I could post a whole pile of quotes from the bible showing you how God specifically instructs us to care for orphans, how God is totally in favor of adoption, and how we are all actually adopted sons and daughters of God through Christ's sacrifice.
All of it would be true, but none of it is unique to us. You've heard it all before if you attend church, and you don't really care about it if you don't attend church. This isn't church, I'm not a pastor (thank God!), so I have no interest in preaching.
What I do want to do is talk about our family and why we are adopting. Because it's a little crazy, and I suspect most people are harboring thoughts of confusion and horror and fear when they learn we're adopting...an older child....through the foster care system....with three younger children at home.
I get it. I do. We all look at those we know and love and we naturally wish them happiness and an easy, safe life. I do it too. I look at my kids and all I want to do is keep them home forever. I count my blessings each night they're sleeping safely tucked in their beds.
But as much as I want them safe and sound and ideally right here where I can see them, they have things to do and neat little people to become! They need to live their lives! They need to grow up, discover the world, meet new people, fall in love, get a job, get married....or not, and have children....or not. In all things I simply hope they follow Christ's will for their lives, always seeking His opinion before others, even mine.
And we must do the same.
We all die. Every last one of us. And that's okay, it's how this life works. Giving birth to three children in six years takes a lot out of me physically. Adopting a fourth child who needs a lot of extra love and care and advocacy will take a lot out of my husband and I emotionally. But it's so worth it! We all have one life, one body, to use up. We could spend our time trying to prolong our life and find ease and comfort. Or we could choose something else.
I would rather end my life having been used up completely. Why not? Think about it. The end result is the same, except you just get so much more out of that one life! If I'm exhausted when you see me feel free to offer me a pillow and a chance to nap but don't feel bad for me. I like it this way. I'd rather be exhausted for a good reason than well rested for no reason at all.
Christ has called all people to care for orphans, widows, and the poor. The awesome thing about free will is we each get to choose HOW. And so how we live it out is up to us. The best way I can figure to choose how we should go about it is to go where our great desire meets the world's great need. That's an oversimplification, but true in its essence. If we live in prayer and contemplation, constant conversation with God, partaking of the Sacraments regularly and practicing virtue daily, then our wills become ordered towards God. We want what God wants. It becomes easier to discern right from wrong, truth from lies, what will bring us lasting joy from what will bring us temporary happiness.
Our desire is and has always been to adopt. We planned this from before we were married. It started out as a contingency plan "what if we couldn't have children biologically, would you be okay with adopting?" and grew into an integral part of our plans and hopes for our family. We've spent 5 years researching, attending meetings, fulfilling requirements, training, and preparing for this. Our kids always knew we'd adopt someday.
Someday is here, praise God!
We have been matched with a lovely 11 year old girl. She has beautiful tanned skin, curly black hair, and dark brown eyes, purple glasses and sparkly purple hearing aids. She giggles when she talks about her friends who have boyfriends, she likes every color except black and brown, and her favorite movie is High School Musical.
This lovely 11 year old has also experienced more transition and neglect and trauma than you can imagine. Her cheerful attitude belies her situation.
But this is no saint, no child is perfect. In fact no person is perfect for that matter! Imagine your child was kidnapped as a toddler. They lived life apart from you with their kidnappers. They were sometimes hungry, often confused, often afraid, and not taught basic life skills. They moved a lot. The kidnappers got tired of them and left them with other strangers for years at a time. They were neglected and abused. Then finally, after 10 years, police found them and returned them to you! You would be so happy! And they would be happy!
But they'd also be scared....and confused....and you would now be the stranger to them. Yes they might be grateful they were rescued, or they might be angry they had to experience abuse in the first place. Most likely they'd be both grateful and angry. Almost certainly they wouldn't know how to act in a normal family with a normal life.
Daisy, our new pre-adoptive foster daughter, has had the typical life of a child who ends up in foster care. It's very similar to what I described above. Except those weren't kidnappers who perpetrated abuse and neglect on this child, they were her parents. So yes she's happy to be coming into a stable home I'm sure. And she'll also be grieving the loss of her biological parents. Nothing could be sadder than losing your biological parents, even if good will come out of it. Her biological parents are in our prayers. My guess is they had lives like those of a child kidnapped too: lives of poverty and fear and instability and mistrust and loneliness. They are poor souls in need of prayers just as much as you and I.
So I'd like to ask our friends and family to keep three things in mind:
1) We are called to adopt. This might make us noble, or insane, or just plain weird to you. That's fine. We're all three and none of those at the same time. Regardless it's not going to change our minds.
2) Daisy doesn't owe us anything. We LOVE her. Because we have agreed to be her parents we owe her a safe, loving home where she can grow up and discern God's will for her life.
3) We don't know all of Daisy's story, what we do know we can't share, and she doesn't even know the whole story I'm sure. But one thing I know from all the research and training we've done is that children from foster care are children who come from hard places. And they don't have the background of love to know how to express themselves appropriately. Simple things like bedtime stories and family mealtimes probably weren't a part of their lives. So if you see Daisy act in a way that seems odd or bad, please remember how far she has come and that her heart is good but her experience has been bad.