Earning Their Trust

The Irons family
Courtesy of the Irons family

We began our adoptive journey the same way many parents do – we wanted children, but we struggled with infertility. We adopted our first son, Jeremiah, as an infant. A few years later we were living in Haiti, so we adopted a 4-year-old boy, Wesly, from an orphanage.

Adopting a little boy was different from adopting an infant. Wesly had been supervised, but not parented, so he had developed an aggressive "pack" mentality to deal with orphanage life. We invested a lot of time teaching Wesly how to play nice – no grabbing toys out of another child's hands or browbeating others into doing what he wanted.

At the orphanage, Wesly was only given two meals a day, usually rice and beans. When he arrived home, Wesly often wanted to raid the kitchen after bedtime. We had to teach him that his needs would always be met, that there was no longer any reason to hoard food or overeat.

Years later — our hands still full parenting active boys – we considered a third adoption: a pair of teenage sisters who had spent nine years in a Mexican orphanage. The government was pressuring the director to move the girls into a home, and there was concern that they might be adopted for the wrong reasons. These girls needed to be rescued. We talked it over as a family. Surprisingly, the boys were excited about the idea.

Having never experienced protective and loving authority figures before, Margarita and Maria were very suspicious of adults. They would often lie to us, or, when angry, say they wanted to go back to the orphanage. We've had to painstakingly build these girls' trust in us as parents. We keep stressing to them that we are in this for their sake, that we are their family. There are still difficult days, but our daughters' hearts are healing by the knowledge that their family is never going to leave them.


Focus on the Family’s Wait No More program prepares hearts and homes for kids in foster care – whether for a season or a lifetime. Everyone who feels called to foster, adopt or support a foster/adoptive family can get involved through our nationwide events and resources. Every day, we help kids in foster care experience the love of family, no matter how long they’ve waited. Learn more at WaitNoMore.org.

This article first appeared in the November/December 2010 issue of Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. If you enjoyed this article, you can get the publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

© 2010 by Laurie Irons. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: A Clear Calling