"Can't you make your own children?"
"Is your daughter really yours?"
"Isn't it a lot cheaper and easier to just have your own kids?"
We've quickly learned that no question is off limits when you adopt and especially in regards to the family planning department. We know that people are naturally curious about adoption and genuinely want to understand more about. But sometimes the questions can be just painfully awkward, as well as inappropriate for our children to hear. We never, ever, ever want to our son to feel like he's "expensive" or "not ours." (Personal tip: Don't ask an adoptive family a question in front of their kids that you wouldn't want someone to ask you in front of your kids! Please and thank you!) That being said, we do want to answer people's questions as honestly as possible, because we truly believe that if more people understand how adoption can be a beautiful part of their family's "plan A," then more and more precious children will have forever families.
Before diving into adoption being part of our family's "plan A," I want to address the elephant in the room. Sometimes, adoption is not plan A, B, or C for a family. Sometimes, it's plan Z, after a painful road of infertility, miscarriages, child loss, and/or singleness. Sometimes, it feels like the last "option" and people try to "comfort" you by saying, "Well, you can always adopt." We've walked this dark and grievous road with friends and can only say, "We are sorry." We are sorry that you are walking this aching road. We are sorry for your hurt and loss. And we are sorry if adoption has been presented to you as a lesser way to grow a family.
Just like adoption does not erase the trauma in a child's past, adoption does not automatically heal parent's broken hearts. Only God can do that, for both the child and parents. "People who adopt don't do it because they believe they can fix anything or anyone. They do it because Jesus did it for them." (Jedd Medefind)
God grows families in all different ways. Sometimes He grows them through dreams. And sometimes He grows them through tears. Unfortunately, we will never know the mind of God and why He choses or allows these paths for us. However, we truly believe that through either joy or pain, adoption is apart of God's plan to grow families.
Take a look at Moses's life. Can you imagine his mother's anguish as she placed him in a basket and pushed his precious little soul down the crocodile-infested Nile River? My mama's heart can't even begin to fathom placing my precious child in harm's way and being forced to walk away. But God transformed an evil command by a selfish ruler into the perfect way for Moses to be educated in the mighty Pharaoh's house. Through his learning in the most elite place on earth at the time, he led thousands of God's people to the Promised Land and wrote His Holy Scriptures for us to read today. However, this doesn't negate the fact that heartbreak happened, that abandonment happened, and that Moses's parents had to submit to God's will for their family, which I'm sure was definitely not their own.
Our family's adoption story goes back almost 30 years. One of us had the privilege at a very young age to go into Russian orphanages right after the Iron Curtain came down. The fact that precious children need forever families was ingrained in my young soul and one of my earliest memories is of a toddler boy clinging to my mother's leg, while I begged her to let me bring him home with us. The other one of us got to play with Romanian orphans as a teen and felt so helpless, not being able to do anything for the love-hungry children he left behind.
Fast forward to our dating years. Adoption was a non-negotiable for us. It wasn't "if we adopt" but "when we adopt." Our first few years of marriage we were penny-pinching poor, but once we were established in our lives and careers, we decided it was time to start a family. We were living in Hong Kong at the time, after spending two years in China, and knew already that we wanted to bring a precious son or daughter (but we knew probably a son!) home from there. However, we sadly didn't meet China's qualifications yet. Quite frustrating to say the least! God blessed with a blonde-headed, blue eye little girl about a year later, which in hindsight would have been the worst timing ever to adopt. A few weeks before she was born, we had some life circumstances that made the next few months very difficult and chaotic. Thankfully, oh so thankfully, God in His omniscience knew that we needed a little newborn during that trying time who could just go with the flow, instead of a child who needed stability in his life.
Two years later past and we had moved back to the States, bought a house, and again felt ready to add a precious child to our family. And we fit all of China's qualifications this time...or so we thought. Literally the week that I emailed CCAI and requested an information packet, China changed its qualifications and one of them hit us right in the stomach. Instead of having your youngest child at home be one years old before submitting your dossier, the age was now three years old. Our daughter was only two at the time, which meant we had to wait about 4 months to begin collecting the dossier paperwork. Cue frustrated tears! But again, in God's omniscience, we needed those extra four months. We were diving into adoption with nothing but unicorns, rainbows, and rose-colored glasses. He slowed us down, made us "count the costs," face our fears, and come out trusting our ever-faithful God even more. Who knows if we had applied a few months earlier if we would have been matched to our son! I am slowly, ever so slowly, learning to trust God and His perfect timing for our lives!
Looking at our family now, I laugh when thinking about my younger-self's plan for our lives. I just wanted to adopt as many kids as possible as soon as possible. In His sovereign plan, He gave us a compassionate daughter first who has literally become our translator, example, and best buddy to our son. Our son's transition into our family would have been immensely more difficult without her and I truly don't know what we would've done, especially those first few days when he was stonewalling. We had to wait over ten years to qualify to adopt, but God used each of those days to teach us lessons about Himself and to build an incredibly supportive community around us.
People tell us we're so brave for adopting. That they could never do something like this. I always smile and say, "If you saw the precious lonely faces that we've seen, you'd be adopting too." When orphans aren't just a number, a picture, or a need among innumerable global concerns, you have to do something. When you realize that each child is an eternal soul and, without a caring family, will most likely suffer a hell of isolation (or much worse) if not adopted, you can't help but to put one trembling foot in front of the other on this journey.
God's plan for each family is unique. Sometimes He uses fostering, mentoring, and/or biological children to weave a family together. Sometimes He uses trying circumstances and heartache to point families towards the path of adoption. We hope and pray that He is working in numerous mommy's and daddy's hearts all over the world to chose adoption as a broken, but beautiful "plan A" in which to grow their families too. Our precious son is an extraordinary blessing to our family and there are literally thousands of precious treasures out there, if only a family takes the giant leap of faith and opens their hearts and homes to these dear souls.
Every child deserves to be chosen. To be loved. To be protected. To belong.
Who is missing in your family? What incredible story is God going to write for your family when you chose to obey Him? Believe us, you don't want to miss out on His "plan A" for your family!