I am sitting here at a complete loss for how to begin this story. After moving my gaze between computer monitor and messy desk over and over again in a 5 minute period, I decided the best thing to do was to simply start typing. Just let the words flow as the experts say. And of course they'd say that...words flow forth from them like water over the falls at Niagra. Time will only tell if mine flow as brilliantly.
Just yesterday we went "public" with our adoption. AKA we announced it in a status update on FB. I promised within that brief and joyous announcement that a blog post would follow soon giving the back-story. Do we need one? No not really. If we want to adopt, it's our choice and our's alone. But I guess the reasons why I wanted to tell our tale were three-fold. First, we knew that in a perfect world, where we would have been able to have told everyone face-to-face, we would have been asked questions--some perfectly normal and well-founded and expected and some, off-the-wall and bizarre and abrasive. So we wanted to answer some of them in a one-stop-shop sort of way. Second, we simply wanted to share with the world our journey to the call of adoption. Our third and final reason to share is the most important: to put our story out there so that maybe, JUST maybe, someone else will be led to explore the wonders of adoption. Because, you see, it was in a similar medium that we read our friends' journey to adoption and that was truly the spark that started our burning desire to answer this call.
Almost from the very beginning of our marriage, my husband has felt the call to adopt. Not just a "hey, I think that adoption is a really good thing and I might look into it" sort of way, but in a true Divinely called sense. But this marriage is a partnership and I as the other partner was not hearing that same Divine phone line ringing. I LOVED the idea of adoption. I would raise my hands in excitement for families who were growing through it! I would dance the dance with them, praying for patience during the waiting times, calmness through the frustrating paperwork times, and understanding during the adjustment times. I had a niece and nephew both adopted from Guatemala and can't imagine life without them just as I can't with any of my biological ones. I loved adoption. But loving it and feeling called to are two totally different and separate things. Through our 10+ years of marriage, my husband would bring up the subject, and I'd politely (ok, sometimes not so politely) shoot it down--it wasn't the right time, it cost too much, he was deploying again, I can't handle the kids I already have! But I always knew he still felt called. I eventually just sort of grew to ignore that part of him as selfish as that may sound.
Let me break in here with this little nugget of honesty: in the RARE moments I did feel slightly more inclined towards the idea of adoption, I would end up reeling back from it for gender reasons. I don't know specifically where I read (or possibly watched on some news program) it, but quite sometime ago, I remember hearing about some psychological research that had been done. It basically said that when a family has children biologically before deciding to adopt, they might want to consider gender in the sense that if all of their children are of one gender (I have all boys), it is often easier for the existing siblings to grow used to, attached to, and bond with their new adopted sibling if he/she is of the opposite gender (for us that would mean adopting a girl.)
Before you go "hmmf," and blow this research off as nonsense, consider a 4 year old boy (or a girl, but I have a 4 year old boy so that is who I am going with ). You have one older brother and one younger brother. You are beginning to work your way into understanding the world more and more, but you are still a little kid, innocent in mind and spirit. To you, siblings start out as babies, and before that they grow for a LONG time in mommy's tummy. When they finally come out and come to live with you they are this tiny squirmy ball of cuteness and fuss who can't be played with just yet (which is a bummer) but also can't get into your stuff yet (which is a great thing). So one day mommy and daddy sit you down and tell you that they are going to adopt a sibling. Cool. Adopt. You have a few questions but you really still have very little idea, if any, what adoption is. And then the sibling comes home. Now, if the sibling is a boy just like you and your brothers there is a good chance that you will be really, in all honesty completely confused, even if you are excited. Because, wait a minute, this isn't a newborn--he's 2. And wait, he looks a little different then us. Oh...and why, or when (and if so, how did I miss it) was he in your tummy. And above all...he's my brother? Now, if the sibling being adopted were a girl, ALL those same confusions and question will still be there, but wait...she's my sister! I don't have a sister to compare her too--she's my ONLY sister. In fact, other than mommy (whose not a kid so it's not the same), she's the only girl in the house! In essence, the fact that she is a girl and is the only sister they've got really diminishes all those other questions that to a 4 year old can really feel like a big deal and prove to be rather big obstacles to forming a bond. Some may disagree, that fine. And this certainly does not mean that a family canNOT adopt a child of the same gender of their existing kids. But for me, it made sense--even for a parent. And yet, everytime I would think "okay so if we DO adopt, we should focus on gaining a daughter," I was simultaneously hit with a tremendous amount of guilt. For, by saying, yes to a girl, I was say no to all these perfectly wonderful boys! UGH.
It really got to me. I LOVED being a mom of only boys. I mean this quite seriously and in all honesty. I relished the fact that I had 3 boys who loved their mama. I felt a real comfort in the fact that in having only boys, I didn't have to worry about frilly dresses, tu-tus or tiaras. I was the only one whose hair really needed in the mornings--and that, thank you, was taking too much time anyway. But mostly, I felt as if God were entrusting these boys with me to raise up to be fine, caring, compassionate gentlemen--an increasingly rare find these days. I was ever comfortable and content with this. I was meant to have boys. So...adoption was off the table again.
All that changed in February. Some friends of ours had put on FB that if we wanted to receive some exciting news from them, we needed to private message them our email address. So...I did. And--again, this is a tough admission on my part--it was purely out of nosiness. That evening I received an email from them that would end up changing our lives forever. In it, they announced they'd decided to adopt from India, and MUCH to their surprise they were given a referral extremely quickly for two biological sisters there! What wonderful news! But if she had just simply ended her email there and not included a brief sentence as to why, that email would have not had much impact at all. I am paraphrasing here, but what she typed was something like, "...we felt so called to help the plight of girls in India..." and included a link to a news article they'd seen. I clicked on it, watched it, and nothing has been the same since.
The plight of girls in India? What? Huh?! Here, watch this:
...but wait until you've finished reading my blog post first, if you don't mind.
Suffice to say, that after seeing that, the whole guilt over specifying that we'd like a girl if we were to adopt thing, went out the window. For no fault of their own, and simply because they are female, they are not wanted. Orphanages full of nothing but girls and villages full of nothing but young men who worry they will have no one to marry. Yes. It really is that staggering.
My spark had been lit and began to look into adoption--my husband was gone that week for work and perhaps it was a God-send because it allowed me to discern this calling on my own, with no pressure from anyone else. When he got home, I immediately spoke to him about it and of course, he felt like his years of prayer that my heart be moved to adopt were finally being answered.
I won't lie though the next couple of weeks were tough on me. It was almost as if the devil knew God had written this wonderful thing on my heart and he--the devil--was going to do everything in his power to stop it from going any further. Most of it revolved around my ability to parent. I had some ROUGH days during which I would think as I looked in teh mirror, "seriously, YOU want to adopt!!!?? What kind of crazy joke is that--you can't handle the ones you've got! You snap at them and loose your cool way to often! How can you be a loving mother to an orphaned little girl when you can't even be that to your sons?!?!" But always, through my tears, God would have some tiny little sign--unmistakable and unmissable--to remind to put the devil behind me and focus on Him.
One morning, as I drove home from gym, feeling fat and unfit as a person, and even worse as a mother listening to Josh cry in the back seat (he was dreadfully unhappy because I had dared to subject him to yet another half-hour in the gym's daycare), I pulled up to a red light and noticed the mini-van in front of me had a little round magnet in bold beautiful colors that said simply, "Adoption--a gift of a lifetime." I stared at it for as long as I could and marveled at how magnificently God works. When He truly has a path for us laid out, he makes it crystal clear, even if we have to see it blurred a bit through our tears of self-pity.
This journey to adoption--which turns into the journey OF adoption--has changed my life on so many levels. I have learned to let go and let God have control of my family and much to my amazement, thinks work much smoother. I learned to focus on our family as an entity rather than 5--soon to be 6 (soon being a figurative word as the adoption process takes a while)--independent humans who through their neediness wear me down. It sounds ugly, but that is how I went through most every day prior to this. My husband needed affection, a clean home, clothes, and dishes, and the bills paid on time. My eldest needed constant reminding of not only how and where to put his stuff but that he was loved and worth the world. My middle son was bull-headed, stubborn, and needed a firm handling or the whole world would go to pot that day. My youngest, he just needed a regular schedule to sleep properly and not be so fussy that I wanted to pull my hair out. And me...well, I just wanted some sleep and for people to freakin' leave me alone! Yeah I know, it sounds dreamy (hint the sarcasm) but that is exactly how every day seemed to feel for me. But after God hit us upside the heart with this call, He also just sort of gently took me to a calmer place where I was reassured that I could do this. I began to see my husband and my kids in a brighter light. I realized I had to stop focusing on what each of them was taking from me (which left me feeling empty) and start focusing on what each one gave TO me that I needed to feel happier, fuller, complete.
I'm still real. Today in fact, kinda sucked. It rained and I just felt blah all day, but that happens to all of us sometime. I don't let it get to me. I don't take one dreary day and let it tell me I suck at life, at parenting, at loving. Because I don't. And even on those down days, I'll still be giving our daughter--the one I haven't met yet--a mother, a family, a forever home, thing she has none of now. A mother who is there to pick you up when you fall and reassure you that you will heal, you will get back up and carry on--even if that mother is melancholy that day--is far better than having no mother at all.