Doug and Deanne Walker have 19 children, 10 of whom are adopted. These loving parents have been up and down and all around adoption, and seem to me to be an endless bucket of adoption knowledge and wisdom. On top of that, the Walkers are welcoming, inviting and friendly! This series of articles covers everything from being an organized home executive to failed adoptions to finding the right agency. So as you read, imagine taking a comfortable spot on Deanne’s sofa as she openly shares her insight into each topic.
I’ve had conversations with lots of adoptive parents who have waited long and worked hard to get their child or children. Among the parents I’ve spoken with are many who went through heart-wrenching decision-making when they were offered a child . . . and it just didn’t feel right. Saying “no” sometimes means the end of the relationship with the agency that offered the child; sometimes it means being dropped back to the bottom of “the list;” and sometimes it means knowing that the child you’re not accepting may not be adopted.
This experience happened to the Walker Family. More than once. Many times, in fact. That horrible “knot in the stomach” became recognizable to Deanne. Doug and Deanne’s research, financial preparation, and emotional preparation meant that they were ready to be offered their child. So their first experience being presented a baby–a sweet little baby that Deanne knew wasn’t theirs–was shocking and painful. “I wanted this little girl so we could rescue her … yet I had a knot in my stomach. It’s very difficult to receive that call, but then question if this baby is the one I’ve been waiting for for 12 years. It’s hard to describe the feelings I had . . . the questions in my heart . . . the worry that I may not find my son. At the same time I had terrible concern for the future of the baby presented and knew that there was a strong possibility that this child may not find a home, if not for me. The desire to have a baby was so strong it overshadowed everything else in my life. But the knot didn’t go away. I presented the situation to Doug because I didn’t have the strength to say ‘no.’ He knew right away that this wasn’t our child. It just didn’t feel right to him. We discussed it and determined that we would not move forward. I was heartbroken. I spent the next few hours in tears and finally got the strength to make the call. I struggled with my feelings–even feeling angry with Doug. He was focused on finding our child–not just finding a baby. Over time I came to realize we really were on the search for our child. An underlying sense of peace filled me, and I was able to move forward with our search. Then one day I got ‘the call.’ It was another agency who shocked me with the words, ‘Congratulations. You have a baby boy.’ I went weak in the body and fell to the floor sobbing. We had found our son. I knew the moment those words were spoken. I just knew.”
For the Walkers, this experience wasn’t unusual. That knot in the stomach became familiar–and although they came to know exactly what that feeling meant, the disappointment and concern still accompanied the knot. Even with all the paperwork and red tape that accompanied their international adoptions, for Deanne and Doug the hardest part was always choosing a child. There are no referrals or birth mothers choosing your profile. There are well over 2,000 children available for adoption at a given time, so even narrowing down the search to meet your criteria leaves many beautiful children to choose from. As each face appears on the screen, the tender hearts of adoptive parents have to decide if this is their child or not. For some, each child that they pass on may feel like rejecting an innocent child. When the Walkers adopted from China, all they could do was trust in their instincts, have faith in their feelings. They knew, only from gut feelings, which children were theirs.
When asked for advice for parents who are offered a child, and it just doesn’t feel right, Deanne said, “It is important to recognize that we have feelings directing us to our children. We need to be true to those feelings and where they are leading us. If we trust ourselves and the feelings that guide us, all will be well in the end and we will have the child that is intended for us.”
More from the Walkers: