Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What I wished I knew before

*Warning* You are about to read a blog post that will not make me more popular. It's a good thing this is not a contest. It is my opinion stated on my blog. Read at your own risk.

Going into this adoption I thought we had a pretty good handle on how it worked and what it was all about. The reasons were so clear. 147 million orphans worldwide. Whew, overwhelming. We could do something about it, right? Yes, certainly. We could adopt.

It happened that during our process we began to feel strongly pulled toward children with specific special needs. That made our course take a slightly different route than it would have otherwise. There were kids with these needs waiting in orphanages, listed with our agency, right now. As it turned out, our kids had been institutionalized 2 years before, nearly half their lives were spent in an orphanage.

What I didn't realize in the beginning, was that if we had not been matched with these particular little ones, we would have gone on a waiting list for children who met our "criteria." When one of those children came into care, and all the families who were waiting before us for the same type of child were already matched with their kids, our number would be up, so to speak, and we would get a referral. Then, we would rejoice!
Wait a minute.....back to last week's discussion.....I had to ask myself, would I be celebrating, counting my blessings, thanking God for my good lot because another family was unable to care for their child who will now become mine? Screech. That doesn't sound right.

There are dozens of families waiting for children. Hundreds. Thousands worldwide connected with various agencies.

There are dozens of children waiting for families. Hundreds. Thousands worldwide. 147 million?

What is the disconnect?

The kids waiting usually have medical or developmental or emotional needs, or they are older, or part of a sibling group.
The parents waiting usually want younger children, they may want to choose the gender, are often interested in pretty healthy kids.

This has had me very disillusioned. We needed to take a hard look at exactly what it is we are doing here and reevaluate our priorities. I started researching and came across a handful of articles, scenes that were troubling. One in particular that stands out is of a couple in their 50's with grown kids going to Ethiopia to adopt 3 because they wanted to "help." While they are there, they meet the mother of these kids who was at the orphanage to say goodbye. Tearfully, the American mother is hugging the African mother, who relinquished her children because she could not provide for them, saying "we are both their mothers, you and I." The African mother is sobbing, gasping in the American mother's arms. Gulp. I had to wipe my bleary eyes and pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Did I see what I saw and hear what I heard? Really? This is help?

Is this what our family is doing? Oh my goodness. Suddenly I didn't feel so warm and fuzzy about it anymore.

What does that mean?

Could anything have been done for this mother so she could keep her children? Wouldn't that have been kind, helpful?

Should we perhaps, as followers of Christ, spend more time thinking about serving mothers and fathers and extending opportunity for family preservation and less on welcoming their children into our homes when they're gone or unable to provide care? Why aren't we helping them provide care? We would spend 10's of thousands of $ on adoption costs. If we can fork over that kind of cash, surely we could provide assistance that would prevent parents from surrendering their children to the wealthy Americans. We could do that, right? Why wouldn't we do that?

Bob and I have thought long and hard about this. Done a great deal of soul searching and discussion. I have shed many tears and pondered the irony, the sadness, the strangeness of the situation.

Because our kids have been institutionalized so long and because they have medical needs that must be met, and because their mothers are deceased, and because we have had them "held" off the waiting list for months, and because it is too late to help their parents, we will continue with this adoption.
We will warmly welcome them as blessings. Blessings we do not deserve.

At the same time, I do not and will not look at adoption the same way as I used to with wide eyed naivete. We must become actively involved in assisting parents to care for their own kids so they do not need to be placed in orphanages, breaking the hearts of mothers and fathers who have hope for a better life for their babies. Not all the children being adopted are orphaned.
Many aspects of a better life are in the power of our hands to give. Maybe we should open them wider, generously, earlier, and accept adoption as more of a last resort, a beautiful option for children who are truly orphaned.

Just a thought.


Holly said...

and if you decide to take this to the next level (like 'what can I do?') count me in....amazing thoughts - I love this.

Courtney said...

i hear you.
i get it.
but the problem seems so BIG and complicated...i mean, we have to fix the COUNTRIES (the governments, systems, etc) how do we do that?!?

Lindy said...

We have talked about this as well. That's why I love Compassion! They are doing exactly what you speak of--providing for families so that they won't have to endure this separation! Sponsoring one child will provide enough food to feed the family (depending on country)in some cases.

It does break my heart that our daughter has a father out there. That he has handed her over to be adopted because he simply could not feed her. It would be amazing to be able to step in and say, "I will send you money each month so that your daughter can stay with you!" There is no way that we will be able to explain that to her, or that she will understand his dilemna until she is grown. As Courtney said, we have to fix the countries! There SHOULD be a way to provide support for these families! In the mean time, we will continue to support our Compassion child in Ethiopia so that her family will not have to make this same choice.

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