Sometimes, I honestly don’t know why I’m doing this.
I know it’s the right thing to do. I know I’m being called to do it. But every time someone asks me, “What made you want to adopt a child?” I draw a blank. I stammer. I say something acceptable and then spend the next hour sorting through the words, hoping to find the golden nugget of truth. It’s not something I consciously decided to do or willingly embraced. Yet, here I am, about a month shy of my 36th birthday, beginning the adoption process. And because I think best when I write, I figured why not chronicle the entire madcap experience here?
A little back story on me. I had dolls, sure, but I preferred to wear my plastic She-Ra armor and defend the Crystal Castle (a.k.a. “the garden shed”). I wanted play “G.I. Joe vs. Cobra” in the backyard with all the boys (and would choose to be Scarlet or the Baroness depending on which team picked me). When my parents told me it was time to start earning my own money, I chose to mow lawns rather than babysit. And this was when we lived in south Florida where it’s 98 in the shade with 100% humidity. So, yeah, the idea of motherhood is a bit foreign to me. I don’t have much experience with kids younger than 13, and though I’ve been a teacher, it’s a far cry from parental experience.
Wayne and I discussed different adoption options and finally landed on the one that seemed to be the best fit for our current stage of life and personalities: foster to adopt, special needs. I’m already beginning to see that the wonderful world of adoption is chock full of terms and acronyms, so allow me to explain our choice.
Foster to adopt involves taking in a child or children when one birth parent’s rights have been severed. (Also know as TPR or “termination of parental rights.” I told you there were acronyms aplenty.) Basically, the state is trying to reunify the child or children with family, but that often does not happen because the parent is found unfit. Children who come from these homes are often abused (emotionally, physically, or sexually) and neglected (especially with regards to health).
We chose this option because we want to adopt an older child rather than an infant. There were two reasons for this. One, I didn’t feel led to give up my current job, and two, doing so would put some serious hurt on our finances. (While we could survive on one salary, it wouldn’t be pretty. And I wasn’t really keen on pinching pennies until they scream.)
Also, it’s one of the greatest areas of need in the United States. According to Adopt US Kids, “More than 250,000 children…enter the foster care system every year. While more than half of these children will return to their parents, the remainder will stay in the system.”
The other term, special needs, is a little more misleading. Yes, it applies to children who have some sort of physical, emotional, or mental handicap, but it can also apply to children who:
- Are older than age 5
- Are part of a sibling group that needs to be adopted together
- Have a history of trauma
The second one in that list is the reason why the term applies to us. We have room to take in up to three children, so we’re opting to go for a sibling group. I’m hoping for a pair because once the children outnumber the parents, you have to start playing zone defense.
We have taken the first steps to make this happen. We selected Bethany Christian Services as our agency, filled out our preliminary application, and attended the first two-hour information meeting. The next step is to begin IMPACT training, which involves 20 hours of classroom time. Part of me is eager to get started, yes. But another part of me hesitates. It asks, “What are you doing!?” We’ve finally managed to get ahead a bit financially, and life is hectic but manageable. I get plenty of sleep. My schedule is my own. I have down time and can enjoy an evening on the town without pulling off a feat of logistics to rival D-Day. And I’m choosing to give all of that up, no waterboarding involved.
But of the many blessings I’ve been given, the first and most amazing is my family. I was surrounded by love from the moment I was born. (In fact, my aunt hid in my mother’s hospital bathroom until the nurse left because she was excited to see me and just couldn’t wait.) I have two loving parents, a younger brother, and an extended family who has never once failed to support me. I was never abused, never neglected, never told I was unwanted or that someone didn’t have time for me. And I’m coming to see just what an amazing gift that is. I can’t help every child who has not known this kind of security, but I can do something for the handful God has in mind. To do anything less is disobedient to the one who died for me, the one who allowed me to be “adopted” into God’s family.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life, in a great cause.” I may very well be jeopardizing all of these things by adopting, but I can think of no cause greater than that.
Maybe I know why I’m doing this after all.
If you’re currently adopting or have survived the process, I would LOVE to hear from you. Please leave me a comment in the section below, and tell me your story. I’d love some advice and to get to know others in this amazing community!