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.
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. 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, 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 through 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 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 negatively 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