November 6, 2010

The Truth of Why


Why did you adopt?

I mean, be honest.  Tell the truth.  Did it start out as a humanitarian effort?  Did it begin as a deep rooted desire to help the parentless children of the world, no matter the cost?  If it did, then…well done!  I mean, that is to say – you’re probably in that select few percentage of people who truly set out to make the world a better place, one child at a time.  And I think that’s amazing.  And I’m jealous.  Why?

Can I tell you a secret?  I think I was very self-centered.  Not that it’s always bad to think of yourself.  Clearly not.  But that thought did not occur to me, nor did it appear in my plans of the perfect life with the perfect man and the perfect children.  No, it did not.  It was a back-burner.  I had talked briefly, while single, about possibly adopting.  But only because I was worried Mr. Amazing might never show up.  When he did?  We talked about having kids on our first date.  Yes, we did.

And AB?  Always felt in his guts he would adopt.  Somehow.  Always open to it.

Let me tell you a little truth about me.  I did not start out in the adoption process to help the motherless child.  I did not set out to do a good deed.  I did not set out to help anyone but myself.  Me.  My own personal #1.  I set out to take care of the deep longing in my heart to be a mother.  To experience motherhood.

And when my own fertility options seemed bleak – and then bleaker as the years went by – we became more and more open to the option of adoption for building our family. 

I died a little bit that day.  My optimism went sailing right on out the Doctor’s office window and into the womb of some other expectant mother.  I heard the words, “uterus not conducive”.  “Most likely a lot of difficultly and that’s if you could conceive”.  “Much higher risk and possibility for miscarriage" and they stung and crushed and wounded and I was numb and eerily calm.  

But friend, when we got home from that appointment?  I wept like a baby there in the fetal position on the floor of our home office –  when it felt safe and when I started to digest that I was woefully made on the inside.  That my “house” couldn’t safely hold what I most wanted to give my husband.  A child. 

Leaving me hurting and devastated and feeling like my body had failed me in what could have been my finest accomplishment in life.  To give Anton a son.  A daughter.  Someone to be ours.  Part of me.  Part of him.  I’ve never felt so broken from my heart down to my broken uterus.  Split right into. 

I wanted what I wanted.  And it was slipping through my fingers.  Never mind slipping.  It was all but gone.  There was nothing to do for it.  Just watch it evaporate with my perfect life…down, down, down until it was gone and with it – all my dreams.

And I do think it was after that…maybe two years later, that Anton mentioned adoption to me again.  And I was listening.  And it seemed unlikely and difficult.  Expensive and out of our reach.  But I was willing to try.  I guess for Anton. 

And AB sent to me an e-mail that mentioned going to a meeting for a particular agency…for a program in China.  For a daughter.  And he said “do you want to check this out?”

For no known reason, I began to weep when I clicked that link.  I was at work.  There I sat, crying.  And my favorite co-worker came around the bend and saw me.  “What is it?!?!  What’s the matter?!?!” and I could only say the words “I’m adopting a little baby girl”.  I knew…down in my soul.  This is what we’re going to do.  And it feels so perfectly right. 

And you know already that on the way to China and to our sweet Keira Joy…we found Ethiopia and in it, our amazing son Quint. 

I don’t think wanting to be a mother, wanting to have a family, wanting to be a parent is a wrong reason to want to adopt.  But somehow, I think as adoptive parents we feel obligated to have the idea that we set out to save a child as the back-lighting to our stories.  That somehow we set out to help someone other than ourselves.  And maybe you did.  And I’ve already said that I applaud that.  I truly do.  But I can’t say that for myself.  I set out to mend my broken heart.  And before you think for a minute that my children are second string to the dream – let me tell you the truth.

Oh my sweet beautiful children.  They taught me everything that was truly important.  Not to think of myself.  But to think of others.

They light up my life with joy, happiness, laughter, love and yes, sometimes even pain.  They could never play second fiddle to any imagined child in my mind, because they are our everything.  They always were and they always will be.  They are not, nor could they ever be – second to anything.  I was never meant to have biological children.  And it took time and acceptance, but I released that long ago.  And when you cannot bear children, take it from my heart to yours that you absolutely must grieve that.  Anyone who tells you that you can always “just adopt” needs to be slapped.  Twice.  It’s a painful journey for many of us.  And it cannot be disregarded.  It’s devastating and it is a dream that you have to let go of with time.

But it was right.  It was right for me.  Because my kids…what they mean to me?  To us?  What they are?  Is the exact and utter will of the Living God in my life.  They are and always were my children.  They have two earthly mothers and two earthly fathers and I’m so truly and deeply blessed beyond measure that we should get to be part of that.  We love them with every breath within us.

I have often said that our adoption journey has healed my heart so much better than anything I could have ever attempted to do on my own.  It has taught me so much about myself, about my heart and the depth of my love, and my ability to love and to allow myself to be loved.  It has taught me how sweet healing can be and how amazing our lives can be if we are willing to open up our minds to the possibilities.  Stepping outside your comfort zone is often the very first step. 

And though I did not start out this journey with a humanitarian heart – I would be dishonest if I did not tell you that it changes you.  It marks you.  You cannot go to some of these 3rd world countries, see what you see, and not be changed.  You can’t come home and on some level…not want to find a way to make a change for the orphans left behind.  Your eyes become opened to the world in a new way.  You see the hurt outside your own.  Suddenly it becomes a larger picture of what can be done and what should be done.  You become less and others become more.  You decrease and so does your pain.  You are small and the children in need…they are big.  My journey has taken me further and further from the dream and focus of being a mother, and more and more towards being a mother to the motherless.


How richly it has blessed me to take that step of faith.  I would be lying if I told you that we felt we had done enough.  The truth?  The truth is that we often talk about finding room for more in our family.  Finding a way to help.  Finding a way to reach in and pull one more, two more….out of that broken life.  We don’t have money, but I have such a hard time accepting that children are forced to live in an orphanage with no hope and no one to love them…over money.  That emptiness of having no one.  That loneliness of being left.  It’s so heartbreaking.  Can you imagine it?  I can.  Every time I look at my babies.  It could be them.  Left behind.  It makes me sick.  How many more then could be brought up out of that?  The journey is sweet and the road is hard.  But my heart…I would never change a minute of it.  Not a single minute.

Do I wish I could have biological children?  Not for a single minute of a single day since my son was placed in my arms.  That’s the truth.

I think that’s how God reaches out to us in our despair.  Through brokenness and frailty, curled up in that ball…sobbing my heart out…asking “why me”.  This path was set into motion of love and compassion and life changing experiences…and two little children.  Motherless no more.  And this aching need to be a mother…filled and filled again and again until it truly has overflowed with the love I bear them.

He sets the lonely in families, friends.  Truly He does.  And He heals the brokenhearted.

Are we listening…


redmaryjanes said...

You are the most incredibly gifted writer. I love reading your posts, the ones where you reach deep inside and just lay it out there.
And especially this one, because it reaches inside of me too.
We adopted because we wanted a daughter, plain and simple. But we were changed forever too. And we need to do more, and we are trying to figure out what that is.

The Gang's Momma! said...

Beautiful. You have such a way with words, my friend.

Why did I adopt? I believe that God gave me a desire and an interest in the early years of my adolescence. It all felt so romantic and heroic and humanitarian back then.

Till I became a mother to my bio kids. Then I started thinking about how hard parenting is. And how precious my children are. And how somewhere, somehow, God had another daughter for me and The Boss outside of our comfy little world. And I had to find her. I can't really say it differently. I cringe at the comments about "rescuing" and "mission" and such - because by the time we were about the business of actually doing an adoption, the "mission" was "Aidan." She had a name from the get-go, I mean - and I think that saved me from feeling all noble about it. For that, I am very, very grateful. Whatever teen romanticism I had about the purpose of adoption was dispelled by the fact that she was "Aidan" - my daughter, not my noble effort to fix the world.

Briana's Mom said...

I adopted for the exact reason you did - to be a mom.

Briana has filled my heart and life more than I ever could have imagined. She is my soul.

I definitely had to grieve my infertility and put it past me. But I don't feel like I missed anything because I didn't have a biological child. I wish I could have given Briana a sibling, but it just wasn't meant to be for us. I truly feel in my heart that my family is complete now.

I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful, amazing and perfect daughter.

Such a beautiful post!

Valerie said...

We didn't start out to save anybody, but somehow you end up being saved by the one you bring into your family - proving once again it is better to give than receive.

My respect to anyone, anywhere who wants to take the time to raise, love and protect any living thing for their entire life span.

To parent is G*d's work.


S.Wise said...

I wish I could have written this post myself... but somehow you did it instead. You and I have walked very similar paths and I could not have expressed "The truth of why" any more perfectly. You stole the words from my heart. :) Big hug.

Michal said...

I am sitting here, reading this and crying. I needed this reminder of places that I have been both in darkness and in light. I needed to remember that pain of infertility and doors closing. I needed to be reminded of the absolutely amazing blessings that I have been given in my children.
I needed just this post for oh so many reasons.
It's been a long few weeks here. I don't think that we are experiencing even half of what your journey with your little dumpling girl has been and I am truly amazed at your just making it through. You and your husband are truly some of my very own heroes.

I remember a sunny, beautiful day on Long Island, many years ago, when the words "zero percent chance", "Mr.Dillon, there is no problem with you.....", and "polycystic ovary syndrome", and " endometriosis" and whatever the technical word for crappy fallopian tubes happens to be. That sunny day was the absolute worst day of my life, it closed a door, it brought grief and pain. It so happens to be a good day as well, for that day was the day that I was set on the path to Evelyn and Liam.

Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Post, Christie! You ARE an incredible Mom and a wonderful Daughter in Law!! We are so blessed having you in our family.
Loved what Valerie wrote, because we are almost always blessed by being a blessing. "it is better to give then to receive" Love you LOTS! AB's mom

Holly said...

You have such a raw power with words my bloggy friend.
I guess I should be ashamed to say that I never WANTED to adopt. I mean, I never even thought about it. I had a son when I was 20 and a daughter when I was 23 and a hysterectomy when I was 25! I was thankful for my children and glad to be rid of my diseased uterus. Plain and honest truth! In 2006 when my children were 9 and almost 12 years old my hubby returned from his first ever deployment to Afghanistan and just prior to Orphan Sunday 2006, the Lord began to impress on my heart that He had another child for us, a toddler, not a baby. My hubby thought me crazy until he too clearly heard God's call and knew it would be another son. The Lord lead us both to China (we didn't even KNOW then that boys were available for adoption from China) and the rest is history. We weren't set out to save an orhpan, but GOD WAS.
And our hearts have changed.
He is amazing and oh my gosh we are NOT. And I hate having people thank us or applaud us for adopting AFTER we had bio. kids. UGH. Thank GOD. HE called. HE provided. To Him be the glory!

Jimh. said...

Well written is an understatement. You also say what is true for more of us than most might let on, and you say it well. Thank you.

K~ said...


You made Richard and I cry. We feel the same exact way, of course not with the additional of two or more children at this time. We are blessed and your words are powerful and touching. It was a great bonding time for Richard and I to read your post together while driving in the car to a children's museum with one of Keira's china sisters. Love to your family!

Suzanne said...

You took my thoughts and feelings and brought them to life with this post. Bravo. I also had to grieve the loss of not being able to get pregnant. But I realized I wanted to be a parent, not be a pregnant lady. And now, I wouldn't change how my life turned out for all the money in the world. It is just as it was meant to be. God knows what we need before we do. And we needed little Abigail Jiang Yan.

Samantha G. said...

Adoption is a complicated, nuanced thing, right?

You started the adoption process so satisfy an internal need. That's an honest admission, but upon pondering it, i think that is the most noble reason to adopt a child.

That HAS to be the main reason most people adopt. You obviously have a lot of love to give. The desire to have children must be the driving reason to adopt, otherwise, it almost seems unseemly.

If you wanted to do something humanitarian, you could give to a charity, donate to an orphanage, or do a million other things. But raising a child is such a commitment that i can't think of a better reason to do it than to fulfill a strong internal desire to give your love and share your resources, experiences and life with a child.

Kelley said...

LOVE this post!! I've heard it said...somewhere...that our children don't belong to us. We belong to them.

I think lots of us (looking at myself, and the other comments you've gotten) have been down a road very similar to yours. Different twists and turns in the road...but lots of things the same. I wanted children from the time I was a took years and years, but when the time was right, God led me right to them.

Christina said...

I love this post! You are so honest and genuine in your writing and your message is so right on. You couldn't have said it any better.

Recently a comment was left on my blog by an anonymous writer and they insinuated that adopted children are second best. It broke my heart and made me so mad! I would love to link this post to my blog to set the record straight!