*The triangle image is symbolic of the adoption triad: the birth parents, the child, and the adoptive parents. I choose to believe that all of the space in and around it, is God putting and holding the pieces together.
This question. We are asked this question often and to be honest, I think it might be getting progressively harder to answer. The combination of my work as a mental health professional, the stories I’ve read, and the research we’ve done has led to the realization that adoption is a triggering topic for many. For some families, infertility and adoption come together in their story of growing their family. For some parents, they have made the difficult choice of adoption for their child. For some individuals who were adopted, the trauma of his/her journey is real and hurts. For some people who have pursued option, it had a painful process or ending that may have involved changed minds or closed countries. For many people, they really just don’t know much about adoption, so the topic makes them uncomfortable. Talking about adoption is HARD for us because we are deeply passionate about it, but also sensitive to the fact that there are a lot of wrong ways to talk about it. I’ll do my best.
Since the start of this process, I have joined numerous groups that give transracial adoptees the opportunity to tell their stories in a raw, real way. It’s been hugely eye-opening for me because a lot of adoptees have really really really hard stories. The reality of adoption is that there is always trauma. Even if it’s from the hospital, there still may be the “primal wound” of separation. For our child/children there will be the trauma of whatever separates them from their birth families, plus the trauma of leaving literally everything they know when we bring them home. Adoption is beautiful, but it’s messy. I think if we are truly listening to the adoptees story, it is essential to acknowledge the deeply difficult identity stuff, too. I can’t pretend to speak to it fully because it’s not my story, but I am working to honor and respect it. The reason I preface this way is because it informs our answer to “Why adoption” now.
Alex and I knew that we would one day adopt when we were still just friends. We talked about it often and have prayed over it since, so we always had a heart knowledge that this was one way our family would grow. For me, God has always clearly laid it on my heart that I would parent through adoption specifically. The only way I know to describe it is in comparison to the natural desire many feel to expand their families through biology. Generally, nobody questions why people want kids biologically because it’s just an innate desire. For me, the call to adoption was the same. It’s just always been there. I have never been able to imagine or pray for my future family without adoption being in the picture. For Alex, the call has been to parent a child with special needs. He has a hard time describing his side as well, but for him, every time he has encountered an individual with a disability, he’s had a specified response of love and nurturing. Combined, our early discussions evolved quickly into a future special needs adoption.
They say when God puts something on your heart, he puts all of these relevant experiences and exposures in front of you to keep you walking towards His plan. He has continually done this for us as we’ve journeyed through our relationship, starting with our pre-marital counseling through our church. We met with a couple weekly for months. They spoke life and wisdom over us and we are so grateful for the example they provided for us as to what a God-fearing marriage and family looks like. They had already adopted three children domestically and were in the process of adopting their fourth internationally as we were meeting with them. Shortly after we were married, we went on a missions trip to Zambia and while we were there, our pastor was matched with his adopted son. Even the lady who did our finger prints for our background checks explained that she was adopted. The stories are numerous and they have continually reaffirmed for us that this is something God intends for us.
What especially moved our hearts toward these children were our visits to orphanages in Jamaica and Zambia. These orphanages were managed with an incredible amount of love and intention, but we learned a lot about caregiver to child ratios and resources. Simply put, even the best run orphanage cannot replace a family. Children belong in families. We might not be the best option for our adopted child(ren), but we are a family that is going to love them the best we can.
Ultimately, we’ve done a lot of exploration on the “why adoption” question and what we have found is it comes down to is a strong passion for meeting people right where they are and loving them there. When a student in a hard place walks into my office, I listen, sit with them in it, and support who they are in that moment. Every art student Alex has, starts at a completely different level. He honors that ability and helps create projects that allows them to develop those skills without shame. As parents, we love our kids in every stage they are in and intentionally attempt to help them learn and grow towards their best selves. Adoption is another version of this call to meet people where they are. In a perfect scenario, there would be no need for adoption, because children would be raised by their birth parents. The reality is that the world gets in the way some times. Due to this, we know that our child will be coming from a place of deep separation and trauma. We want to meet them in that brokenness, love them there, and then love them every step of the journey as we do life together. We want to honor all versions of their identity.
Adoption is a part of the redemption story that God is telling. We lay in fear most nights about this process and we really don’t feel equipped to have a role in the story, but we are saying yes to trusting that God’s hand is in every detail of the narrative. All these words and I still don’t really know if it answers the original question of why. God’s calling us to it. We believe children belong in families. Adoption is a part of God’s redemption story. We desire to love God’s children where they are. Take the answer that feels right for you because all of them are pieces that brought us to this point. Regardless, we’re here. We’re doing it. It’s terrifying. But, it feels right.