Thursday, August 11, 2011

Adoption Testimony

"We don't need a baby," the woman sniffed, "That's why we're fostering to adopt." I had just met her in the local library. We discovered that we had daughters the same age, we were both pastor's wives, and that our husbands graduated from the same seminary. Soon we found that we were both in the adoption process, we happily discussed the beauty and need of adoption.
When we shared which types of adoption we were pursuing, though, I could sense her disapproval gathering. Snobbery can infect all human activities, even adoption. She would have rejoiced had I been fostering, and she would have accepted it gladly if I was adopting an orphan internationally, but domestic infant adoption? That was just too much. It was not the same creature at all, and she was nipping this friendship in the bud.
I have encountered that attitude (and it's opposite, the "Thank the Lord you're getting a sweet baby and not an older kid" attitude) since my husband and I decided to pursue domestic infant adoption. Both attitudes assume that we started this process from a need to have a baby. We do not need a baby, yet I understand the woman's opinion on it, because it was once mine as well.
For years prior to our official process, I studied international adoption. I poured over websites and forums. I kept up with the news of various countries' programs, who was opening, who was closing, the living conditions for orphans, anything I could find. I knew that one day, when God opened the door for this poor seminary couple to adopt, I would be ready. I was like a race horse at the starting gate, completely focused on international adoption as my goal.
Domestic infant adoption seemed to me not just lesser, but selfish. There were so many orphans needing homes, why insist on a baby? And what about the risks and instability of the birth family taking the child back? No, that was definitely not for us.
When the time finally came that we were able to begin adopting, we went to an information meeting at Bethany Christian Services in Memphis, Tennessee. We were, of course, only interested in the session on international adoption. My husband and I were very interested and engaged, and were whispering back and forth about which country, exactly, that God might lead us. The domestic adoption session was immediately following. We were not at all interested, but seeing how we had a sitter...and someone from our church may consider it, so as the pastor, it would be good for him to be informed about the process, we went.
It woke us up. The legal security in placement was explained to us, and dispelled many of our misconceptions. Then the beauty of open adoption was presented, which we had not previously thought of, and had also many misconceptions about. Finally, the need was shown. The social worker told us the previous year, her office had two African-American baby boys who they could not find homes for in the region. They had to appeal to an office in Pennsylvania to place them. It broke our heart. Here was a need, in our backyard! Here were children, in need of a home, in need of love, but for their ethnicity and gender were shut out.
And what of the mothers? I imagined a woman considering adoption, but hearing, "We don't currently have any families open to, uh, this situation, but maybe in up north?" How crushing would that be to her? Would she give in to despair, and go down the street to Planned Parenthood? Who was going to stand in the gap for these babies? Who was going to say to these women, "We will love your children. We want them. We will raise them. They are precious, and so are you?"
That night God does what He so often does, and moved our hearts and plans away from what we were so determined, to what we had previously rejected. We chose to switch to Bethany's domestic infant program, and let our dreams of international adoption be filed away - at least for now. Instead we look forward to welcoming and loving a new baby into our home, which ever ethnicity or gender God chooses to give us. We look forward to building a relationship with the birth mother, and honoring her place in our child's life.
We love adoption - foster, international, domestic. One is not more noble than the others. Perhaps one day we'll even complete the trifecta. We know that in all of them, God calls His children to shine the light of Jesus.

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