Friday, June 08, 2007

on adoption

This may show up and seem kind of random, but this has been rolling around in my head for awhile now. And I'm sure it'll take me another while to actually get this all down in a somewhat readable manner and get it on the blog, but I just wanted to get it started because I feel so strongly about it.

Most of you who know me, know my heart for adoption. From the beginning of our marriage, we knew (well, I guess thought would be a better word for it as a couple at that point) that we wanted to adopt. Regardless of whether we would have biological children of our own, we felt that we also wanted to share our home and our family with someone who needed it. That nudge has grown in our hearts over the few years of our marriage to be a great conviction. Even in the midst of having our own children sooner than anticipated, moving across the country and the busyness of growing a young family, we know that we have plenty of room in our home and our hearts for more children. And we hope to start making that a reality in the coming year.

It is often said that adoption is not for everyone. Some people just don't have the heart for it. And I guess I understand that to a point. But then again, I don't. I mean, I understand that there are just people that aren't cut out for parenting to begin with.
What I really don't understand are the people who already are, or will be amazing parents... and then struggle for years and for thousands --millions of dollars to physically have their own biological child. Please keep in mind that I am simply saying I don't fully understand this. I am not saying it is wrong or anything of that sort. I am just admitting that I have a hard time wrapping my head around some of these mindsets. I just don't feel I could justify, in my own mind, spending all of that time and those resources on trying to create a child of my own**, when there are so many thousands --millions-- of children around the world as well as in our own backyards, who are in need of parents.

I do understand in the big picture of life, that some people just don't have a heart for adoption. And I hope you know that when I say "heart" for adoption, I don't necessarily mean a loving, nurturing, compassionate heart, as I know most everyone has those capabilities. I use the term "heart" in the aspect of a burden or a passion or as something you feel called to do.
And when I say that I understand some people don't have a heart for it, I'm choosing to understand that as in they were not given a heart for adoption. Because if I don't look at it in that spiritual "some people weren't meant to adopt" kind of way, I think I would look at it as selfishness.

I know people have a myriad of excuses for not adopting.
Lot's of women just really feel they don't want to miss out on the experience of carrying, delivering and nursing a baby. Of course one of the most fascinating parts of creating your own physical offspring is wondering what they'll look like, what they'll be like, what family member they'll resemble, and the wonder of that little person being made from the two of you.
Maybe a couple doesn't want to adopt because one member of the couple was adopted him or herself, or they have an adoption experience somewhere in their family that was less than desirable and that will forever dictate how they view adoption. Maybe someone doesn't feel "connected" to their adoptive parents. Maybe someone watched someone adopt a "healthy" baby who turned out to have emotional or physical disabilities down the road. Maybe they worry they won't love an adopted child like they would love a biological child. Maybe they worry about getting a "bad" child. Maybe they worry about the day that an adopted child wants to meet their birth parent. Maybe they think there's no way they can afford to adopt.
There are a million "valid" and personal reasons not to adopt a child.

There are also hundreds of thousands of children, in our country alone, without families to grow up with or parents to love them. If you stop and think of those children, are those reasons really valid? Is it valid to spend a million dollars on infertility treatment, when there is a newborn in the next state who will end up in foster care because his mother wants drugs more than she wants him? Is it valid to "need" so badly to experience the nine months of pregnancy yourself, when there is a toddler in an orphanage in China who never leaves her crib and is simply handed a bottle three times a day because there are not enough caregivers, or worse, anyone who cares? Is it valid to believe that having your own biological child will guarantee that they will be healthy and of sound mind, or not rebel when they're fifteen, or not need to be in rehab when they're seventeen, or not have issues with relationships? Is it valid to believe that adoptive bonds are inferior to biological bonds when it comes to parent and child? Is it valid to believe that just because so-and-so's situation turned out this way, every adoption is that way? Every child is different, every parent is different, and every adoption journey is different. There are no absolutes and no guarantees. But it's not a game of Russian Roulette. They are children. You take chances having your own kids too. But they are your children and you will love them regardless. So it is with these children waiting or yet to be born into the adoption systems in every country. Children who need love. Children who need a family. Children who need someone to say, "you are my child and I will love you regardless".

I think for me it boils down to this question:
Is it valid for us to take our own perspectives or misconceptions, our own wants and needs, our own convenience or inconvenience... and to think those things are more important than a child? A child that already exists, who was brought into this world through no choice of their own, who may be alone and who may never know the love of a family? It breaks my heart that people make that choice every day... good, loving and even godly people who are so "desperate" to love their own non-existent child but so easily overlook these other children who are here in the flesh.

I think of the overflowing orphanages in other countries, and then I think of the mom who has gone through 13 miscarriages, countless IVF and other proceedures just to have a second child (that has yet to happen), and it doesn't make sense to me. It just seems selfish.

I think of the thousands of children in our own country who need nurturing families, and then I think of the couple with 16 (#seventeen on the way) kids of their own who, when asked why they keep having baby after baby answer, because we feel we are wonderful parents and we are able to grow a wonderful family and "we really desire to receive as many gifts (children) as the Lord wants to give us" ( I couldn't find the exact quote that I read before, but that is part of it). I have a hard time understanding why, if you are such great parents and have such a great family, why you would not want to open that home to someone would otherwise not have that instead of bringing 17 new children into this world! It just seems selfish.

I think of the thousands of kids in foster care who will float around in the system for years until they're "adults", and then I think of the woman who chooses to pay a surrogate to carry her biological baby full term for her just because she wants to bond with and love her own child from birth. Nevermind that someone who can't take care of a baby has already given birth to a child who needs a mother... she wants her own. It just seems selfish.

I didn't mean for this post to become ranting or ragging on people and their choices. I don't mean to be preaching or judging. I apologize that I am not an eloquent writer who can get a touchy point across with grace and compassion, and instead this is just a jumble of feelings and random opinions. I have just been privy to a lot of conversations on this topic recently with couples struggling with infertility and their reasons for not considering adoption. I've been involved in or silently observant on several discussions lately and it's been on my mind a lot, so here I am.

I guess it's all simply to say, if you are in a situation where adoption is an option, or have ever felt a tug on your heart to adopt, please don't dismiss this as a way to build a family.
If you are longing for a child,whether it's your first or your fifth, reach in and see if you have it in your heart to put aside the so-called "valid" excuses reasons. If money is an obstacle, there are ways around that. If you research a little, there are many things out there to help with that aspect.

I have been trying to assemble my thoughts on this topic for a few days and started this post earlier this week. Then I woke up this morning to find a refirmation (er... is that a word? maybe I mean a cross between confirmation and reaffirm... I guess that would be reaffirmation) anyway, I found an amazing call to adopt on The Mohr's blog today. All of what I have to say is from this side of the adoption experience... simply my heart for children and the willingness to obey the Lord in His desire to love them. The Mohr's are on the other side of it; just at the end of the first chapter in their journey of creating their family starting with their gift of Eliot. Katie is much better at saying all the right things than I am, and I encourage you to read not just today's post over there, but many of their reflections on maneuvering through this life in a way that brings glory to God and what He may really have in store for us as we do that.

Please know I completely understand that adoption isn't in God's plan for everyone's families. And that there are miracles in both adoption and infertility journeys every day. I really just thank God for His love for all of His children and I'm grateful that He gives us all different ways of passing that love onto little ones.

**I do not mean to offend anyone in the infertility issue. I realize there are many different emotions and situations. I am referring mainly to the extreme cases, where people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for just a hope of a baby to be stamped out over and over again. I'm not hinting at the average couple who simply wants to research the problem and/or some feasible alternatives to any infertility struggles they may face. Also, I do not mean to belittle the struggle itself. I know for many, dealing with infertility is a process and involves much sorrow and grief and that happily moving on to adoption is not the natural next step for many couples.


Russ, Katie and Eliot said...

Thank you for sharing this with me!! I'm excited to see how the Lord grows your family!!! So fun!!!!

Annie said...

Heather, I'm glad you wrote this. Hey! Maybe we will be adopting around the same time. So fun! I think you did a great job of articulating much of what is on the hearts of many people (at least mine) who try to be sensitive to peoples "objections" to adoption and feel like we can't challenge them, when the Bible clearly states that we are to show concern and look after orphans. I firmly believe this is not just about adopting, but can be whatever capacity you are led (supporting adoption, sponsoring children, etc), of course the most tangible being personally adopting. It is upsetting how many people turn the other way simply because they themselves don't feel adoption is for them. Obviously caring for parent-less children is extremely close to God's heart. My prayer is that in striving to be more like Him, more people will recognize this call on their own faith-walk as well.

Nic said...

Heather, what a great post. The points you put across are very valid... I agree with you that I don't understand the situations where years of time and thousands and thousands of dollars and numerous lost pregnancies are put forth when adoption is RIGHT THERE and available... (I know what situation you're talking about, btw... right? Trip to Chicago chatter?)

I have always felt I'd love to adopt our third or fourth child (if we ever make it that far HAHA! Porter may be IT! LOL.. joking). I'd love for you to give me more info/point me in the direction of the financial help you mentioned, as that is the one thing that will for sure keep us from ever adopting. Financially, it would be near impossible to go further into loan debt with my student loans (You know all my drama there LOL).

Anyway, woah, what the hell am I writing now. Well, I just wanted to say GREAT POST. I hope anyone who has ever disregarded adoption as an option will really read this and take it to heart. I know your intent was not to change minds or judge or any of that, but maybe your words will touch someones heart and help someone thing deeper into their reasons "why not".

Gramps said...

I can't wait for anouther grandchild to love!

Jessica said...

Hey Heather...I'd be interested in any information you could share with me, too. This was something we spent alot of time discussing while trying to get pregnant with Hailey, and I don't think I've given up the idea of it even tho we have her now.