January 6, 2008

China & Africa on my Heart

Disclaimer: **First of all - this is a bit of a heart rant - not even a "rant" per-say, but just a moment I took tonight to put some of my more serious thoughts down. Some stuff that's been on my mind and my heart. So proceed with that in mind.

Why China? Why Africa? These are questions I still get from family and friends - and well meaning, no doubt. Just curious, I guess. It's a fair question - why go around the world when there are so many kids here in the US who need families. True. And I don't want to debate this, so commenters be kind - as you always are.

Let's just look at the numbers though - statistics tell us that as of the latest count there are 15 million Orphans in Asia. (don't get me started on why the process is so dang slow) In Africa, there are 34 million at last count. In the US, there are one hundred and fifty thousand orphans ages 0-17. I don't want to de-value the lives of each and every one of those 150K, AT ALL. That's not my intent. But which group of 49 MILLION people do you know that are tracking down those orphans overseas? And I'm only referencing the two countries I'm associated with out of a handful of other countries in the same predicament. I know a handful of adoptive moms, but 49 MILLION of us out there? I don't think so.

We had an opportunity recently to pursue another adoption "avenue". (Don't gawk - we just seem to have many avenues we're juggling lately). A U.S. avenue, if you catch my drift. We thought about it, and prayed about it, and we just...well, we did what we had to do - we passed. Because A. Our kids are in China and Ethiopia - don't ask me why - they just ARE. And B. because who is going to go for Quint and Keira? All the way around the world and back again for them? Who, if not me? Who, if not you? Who is going to go through this process? This arduous, difficult, emotionally draining and soul sucking process to go and get them and give them the shot at life that they deserve? I don't see a huge line forming behind me (though it's growing), and I don't see a big long line in front of me either. What? There are like 7000 of us. And thank God for all of you. All of you who, like us, came to realize that adoption is not just for the infertile. Though we struggled down that road too. It's not baby buying. It's not a second thought, or an afterthought, or an option that just gets "settled" for. It's a choice. A choice based on perseverance and hope, and the desire to make a difference for a child and the longing to complete your family. It's just there - and it's one family - one child at a time - that the change gets made.

Pursuing Quint and Keira was a natural choice - an obvious choice - for us. It was a choice that we had planned on anyway. We talked about it from the very beginning of our marriage. Adopting at some point. Regardless of the biological family we might create. Adoption seemed a certainty down the road. So when biology failed, adopting was a very natural step. Without missing a beat, we just moved onto that path. There is heartache in not creating a mini-AB or CB - sure, there is. It's something you have to grieve and move past. But our adoption was never a "booby" prize. It was just moved up on the calendar.

I point all of this out - because recently someone I love very much said to me "but what about a surrogate? What about in-vitro? What about waiting to see if technology comes up with something that will fix your 'biology'?" In other words "Do you have to adopt????" I'm not mad. I'm not even hurt, really. But it gave me pause and I realized something after that talk, and that is - most people, even those closest to us sometimes, just don't get it. And why should they? I remember thinking that way, long ago - before I ever met AB. Until you're submersed into the world of adoption, you don't - you can't truly understand what it means to the family, or to the person who chose it. You can't understand why someone would go to so much pain, heartache, trouble, excessive travel, or cost to bring a child home that was someone else's biologically. You can't swallow it. It's just not how we're programmed. We're programmed for 2 cars, 2 kids (Janey and Johnny) and a nice house in a quiet neighborhood that smells like dinner. Which is fine and ok, - it's just that in our house Janey is Chinese and Johnny is African.

We're getting there - we're making progress as a society. To accept and be sensitive to the blended families we see. And we, the adoptive families, will pursue this kind of sensitivity to the molds we've broken and the traditions we've set aside. And those who love us will learn, as we have, that adoption is a choice - not a resolution.

Meanwhile, some people are led from a spiritual perspective to pursue mission work. Some are led to change careers, some are led to move across country to care for family, some are led to start Bible studies, etc. We were led to adopt from China and Africa. Simple as that. I can see God's hand all over these two processes and just when we begin to doubt, He flings wide another door for us to walk through. Just when I feel like I can't go another step down this road, His strength is perfect and we are lifted through our dark moments to keep going.

Perhaps if the Lord had given me biological children, He knew I would never truly pursue Keira and Quint? As much as I wouldn't want to believe that, it is possible - and He knows best. This much, I take great comfort and hope in. At my darkest moments in dealing with infertility, I still must say that we did not grieve as those without hope. We knew the Lord had big plans for our family, and that He had every intention of making parents out of us. Who we would parent was the only mystery yet to be revealed.

Today, I can tell you - it's our daughter Keira Joy from China, and our little man Quint from Ethiopia. And I never wonder for a moment if I will love those children with everything I have. Never does it even cross my mind that there was a "better" or "sweeter" way to be a mother. I can't wait to dry their tears, hear their laughter, listen to their ideas, and kiss their ouchies.

So, I wanted to share that over the summer we had the chance to visit the headquarters for Wycliffe Bible Translators in Florida. In the late 1300s, John Wycliffe became the first person to translate the Bible into English. Before that, English speakers had to learn Latin to read the common Bible translation. Wycliffe wanted the Bible available to every person. Today about 200 million people do not have the Bible in their own language. AB's parents have been missionaries with Wycliffe since the 80's and spent six years living in Indonesia working with translators. AB actually graduated high-school in the jungle of Papua New Guinea!

While in Florida, we stopped into the Wycliffe museum and among other things we were able to look at the fascinating history of Bible Translation into hundreds of languages. Among them, of course, were China and Ethiopia. The Bible was translated in Ethiopia in 1549! Isn't that amazing? I snapped a couple pictures, feeling like I had this tiny little connection to my kids through God's work and His Word! Amazing! Suddenly, I didn't feel so small or like our adoptions were just another "milestone" of my life. Instead they felt like the fruition of good work - that God has planned for my life always. I love those moments in this process, that re-affirm the purpose and the call to move forward - to persevere no matter what!

Why adopt? I don't know - because God said so. Because I married a man who desperately has a heart for missions and other nations, and for being a father all rolled into one? I don't know why God lined this path for me. I truly don't - not yet - although I may fully understand one day soon when we're all together.

Why China? Why Africa? I don't know. All I do know is, my kids are there and so there is where I'm going. And thank God for choosing me. Why should I be so lucky to parent these amazing children? Why am I so fortunate to get to be their mom and to see the fruit of their lives? I don't know - but nothing could keep me from it. You know what I mean?


Jodi said...

awesome post Christie! maybe this will help people understand. you have encouraged me to post something like this too!
so glad you and AB are willing to follow God's lead!
He will send you His precious treasures soon!

Praying for you,
Jodi Sue :)
(V's friend)

Unknown said...

Im very familiar with Wycliffe. Thanks so much sharing your heart!!

Rockin post!

Stephanie said...

All I can say is... WOW. What an incredible post. Many of your words are what are in my heart... but I've never expressed. It's always an amazing feeling to see something in writing that you haven't been able to put into words!

P.S. Thank you for everything!

Donna said...


What a wonderful post, you certainly have a gift for expressing yourself...you do it so well.

I don't know if anyone else, besides other adoptive parents, truly understand adoption. Like you and Anton, Joe and I will love our child as if she was born to us...no question about it...period.

Donna :)

Kim said...

Love your post...
I am sooo glad to have everyone in Bloggerville.. because nobody else understand HOW MUCH I LOVE ISABELLA...
they don't get it..
How can you love someone who is not even here or born or you don't know...
I get so sick of those questions..
Thank you again for this post..
Hugs to you girly..

Dan, Misty & Ashar said...

How is it that you wrote what I am thinking? Thanks for your awesome perspective. Maybe when I get questions, I'll just refer people to your blog;) hahah!!

Linda said...

a good post for everyone to read. As a person who had bio kids adoption never touched my life...Until my daughter decided to adopt from china. having all you wonderful people open yourself up on your blogs has helped me understand things better. I have always been behind her adoption and knew she &Joe already love their daughter even though that have not met her yet,, There will be much happiness when all the babies are home and in the home they are meant to be....Linda

Anonymous said...

You are a treasure!

Love V

Dena said...

Tears in my eyes. So beautifully stated, girl.
Though our family and friends were supportive, I know they thought "now why are doing this, you have a boy and girl, why go to all this trouble?".
I can't even begin to explain the impact Piper's adoption has had on our extended family. The GET IT, and have been changed by knowing and loving her. My mom was just telling her nurse in the hospital about it the other night. It was so neat to hear how this experience had imapacted her, Piper's Grandma.
You just follow where God leads, just like you are doing. I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Hang in there. Your family will happen when it is meant to happen. God has a plan, even if it takes forever for us to figure it out!


Suz said...

I seriously think I should print out your post and carry it around to hand out. You write it perfectly. Absolutely perfect. Thanks for putting into words what so many of us have in our hearts. It is so nice to know there are others out here who get it! Thanks!