I love kids.
I love MY kids, my FRIENDS’ kids, our CHURCH’S kids. Not ALL kids. Never have. I am not a woman who gathers small babies and children into my lap when I enter a room. I don’t speak softly or have unlimited patience or rejoice in the “precious child” that is wreaking havoc. I am loud, impatient with dawdling by my daughter, and quick to reprimand even a stranger’s child that is out of line. #sorrynotsorry
Then God called me to adopt a baby. Someone ELSE’S baby. After all my arguments and laments of “I’m-not-good-enough,” here is what God showed me:
Adoption is for every Christian, not just the “Mother Teresas” of the world.
When I thought about adoption before my family started this journey, I imagined babies held by angelic women who laughed with glee at baby spit up and explosive diapers. They always viewed children as a gift, no matter their behavior. In my mind I believed these women used sweet language with kids, never calling them “jerks” or “annoying,” and would never EVER threaten to “pull this car over!” I basically claimed adoptive moms to be the equivalent to modern-day saints, because how else would you survive adding someone else’s child to your family?
My new journey into adoption has shed light on my misunderstandings of adoptive parents, and if I was confused about adoption, then I know you have misconceptions as well. Let’s get those cleaned up right now, shall we?
Not all women who adopt are Mother Teresa.
They are not perfect. There will be mistakes made with their adopted child, just like there were with their biological child. They will lose their temper. They will yell when they should be calm. They will be too strict or not strict enough. But they will also cuddle for goodnight kisses and bake late-night cookies for slumber parties. They will have to figure out how to fit “one more carseat” in their too-small car and sacrifice their own creature comforts for those of their children (who needs new clothes, anyway?).
Being a mom is a universal role that translates across races, places, and family structures. Why? Because adoption means love establishes a family, not DNA. That means it isn’t someone else’s child- it is their child.
Not everyone chooses adoption; sometimes it chooses them.
I was not interested in growing my family. My kids are both school-age now. I spent 9 years at home with them, and this is MY TIME. I was happy to have one boy and one girl that are both healthy and happy. Adoption was the furthest thing from my mind! Yet here I am, praying night and day for a child that will eventually be added to our family, and I am excited for our next chapter.
My story is not uncommon. There are others who adopted when it wasn’t in their plan. Some people adopt because of unexpected infertility, a death in the family, a personal tragedy, or an addiction that left a child(ren) behind. Even still are couples who raise their grandchildren for reasons they never anticipated. Each adoption story is unique & can’t be labeled.
Not all adoptive families can afford to adopt.
“Affording” adoption is an awkward topic to discuss. In my situation, can my family afford to care for another child? If by “afford” you mean the child is well-fed and dressed in size appropriate clothes, then yes, we can afford it. If by “afford” you mean we have thousands in surplus income to adopt a child for almost $40,000, then I would say no. (I can’t even type that number with a straight face!) My husband and I are both in ministry which, while we are blessed to have a stable income, is not enough to adopt. So we “afford” adoption by cutting-back on spending, by praying and saving, and by making big financial asks of our family, friends, and our church. It takes a village to raise a child, but that same village is needed to save one.
At this stage in our process, my realization is this: Adoption saves an entire family.
My kids will be saved from a small world view. My husband and I will be saved from stagnate faith and a life lived selfishly. And our baby will know what the love of Christ looks like through two sets of parents: Biological parents that love their baby enough to give them the best life possible through adoption, and adoptive parents who look past blood lines, stigmas, and obstacles to love and accept a child.
Adoptive parents are simply servants who choose to do what is needed, not what is convenient. Their heart isn’t bound-up, but rather lent-out to those who desperately need it most. They are people who choose to love the orphaned and outcast in a tangible way. I will continue to share our journey over the next few months (who am I kidding- the next few YEARS) but adoptive parents are more multi-dimensional than I realized, as are the children they bring into their family.
If you are an adoptive parent, share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!