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…