't walk at all. Emmitt is described as "sweet, intelligent, and kind."

An adoptive family who met Emmitt had this to say about him: 

He is very friendly, funny, and talkative. He desperately seeks out attention. He was talking to my husband, and holding [his] hand, which he then put on top of his head for [him] to rub his hair. He is extremely intelligent, and just precious. I brought him paper and crayons, and he drew me a flower.

Here is a child who appears, incredibly, not to have been crushed by life in an institution. Emmitt desperately needs a family to provide him with the love, care, education, and stimulation he needs to live a life of purpose and not just waste away in a crib. Can you imagine being forced to sit in a crib all day, every day, and how stultifying and debilitating that would be? This is Emmitt's life. He deserves so much more.

Emmitt has $1705.50 in his adoption grant fund. He is available for adoption to older parents and to larger families as well as to younger parents with smaller families. Total adoption expenses will amount to approximately $25,000. You can help Emmitt by donating to increase his adoption grant fund, sharing his photo and information, and considering whether he has a place in your family.

Please also check out my post about Daniel and Colin. Both of these beautiful boys still wait.


  1. Thanks so much for blogging about "my" Emmitt! His family just HAS to find him! Such a sweet boy with potential for so much more than life in a crib - if he just gets opportunity!

    So glad to see Colin mentioned again too!

    Thanks for all you do for orphans!

  2. Very well written post, Daneille. You capture very well what has caused so many families angst, which then scares families who are considering adoption. It's hard, but viewing the big picture, the successes so outweigh the failures. Your boys break my heart at each post. I love scrolling down the left sidebar to see the ones who have families waiting! Good work you are doing :)