Monday, April 1, 2013

Why Adopt?

Gavin 13, Luke 7, Sophia 5

Three beautiful, thriving, healthy children.  Why tempt fate?  Why complicate life with adoption?

A simple answer: Because we are called.  

And answering calls, in our world, is what it is all about.   A calling can mean all sorts of things. For us, a few have been: finding alternative education for our kids, eating family meals together, mending broken relationships, ending other relationships, prioritizing exercise, practicing kindness, standing up for the truth even when it is difficult, and loving "our people" fiercely and faithfully.

Here is the story of how adoption became part of our family's path, or how we came to understand this calling as our own.

Baby Gavin
Adoption has been on my heart since I was in my early twenties.  Having Gavin on my own opened my eyes to the plight of mothers who find themselves needing to give their children up for adoption.  I thought about, in a new and real way, both the beauty and the sorrow of adoption.  I was comforted knowing that other women in my situation, who were not able to keep their child, could find solace in adoption as an option for them in their darkest hour.

Later, when I met Michael and saw the previously unfathomable love he had for Gavin, it quietly reinforced the beauty of adoption in me.   Blood had nothing to do with their bond and yet it was the strongest father/child connection I had ever witnessed.  So these things took root in me over 13 years ago.

When Luke was born, it was a brand new experience, sharing the immediate joy of bringing new life into this world.  Michael and I were madly in love with the gorgeous, olive skinned, brown-eyed, bouncing baby boy.  He has brought so much life and candor and excitement to our corner of the universe.  
Having our baby girl, Sophia, two years later, was a new and profound gift as her light and beauty shine brighter than we could have ever imagined.  She is our princess.  The fulfillment of our earnest prayer and wish to have a daughter.

We were so lucky, so blessed.  But were we done?  According to Michael, OF COURSE!  And I felt I could be "done," but the idea of adoption, that had taken root over a decade ago, began to grow and nag and not let go of me. 

I actually tried vehemently to ignore it.  I told myself I was just sad that my baby wasn't a baby anymore and that the feeling would go away (knowing that this idea was completely foreign to Michael and that he felt secure in our family being complete).   

But it would not relent.  Would not dissipate.  Instead, the idea of adopting grew stronger and stronger in me.  In February of 2010, I broached the subject with Michael for the very first time.  He listened and then kindly but firmly affirmed my assumption that he did not feel it was the path for our family.    I was so sad, but it wasn't surprising news.   I began the daunting process of praying that the will of God be clearly revealed to me.  That God would work in my heart and allow me to find peace and to accept that we would not and should not adopt, or that God would do work in Michael's heart and open it to adoption.   I felt very, very strongly that I should not attempt to persuade Michael or "talk him into" this idea in any way.  For the next three years, I only brought up the subject of adoption one time per year.   It was very painful to do so, but I wanted to share my feelings in an attempt to avoid building distance in our marriage by avoiding the subject altogether.  I would occasionally send him information about adoption via email but tried to find the balance of taking ownership of my own feelings and not putting too much space between us.  

At one point, we discussed the possibility of adding to our family the old fashioned way, but as my pregnancies were so very difficult for me and for the family, and as neither of us felt called to have another biological child, we agreed this was not an option.  

So I waited, and prayed.  It was extremely painful for Michael, as well.  He felt like he was stuck between doing what he felt was right and knowing that it was painful for me.  I am so very glad that he shared his real and true feelings and was open with me that he did not think adoption was right for us.   I did research for three years straight.  I read everything I could get my hands on related to adoption; international vs. domestic, special needs adoption, the trends and recent changes in the process, adoption agencies, statistics . . . .you name it, I read it.   I didn't know if it was helping or hurting, but it was all I could do.  I was like a hungry infant, gulping up all the information I could find.

As all of this was happening for me, my best friend in the world was going through a very difficult and painful time and the particulars of that situation cemented my desire to adopt a daughter from a country where girls are not as valued as male children.  It stirred in me a passion to give a home to a little girl and show her all the love and protection we all deserve.  The courage and strength my best friend has shown to the world has inspired in me the hope of raising women like her.  Similarly, my own brave and wonderful mother, my grandmothers, my amazing sisters, and Michael's mother inspired me enormously, each in their own way.  

Then, inexplicably, things started to shift.  Michael started asking me adoption related questions.   He started engaging in conversations differently.  We were able to laugh and joke about it all.   I could begin to sense him opening to the idea.  I was cautiously hopeful.  On January 5th, 2013, I took a leap of faith and sent a pre-application to an international adoption agency I had felt comfortable with to see if we even qualified.  

On my 35th birthday, February 9, 2013, over dinner at our favorite restaurant, my husband gave me a wrapped gift.  I opened it to find an Asian doll.   I was blindsided.  I could not even take it in.  It wouldn't register.  Through tears, he then explained that as scared as he was, that he was "a hundred million percent IN," that his heart had been moved and he knew that adding to our family through adoption was indeed our calling.  He had named our daughter-to-be.   To say that my heart couldn't hold all of the emotions I felt is such an understatement.  All I could think of was "my cup runneth over."   I felt more connected to this wonderful man than ever.  

After that night, the floodgates were opened and we could not contain our joy and excitement.  We set out telling first, the children, then our closest family and friends.  Michael's post on facebook (after immediate family got the news), is something I will never forget.

Telling the kids was thrilling.  Here is their reaction:

Then on Feb 13th, 2013, we signed an adoption contract with Living Hope Adoption Agency and formally begun our journey to our youngest.    


momsharon said...

answering the call..what life is about. so proud. so moved. so happy. sooo excited.

Jen Wenger said...

Finally catching up on your goings on! Precious. Awesome:)xoxo