Adoption has always been something very important and dear to me. From a very young age I knew that one day I would adopt children of my own. It wasn't a decision I had to be convinced of or even really think about. It was just a fact. I knew I would adopt. It was a new concept to me when I realized that not everyone felt that way. With so many children in need of homes, in need of families, in need of love, how could anyone not be willing to adopt? I have gotten older and I have learned some things. I have learned that adoption is expensive. It is messy. And even with the strongest convictions and determined spirits, it doesn't always work out.
After I had Aiden was the first time I started to have doubts about adoption. I loved him so much, in such a different way than I had ever loved anyone before, I couldn't imagine replicating those feelings for anyone else. Could I bring another child into my family and love them as I loved Aiden? Would I be partial? Could any child feel as much like my child as Aiden did? Being a mom was also really hard, could I handle parenthood with the added complications that adoption brings to the table? All kinds of doubts swam through my head. I thought, can we bring another child into this family with doubts like these? When I found out I was pregnant with Gabriel, it was difficult at first to experience those same feelings for someone other than Aiden. In a lot of ways Gabriel didn't feel real until his tiny body was placed in my shaking arms. Even then it shocked me. How did I feel this much love, all over again, and for someone else? Yet as they both grow, I am only more amazed at how my love for them grows as well.
During the months of depression this winter, I once again doubted my ability to love any more. It was a battle to show love to my loved ones already, how could I add anyone else? I doubted a lot of things during that time, and was starting to seriously believe that all things I had felt God had placed in my heart would never be, including adoption. Perhaps it seems silly to be worried about something that can not happen right now anyway, but just as anyone might long to be a parent one day (no matter how far in the future it may be), I have longed to adopt one day. It is a dream that has been planted and only seems to grow with time.
Recently I started following a blog (http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/) that a friend shared that has been talking about institutionalized children, specifically autistic children, who have been so completely neglected that most can not survive. When they are not adopted by age five (and most aren't), they are transferred to a mental asylum where they will spend their lives in cribs and where most will die. My heart was wrenched and I found myself scanning through the pictures quickly because I didn't really want to see how tiny they are, how utterly neglected and abused these precious little innocents are. I didn't want to know. Because once you know there is no going back. Once you know, there is no denying the responsibility that is undoubtedly ours.
I do not think that everyone is called to adopt, just as I do not think that everyone is called to be a parent at all. However, I do believe God calls many more than are actually willing. There are countless reasons not to adopt. It's hard. Not just the adoption process, which can take years, but there are many issues that are troubling and very hard to deal with that come along with coping with and healing from the scars of abandonment or abuse. It can be very expensive, especially if you are looking to adopt internationally (how many of us have $30,000+ on hand?). I've even heard the excuse of not being good enough. I'm sorry, not to overly simplify things, but these kids don't need a perfect home, they need a loving family. If we all had to be perfect parents before we could have kids or adopt, the human race would have died off long before it even began. If you will love, nourish, and protect these children, they are a million times better off with you than in an institution or mental asylum! Being "good enough" is never an issue when it comes to obeying God--He died to make sure of that.
I'm not trying to pretend like I think it's easy. I know there are so many hoops you have to jump through, criteria you have to fit into, fears and doubts you have to face. But you know what? I (as well as millions of other women) have stretched in ways unimaginable, sacrificed things I never thought I could ever give up (freedom, perky boobs, and half-way decent amounts of caffeine included), and pushed two babies out of a hole that should be much too small (which feels just as excruciatingly impossible as it looks, mind you). Not because I am a super hero or a saint, but because God takes the impossible, the painful, the broken, and He makes beautiful lives that are so incredibly worth it!
I have been really convicted this year on how I use the resources God has given me. No, we don't make much money according to American standards, but we still waste plenty of it. Aaron and I have been having many conversations on how we can change our spending habits and become more responsible with what God has given us so that when God calls us to give to those in need, or to bring another child into our family, we can. Instead of shamefully admitting we don't have anything left to offer because we like coffee shops and Thai food.
Whether you feel you are called to adopt or not, whether you are at a place to adopt or not, read the blog I posted above (or here to make it even easier: http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/). Honestly, I have never thought about the fact that even though I can't adopt right now, I can help someone else to adopt. We can also help pay for these babies and children to get much needed medical treatment and care. Never underestimate the power of prayer (regardless of how broad and diverse the need may be--God knows the details). And by all means, spread the word! There are plenty of other people out there who have been sitting on their butts just like us, waiting to be enlightened, convicted, and challenged to move. Don't ever fool yourself into thinking there is nothing you can do. God gives love abundantly, so we never have to worry about running out. He is not limited by money, resources, or messed up people. He is a God of redemption, grace, and mercy. He has commanded us to care for the widow and orphan. He has promised to never forsake us. What excuses do we have left?