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. This time is about being disrupted and then thriving.
Disruption is a sad fact of some adoptions. Sometimes the child and parents never bonded; sometimes it just didn’t work within that family unit but would work out very well in another; sometimes, in very sad cases, an adopted child is taken out of the adoptive home because of abuse or neglect.
Doug and Deanne Walker have been blessed with a lovely daughter because of a disrupted adoption. They weren’t actually looking for their next child at the time, but Deanne was made aware that this girl would soon be disrupted. She knew Olivia needed someone because she had been disrupted. She was already in a religious home and the Walkers matched that religion and wanted her to have consistency. So they continued to look into the situation. When it became apparent that this upcoming disruption was all about the parents and had nothing to do with the child and that it was no longer healthy for Olivia to be there, the Walkers moved forward. It was an on-again-off-again situation that was hard on everyone. It took a full year before Olivia was able to be placed in the Walker home, and even then, the previous parents refused to sign papers. Deanne is such an advocate for children that she’d finally had enough! There was no chance that she would allow this darling daughter to be placed back in that harmful environment! Originally born to a single mother in India, where (at that time) it was illegal to be a single mother, Olivia was hidden for 6 months. When someone told the police, they found her and took her to another city and placed her in an orphanage. At age 3 Olivia was adopted by a family in the U.S. This was the family who, when she was 7 years old, disrupted the adoption.
Olivia’s early life was hard and disrupted, to say the least, but one would never know. Although reserved and a little reluctant, Olivia is a happy and easy child. Her mother talks of her strong, resilient spirit and the miracle child she is. But even so, Doug and Deanne are intentional about bestowing lots of love, giving regular reminders that they will never leave her, and spending time–lots of time–with her. They have taught her the truth that she’s had a long hard journey to get to her real family, but that she’s finally made it home. Everywhere she’s been, they tell her, has given her something for her or for others to learn . . . but those places weren’t her home. This is her home. They’ve also taught her, as they’ve taught their other children, that everything she’s been through does not have to dictate who she is. These challenges will be of great value to others as she grows and shares and nurtures and teaches. Doug and Deanne have worked hard to remind Olivia that she has value and that she is not always a victim–she can make something good out of the bad that has happened in her life. These good parents teach through words and example that she matters to them. They have instilled in her a reason for healing, for living, for becoming better. Olivia’s parents continue to help her to learn to trust, to be open, and to be who she really is. They do this with lots of touch, lots of kisses, lots of physical and verbal reminders, positive reinforcement, and lots of genuine compliments. Deanne has opened her personal space to Olivia, inviting her into her room for chats on their bed. By doing this, Deanne is inviting Olivia into her soul and becoming vulnerable herself. They’ll sit on the bed, use Deanne’s pillows to prop themselves up, and then they talk. They talk about how Olivia is feeling and what she’s struggling with. And Deanne is generous in sharing her deep feelings about how proud she is of Olivia with the changes she’s made and her continued growth. When Deanne sees her pulling back, feeling anger, or feeling negative about herself or insecure about her relationship in the family, the two of them head to Deanne’s personal space, and with coaxing, eventually, Olivia unwinds and heals a little bit more.
I asked Deanne about her own feelings towards the people in Olivia’s early life. I wondered – how can she keep anger at bay? Deanne’s answer: I can’t allow myself to be angry with them. I am Olivia’s example of forgiveness, compassion, and emotional stability. I have to let it go. I do it for Olivia.
More from the Walkers
Introducing the Walker Family (Video)
Finding a Reputable Agency: 4 Essential Criteria
Organization – A Busy Home Executive Shares Her Secrets
How Did Growing Up With Foster Siblings Impact Your Decision to Adopt? (Video)
Touch Bonding: The Magic and Power of Touch
What REALLY Matters in Raising Children (Video)
Helping Adopted Kids Bridge the Gap of Bonding
We Know They’re Ours, and We are Theirs (Video)
Don’t Take It Personally – It’s About Her Abandonment, Not Your Ability to Parent
I’m a Mom with 5 Children Under the Age of 2 . . . And I’m Pregnant (Video)
Adopting a Child Who is Aging Out
What Good is Money in the Bank if You Don’t Have Your Family? (Video)
Help Families Adopt: How to Provide an Adoption Grant
What it’s Like Being in a Huge Family (Video)
Can I Have Him? And Other Phrases That May Offend Adoptive Families
Thirteen-year-old Stands Strong, Even After Adoption Disruption
What To Do When an Adoption Opportunity Just Feels Wrong
How We Know Adoption is Right For Us (Video)
We Thought We Were Finished . . . Time to Go to Asia! (Video)
Resolving Feelings of Guilt After a Miscarriage
Rebounding from Failed Adoptions: 3 Heartbreaking Experiences
Siblings’ Reaction to Bringing Home a New Adopted Child (Video)
How Do You “Just Know” That You Should Adopt? (Video)
Adopting a Drug-Addicted Baby and Raising Him to Reach His Potential
Continuing Proper Parenting Even When Under Negative Scrutiny
Losing Gideon . . . What We Absolutely Know (Video)
Do you feel there is a hole in your heart that can only be filled by a child? We’ve helped complete 32,000+ adoptions. We would love to help you through your adoption journey. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.