I've known I would be adopting for over 7 years. I remember as clear as day a conversation I had with my Best Friend a few weeks after I had my hysterectomy. I was standing outside in the cold wet December evening (because my cell wouldn't work inside and I probably didn't want my parents to hear what I was saying). At that point My Farmer Boy wasn't even my boyfriend - but it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that we were best best best best friends in the whole wide world. I was still in pain from surgery, and I think it was the first time I had really started thinking about the fact that I really couldn't have kids. I remember saying something like: "I shouldn't have had the surgery, no man is going to want to marry me now that I can't give him a baby." And he (always the encourager) quietly said: "Someone will." (I didn't actually know that at the time he was referring to himself - maybe he didn't even know it :) So, we have both known that adoption would be part of our lives for a long time. And in that time we have heard a lot of opinions about adoption. A. LOT.
The most confusing comments go something like this:
"Remember that there are plenty of babies in the US who need homes."
"So, you're going to look into local adoptions right?"
"You should adopt locally because we should be taking care of our own before going overseas."
Our OWN?! Now, wait just a minute! I thought that we were ALL humans and that an orphan is an orphan. The more I read about adoption, the more I see this chasm between different types of adoption: international, children with disabilities, children with AIDS, children who are older, domestic newborns, foster to adopt, "snowflake babies" (adoption of embryos frozen after fertility treatments etc.)... I am so sad to see the groups that form and how each group thinks their way of adoption is best, even "most godly". It reminds me of how Christians argue about denominations and which church they attend. I'm not proud to say that at times I have judged in my heart different types of adoption, thinking that some children's need is more profound than others. When in fact, a child without a family needs a family. Giving a family to an orphan is a beautiful thing - no matter what made that child an orphan or where they live.
It's time for all of us to realize that God is BIG - and He has made us all unique and gifted us differently. Some people may have a passionate heart aimed at making sure that every foster child finds a home. Someone else may have a burden for Eastern European orphans. Another for adopting babies that would have been aborted. Someone else may long to help drug babies. Another may have a special place for teens without families. And every one of these are GOOD and can be used by God to care for orphans. I am excited to see that many families do bridge the gap and are speaking out for adoption and caring for orphans of all types and from all places. We all share this earth that God made, and every child without a family needs love - no matter the color of their skin or the place where they were born.
When our plans to move to Zambia and work and adopt there fell through, someone told me that maybe we should look into foster to adopt because adopting from Africa is so popular right now, and we should take care of the orphans right in our own state. While I totally agree that the orphans in foster care need homes (and we have been and will continue looking into this possibility for us), I don't think the fact that more people are adopting from Africa is something bad. In fact, I praise God that more people have become aware of the children in Africa who are literally being left in sewers, or found in the arms of a mother dying of AIDS. I also praise God for those who see the truth and deep need of the children in the US who are being abused, or born to mother's addicted to drugs, or abandoned. Our plan to move to Zambia and adopt wasn't driven by the fact that adopting from Africa is popular. In fact, more people encouraged us to stay local than to try adopting from Zambia. I went to Africa 11 years ago and while visiting an orphanage my heart was broken for the children left is such utter poverty, children that were so weak and sick that I questioned if one little girl would die in my arms. This was 4 years before I knew I would not be able to have children, but as I held that little girl I knew that the orphans in Africa would always be in my heart. Last fall I fell in love with a precious baby boy who was facing a very tough future, I spent an insane amount of time picking out premie clothes for him (I'm sure the people at Fred Myer thought I was crazy standing in front of the baby section for so long), and my heart bled for the children in our state who are in need of a loving and safe place to call home. Neither is better or more righteous than the other. Every orphaned child needs a mommy. How I wish that I could be a mommy to every orphan, but I know that's impossible. It's going to take millions of mommies and daddies - each couple different and each couple perfect for the child God will bring to them.
Are we going to adopt locally? Very possibly. Are we going to adopt from Africa or any other country? Very possibly. God knows the direction that we will take, and we are trusting Him to lead us every step of the way. I pray that I would never judge someone else for adopting in a way that is different than what we end up doing. I pray I never judge someone for not adopting (there are SO many ways to touch this world with God's love - adoption is just one of many!). So, until the day God makes it clear - we will keep praying for our Someday Babies, and continue reading and preparing.
I have no idea if our baby will have blond hair, freckled cheeks, or smooth dark skin and tight curls. I don't know if our child will be a boy or a girl. I don't know how old our baby will be when we first meet. I don't know where our babies will be born. Sometimes I feel like I will explode with longing to know. But God, who made all the children of the world and Who loves every one, knows.