Monday, May 28, 2012

Something You Should Know

I realized recently I've been writing posts about adoption and foster care with absolutely no life experience to back it up. So, take everything I say with a grain of salt, will you? I have a feeling I may look back at these posts one day and say to myself, "What was I thinking?!" Running the risk of someday realizing I had no idea what I was talking about...there is one more little thing I've been wanting to share with you about our family's decision to adopt.

When I tell people we are entering the world of foster care and hoping to adopt, I get some varied reactions. People who have any sort of experience with either fostering or adoption tend to congratulate us and say it's awesome. Or they give a little warning about how hard, yet rewarding, it will be. Others who have no experience with it often seem at odds for how to react. They're not sure to be happy or concerned for us. One guy said to us, "Exciting!...Right? Exciting is the thing to say?" That was a sweet one. Occasionally when I talk about it, I feel as if the person I'm talking to suddenly feels guilty. As if I'm preaching to them. In reference to the fostering part of our journey, the one thing I hear most often is, "Oh, good for you! I could never do that!

Because I am a Christian, most people assume I am doing this out of a desire to obey the scripture in James 1:27 that says, "Pure and real religion is this: take care of orphans and widows, and don't let the world corrupt you." (That's my paraphrase. Don't use it for your kids' memory verse this month or put it in your church bulletin for Sunday.) While that assumption is true, it is only part of my story. I do feel that every Christian should ask God how He wants them to live this scripture out in real life. But I am not adopting in order to tick off one of the boxes of good deeds that will get me into heaven.

Don't get me wrong. I am moved by the plight of the orphan around the world. It makes me sad to think of all those children in orphanages or foster homes. It's unfair that I have so much while they have so little. I hate that they are stuck in limbo land while I revel in steady permanence. But that's not why I'm adopting. Initially, it was the reason I asked Ryan if we could go on this journey together. But then, in all the considerations of where to adopt and how to adopt and can we adopt and is this even helpful...I stopped hearing the cries of orphans.

I heard my daughter crying for her mom.

That, my friends, changes everything. I'm telling you, I'm practically lactating it's so real to me. I don't feel like a Saint taking care of orphans. I feel like a mother on a desperate search to get to her child. And if you could hear what I hear, you could do it. The word never would not even be a consideration. When a mother hears her child crying, she can not stop herself from responding. I'm not a hero. I'm a mom.

In the end, I'm not adopting an orphan. I'm adopting my son. (Or my daughter. We did not put a gender preference on our application.) I heard one adoptive dad explain it like this: He has a biological son who was born prematurely. His son is a miracle, and while it is an amazing story, he does not introduce that son as "our preemie son Johnny". In the same way, he doesn't introduce his adopted son that way, either. Adoption is just the way a child enters a family. After the grand entrance, they're just in. I have also heard Kristen Howerton say, "You can save a child once. After that it's called parenting."

If you haven't heard that cry in your heart, don't feel weird when someone else tells you they have. Don't feel like you're not a good enough person to do it. Instead, sponsor a child. Give some time or money to a local crisis center in your city. Or help fund my friend Rachel's adoption. These are extremely important and valid ways to help orphans around the world. And, most definitely something you should consider. Adoption is not for everyone. I don't mean that in the way that not everyone is strong enough or heroic enough to adopt. I mean it in the same way as...not every baby is supposed to be born in October. Or, not every family is supposed to have ten children.

So I guess this is me letting you off the hook. There are so many ways to give care to orphaned children. Pick one. And if you're looking to grow your family, adoption is one beautiful way you could do that.


  1. "I heard my daughter crying for her mom." Beautiful! It brings tears to my eyes. I am so excited for you guys and the journey God will take you on through this process. I'm sure it won't be easy, but it will be amazing! We've been interested in foster care and adoption as well, but we feel like it will be awhile (probably years) before we step into that. I look forward to gleaning from your experience when we do, though. You will be in our prayers. And I say that, not out of obligation or religious flattery. I really mean it. Your names will be posted on my fridge and will pray for you every time I see it.