Adopting a Troubled Child


Adopting a troubled child is about loving enough to accept not being trusted. I learned that by watching my wife’s example. I’ll give you fair warning, if you need compassion and are left to choose between my wife and me, go with my wife. If I don’t like you and can justify my position, I’ll throw you under the bus. Then, I’ll eat my dinner and drink a Coke before sleeping through the night like a toddler. My wife is different. If you screeched obscenities at her before hurling yourself under that runaway death-trap, Amy would crawl beneath it to drag you out.

My adopted daughters don’t understand that though. From their earliest moments, their developing and pliable minds were taught that they could never trust a mother. As much as I’d like to blame my daughters’ demonic abuser for their suffering, in honesty, it’s probably not her fault. You see, she was raised in the same orphanages that later took over the care of her offspring. Then, with almost no education or even basic social skills, she was tossed out into the street to try and survive. Guess what she did? What would you have done? It’s hardly a surprise that she turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain caused by her lifestyle.

The first things my daughters learned had been taught by their damaged mother. If they cried, maybe they got fed, or maybe they were beaten. Perhaps they had their diapers changed (as if!), or worst of all, they might have been ignored. Cause and effect were as foreign to my daughters as a good meal on an airplane was to me.  That was only the first problem.

Dad was the silly drunk, which was tons of fun (ignoring the fact that he should have been providing for the family). Mom was sadistic when alcohol turned her blood translucent. All of my daughters can show you physical scars, dwarfed by the psychological ones, that they received from their mother in Russia. One of my daughters even blames that mother for the death of her grandmother (the live-in mother of her father), claiming that her grandmother was poisoned. One of the hardest things for my oldest daughter to accept was that she would not be able to return to Russia to complete the circle by murdering the woman who gave her life. I guess she just assumed that one of her own would finally do the same thing to her, if someone else didn’t beat them to it.

Those nurturing and maternal traits from their early environment are emblazoned on my daughters’ minds. My wife has spent every waking moment since they joined our family trying to re-program brains and undo those understandings, which are now all but hard-wired. The thanks she receives is that they trust dad, not mom.

Dad might be useless (comparatively speaking between parents, and might be as true here as it was in their Russian family), but he won’t hurt you. Mom, on the other hand, could be nice for a while, perhaps even for a very long time. But eventually… well, you get it.

Don’t get me wrong, our daughters love their new mother. They love her as much as they could ever love anyone. They just can’t bring themselves to completely trust her. Still, she works for them, advocates for them, and even goes against her very nature to stand up to them and fight to protect them from themselves. When I wonder how she stays with it, she asks if any of us appreciate what God does for us enough, or if any of us trust Him enough. My wife teaches me what grace is. I hope that my wife really is created in God’s image. If she is, I have very little to worry about.

Amy loves her daughters enough to forgive them for a lack of trust, while she continues to do everything she can to drag them out of a hell they have lived since the moment they were born. My wife isn’t concerned that our daughters erroneously trust me more than her. She is just grateful that they can trust somebody. While I am sure that Amy would have preferred that our daughters could have fully appreciated her sacrifice and learned to trust her implicitly, she has settled for a different reward. Our daughters now have the chance to have happiness and successful lives. Perhaps even more importantly, they have the freedom to choose what they will do with that chance.