Let me start out by saying that 99% of people that hear about our adoption journey are completely supportive, wonderful, and kind. Most people are nothing but encouraging. But...there's that darned 1%. The small percentage of people that just "don't get it". The people that have opinions and aren't afraid to voice them, no matter how ignorant they are or how very little they actually know about the topic.
When you become open about a decision such as adoption, lots of things happen. You open yourself up to people on a personal level, mostly because you need the support. You tell your story in hopes that others will gather around you and encourage you, pray for you, support you. And as a whole, this is exactly what happens. But you also open yourself up to criticism. It's the one downside to being open about a journey like this one. The positives far outweigh the negatives, in my opinion. Where would we be if Josh and I had stayed completely tight lipped about our adoption decision? We wouldn't have the prayer support, we wouldn't have the emotional support, we wouldn't have the financial support that we so desperately need to continue with this adoption. It is completely worth it, to us, to be open about our story. It has connected us with people we otherwise would never have met. It has opened doors that would otherwise have remained shut. It has allowed people to see God work step by step, "making the rough places smooth" as it says in Isaiah. And that, after all, is our goal. To show how awesome our God is!
When I first started this blog, I told my readers they were lucky, because they were getting to see the journey from the very beginning! And I think I was absolutely right! It has been simply amazing to watch the Lord work throughout these months. He has provided continuously, faithfully. He has taught us so much. He has used our story to reach others, to soften hearts and open eyes to the idea of adoption. And we aren't even done yet, we've really only just begun!
But throughout the months, I have had a few comments that I tilt my head at. Usually I'm unable to respond immediately either because it is a comment left on my blog by a conveniently "anonymous" person, or because I'm too stunned or tongue tied to answer intelligently.
So I wanted to take a few moments and explain ourselves a bit. Maybe, then, by writing it all down, I will be able to draw from it when one of those rare comments surfaces. Maybe there are others out there who also get comments such as these and you can tell me how you answer them. Maybe I just want the opportunity to defend our decision, even though I have absolutely no obligation to do so.
I believe the most common head tilting comment is something to the effect of, "Well, don't worry, as soon as you adopt a baby you'll finally get pregnant! Happens all the time!"
Well...no, not really. First of all, I know what makes a baby, and it isn't filling out piles of paperwork and taking weeks of adoption classes. Josh and I are pros at baby making, thank you very much, and we did not pursue adoption because we just couldn't get pregnant, hoping that once the adoption is finalized, we'll "finally" get the baby we always wanted through a pregnancy.
The reality is, many people pursue adoption because having a biological child is not an option, for one reason or another. They might have fertility issues, in which case, no, adopting is actually not going to miraculously cure them, so a comment such as this is hurtful and highly unhelpful. They might have made a decision to adopt instead of having biological children, in which case a comment such as this is not necessarily hurtful, only ignorant. They may have no fertility issues whatsoever and have just felt led to adoption! They may, like us, have absolutely no problem getting pregnant. It's staying pregnant that is the problem. Yes, I may very well get pregnant the instant the adoption is final. But for us, that means nothing. Until I have a healthy baby in my arms, getting pregnant is nothing to smile about.
So, to be clear, we are not adopting in hopes that it will cast a magic spell on my uterus and I will finally be able to carry a baby to term. We are adopting because that's where God led us, and we couldn't be happier about it! If He chooses to someday bless us with another biological child, wonderful. But it won't be "because we adopted." And we are just, if not more, excited about our adoption as we ever were about any of our pregnancies! No need to offer a potential pregnancy as an incentive to adopt. The adoption is the prize!
I think the comment or question that bothers me the most is, "Why don't you just adopt an orphan from ------ (insert third world country or adoption organization here)? There are so many children there that need families."
Ohh. If only it were that easy. You mean to tell me that I could have just "gotten a baby" from there? Well, why didn't you say so?! I had no idea it was so easy! I had no idea that raising tens of thousands of dollars, taking off weeks from work to travel, leaving my children for perhaps months at a time, committing to an older or possibly special needs child for life, and waiting at least two years to be considered by said country or organization would be so easy! Why on earth didn't I think of that?! And P.S., thanks for your veiled comment on my selfishness for not adopting the special needs, older, or tragically orphaned child that you saw on some website or T.V. commercial.
That's what I want to say. But I don't. But if you have ever asked this, it's what I was really thinking. ;) Adoption is a HUGE, life changing, monumental decision that is absolutely, positively, never entered into lightly. And that is only the decision to adopt. Once that choice is made, there is decision after decision after decision that must be made at each stage of the game. Well, we've decided to adopt...now what? There is international, domestic, open, closed, fost-to-adopt. There is special needs adoption, adoption of an older child or sibling group, trans-racial adoption. There are about a million different agencies and a million different babies and children that need homes. How...how do you choose? I can't answer that for everyone. I can only answer it for us...we prayed.
We prayed and we researched. We asked around. We read blogs. We talked to people who had adopted. We asked questions. And we made decisions. We made them because we had to, and we went with our gut. That's really all I can say about it. Josh and I looked at our family and asked ourselves, "What do we feel like our family can commit to?" Our children are still young. Not so young though, that we can't ask them what they want. This adoption affects them just as much as it does us. So we did ask them. We took their desires and their hearts into consideration when making our decision. We took our own hearts and abilities and jobs and commitments into consideration. We prayed for God to give us a peace about where He was leading us.
And because I want to, I will share why we made the decision we did. I'm sure there will be at least one person who disagrees with us. Who thinks we should have chosen differently, who thinks we are selfish or ignorant or scared. That's fine. I'm still confident in our decision because we made each one prayerfully. And there is no better place to be than in God's will. There is no safer place, there is no place I'd rather be.
Josh and I looked into foster care. We attended a class and information session on the topic and became familiar with the process. We both felt, strongly, that it simply wasn't the path God was leading us down. Our children have faced quite enough loss for their little lives, and we could not in good conscience bring a child into our home that had a very high likelihood of being returned to his or her birth family after months, years even. Foster care is something we may consider when our children are older, but right now, we feel they need the stability of a permanent adoption, where they are free to bond and love the child as their own sibling without fear of that child being reunited with their birth family (which, we learned, is often the goal for children in foster care). And to be frank, I need that stability as well.
We looked very closely at international adoption. Each country has it's own requirements for adoptive couples. Josh and I are not yet 30, which actually eliminates quite a few countries and programs from our list of choices. Some countries, incidentally, actually have many other requirements, even taking into account your weight and BMI and other health issues. I have a chronic health issue that is perfectly under control but could very well put an international adoption in jeopardy very far into the process.
We also had to consider the fact that most, if not all, countries require you to travel, usually in two trips, to the country for court dates and to pick up the child. Josh is a teacher and he has zero flexibility when it comes to time off. His particular situation would simply not allow for this. That, and the fact that I could not picture leaving my children for weeks and possibly months at a time while they are so young made international adoption really questionable to us. To us, at this point in our lives, today. For other people, it is right. It fits, it works, they have a peace about it and a desire to move forward. As much as we would love to adopt internationally (and we would!), we just didn't have a peace about it, and there's not much else I can say on the topic.
One evening, early in the decision making process, Josh and I sat the kids down and talked with them. We asked them a lot of questions. We explained how adoption worked. We wanted to know their little hearts and get a feel for what they wanted. Both children were adamant that we adopt. They very badly wanted a little brother or sister "that wouldn't die". They knew we had tried again and again to give them a sibling, but each of those babies had gone to heaven. They told us it was time to adopt.
One of the other things that both children clearly expressed to us was that they wanted a baby. "A baby baby, one that still needs a bottle." In five year old language, they wanted an infant, not an older child or even a toddler. To be completely honest, so did we. My heart longs for a baby. My heart desires to once again rock a small infant to sleep, to be there from the beginning. In Jake's words, "I want to watch a human develop from the very beginning stages." ;) Is this selfish when there are so many older children out there who need homes? I have asked myself that question a lot. And the answer I've come up with is, it is no more selfish than getting pregnant.
Why do you get pregnant when you can adopt? Usually, it is for selfish reasons. You want to experience a pregnancy, you want a child with your own genetic makeup mixed with your soul mate's own genetic makeup. You want a baby. You want your baby. And no one faults you for it. I've never heard someone announce a pregnancy and then be told, "Why, that's a strange decision. Don't you think pregnancy is awfully selfish when there are millions of orphans out there that need families?"
Is that particular criticism true? Technically, yes, it is. But no one says that or rarely thinks it! Yet our decision to pursue domestic infant adoption is on some people's radar as "selfish". They've seen the sad faces of orphans in Ethiopia, and to them, it doesn't make sense that we'd choose an infant here in the states that has a dozen other couples in line for him. But the silly thing is, I have friends who are adopting internationally who get the same comments in reverse! "Why would you go all the way to so-and-so when we have so many children right here in America that need homes?" We actually were told that in our foster care information session by the instructor, so I have learned that it simply isn't possible to please everyone. No matter what decision you make, someone will disagree with it.
My children have very little say in most things. They had no say in whether they got a brother or a sister, and they had no say when their sister died and they never got to hold her. This, this I can give them a say in. And we did, because it meant something to us to have our children as part of this huge decision. If it is extremely important to them that we adopt an infant, and that is one of our many choices, yes, we'll try to give them that.
So, we narrowed it down to an infant adoption. We narrowed it down to a domestic adoption. We now needed an agency, a program. Our number one priority was that the agency be a Christian one, and that they take really, really good care of their birth mothers. After a lot of research and talking to many people who had also adopted domestically, we found Christian Family Care Agency. We fell in love with it. We loved their hearts for adoption, foster care, and birth families. We loved how Biblically sound they were. We loved their statement of faith, we loved that they did their best to work with your financial situation, we just fell in love with it. We decided to get an information packet and talked to people who had adopted through their infant adoption program. And we prayed.
Our prayers were always that God light the next step, just the next step. That's all we needed. Just tell us what's next, Lord. And He always did. He would always give us just the next step in the process, one thing at a time. We prayed He'd give us peace throughout the process if we were headed down the right path. We prayed that if this wasn't the path, He'd close the door firmly. But door after door He opened. He just kept opening them, and we kept walking. And soon we found ourselves knee deep in the adoption process!
We started fundraising. We started fundraising early, like, really early. That was a scary, intimidating, and daunting decision. What if we raised money and the adoption fell through? What if we try but no money comes in? How would we pay for it? What if, what if, what if. But...we decided God had led us there, and He'd work out the details. The reality was we were pursuing adoption with our full might, and we were going to need money to do it, period. So we jumped in and decided to just trust the Lord. And He provided.
And now, here we are. We are waiting for God to bring us the baby He had planned for us all along! The baby He had planned for us before we had Jake and Eisley, before our first miscarriage, before Lily, before our last miscarriage. He knew, all along, that this baby was to be part of our family. And He knew what it would take to bring us together. And for other people to say to me, "Why don't you just..." it just puts a lot of power in my hands that I simply don't have! I didn't make things happen this way. I was very open to the Lord's leading. God led us here, slowly, step by step. He closed doors and opened others.
I am confident of this because I have tried walking another path and been quickly turned back to this one! Josh and I very seriously considered a sweet little guy with special health needs living in Russia from Reece's Rainbow. We prayed really hard about him and told the Lord, "We are willing! Just give us the go ahead!" We started pursuing it even, waiting for God to make the path smooth if that was where He wanted us. But early on, God shut that door firmly. Another family stepped forward. Josh didn't feel total peace about continuing, and that was that. God can shut the door. Our job is to pay attention.
We have struggled with knowing "what God's will is". The truth is, sometimes we don't know! We make decisions based on the information we have. Aside from asking ourselves whether or not this is Biblical (okay, adoption is Biblical, but how do I know if it's God's will!?), we don't have a whole lot to go on. So we listen. We pay attention. We stay in Scripture and surround ourselves with other Christians making wise decisions with their lives. We keep praying for guidance, wisdom, direction. All we can do is take a step. Then another step. One at a time.
I am not going to challenge God when He's asked me to do something. When other people question it, I will direct their questions to my supervisor, as it were. ;) Just like at work, I say, "Well, I don't make the rules! I only do what I'm told." If you have an issue with our decision, talk to God. He's the one who led us here. Not many people feel comfortable challenging God. You, they get all brave and questiony with, but bring God into it and suddenly they're so quiet... ;)
Josh and I had a desire to add to our family. We had a desire to adopt a little one. God has awesomely and graciously blessed us with the ability to do that! To the point that we now feel we would be stepping out of His will if we turned around and changed our minds. We are only being obedient. I don't know why God didn't lead us to this country or that country. I don't know why He clearly presented us with this particular agency and program. I don't know why He led us here, when there are a million orphans elsewhere that need families. All I know is that this is where He wants us to be. And who am I to question that? If He wants to shut the door to this, He is perfectly capable of that!
I posted this verse on our blog at the very beginning of our journey, and it has amazed me (though it really shouldn't) that God had done exactly this for us throughout this entire process.
"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."
He has promised to stay with us, right by our side, when we are called to things that are unfamiliar (and for me and most people, unfamiliar = scary!). He has promised to light the way, to guide us, to smooth out the path He wants us to take. But most importantly, He will not forsake us. He will not lead us somewhere difficult or scary and then say, "Peace out homies! You're on your own from here!" He will be there. That is comforting to me, especially because it isn't the path to adoption that is the most scary to me, it is the result. I have no idea what we have gotten ourselves into. I don't know the child He will bring to us or his or her specific needs. I don't know how it will change our family, the challenges this child will bring. I don't know anything! All I know is that God will be there, too.
One little comment from a total stranger that, to me, seemed downright accusatory, led me to write this entry. Maybe I was being sensitive. I'm pretty sure I wasn't. But I know for a fact I'm not the only one that gets challenged with comments and questions like that one, so hopefully this will serve as an encouragement to others on a similar path. Unable to specify exactly why God led them down this particular road, only that He did. Someday we will know why! But today, all I can do is obey.
And, of course, wait. ;)