I cannot imagine our family without our girls. It makes me cringe to think of where they would be now and what their lives would not be like if they had remained in their orphanages in China.
I also know that as much as they have been blessed by being adopted, I have been blessed through their adoption all the more. They have taught me more about myself than I ever would have known had God not brought them into my life.
There are times when I laugh and when I cry. Times when it becomes painfully obvious that a meltdown or rage induced by the trauma in their background is being used by God to heal something in me that needed healing.
The first time we had a real honest to goodness full on rage (which is different from a tantrum!) I was as much scared as I was shocked. I believe in that moment if she had a weapon she would have used it on me.
It started with a simple correction and consequence from my wife. No big deal. To us – but not to her.
My main thought at the time (besides feeling this was way beyond me) was to protect her from herself. I tried physically restraining her (discovering later that was exactly the wrong way to do it). But that only made it worse.
It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. My older kids had thrown a tantrum a time or two before – but this different.
We realized that we were in over our heads – and needed help.
Oh the things I learned about trauma over the next few months. About how it interrupts development. About how it can be triggered by seemingly unrelated things. About how raising a trauma child will almost always reveal the trauma and hurt in the parent's background as well.
And trigger our own traumas.
This was far more than I had bargained for when we began this adoption journey. It was not supposed to be about me – it was supposed to be about them.
I had successfully managed to lock away the trauma in my own past in what I considered a most effective manner. I had logically and rationally dealt with the issues from my childhood in a most reasonable and grown up fashion and was functioning quite well.
Until a 9-year-old girl with more hurts than a 9-year-old girl should ever have invaded our home and my heart.
Suddenly, I was the 6-year-old boy again witnessing things a 6-year-old boy shouldn’t see. Experiencing rejection and hurt that 6-year-old boys aren’t meant to deal with.
Being a typical, macho guy – my first response was anger. I was mad at her. Mad at the situation. Mad at my wife. I realized that for the sake of my family and my children, I needed to move through that and deal with my own stuff. Not easy for anyone, but I think guys just have more trouble with this.
After a lot of trying, I realized that my anger was only making it worse, and was directed in the wrong places. My anger was actually my hurt – and it wasn’t helping heal their hurt.
They needed to be told they were safe, not screamed at by a raving lunatic. They needed to be loved while their behaviors were out of control. Not traditional parenting techniques - because they weren't traditional kids.
The only way to help heal them was to love them over and over and over and over again. And then tell them and show them some more. And while I was pouring that into them, I realized that my own childhood hurts were being opened and then healed.
I thank God every day that I listened to His call on my life and that He loves me enough to have blessed me with these three wonderful girls.
It has not been easy. But God has been with me. My peers, business associates, old friends and family ask me often,“Why did you do this? Shouldn’t you be out playing golf, traveling and enjoying your life?”
My answer to them gives me the opportunity to share our adoption story, but it’s also an opportunity to share what Christ has done in my life.
As surely as it seems that we rescued these girls, Jesus has used them to help rescue me from being held captive to my past.
Doug is a 55-year-old father of 6 and grandfather to 1. His hobbies are chasing his kids and indulging his wife. When he needs a rest, he is president of Mission Beverage Company in Los Angeles.