When a high school student meets with her counselor and announces her desire to become a doctor, the counselor's job is to educate her on what that path entails, to make her aware so as to minimize the surprises. The path to adoption is actually pretty similar: long timeline, expensive costs, tedious paperwork, hard work and sacrifice and not everyone is cut out for it. So, that's what this post is. I'm sitting you down and giving you a chat. Deep breath and an open mind.
Many of you heard sermons a couple weeks ago on Orphan Sunday, you've watched videos of adoptive families, read inspirational articles. You've been moved. Especially those already struggling through infertility or already having talks with your spouse about adding another child to your family. You've felt the tug and adoption could be your answer.
Then you start picturing a child being added to your family through adoption and what that would look like. You picture another car seat, new decorations in a nursery, you even picture the Christmas card you'll send out next year. You have "the talk" with your spouse and he's also on board or at least willing to hear more information. You start getting excited now that the calling has been realized and even confess to a friend, "I have always wanted a black baby".
This is a problem. And I've made it worse by posting pics like these:
My kids? Our stories? They aren't the majority. They were the exception to the rule, especially Dez's adoption. Healthy infants are not the need in the orphan crisis today. When you hear about the "147,000,000 orphans worldwide" it's not referring to rows upon rows of perfectly healthy infants just waiting for a face they can coo at. There are infants who are being placed for adoption but the waiting lines for those babies can be long and the cost is high. (Not counting the private adoptions you hear about where so-n-so's mailman's cousin got pregnant and offered her baby to a family.) You CAN adopt a healthy infant, just be prepared for it to be expensive and the wait to be long. (I really do have the gift of encouragement, I know.) These two elements are not red flags indicating you've misread your calling. They are simply reality.
On one side of the coin we have lists of waiting families. On the other side? Waiting children. And it's not as easy as 1+1=problem solved, unfortunately.
The need is children with special needs, children with medical needs, older children and sibling sets. Those groups comprise the majority of "the orphan crisis." And they need families. But more often than not, that's not what people are signing up for.
I get it. The unknown is SCARY. You've heard stories and seen TV shows about older foster kids. You see a family with a child with special needs and think, "They're amazing, I couldn't do that." And maybe you're right. But maybe you're not. If someone you knew and loved died suddenly in a car crash, leaving their 2 older kids to you, you'd figure it out, right? If you gave birth to a special needs child, you'd learn the ropes. You just would. I know it's not as simple as that, that both of these would be hard, life-changing even. But just because it's something you've never done, doesn't mean it's something you can't do.
These things are not impossible. They are just unknown.
If you're feeling "called" to adoption, I want you to know what you're getting into. I'm okay writing a post that leaves you feeling disappointed and heavy because this is not a decision that should be entered into lightly. There's so many kids coming from hard places, traumatic places, that need homes. We need people that are sober about this decision, people that are willing to get educated about their resources and support. I'm okay bursting your Christmas card bubble to help you get to the real stuff even though I know it's not what you want to hear.
In the name of speaking the truth in love, some of you are simply barking up the wrong tree. Your view is limited. There are treasures whose files come with a little extra paperwork. Files you wouldn't consider because your experience and familiarity is limited. They need families who are radically pursuing and fighting to call them son and daughter. Families that may not yet be equipped but are willing to become equipped.
If you've started the adoption conversations, I'm asking you to broaden those discussions. As always, if you need more input feel free to email me and if I can't offer you wisdom in a specific area, I know people who can.