When the Silence is All you Hear

This week we announced the adoption of our 11th child (yes, ELEVEN).  This will be our 10th adoption.  We understand how mind boggling this is for some people.  We’ve heard most all of the intrusive questions there are about the way we live.  We absolutely see where those people are coming from, where the difference between what they KNOW and what we ARE is so enormous that they feel compelled to ask, or to judge.  Because, if the life someone else is living is one you never lived, or can’t picture yourself living, then it must be wrong.  Right?

That’s not what life has taught me, but if I’m going to be the tolerant person that I profess to be, then I have to be tolerant of everyone, even the people who aren’t tolerant of me.  They have a right to their opinion.  In turn, I have a right to write them out of my life.

After our boys made their sweet little video, I got, literally, hundreds of comments of support.  I heard them, I cried over them.  I attempted to embrace them.  From several important people, there was only silence.  I understand it.  But, it echoes.  For every one person to say they’re genuinely excited by Gigi’s impending adoption, the silence echoes tenfold in my heart.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  I should be used to it.  There was always something people found a reason to be upset about.

A black child?!? You’re white!

Another one so soon?!?

Another BOY!

Oh, thank God, a girl!  But still…



Your baby is DYING! They’ve told you that! Why are you doing this to your children?

Then, the silence began.

Fine. Do it again.  You seem to have it handled.  You ask us for nothing.  Your children have proven us wrong every single time, but, for whatever reason, that’s not enough.  So, we will say nothing.

It will never be enough.

We will never be enough for some.

I can’t prove to the world that our family is okay.  It can’t be done.  I will always be met with disapproving silence.  I have accepted that.  It hurts, yes, but I no longer shed tears over it.  You become hardened to it after awhile, much like, I suppose, people do who are constantly beaten down over issues like their skin color, who they love, or how they were born.  We don’t have to justify our family, or our children’s existence in it, to anyone.  No one should have to justify themselves for living in a way that causes no harm to anyone else.

The rub this time is, my kids hear your silence.

They hear it when you won’t talk about their new sister with them.

They hear it when you won’t make eye contact with them.

They hear it when you refuse to say ‘congratulations.’

It’s deafening.

I’m working on teaching them to hear the joy, to hear the celebration, to hear the support.  It will take time, and it will cost them relationships with family.  My kids will be alright.  They’ll live.  They’ll love.  They’ll move on.  The noise, the love, the joy will enfold them.  I truly believe that.

We’re going to make some noise of our own today as we celebrate our girl who has always only heard the joy.  For anyone who has chosen not to celebrate her because you don’t agree with the way we live…


that will have to be your loss.

–FullPlateMom, who is choosing joy.


26 thoughts on “When the Silence is All you Hear

  1. congrstulations! Big families are beautiful and so full of love. We too have adopted 11 kids.

  2. Words I have chosen to live by as well. I swear I could have written this and we are only on adoption #1.

  3. You and your husband and beautiful family are Wonderful, and love and joy and all things beautiful rolled into an amazing world of relationships that most of us will never understand or enjoy.
    I’m so heart-broken for you that some who really matter in your heart… Stay silent! Silence says so much!!!
    I’m a total stranger, I’m no one to you- but I understand the silence over some things in my own life.. And I understand the “questions” that are so un-validating!
    The universe applauds you! The mighty Father applauds you and I know is so grateful for your amazing hearts as a family!!
    You’ve enfolded some of the most beautiful, alone spirits into a beautiful world of abundance!!
    To some… The concept of abundance is something they simply don’t grasp!!!
    My sister gave birth to two severely handicapped/ special needs children… Sh has now buried one. And another “normal” adult daughter.
    These precious souls are truly the royal ones!
    Your multi- culture family is BEYOND inspiring!!!
    Those who hold back their validation.. Are missing out on much more than the ‘obvious’… I do believe for many of them.. Their need to be right- trumps any beautiful experience they could have had.. In the process the need for them to validate and celebrate with us can be crushing! I hope you can return again and again to the place of joy you are at today..
    Clearly you’ve had more than your share of practice in this arena!
    My deepes love to you! You are so inspiring and amazing- as are each if your beautiful miraculous kids! What a gift you are to each other- and all those who are fortunate and smart enough to be close to you!
    Miraculous! That’s what you are!
    Much love from SLC

  4. I send you congratulations and admiration for all you do to bring your children joy. Sometimes those closest to us cannot see what we see. When I wrote my memoir and then moved into writing China-based fiction, someone in my family told another, ‘why does she want to always write about those China people?’

    If they knew me like they think they knew me, they’d know why. Those comments will always stay with me, but I know my passion and I know my intentions. It doesn’t matter if they don’t.

    Your children are beautiful. Embrace that, forget the rest.

  5. I love this. We have 3 kiddos and one is adopted from China. There was plenty of silence from those closest to me. Friends I had grown up with since childhood. The stories of “Well, my cousin adopted and the child is out of control. Why would you do this to your family?” Or “Why not adopt a child that looks like you?” It does hurt. But I have to remind myself that they didn’t feel called to adopt a chs the same way we did. It was a profound calling and we were terrified but we followed. And it has been the biggest joy we could imagine. You are doing amazing things for you, for your kids and for your children’s future generations. You are creating family where there was no longer one to love them, for whatever reason. And that is a gift for all of you. Stay strong mama!!!

  6. This was true for us with our first adoption of a little boy from China after our two bio boys. I’ve learned sometimes following God’s will is lonely. I believe all great missionaries (not that I am one, but you are) of the world past and present felt it too. You just have to have the peace and joy that you are living for the Lord. And some crazy adoption momma friends and families that cheer you on. But I will say the silent ones that were close to us aren’t anymore. I don’t have time for that right now.

  7. Right on sister!!!! I’m cheering you on, loving you and your whole family. Your beautiful, sparkly, loving, caring, brilliant family. Thank you for being YOU out loud and with faith, perseverance and tolerance. The world needs you. And we support you.

  8. I feel a connection with you. We just sent our LOI to China for our 11th child ! 7th adoption . We have a joyful, wonderful, hard, blessed life. The hardest part is the lack of understanding and support from others.

  9. Oh PREACH it SISTA!

    I have thirteen children and am in a battle royale to adopt a cousin of one of my kids out of foster care. It is a fight. A huge fight.
    You have said it all though for the most part those around us celebrate with us and cheer us on when they hear of another. It is those who think they are the deciders where our trouble lies. Those that don’t know us but are still the deciders. I battle on because I know I am right. I know this child deserves to have a family who adores her and will fight for her no matter her special needs.
    Thank you for writing this

  10. Congratulations! We found ourselves (Kevin, Emily and me) spontaneously reviewing our ASL at breakfast this am as we spoke about Gigi. Can’t wait to meet her!

    I am continuously inspired by your awesome family!

  11. First of all congratulations on your beautiful little girl. She’s very lucky to be a part of your family.
    We have 4 kids, 2 of them are adopted. We’ve just been home with child #4 a month and a half. I know that silence and have felt some of the feelings you expressed. I feel comfort in reading this as it made me feel like I was not alone in my feelings. Not alone in feeling like people find it hard to be happy for our family and see the joy that our little girl has brought to us. Thank you for sharing!

  12. I am truly happy for you Julie and your family. The opportunity you are giving these beautiful children and the love and joy you get in return is endless. Maybe the people that shun you, your kids and family need to dig deeper to find the Lord. Your selfless and caring way of life is nothing short of inspiring, courageous, and simply inspiring. May God Bless you and your family, and may you continue to be a role model to your family, faith, friends, and community. Hugs

  13. You are amazing and blessed. We are blessed being allowed to be included in your family’s joys, celebrations, and love. Keep smiling because of the love within your family circle is all that matters:)

  14. that was so beautifully written. To some degree I understand. I am a single mom and was caretaker to my mom when I adopted my second. I heard the words and felt the silence. They even talked about me at work when I was standing right outside the door.
    I am happy for you and your family, congratulations. Try not to let people get you down. I know it hard for the kids , they do not understand. I want a third child but have some serious health problems. When I asked for letters of rec my”friends” turned me down. That really hurt. I gave up the idea after that but really was not asking for opinions.

  15. I think what you are doing is absolutely amazing! My husband is an only child and doesn’t understand. Lol there were 4 of us. After we were married, I mentioned that I would like to buy a big old 2 story house out in the country with some land and adopt a bunch of kids that no one else wanted. He pretty much thought I had lost my mind, not the adopting, just the number of children. Keep doing what you are doing. Your children shall rise up and call you blessed.

  16. I have heard the same silence. It does hurt, and it does leave scars. I am sorry you and your children must experience this. I pray it makes each of you better people ~ and not bitter people…as I’m sure it will. Choose joy!

  17. I have found that “judgment” of families – in words and in silence – exists in many different scenarios. My parents had 6 biological kids – all the same race, none with special needs – and I have strong memories of my father’s siblings verbally attacking him many times for “having more children than he could afford” and for “having more children when he should be putting aside money for retirement”. My father never lived to retirement age. But he did live a life made incredibly full by the 6 children he adored, each of whom he took enormous pleasure from every day of his life. Money was tight, but love was abundant. He would not have passed up one moment with any one of his children for all the fortunes in the world, and through it all his siblings judged him.

    Personally, I became a “single mother by choice”, choosing to become a parent even though my child would not be born into a “traditional household” because my desire to be a parent was too great to sacrifice to circumstance. My sister told me it was an incredibly selfish thing to do. My child and I have an incredible family, and it was by far the greatest decision I have ever made.

    It would be nice to have the support and understanding of everyone we care about. But in the end, their inability to support and understand are their failures and should have no bearing on your decisions or your joy or the joy of your kids. Your family is as inspiring and loving and connected as any I’ve ever seen. Teach your children that many people have never experienced such a high degree of love and family, and that their silence stems from their confusion as they try to comprehend something that is greater than their own experiences.

    May the sounds of silences continue to be replaced by the sounds of your amazing kids’ laughter and joy.

  18. We just announced to friends and family that we are in the process of adopting our 8th child (3rd special needs adoption). It makes me sad knowing I will never again experience the unfiltered joy from everyone we tell about our growing family like I did with my first and second child. EVERY CHILD DESERVES TO BE CELEBRATED!! Our newest son-to-be will be just as much of a blessing to our family as any of our other children. I’m torn between being glad someone else understands just how I feel and feeling awful that other people have gone through this too, and understand exactly how I feel.

    Let me give you an unqualified and hearty, “Congratulations! I am so happy for you!”

  19. I applaud you and your words! I couldn’t have said it better myself. We have adopted 17, and I totally understand ‘the silence’ you speak of. We’ve lost friends and, we don’t care. People are either going to support you or judge you and not understand anything at all. This is a calling and the only opinion that matters is HIS. Your family is beautiful!! Congratulations on you newest addition. We wish you blessings above your wildest imagination.

  20. WOW!! The world needs more people like both of you, you inspire me to do goods in this world. Just IMAGINE= JOHN LENNON

  21. I am not a mommy. I am just a fan, I stumbled into special needs adoptions via an article a year ago. This is the most powerful yet down to earth blog on the subject. Brava. Especially for this particular post: This is about so much more than your commitment to faith, family and the adoption community.

    This is about all judgment. It is a hefty cautionary tale, one about self-righteousness, sometimes a neat little trickle and then other times – as in the cases of the icy folks in your post: the ones who would actually begrudge a child the joy of an arriving sibling – it’s like a tsunami, obliterating all in its path.

    Often people resemble the things they resent. Or the polar opposite of what they are. It is a pity that love – agape especially – has a bullseye on it. Thank you for not being made out of sugar and spice. And thank you for typing when you see the whites of their eyes.

    Wishing all blessings on you and your family always

  22. Thank you for having the courage and strength to say what is in my heart all as we are in the final stages of finalizing our 10th blessing!

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