Adopting kids and finding adoptive parents is kind of like getting a new car. Once you get a new car, you start spotting everyone else with the same car as you on the road. We've all got a radar for families that look like they may have adopted, and try and initiate as many conversations as we can. Adoptive parents are few and far between, so it's so sweet to connect with people who have the same heart and understanding of family as you. Ahhh, and it's so nice to use adoption jargon with individuals you don't have to explain things to. They just nod and their eyes tell you they've been there too.
Lots of the people we know have a lifelong calling of adoption that doesn't end when they get off the plane back in America. They miss their child's home-country like crazy, start to creatively support the land, and do every single thing they can to keep another child out of the orphanages. They are researched through and through on every aspect of ethical and non-ethical adoptions, adoption agencies, lawyers, orphanages, etc. It's amazing, really.
We aren't so much that way, though we do have strong feelings about adoption. So, we're going to share some of our thoughts about adoption, but please keep in mind that this is based on our experience and the experiences of those we know, but we are in no way the most knowledgeable in this area. We do know some of the pros though, and are happy to put you in touch with them should you have questions we don't know the answers to.
For many individuals and families, the reason for adopting is to give a child a family who wouldn't otherwise have one. This is awesome. We especially dig it because it was our reason for adopting. Here's the thing though: this vision and dream isn't as nicely packaged as most people (including us) want it to be. All of those statistics about hundreds of millions of orphans don't come back with pictures of sweet, healthy infants swaddled up waiting to happily receive their new mommy and daddy. Who are these hundreds of millions of orphans? Older children, special needs children, and sibling sets of kids. Who are the children who are kidnapped, bought from their families, and trafficked because international adoption is so lucrative for the wrong type of person? The sweet, cooing, infants and toddlers who we all imagine in our adoptive family picture.
|Our beautiful girls years before they were even a dream in our hearts.|
So, what is the solution? I don't know the complete solution by any means, but I do have some thoughts as to what we can do. Here is what they are:
- Ensure your agency is ethical through and through. Make sure you get references for the agency you choose to work with. Find reviews and go on adoption boards (or Facebook groups) and hear what others have to say about this agency. Your agency will make or break your adoption experience. All agencies will tell you the right thing, but it doesn't necessarily mean they follow up with what is actually happening on the ground. If you're choosing to adopt independently, you have even more work to do along these lines.
- Many families are now choosing to spend their own money and time to hire a 3rd party investigator. This is someone who doesn't work with or for your agency, your lawyer, or anyone else. You spend your own money to ensure that every single thing possible was done to attempt to locate or reunite the child you want to adopt with his/her biological family. And if you find a link to a family, you have to walk away from the child you dreamed and prayed would be yours. Adoption is not for the faint of heart.
- This is the one that's going to be the hardest for most people to hear. Adopt an older child, sibling set, and/or child with special needs. Please don't adopt a healthy child under the age of 2 if your motivation for adopting is to provide a family for a child who wouldn't otherwise have one or because the Bible tells us to adopt. That is NOT where the need is. [For further explanation below, see addendum.] There are 2-3 (or even up to 7 and 8) year wait lists for young, healthy children. That is not meeting a need, that is creating a need and increasing the number of older kids who no one seems to want. The need is where there are waiting children (children who have had their background investigations done and are waiting...and waiting...and waiting...and waiting to be adopted). It's often not as easy to adopt these children, but if you truly want to meet a need and be a family to a child who wouldn't otherwise have one, this is how you need to do it. When Jonathan and I first joined an agency, we wanted to adopt a young child because we didn't know that there weren't millions of young kids waiting for families. But praise God, His plan was grander than ours and He led us to waiting children. Our adoption ended up being a sibling set, older kids, and one of our girls has some special needs. Our girls were orphaned at 5 months and became Pascuals at the age of 4. It has NOT been easy for us by any means, but I say again, adoption is not for the faint of heart.
|Ahhh, and how grateful we are that God had mercy on us and changed our plans to His, giving us Faith and Favor.|
And I finally close with this beautiful story from an amazing family who does amazing things in Uganda. For some reason they're controversial, but I guess it's because they say the hard things much more often (and much better) than I do. We are so thankful for the work they do and pray that every adoptive family would have the same passion and drive for justice as the Rileys.