Why We're Adopting – An Open Letter
Our baby Lucy is two months old today. As we celebrate the joy (and sleepless nights) she has brought to us, I want to share with you a letter I wrote just a few short months ago. It was a particularly frustrating day (there have been many during this process) and I wrote this letter, which I only shared that day with my incredible wife. I share it today with you because I know that some of you are where we were that day, some of you have been or will be soon. For others, it may simply be good to catch a glimpse inside the mind of an adoptive parent to maybe understand what it is that drives us to make the choices we do. There are others more passionate and those whose journey has been far more difficult, but this is just a bit of our journey…and a bit of our calling.
The adoption journey that we have been on has been a long one, but it has taught us many things. We have tried, through it all, to remain open to all possibilities and to stretch and grow in the process. As a result, we have wrestled with many of the tough questions of adoption: “What are the challenges of having a multi-racial family?” “How do we handle the unknowns of a child’s medical or psychological history?” “Are we willing to do what is necessary for our child to develop emotionally and physically, even if that means making a greater sacrifice than we’re even currently aware?”
The answer to the last question is a resounding “YES!” You see, we’re not adopting just because we want children, although we do. We’re not adopting through CPS because it’s less expensive than other means of adoption, although we’re happy it is because it allows more opportunities for more families to adopt and more children to find permanent homes. We’re not looking to adopt a child of another race because “that’s what’s available”, though we are fully aware of the high number of minority children entering the system every day.
The reason we desire to adopt a minority child through CPS is that we care for these children. We have a loving home ready and waiting for a child who is in desperate need of a loving home. We understand that raising a child, no matter what his or her background is or needs are, presents parents with daily challenges that sometimes seem insurmountable. And yet, we look to the great examples of our friends and family who have walked through incredible adversity to make a way for their children to grow up in a loving, safe and nurturing environment.
We don’t see the world through rose-colored glasses. We don’t view children as constantly laughing, smiling and playing. We understand that every child brings with him or her a personality that will range from euphoric to enraged, a body that will regularly produce dirty diapers, runny noses and physical ailments and a mind that will grasp some things easily and struggle with others. Furthermore, we understand that every child is a “special needs” child and that it is up to the parents and, many times, medical and psychological professionals to help determine just what those needs are and the best course of action to take. We understand that raising a child means taking on the responsibility of another human being’s life and we take that responsibility very seriously. Yes, we are aware of the gravity of the condition that some of these children are in. That is the very reason that we want to rescue them.
In this journey, we are fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends, not only to lend encouragement and a helping hand, but also to advise us on the special circumstances of our family. In our immediate circle of friends, we have 10 multi-ethnic families, 7 of which are adoptive families. We have adult friends who were adopted into multi-racial families and who are very open about sharing their experience with us from the child’s perspective. We have a church family who has embraced not only multi-ethnic and adoptive families, but who have embraced the mission of adoption and caring for orphans.
Very close friends of ours have been adoption advocates for years. They recently set up a non-profit organization to help other families adopt and have raised tens of thousands of dollars in the past year alone to help fund adoption. Into their otherwise Caucasian family, they have added an African-American/Caucasian little girl and twin Asian/Caucasian girls. Other close friends recently adopted an African-American girl into their home. Other friends have adopted multiple African-American children. The bottom line is that we are a part of an incredible multi-ethnic community that not only accepts, but encourages and embraces diversity in our community and within our families.
As for us, we have spent the last three years discussing what it means to be a multi-ethnic family. We talk about it with our family and friends. We ask questions of other families and spend time with their kids. In our minds, we have made a shift to multi-ethnicity even if we don’t yet have children of a different ethnicity.
For us, however, it goes way beyond ethnicity. We are called to help children out of bad situations and out of “temporary” situations into a permanent, loving home. We take this responsibility very seriously. When we say “yes” to a child, it is a full-throated “YES” backed up by all the books we’ve read, prayers we’ve prayed, conversations we’ve had and children we’ve held. It is a “YES” to a long future with that child, whatever complications may arise. It is a “YES” to sleepless nights and tiring days, a “YES” to challenges and obstacles and a “YES” to the hopes and dreams of that child – hopes and dreams that may or may not be achieved, but which are always worth fighting for.
We have no illusions that this road will be easy, but we know it is worth it. We know we can’t rescue all the world’s orphans, but we can rescue some of them. We know that trials and pitfalls are in front of us, but we stand resolute to hold tightly to each other, to our children and to our God to see us through. This is why we are adopting. This is why our answer is “YES”. To that 2 year old, set of twins or group of siblings, our answer is YES. Please let them all know that our answer is YES.
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