I have gotten SO many different questions & reactions lately wherever I go when I tell someone that my husband and I are adopting.
I know building a family through adoption is different, so I expect and invite any types of questions! I try my best not to get my feathers ruffled when people ask me tons of kind-of-personal questions because I really do want to educate people about adoption as we learn about the process ourselves. I hope that other families are inspired by our story to consider adoption or some type of orphan care. There truly are so many children in need in our country and around the world. We cannot bring all of them into our family, but we can bring hope to one. My prayer is that maybe someone reading this is considering adoption. Maybe God has placed that bug in their heart, and they will read our story and be educated and be encouraged and ultimately decide to take this step of faith. Maybe someone else will decide to change the life of one orphan! So, please ask away! I'll try my best to answer candidly and honestly.
Now, to address some of the reactions....
Reaction 1: "Aww.. how sweet!"
Yes, children are sweet, but from what I have read and what I have heard and what I have experienced so far in our short time in this process, adoption is not sweet. It's grueling, it's frustrating, it's a test of patience and faith, it's expensive, it's emotional, it can be heart-breaking, but sweet? Yes, it'll be sweet when we finally see a photo of our child (after 2+ years of waiting) or get to hold his/her hand or get to bring him/her home or get to tell him/her that we (and Jesus) love him. But, that sweetness will be tempered with healing our child's broken heart, helping him or her leave their culture and the only home they have ever known (the orphanage institution), teaching them a new language so that we can communicate, creating a bond that was not automatically placed in them at birth, and battling who knows what kind of baggage he or she might bring to the table. Sure, there will be sweet moments, as with any parenting experience, but adoption is not for the faint of heart. It's not always sweet and rosey as many may think. And we are not saints for doing this! I pray that God strengthens us for this task that He has set before us and that we will be obedient.
Reaction 2: "I want to adopt one day too!"
If you believe that God has spoken to you about adoption or orphan care, watch out! If you have a tender spot in your heart for children in need of families and children in need of care, God can use you in a mighty way! Get ready for a fun ride! He may indeed call your family to adopt, but many orphans will not be adopted. The Bible calls us to visit orphans and care for those in need. If you're one of those people saying, "I think I would like to adopt...one day," be careful. Don't keep putting that "one day" off until tomorrow. Seek God and ask how He wants you to respond to the orphan crisis in our world today. Seriously consider whether now might be the time God wants you to act! Maybe God is calling you to adopt, or maybe He wants you to go on a mission trip where you can care for orphans. Maybe He wants you to sponsor a child or support a friend's adoption (click here). Maybe He wants you to volunteer with foster children in your community or become a mentor to a child that doesn't have one. The possibilities are endless....so pray, but don't just keep saying you'll do it "one day."
Reaction 3: "Cool, when do you get to pick out your baby?"
A large percentage of adoptive families do choose to adopt babies. It's understandable indeed. But, Jeremy and I are choosing to adopt a slightly older child. Bulgaria just happens to have many more older children than they do babies that are ready for adoption, so it's a perfect fit for us! We did get to specify an age range on our adoption application, and we chose boy or girl up to age seven. Most likely, since we are open to an older child, we will (most likely) be placed with one. There is a great need for families to adopt older children, and we wanted to be a part of fulfilling that great need. Everyone assumes, we'll be bringing home a baby, and that's okay. We could. But, most likely, not. Secondly, we will not get to "pick out" our child. We will not be flipping through an orphan catalog, choosing the cutest one we see to bring home. We will go through the long process with social workers of deciding what types of special needs we feel we can best handle. Several social workers will be working for us Stateside and in Bulgaria to choose a child that they feel would benefit by being in our family. But, our agency is child-centered, not parent-centered. They will strive to meet the needs of the children looking for families, not meet our every wish as we look for the perfect child. Yes, we hope our child is as beautiful and as healthy and as smart as possible, but we understand that this is not like picking out a car or a puppy. This is a child. If I were pregnant, I would not get to choose the hair color, eye color, skin tone, IQ, athleticism, or academic ability of my child. It's the same with our adoption. We want God to choose our child for us, and we trust that the social workers we will work with will consider what kind of parents we will be and will help place us with the perfect child for us!
Reaction 4: "Oh I'm sorry, can you not get pregnant?"
First, please don't apologize. We are happy to be adopting, and we are so excited! I feel just like I am expecting in the "normal" way (except for the lack of morning sickness). No one would apologize to a pregnant woman now would they? Additionally, no doctor has told us that we cannot conceive a biological child. I have never been pregnant, never miscarried, so one day, we may end up with biological children. It's really up to the Lord. I have taken our difficulties in getting pregnant as a giant hint that God wants us to act on a desire that's already been on my heart for so long. As a blogger friend of mine once said, "Infertility does not lead people to adopt. God does. He just sometimes uses our circumstances to do it." Click here to read an older post about our personal reasons for adopting.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I really like talking about adoption!