Thursday, January 19, 2012
January. The time of fresh starts, new commitments. My birthday month. And our two year anniversary of beginning in this adoption process.
On January 12th, 2010, massive destruction hit Haiti. People were dying everywhere. An orphanage that my church had set up and sponsors was hit and many children died. Six men from our church went down to move what was left of the orphanage to safe ground. The stories they came back with broke my heart. And that's when God called us to DO something. Not to sit around in our comfy apartment and say a quick prayer for those people, but to TAKE ACTION. There are hundreds of homeless and dying children all over the world, and how can Christians say they care but DO nothing?
I didn't want children right then. My music career was starting to take off, I was busy working and enjoyed my job and I had a list of things I wanted to do. None of which included having to completely change my life for kids. But that wasn't what God had in mind. God changed my heart from wanting to do my own thing and having it be just me and Abe, to longing for two children that I have never met and wanting them more than anything else in the world.
Now two years have passed. Two years of struggles and pain and growing. Two years of working every minute and barely sleeping to pay off the costs of brining two children home. Two years of fighting for children whose faces we have only dreamed about.
It's crazy how much we want out kids. We talk about it all the time, and I cry about half that. Seeing other people and their adopted babies, and seeing families who started the process long after us flying by us (receiving referrals, flying to their country, bringing home their child) is heartbreaking. It's discouraging. It threatens our joy sometimes. But when we get a referral isn't our decision. It's God's. Devastating to wait? Yes. I have a room with two empty beds and bureaus. In that room are some colored lamps, toys, clothes, and two huge pieces of brightly colored artwork. There are crayons and army men and mittens. But no children. No smiling faces, no shining eyes, no one to tug on my shirt to ask for my help. No one to hug and tell them how hard I fought for them and how much I love them.
It's especially hard recently, as we have found several other deaf children in other countries and in Ethiopia, who we cannot currently proceed to try and adopt. Long story short, paperwork only applies to each individual country and then to each individual agency. To adopt any of the children we know of so far would require us to pull out of our current program and redo all the paperwork. Everything fresh. Including all the fees. Which is next to impossible and would be a waste. So we are hanging tight. But every story we hear makes our eyes well up. The stories of these kids are unbelievable. If only we could help them all.
But everything is going to be okay. I'm not worried. (I AM impatient! ;)) God has this and He has our kids. So I can rest assured that in the end, this will all work out.
Okay, so the next part of the blog is a bit of a rant, so if you don't want to be offended, don't read.
There are some things that have been bugging me lately. Here goes:
I've spent a lot of time talking with certain mamas from my agency who are in the ET program, as well as a close friend who is working with another agency. These ladies (you know who you are! :)) are so supportive and amazing. They are the only ones who really understand. There are many people who empathize, but these girls can RELATE. They understand the process, the torturous waiting, the agony of people not understanding and making rude comments, and the uncertainty and fear. I can go to them anytime and cry over email (or for a very few, their shoulders!) and I know they will UNDERSTAND. I think that is one of the toughest parts of the adoption. How little people understand and how little they try to. That's right, I said it. Me and my girls have spent the last few days discussing this. Lots of people who don't understand what or why we are doing this are still supportive. Soooooo many people care about us and have helped us and are excitedly waiting with us. But many people are not. Many people, including some family members, do not care and are not excited. Very few have actually congratulated us and many expressed concerns. If I was pregnant, you would say congratualtions. You wouldn't tell me that stats of mothers who miscarry or the percentages that my child will have Down Syndrome or some other issue. That's just not what you say when people announce, "I'm pregnant!" But when we announce we are adopting..........
...........and then come the horror stories and terrible statistics and reminders of all things terrible. We aren't stupid. We have done our research. We know that these children are possibly traumatized and many have been abandoned. We know this is a big step of faith and will completely change our lives. And yes, we know that our children will be black.
I'm also tired of hearing that I should wait to have kids, or have "my own" (DON'T. EVER. SAY. THAT. TO. ME. AGAIN. Any child that comes under my roof will be "my own". The term is "biological. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but if I have already gently corrected you and you keep saying something hurtful like that......) hearing child first. Because a hearing kid can help me take care of the deaf kid in a few years. Sure, that's really logical (sarcasm). Why can't the deaf kid help me take care of a hearing kid? And what if I was pregnant with a deaf baby? What would you say then? (I'm going to stop ranting about that specific comment now, before I blow up and disintegrate.)
I'm expecting a child, maybe two. MY FIRST KIDS. But I am not expecting a baby shower. I'm not expecting people to bring me meals. That's okay, because I don't like parties where I am the reason the party is being hosted. But at the same time, I am noticing how "not special" people think adopting is. Mothers who give birth get people bringing meals on a rotating basis, and gifts and well wishes. For me and my close adoptive friends, that doesn't seem to be the case. This is NOT a plea for a party, it's just my observations.
I'm also tired of being asked and criticized as to why we aren't adopting from America. Well I'll tell you why. American kids, no matter who or where they are, will get some kind of home. Some kind of education. And American deaf kids are fairly well taken care of, as a general rule. Very few are up for adoption domestically. Internationally, kids are dying every day from lack of FOOD AND WATER. And (especially deaf kids), they often do not receive any kind of education. And if any of them ARE adopted, it is typically not the deaf kids. So in a nutshell, that is why we are adopting internationally. Plus, we live in the largest area of deaf per capita in the US, have all the resources and schools and community, and Abe and I both sign. That's why we want deaf kids. We have the unique opportunity to provide them with a home, a culture, and a deaf community. Need I say more?
One last comment and then I am done. I think it is interesting that some people criticize me and other mamas for fundraising. Mind you, I've done two fundraisers in two years. But people get snippy when you ask for donations. Which is unbelievable to me. I'm not asking for your life savings. I'm asking for even $5 to help us out. $5 is a coffee or a snack. If you can't or don't feel called to adopt, then don't. But as a Christian, I believe it is your duty to support those who DO and I found a great blog that sums it up really well. If we are Christ followers and don't like that there are orphans, then we need to help them. This doesn't mean that EVERY person needs to give $$$ towards an adoption. But it DOES mean that they should not be offended when asked to participate in a fundraiser or to donate. It's so strange; the people who have been the most supportive to us in this process are our college friends, who have nothing, and still give us money. And people we don't know who are touched by our adoption story. And yes, many friends have helped and participated in our fundraisers which has been amazing and I love the support. This article isn't for you. This is for the people who have emailed or called me to chew me out and tell me to stop being selfish and asking for money because they didn't get any money to bring home their biological children from the hospital. Well good for you. You made a decision to MAKE that child. You aren't going overseas to get an abandoned older child who has no language or education, and who has been through more trauma in a few months than you can ever imagine. This is a child who probably isn't getting a home otherwise. And wouldn't you do anything for your kids? Well so would I.
Here is the link to the blog that so graciously explains why Christians should support adoption and adoption fundraising:
On the flip side of all my ranting,we have many friends and family members who have been AMAZING to us and have helped and supported us a lot. I can't thank these people enough. So many people have donated money, time, and energy in this process with us and I am so thankful for you. You mean so much to Abe and me and we can't wait to introduce you to our kids!!!! <3