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Karen Springs Shares the Truth About Adoption

Background

A Pacific Northwest native, Karen Springs lived in Kyiv, Ukraine for over 14 years advocating for orphaned and at-risk children and working with hundreds of adoptive families. Karen has managed humanitarian and child advocacy projects throughout Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East with Orphan's Promise. Today Karen continues as an advocate for children in families around the world and is passionate about seeing nations collaborate in solving their orphan and vulnerable children crisis through the World Without Orphans global movement.

The Truth About Adoption

Adoption is a tangible way for families to live out their faith and fight social injustice. Karen has worked in orphan care and adoption advocacy for more than 14 years. Recently, she set out on a road trip across the US to see what happens after families bring their adopted children home and real life begins. Using her own experiences and those of the 63 adoptive families she interviewed, Karen shares the lessons we all can learn through the brokenness and beauty of adoption. In her book, Adoption Through the Rearview Mirror, Karen wants adoptive families and those considering adoption to know:

  • Your family is not alone in the challenges of the adoption journey.
  • Surprising treasures can be found in the harder aspects of adoptive parenting.
  • Gaining a rearview mirror perspective of the lesser discussed aspects of adoption can better prepare you for the road ahead.

Karen shares, “As we promote adoption, we must be clear about the kind of preparation families need to parent children who come from difficult backgrounds. As I traveled from coast to coast and listened to adoptive families’ differing and often challenging stories, I continued to ask myself; Where have we gotten the message wrong, perhaps withheld information, or misrepresented the global need for adoption?” While some families have trouble attaching and bonding with each other, other adoptive kids have abused the adoptive parents’ biological children. Yet, nobody wants to talk about these issues before adoption. 

What she has learned from her time as a child advocate and from interviewing these families is that the church and the adoption community have been sending mixed messages. When people are considering adoption and have on rose-colored glasses, many people are afraid to dissuade or discourage them. So, they wait to tell the whole truth about adoption until their friend’s adoption is complete.” After adoption, “Several families suddenly found themselves being added to social media discussion groups, they'd previously been unaware of. No one was added to the 'PTSD Trauma Adoption Group' until after they came home with their child," explains Karen. She believes we need to be more transparent before families adopt and better equip them for what lies ahead. In addition, the church sometimes over spiritualizes adoption, guilting people into it. But adoption isn’t the only way to help children in crisis. If someone isn’t called to adopt themselves, there are other ways to help by supporting organizations that specialize in helping children. She says families need to count the cost before adopting and in order to do that, they need the information presented to them beforehand.

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