Having grown up around adoption… having parents who were adoption advocates… now being an adoption advocate as well as an adoptive parent, well I tend to listen to and get into a lot of conversations about adoption. And I find that usually if someone hasn’t been around adoption much that they are always quick to give me a reason why they aren’t adopting… or are nervous about adopting… or are putting off adopting, mind you, there are valid reasons for all of those, I just am noticing that a lot of the reasons aren’t necessarily ones that are. In fact the reasons they offer tend to be ones that are more myths or very rare occurrences. So let’s shed some light on these fears and reasons and talk about them.
1. It’s too expensive. It costs too much. You have to have a lot of money up front. Why does it cost so much? It should be free!
If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this…. or a version of this, well… then I could probably adopt a lot of babies! ;) I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s cheap to adopt, BUT I am going to tell you that it’s NOT too expensive. (and even if it were… we buy coffee ALL the time that is too expensive, but we deem it worth it.) Adoption does cost money. We live in a country… a world that uses a legal system, a social care system, a security system, a medical system, a postal system, a business system, a internet/website system, travel system, and a lot of things that without them… we couldn’t adopt. But they all cost money to use. We balk at paying a laywer thousands of dollars but never seem to mind that he invested thousands of hours studying law in order to legally make our child ours. We cringe at paying a birth mom’s medical bills but if given the opportunity to pay for a biological child’s medical bills, well that would just be a part of having a baby, We are shocked at the high cost of agency program fees but without the agency thousands of birth moms and hospitals and CPS wouldn’t have anywhere to turn to find families for children needing homes. So really it isn’t that those things are too expensive it’s just the worth we are placing on them as they impact our wallets and lives. If you showed me the cost of Zoe’s adoption lawyer before we knew about Zoe… I would have gasped and thought it a crime for someone to charge that much for anything…even initially in the process, it was tough to wrap our heads around. BUT now that we have her and having had that man walk along side of us through that journey, I would have gladly paid him 10 times that much! He was skilled… knowledgeable… had the authority… He was worth it.
I think anyone who has adopted or is the process of adopting has greater insight to the scripture about the man who discovered a treasure in an empty field and went home and sold all he had (with joy he sold it all!!) then took the money and bought the field knowing what he was getting was far more valuable than anything he had let go of. Yes, the story is about salvation… but I think it can ring true for those of us who know that once God awakens your heart to adopt then it’s with great joy we save, cut back on, sell, ask for, and work towards gaining a son or daughter, something much greater and joy giving than any earthly possession.
At first glance, looking at it as a whole, looking at it in our own strength and doing, looking at it apart from God…. I can totally see why we think “It’s too expensive”. But as Believers… we get to look at things through a different lens!!
THIS is a blog post I wrote about that different lens as we encountered the financial side and struggles in adopting from Africa. I think you will find it helpful if you are fighting fear on the financial/provision side of things.
After God so incredibly provided for Abel’s adoption in a matter of hours… well, Dan said ”I’ll never let someone say in my presence “I can’t afford to adopt” without telling them about what a Big God we have!”
MYTH BUSTER: While many adoptions are expensive… the truth is that not ALL adoptions are. In Domestic adoption special needs adoptions or sibling groups often are situations where agencies will do the adoption for little to no cost to you. Private adoptions can be really inexpensive depending on the situation. Jacks adoption only cost us about 3 thousand dollars. Although finances should NEVER be the deciding factor when choosing to foster to adopt, when you do adopt from the foster system a lot of the costs are generally taken care of by the state. (if I remember correctly from what friends have told me, it still will probably cost you something to adopt out of foster care)
2. It takes too long. Doesn’t it take like 10 years to get a baby? I hear the wait is years for a placement. Friends of mine have been waiting for years and still no baby. I couldn’t have my heart in limbo that long. Isn’t there 100 steps to go through that take forever?
I might not be the right one to address this one. ;) I have had moments where I actually feel guilty for how quick our adoptions have happened. With each adoption we have set in for the long haul only to be caught up in a whirlwind of a fast process. In fact our sweet social worker laughs and almost like a Dr. who delivered a baby that came fast tells their patient, has told us ” when it happens the next time, know I am close by and can be ready to help in a moments notice”. It’s just how God has orchestrated it for us. But I do know that it can take time… and each aspect does have it’s own timeline which at any time can be delayed or rushed or paused.
The past year I have learned something so valuable about time… it passes… it passes quickly. And before we know it we will have lived years and years and never have done much of anything that amounted to much. We have dreams but because we never do the little day to day things and never take the first of many steps… well, we never see the dream as achievable or always just see it as something that will happen someday.
I wish I could pair all the couples that say “one day we want to adopt, we will start the process then” with all the couples who have been wanting a baby and can’t have one or have been waiting month after month to have one or have been waiting years to get clearance to go get their child. I think we live in a world where immediate gratification is king. I mean, let me have a day with slow internet and I turn into a bear! If we have to wait behind 2 cars in a drive-thru… ughh!!! we have so much and get it so fast. At least when it comes to things that satisfy short term. BUT I’m finding that things that really matter, like love, like true understanding, like deep friendships, like growing a family… well, those take time and investment. BUT the problem is when WE decide that it’s now the right timing for those important things… spouse, friendships, babies… well, we don’t want to make the investment, we wanted it yesterday and are now very impatient because it’s taking so long to happen. Because we spent so many years enjoying the here and right now, we didn’t set out for the long haul and we didn’t live our lives today for how we wanted our lives to look in 3…4…5…10 years from now.
I wish all the couples saying “one day” would actually start the process to adopt from India or Hati, knowing that it will take years to accomplish but knowing that the “one day” version of themselves will be so happy they started today. I wish they would ask themselves what it is that they are living for and waiting on that trumps welcoming a child into their family who has none.
I wish all the couples wanting a baby yesterday would ask themselves if they are wanting the baby they want or the baby that God may be wanting to give them. Because while fertility treatments aren’t often successful and white healthy babies are harder to come by in adoption circles… There is a great need for those willing to adopt bi-racial babies or african american children. I get emails and calls about them often. There are countries that are new to opening up to adoption and while the terrain might be rocky… the process is quick!
So, while time can be a factor… it’s one that I think far too many offer as a reason to not do anything. I promise the 3-4 years you wait here in your comfortable safe healthy life… is far better than the 3-4 years an orphan waits in a land that is unsafe and might be slowly killing them. And friend… I can’t tell you how awesome the feeling is when you get a call about a need… about a baby who has just been born… and your heart is moved… you know this is the time… and you’re able to respond being READY having taken the time to prepare and do the little steps leading up to this moment. It’s incredible. Believe me…. that can be you! Don’t wait… do something today.
MYTH BUSTER: the length of time really depends a lot on how fast you’re willing to do things like fill out forms, go to classes, raise money, etc.. It also depends on again, what type of adoption you’re looking to have. Private adoptions tend to happen faster, newborn adoptions tend to happen faster. 9 months may feel like a long time… but it’s really not, even if it’s one of those things that you have to go through a few times in order to get to come home with a baby. Time passes quickly! Countries that are newer to the adoption world tend to happen faster because they often don’t have a ton of steps to go through that get developed and added over time. Countries that have been doing adoptions for a long time then stop then start again tend to have quicker turn arounds… like China and Ethiopia are fairly quick processes right now. (2013)
3.Adoption is so risky. It could end in heartbreak. So many birthmothers change their minds at the last minute. What if the country closes? I don’t think I could hope and go through a failed adoption. You don’t know the medical history behind the child. What if my child dies before I get them out of their country? What if the adoptive parents want to come back and get their child years after we adopt them?
Oh friend… LOVE is always risky.
Blogger Tim Challis says “The best life is a risky life. Really, I am convinced there is not much worth doing that doesn’t involve at least some measure of risk. A lifetime of always making the safest choice is an unrealistically boring and plodding life. We risk when we love, we risk when we live. To love any person is to risk—it is to risk your heart, to make yourself vulnerable to another. To love God is to risk—it is to risk your very life, to make yourself willing to do whatever it is that the Lord commands. Simply to live is to risk; we do not know what the next day, or even the next moment will bring. Yet we value our safety and so often run from risk, living our lives within the most comfortable boundaries.”
I get it. It’s only human to not want to put our heart somewhere where we know there is a chance that it could be squeezed, punched and torn in two. Attaching to the idea of a little one and going through all the paperwork and emotional prep to bring that baby home only to have the birthmom change her mind at the last minute, well that is painful. that is tough. that seems like it would be unbearable. But it’s not when you are looking through the lenses of truth. I think that at the heart of every adoptive parent should be the understanding and hope that every child would hopefully be able to be raised by their birthparents. Now, do birthmoms who wouldn’t be best to raise that child change their minds and keep their baby? Yep they do. But it’s in those moments that yes, you grieve what might have been and morn your hopes and plans, but you also recognize that God put both that baby and that birthmom in your life…. for a reason. You might not be raising that child up to call you mom but you might be a huge influence over their life as that mom continues to have a relationship with you when possible.
Do children die before you get to them… yes. Do children die after you spent 2 years adopting them from another country… yes…. a heartwrenching yes. Do children adopted sometimes have diseases or conditions that you didn’t know about or feel like you signed up for… Yes. But would those adoptive parents tell you that if they knew it would unfold in that way would they do it again? I know they would all say YES!! You see, it’s kind of like trying to explain a love for your child to someone who doesn’t have children. They can hear and see but they can’t fully understand what that type of love is like until they experience it for themselves. (doesn’t mean they are lacking as a person, it just means they don’t know what it’s like.)
So, in some ways Adoption is a leap of faith knowing that theses fears and worries and concerns and situations and unknowns will be worth it all when you are on the other side of the journey of adopting a child. And looking back each unexpected twist and turn… every heartbreak… every delay, well they are all part of the story that brought you to your child.
Regarding possible unforseen medical history issues, I love how blogger Lynsay says it “Most married couples have biological children. They trust God for wisdom on how to love, teach, and nurture their children, with no other guarantee of what problems they will face in the future with their child, medically, emotionally, physically. Yet over and over we hear the excuse that adopted and fostered children have too many problems. Why can we not trust this same God with the future of adopted and fostered children?”
I think sometimes we are so fearful of getting something dealt to us that we didn’t sign up for…. we want control, or at least as much of it as humanly possible. But what if that’s not what is what a good and loving and all knowing God would deem best for us. We trust Him to secure our eternal salvation and our forevermore and trust Him to have the power to save us from every sin we’ve ever committed but yet, we remain fearful that He can’t handle a possible health issue that might come up in adopting a child who we don’t have generations of medical background for. And while that is nice to have… MOST of the issues I’ve had to deal with or my husband or even my 5 adopted children health wise have had nothing to do with family history. SO I call MYTH BUSTER on this one!!
Dating someone always has a risk of being hurt and having heartbreak but yet millions of us have taken that risk in the belief that something greater and worth taking the chance because love is worth it.
MYTH BUSTER: Sometimes I think we feel adoption is risky because we can’t imagine having a love that expands to fit the plan that God is writing for our lives vs. the plan we have in our minds. We take risks all the time, every day… several times a day, but I think if there were one thing that would be worth risk… even great risk, it would be out of the love for a child and the belief that the capacity of the heart can expand as wide as it needed to in order to love all those God has placed in your path. Will there be hurt? Possibily. But oh, there will also be great love that will make the hurt something you would go through again and again for the sake of that love!
4. Overseas adoption is unethical and takes kids away from their parents.
I’m so thankful this issue is getting talked about and good agencies aren’t shying away from educating about. It would take me a long time to come up with a more condensed way of blogging about this so I’m just going to link you to Jen Hatmakers Series on this subject. I think that you’ll find it super helpful and good to know.
Examining Adoption Ethics: Part One
Examining Adoption Ethics: Part Two
Examining Adoption Ethics: Part Three
I’m linking you to these posts because I trust her research and writing and I know her heart for the orphan and adoption is true!
There are a lot of articles out there written saying that Christians are pretty much buying stolen children in the name of Jesus. Recently a friend of mine came across such a post and wrote me in a panic saying how could she ever be a part of something so horrible as that. But in a closer look at the article… it was written ironically in a very unethical way… quoting people wrongly, stealing screenshots of legit adoptive families facebooks and dragging them through the mud, accusing them of unethical adoptions, Not contacting the good agencies, not taking the time to really search out the truth because he was too busy trying to make Christians look terrible and unethical. So in reading… just be careful what you read and make sure they are backing up their information with legitimate concerns and reliable sources. And that their top concern is for the orphan.
I love this quote J.Hatmaker wrote in Part One:
I simply believe it is time to take our good hearts and add our good minds. Adoption is the worst place to enter armed with nothing but good intentions. Rather than get swept up in emotional jargon and moving videos, we must move forward soberly, carefully, thoroughly, setting any agenda aside and working like hell to protect children, birth families, communities, and the kingdom.
Dear Ones, again, adoption is complicated and nuanced, and corruption does not apply to every situation obviously. There are clearly scenarios dripping with abuse, neglect, total abandonment, and bad parents, which exist in every country. Orphans are real and some kids really need families, and I personally know scads of your above-board stories. So many of our kids had no option for reunification or extended family or in-country adoption.
Discussing unethical adoptions, I am not saying always; I am saying sometimes, and if there is a sometimesin the mix, then we must go on high alert. We have to. We cannot simply hope we have no part in thesometimes…
…we must insist on the never.
MYTH BUSTER: Doing nothing doesn’t help the ethical issues that can be present in adoption. Saying I’m not going to adopt at all because they might have been kidnapped doesn’t fix anything… in fact it does more harm. You can adopt and go in with knowledge and be a part of the change that is needed. You can adopt a true orphan and know that you’re truly giving a child a home who would never had had one otherwise. You can change the future… one ethical above board adoption at a time.