If by “Our Story” you were expecting the story our lives, I’m sorry to disappoint (but I did throw you a bone with a throwback pic…that’s the night we got engaged!). I figured I’d just stick with our “how we came to be adopting” story. When I’m reading adoption blogs, I find myself searching for the earliest possible post, hitting the back button through the archives, and looking for the “this is how it started” post. So I wanted to make our story easy to find. Also, it’s generally one of the first things people ask: Have you always wanted to adopt?
I have always been open to the idea of adoption. I tend to be a super empathetic person, and I can still remember watching an adoption/foster care telethon one year when I was young and being moved to tears over the stories I heard, wondering what I could do help other children. Although to be honest, my being moved to tears by something isn’t necessarily super significant. If you were the person who had to sit next to me during the movie My Sister’s Keeper, and missed a good third of the dialogue because of my dry heaving and heavy sobs, you can attest to the fact that I’m sort of a cry baby. So I didn’t necessarily think my emotional response meant that adoption would be part of my life plan.
When I was in my early 20s I spent a year stationed in Honduras, and we often volunteered at a local orphanage. We’d do physical work like repairs and cooking, etc, but I mostly loved just bringing the kids books and toys and playing with them. Luckily, Spanish is somewhat phonetic, so I’d pretend I knew Spanish and they’d laugh as I mispronounced every word. I fell in love with one particular little boy though, and my heart ached at the thought of leaving him there. Daddy K and I were dating at the time, and I remember tearfully (see, I’m a crier, I can’t help it) asking him if he would still be with me if I adopted an 8-yr-old boy. Ha…he can never say he didn’t know what he was getting into with me! He said yes, and when I went back to the orphanage the next time, I asked about my friend. It turned out his parents had come back for him – they were migrant farm workers and often had to travel to make money for their family. In Honduras, it was common to leave children with orphanages for short periods of time, and return for them when you were at a place where you could support them. I knew NOTHING about adoption and orphanages (and apparently culture) , and this was an appreciated learning experience. But I think it also started preparing my heart for adoption.
Fast forward to married life. Somewhere in the 3-5 year period between living in Honduras and settling into newlywed life, I became convinced that we were going to adopt someday. Someday, though, felt safe, easy, and very distant, and I figured I wasn’t going to have to worry about it any time soon. But God kept bringing people into our life that had adopted, and slowly it just became something I considered completely normal. Then Daddy K and I tried to get pregnant for about a year, and eventually I decided to have a serious, “this adoption thing could be right now” discussion. I now know a year is fairly typical, but at the time it seemed like an eternity and I felt ready to start our family immediately. I buttered him up with a fancy dinner and wine, and we talked seriously (for the first time) about adoption. I explained that I wanted our family to grow through adoption at some point anyway, so why not now? We could happily keep trying to get pregnant (and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t something I had wanted to experience), but in the meantime, I wanted to get the adoption ball rolling. I knew it could take years, so I figured we might as well start learning about the process. He agreed, and I think from that point on, I knew adoption would be part of our family. Of course, we found out we were pregnant the following week.
Occasioanlly we would talk about adoption while I was pregnant or when our girl was a baby, but really we were busy with life and it felt more hypothetical. Daddy K always says I’m the “idea guy” and he has to remind me about what’s actually happening in our real life 🙂 . I prefer the term “dreamer.” Somewhere in this timeframe, I discovered the site Reece’s Rainbow and learned about the common fate of children with Down Syndrome in Eastern Europe. Because I’m an empathetic, emotional, and slightly obsessive
mess person, I haven’t been able to get these babies out of my brain since the first time I clicked on that site. A friend once used the term, “You can’t unring a bell” and it’s exactly how I feel about this — I know what I know and I’m responsible for that now.
Then, because God has a sense of humor, we unexpectedly found out we were pregnant with our little man when our girl was 11 months old! Life got busy and adoption went to the back of my brain for awhile. I focused on not losing my mind, and figuring out how to be the mama Jesus intended (work in progress people, work in progress). Trust me when I say that took 100% of my focus. I also slipped it in somewhere to Daddy K that not only did I want to adopt someday, but I wanted to adopt a babe with Down Syndrome. He is a trooper and took it all in stride (maybe because he’s used to my dreaming, and didn’t think I was super serious).
Then I think we both recently started feeling like God was calling us to examine our lives. I read a book called Adopted for Life by Russell Moore, which left me undone (in a good way) and blew me away with the truth of our adoption theology, and I recommend it to anyone who loves Jesus. Daddy K read Donald Millers’ A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and was convicted about our family’s story being a legacy we were proud of passing on to our babies. I actually just finished Katie Davis’ Kisses from Katie and man alive, that girl is unreal. And so full of Jesus it takes your breath away. And at the end of the day, we realized that THIS can’t be all there is – our life can’t just be about chasing the American dream and accumulating things and making our family comfortable and occasionally living on mission when we felt really inspired. And I am in no way saying that everyone needs to adopt to be fulfilled, or that the only way to live a life pleasing to God is to adopt, or that if you don’t adopt your life has been a complete waste, or any thing else crazy, judgmental, or finger-pointing that might be inferred from that. I’m just saying that for us, for our life, we realized that the time to start living intentionally was now. We aren’t promised tomorrow. We have to listen and obey today, instead of waiting for a time when it feels more convenient, or more normal, or more practical. And we clearly heard Jesus asking us to care for the orphans – and not in a third-party way, but tangibly in our home, and not someday, but NOW. To make a child our own, to welcome them into our story (HIS story), and then, as Katie says, to love with abandon.
Daddy K will tell you he sat in a hotel room one night and made up a list of all the reasons why this was a terrible idea. Trust me, it’s not that we haven’t thought anything you might be thinking. But when he looked it over, every point was rooted in selfishness. And a lot of it had to do with entitlement, and what we tend to think we deserve out of life. You can read the right to hold you for more on what we know we actually deserve…so we took a deep breath, and said yes.
Here we are – probably not ready, not the parents we should be, not settled enough in our new home, not confident we can handle this…but without a doubt sure we are making the right decision. Because we know that’s the place where Jesus always is – when we come to the place where our own strength is just not going to be enough, but He’s asking us to go there anyway – that exactly where He wants us to be. Because He’s there waiting — because it’s Him who will make it happen and provide the manna and get the glory. We just get to be part of His story. We know we aren’t alone in this – and we might be crazy, but we have good company.