Thursday, August 29, 2013

Superheroes Not Needed

Far too often, whenever I'm talking to someone about our adoption experience, I get the response, "That's soooo amazing" or, "Oh, I could never do that. I don't have the . . ." Fill in the blank, which is often the word "patience" or some other word that means fortitude. They often act as if my wife and I have special powers or something. Well, we don't.

No radioactive spider has bitten either of us nor were we hit by gamma rays.

We are not superheroes of any kind.

Nor do I, and I cannot stress this enough, have more patience than a majority of people. People who read the blog or know us, marvel at my seemingly endless patience. Well, you're not there 24/7. There are times when my patience snaps and so do I and I find myself barking more than our dog. There are times when I don't handle the situation correctly. There were many times when I felt like I was in over my head and drowning and I could only ask God, "Why?"

I am learning patience, but it's a lesson that doesn't come easy to me.

I won't lie, there have been moments when Cava was at his worst, that I wondered not only, "What have we gotten ourselves into" but I had those thoughts of wanting to send him back. I read a quote once that said, "The children who need love the most often ask for it in the most unloving of ways," and, boy, is that true! Anyone who's read my blog for any time can attest to that. But the fact of the matter is, both Danelle and I saw past the actions to the truth that Cava did need love and he needed it desperately. We also understood that God had given us this child.

When you adopt a child, you're adopting a damaged and broken individual. The idea that all it will take is love and prayer are incorrect. Many of these children will need outside help (behaviorists, psychiatrists, counselors, play therapists) as well as medication. They will also need and test their parents' patience. Cava did this in an attempt to either get our attention (something he'd learned in the orphanage) or to see if we would send him back. For the longest time, he told us he was going back to Ukraine with his puzzles. It took months before he realized he wasn't going back, he was a part of our family, and that we did love him no matter his actions. He also is learning that actions have consequences, either good or bad, depending on his choices.

Know that your child may not know why they do the things they do. Often, after Cava's done something he's not supposed to, and I try and talk to him, when I ask, "Why would you do that?" he, many times, admits, "I don't know." We are working on helping him try to understand his actions and, he's begun to express himself through emotions other than anger (as it was a very big step for him to cry instead of hit).

We are not special people with special gifts. I will admit, I don't know how anyone who doesn't believe in God can adopt, as prayer has been one of the biggest areas of solace for us.

Adoption is hard. It is a difficult, long, and slow process.

Know that you are not alone, though you often feel like you are. I know after we adopted Cava and we were going through the worst parts of the adjusting, we wondered, "Are we the only ones going through this?" So often, I would read other people's adoption blogs and see only the sunny, rose-colored glasses portraits of adoption. After reading them, I'd get depressed and wonder why God gave them normal children and why ours was so damaged. And I wrote as honestly and lovingly as I could about our difficulties and struggles. That's when I began to get e-mails from soooo many others who, like me, thought they were alone in this.

I am not more patient, but I'm having to learn to be more patient than I was because that's what Cava needs. I can't parent him like I do Benjamin because Cava's background is so different and he has grown up without the tools he needs to cope. This means I have had to seek a lot of outside help, whether through professional help for Cava or reading books on the subject or researching online. I try to pass what I find on in my blog, as well, in the hopes that, if it's working for us, it might work for others in the same situation.

We firmly believe that God led us to adopt, to adopt from Ukraine, and to adopt Cava. Because of this, we knew and continue to know, we'll make it through whatever tough times and troubles we face. And, since we know grace, we can also extend grace to Cava.  It also means we have to forgive him and ourselves nightly because we aren't perfect.

I know people who say, "You guys are so brave" or "I could never do what you guys have done," mean to compliment us, but the fact is, we're not brave or extraordinary. We simply followed the path that God has led us on. We trusted Him to lead us to the child He had chosen for us and we continue to trust Him on a daily, if not moment by moment basis, that He is with us through the good and the bad.

For those considering adoption, be realistic and read a lot before you go into the process. The Beatles once sang, "All you need is love," but these kids need so, so much more.

Don't let fear dissuade you: either the fear that comes with making the decision to adopt, the fears that come once you've begun the process, or the fears that arise once you have adopted. Remember that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind" (2nd Timothy 1:7). If God's called you to adopt, trust that He will take care of you.

It's ordinary families who adopt, not superheroes. Adoption is not a heroic act, but a loving act. It is an act of acceptance, just as God has accepted us into His family through adoption.

As the title of this piece says, "Superheroes are not needed, but loving parents are!"

Consider adoption, whether international or through foster care. These children don't need superheroes, they need you.

As a side note, one of the biggest compliments I ever got was when Cava told Danelle that his name wasn't "Cava," but "Spiderman Elliott Blackwell." (Below is a photo of my little Spiderman).


  1. What a wonderful post. We don't even have our children yet and people are already saying how "noble" we are to adopt from foster care. I think, "huh? me??" I'm not noble, I am SELFISH. I want a child to love more than ANYTHING. Please read my blogpost on a similar comment I got:


  2. Excellent post Elliott. Thanks for your candidness. We are there with you, although you guys have been home longer than us. Look forward to continuing to follow your journey.