Adopting a child always has people asking questions and making comments. Some are innocent; born of curiosity. Others are the result of confusion, misunderstanding and naivety. And some are purely asked with the intent of conveying a message. This is a lengthy post, so go grab a cup of coffee, tea or my personal favorite...hot chocolate with a splash of coffee.
This post is not intended to insult or undermine anyone in any way. It is simply my intent to answer some of those questions and address some of those comments.
1) Why Adopt?
The very first question that we were ever asked was "Why adopt?" There are those that mistakenly believe that we are adopting because we could not have more biological children. As some of you know, we wanted to adopt a little girl back in 1998, before we ever had kids. This adoption fell through due to the foster family asking to adopt this child. We completely understood that this was in the child's best interest. Pursuing this adoption led to some confusion. Rumors were already circulating that we were infertile...after all, which good Mennonite couple is married for over 8 years and doesn't have kids? Must mean they can not have children. I laugh at this now, but it was and still is the mentality of many. I remember visiting with a lady and having her ask how I was dealing with "this infertility thing". I almost chocked, smirked and explained that as far as we knew we could have children. (What I really felt like saying was...ummm...sweet lady...we don't know how!! LOL!)
After Alex was born this same lady was amazed at God's goodness...that we had been blessed with a baby after all those years of infertility. I gently explained...again...that we had never had issues with infertility. Two years later when Morgun was born, this lady once again marvelled at God's goodness...two beautiful baby boys in two years...after years of infertility. This time I simply smiled and nodded...for indeed God is good...and my boys were and are a true miracle!
Back to the question...well, my initial response was "Why not?" And it still is. The only reasons I can come up with are selfish reasons...I'm too busy, it costs too much, we already have too much on our plate....and the list goes on.
In all honesty, it doesn't take much of a biblical search to answer the "why would you adopt?" question. The greatest command is to "love your neighbor as yourself" as is found in Mark 12:31 and is repeated again in Matthew 22:39. I don't want to be hungry, alone, frightened, without a family, etc. So if I love someone as myself, that should translate into providing the above to others.
Now some of you almost chocked on your coffee. I am not saying that everyone should adopt. Rather I am saying that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are ALL called to do something. What that will look like will different for each person. Martin and I have been called to adopt...and for now that is one way for us to "love others as ourselves".
Here are a few more scripture passages that answer the "why".
2) How Much Does An Adoption Cost?
The next question is probably the most asked question. Or comment. "How much does it cost?" I can only answer from personal experience. Our adoptions have cost about $30,000 each time, although there are adoptions that cost less and some that cost more. The next question is "Why does it cost SO much?" Here is the breakdown.
People have often said "if you can do it good for you". I'm never quite sure how to take that comment. I think it is often meant as a compliment. As in...if you have the strength to adopt, good for you! But sometimes I think it is meant in regards to finances.
Let me say that Martin and I are no different than the average person. We do not have any extraordinary talents or gifts. We don't have more patience. We don't have much for a support system. There are no grandma's to call on. We have days where we literally feel like all we can do is come up for a quick gulp of air before we go under again. But what we do have is a God who always meets us where we're at. A God who always sees us through...even though we mess up all the time!
As far as finances... I hate talking about finances. But it comes up so often in comments and questions that I can not avoid it. We do not have a great income, but I happen to think we're rich. We always have a warm house (or cool on the 4 days the temperature actually reaches +30 degrees Celsius), healthy food on our table, comfortable clothing, health care and most importantly...each other! We have an income that provides the basics and if we're careful we can enjoy some "treats" as well.
So how do we afford adoption? This is the first adoption that we have ever asked for help. Asking for help has given us about $3000 towards our adoption. We are hoping to get a grant. We have no idea how much that may be, although most grants are about $2000-$3500. It's only been 2 years and 3 months since our last adoption and our third adoption in less than 4 years, so we have not been able to save a lot. At this point the majority of our expenses will have to be covered by making a loan...same as we did for our last adoption. I sometimes worry, but honestly it is amazing that we even have access to a loan. We should not even qualify for a loan. It is a miracle! God does provide. Sometimes it is not in the way I had planned.
We are often frowned upon when people learn that we would willingly go into debt to adopt a child. Let me ask you a question. How much would you spend to ensure that your child stayed off the streets, did not become a prostitute, or stayed out of jail? If you had to come up with that money in a few months or a year...I'm pretty sure you would find a way. I'm guessing $30,000 wouldn't sound like a whole lot.
I often think of William Schindler and the comment he makes at the end of the movie Schindler's List...he says something along the line of "If only I had sold my car I could have saved a few more lives". It makes me ask what can I give up to ensure another child has a forever family and most importantly is loved and taught about God.
3)When Are You Going To Stop?
This question irritates me and makes me chuckle at the same time. It irritates me because honestly, it's no ones business. It makes me chuckle because the question is usually said in a "are you crazy?" tone of voice. Yes! I am crazy! And my hubby is too! He's been married to me for over 21 years and I suppose my craziness has rubbed off on him. :)
To answer the question...I don't know. I never thought I would have 5 kids. I wanted a career, lots of hot vacations, and most of all...a small family! God had and continues to have plans that sometimes differ from mine. I am at a point where I feel comfortable listening to God's voice and want what He wants...even though I have no idea what that may be.
4)Don't You Think You Have Enough Kids?
Ummm...reread the above. I have on occasion said we will stop having more kids when we catch up to the person asking...;)
5) What About Your Other Kids?
We plan on keeping them! lol! Seriously though, it is a fair question and one that we always ask ourselves. Our kids react in different ways. Some love the idea, but hate the change and stress of the first 6 months to a year of adjusting. Some just love the idea...until they realize they won't be traveling with me when I travel to bring Jackson home. Some have a very clear understanding that we are not a "normal" family and are very aware of what others say and do in response to our family. Sometimes the responses they/we get does make them wish we could blend in more. Some don't completely understand and are innocently enthusiastic about everything. Most importantly...our kids have learned and are learning the importance of reaching out, of sacrificial giving, of love multiplying, and understanding more about God's love. To sum it up...what our kids are learning through this experience far outweighs the negatives.
6) What About The Kids/Needy In Your Own Back Yard?
Remember the parable where the man asks Jesus who his neighbor is? Jesus tells him his neighbor includes all human beings. Jesus means our neighbor is not just the people living next door or in our community. We certainly should not overlook the needs close to home. Each one of God's children is called to look after the needy, the orphan, the widow, the destitute. How this looks will be different for each person. We happen to be called to adopt from China.
In response to this question I have often asked the question "what are you doing for those in your own backyard?" More often than not the person asking this question is doing absolutely nothing...and they move on to a different topic.
7) You Can't Save Them All.
No I can't, but I wish WE could. Did you know that if every person who calls themselves a Christian reached out to just one orphan each orphan would be cared for 15 times over? So honestly...WE could save them all.
I would like for people to understand that when we adopt, we pursue it with all that is in us. It is OUR child that we are "saving". It is OUR child that we are fighting to bring home. It is OUR child sitting in some orphanage or foster home waiting for us. It is OUR child that needs the love of our forever family.
I hope that answers a few questions and gives some insight.