Worth My Salt

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.”

Image courtesy of examiner.com.
Image courtesy of examiner.com.

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.

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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!

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6 thoughts on “Worth My Salt

  1. I think this is marvelous and I totally applaud your reasoning. I pray that even the journey blesses you and that God is already preparing the children you and Wayne will get to love and influence. (My brother and his wife adopted their first child, but under very different circumstances.)

    1. Kathy, I’m driven by something other than raw emotion. I’ve never been an overly emotional person, and for a long time, I thought something was wrong with me. It may end up being the thing that gets me through this. God knows what he’s doing, that’s for sure.

  2. It makes me proud to know you and call you friend. My husband had two little cousins who were taken from his uncle and his wife. The boys definitely needed to be taken but there were plenty of family members who could have taken the boys in but didn’t want to to for various reasons. They both grew up in the system. Michael Dwayne is now an attorney and looks out for children in the system. He just landed a job working in the mayor’s office in Miami. His younger brother, though now divorced, it an amazing daddy. It breaks my heart to know that they lived in Jacksonville in the boys home by JU and the family, having given up grandparent rights, never even knew their family was so close. The boys were a handful, never disciplined…but they were little boys when they were taken by the state. No aunt, uncle, grandparent stepped up. My husband became a cop and ran their names until Michael Dwayne finally received his license at 18 years old and he found his cousin. There is a lot of pain for those young men now but Michael handles it well…his younger brother Derrick…not so much. They wanted someone to love them enough to keep them. I just can’t even tell you how much this touches my heart! God will bless you immensely through all of this. God bless

    1. Vern, I have no doubt it will be hard. If they came from a good situation, foster care wouldn’t even be necessary. After the intro meeting Thursday night, I was thinking, “I’m not good enough to do this.” And then it hit me…”But Jesus is.” I’ll just have to take it from there and go 100% on faith. 🙂 Thanks for telling me this story. It helps to hear the good as well as the not so good tales.

  3. I saw this on your Facebook and was thrilled for you! Adoption is such a needed and special thing for children who are unwanted or unable to be taken care of. My parents adopted me when I was six months old and during that time I was in a foster family. I don’t know much about them but my parents got me through a closed adoption in May 1986 and I’ve been with them ever since. I know my situation is a little different than a fostering situation. Anytime I hear anyone is willing to adopt/foster a child, I know they have a lot of love in them. I have heard comments all my life about adoption “well they’re not really theirs, they’re just adopted” or “its not my own flesh and blood, how can I love another person’s child?”. These are ignorant comments that make children feel like they don’t belong anywhere. And the people who say these things would never have it in their hearts to adopt. My parents already had 3 boys, so why throw in another kid especially one that wasn’t theirs? Because my mom had always wanted a daughter and God blessed her with 3 boys who she loved but adoption was the only way she would get a girl. And because of their love for “another person’s kid”, they got me and raised me to be an active Christian in the Church.
    Had it not been for them, I might not be involved in the Church at all and I don’t know where I’d be! Anyways I love hearing adoption stories and I hope and pray everything goes well on your journey with your kid. Can’t wait to hear more updates!

    1. Cathy, I didn’t know you were adopted. That’s wonderful! Your family is so sweet, and you’re so blessed to be with them. 🙂 I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I have to trust that God is going to turn this for good. And with encouragement like this, I feel like we can do it. Thank you, sweetheart!

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