Friday, January 28, 2011

Not a fan of roller coasters.

I don't even know if I can articulate in a reasonable fashion the roller coaster we've been on this past week. I apologize in advance if this post is hard to follow, but I'll do the best I can to explain. And perhaps, in some strange way, it will be of comfort to you as it was to us that this is a rather normal part of the adoption process...confusion that is. Forgive us if we're taking you as unwilling passengers on this roller coaster, but I thought I'd keep you abreast of what's transpiring in our hearts and minds.

Whenever it was (great start, eh?) that we had our last conference call with our social worker with Wide Horizons (our placement agency in Massachusetts), we started asking her some pretty pointed questions about some things that have been laid upon our hearts of late.

The biggest one is that JD and I have felt led to pursue daughters specifically. For a couple of reasons:

First, we feel better equipped as parents of daughters. As if I even have to disclaim this but we clearly love our boys. This is not about the ability (or inability) to love boys. If we adopted two boys, we would love them. Just like we love Brooks and Jackson. This is about our ability (or inability) to manage four boys and two daughters.

Second, we have children we have to consider. We have a family dynamic in place already that we have to consider. I, more so than JD, have concerns about creating certain dynamics by adopting a son and a daughter in that I would worry that our adoptive children would somehow feel like third wheels if the little boy were close in age to our boys and if the girl were close in age to Payton and Avery. I especially wonder about a little boy having to jump in with Brooks and Jackson's current dynamic as twin brothers who've been virtually inseparable since birth. There's so much to consider here. And, frankly, I'm a thinker. Yes, probably an over-thinker. But (insert Popeye voice here) I am what I am!

Third, we have to think about practicality. We have a spare bedroom that our adoptive children are going to share. It presents a bit of a problem long term for a daughter and a son to share that room. You already know that our preference is not to adopt two boys, so two girls would be ideal (from a practicality perspective).

I think I mentioned in a previous post that several weeks ago, we watched this documentary:

It was very eye-opening to the very real plight of little girls in China. So we started thinking, 'Gosh, if we feel drawn to adopting girls, perhaps we should pursue two not-biologically related little girls from China.' We know that China doesn't have sibling pairs so the likelihood of finding biological sisters was next to nil.

Because of all this, we decided we needed to talk to our social worker and ask her if we can request two girls and if we can pursue adopting two little girls who are not biologically related.

She said Wide Horizon's policy is no and no.

Okay. Why?

She said their policies think of the best interest of the children because there are more boys in the world who need to be adopted and because many families want to adopt girls so it's a double-wammy for boys. And Wide Horizon's has a policy against adopting two not-biologically related children. Her words were that it would be a nightmare for the adopted children if they didn't get along and were placed together for ever. Now, that to me is a no-brainer. We're not talking about that. We're talking about adopting two little girls who are truly best buds and do not have biological siblings. I would imagine that they would like nothing more than to remain with their best friend for life versus being adopted into a foreign family and taken to a foreign land alone. We know of people who have done this and it's been a wonderful outcome. So we were left a little perplexed. The conversation left us wondering if these are policies with all agencies or just Wide Horizons. So, I sent an email to a friend whose adopted many times and used many agencies to explain the situation to her and ask her about these policies. I told her to feel free to pass the email along to others who might be able to help us glean some insight into all this.

Here's the first turn in this most drawn out story...

So I get an email from a friend of my friend. They both confirm that not all agencies have these policies and there are pros and cons to adopting not-biologically related children. We're learning that there are pros and cons to everything with adoption. :)

But the more interesting thing is that this friend of my friend mentioned something as an aside (that I just happened to be in the middle of) that I had heard nothing about regarding Ethiopian adoptions. And really this is probably an issue with international adoption, in general. I didn't even know what she was talking about so I looked it up and found this. A documentary/expose on what some call the harvesting of children or the commercialization of children.

Let me make something very clear -- who knows where the truth lies with all this? Only God. But it did enlighten us to issues with international adoption. Not that we're not going to adopt internationally, but we feel like we have our eyes open a little more.

And, truthfully, I wonder if God placed me in the middle of an email conversation because He's trying to reveal another option for us? Domestic adoption.

Here's the second turn in this most drawn out story...

After watching that expose on Ethiopian adoptions and spending a good bit of time that day stirring and talking to God about whether we should stick with Ethiopia or perhaps go to another country, I attend a prayer meeting for adoption and the orphan crisis that very night (this past Tuesday). A woman was there from Bethany Christian Services and she spoke to the plight of children here in the Richmond area. She said that there are babies born without a family who will adopt them. Excuse me? I was always under the impression that babies get adopted immediately. She said they are in desperate need of parents willing to adopt.

What in the world?! Of course, that news on top of the enlightenment we'd received earlier around international adoption made me ask God what's going on here? Does He wants us to adopt domestically?

I came home. Told JD. His head's spinning a little too as we're just struggling with what to do. We agree that I should at least call the woman with Bethany Christian and get a better understanding of the situation domestically -- even locally.

So I do. She's super sweet. She says it's true. They do not have enough families who are willing to adopt outside their race. Lord have mercy. What is happening to us? What is happening to us that a precious baby is considered undeserving of a family because of the color of her skin? As if I was unworthy of growing up in the loving family I grew up in because I was born with blue eyes. Or blonde hair. That's what it is, folks. That's as simple as it gets. Completely innocent babies are being placed in foster care because there is no one to call them their own. God created them like He created you and me and they deserve a family.

I can't take it.

I asked the social worker with Bethany Christian about siblings. She says it's less common, but she has seen mothers recently who've given up a toddler and an infant. She thinks the economy is playing a part along with the possibility that women are choosing life more (which is awesome!). She says some women/parents are trying to parent and then realizing they can't and giving up their children at three, four and six months of age. And get this! She also said they're seeing married couples giving up their children because they just can't raise them.

So, that's it, folks. We're kinda stuck. I'm going to follow-up with her today to ask her a couple more questions and we're going to have a conversation with our social worker with Wide Horizons about our options if we decide that God actually wants us to adopt domestically. The crazy thing about that option is we could have children in our home very soon.

I will admit that we've wondered if we should stick with international adoption purely because we're willing to go -- and some adoptive parents would prefer not to travel extensively to bring children home. We've talked about the excitement of jet-sitting to a third world country. A glamorous, sophisticated rescue mission. But what if God wants us to put aside our willingness for fun and intrigue and just obey Him with the less-glamorous option?

We've talked (as you can imagine) about this to no end. We've also been a bit hard on ourselves in regard to our requesting girls. Probably due in part to our social worker's discouragement of that idea. We've felt a little guilty about the boys out there who need families too. But then we've settled ourselves down and reminded ourselves that (hello?) we're adopting two children, we're willing to adopt outside our race, we're willing to adopt children with certain special needs and we're willing to adopt internationally or domestically. We're done feeling bad that we would prefer girls and think that girls will fit into our family best.

Would you pray for us? We could use all the prayer we can get!


  1. Oh honey!! You really are experiencing what so many of us experience when adopting. Some answers are easy and some are not. I truly believe God leads us where we are supposed to be. I had a hard time thinking about adopting domestically because my heart was in Russia. Especially when we adopted Sam. Listen to your heart. Sometimes it is amazing what happens when we slow down and just listen.

  2. Thank you so much, Carrie. I needed to hear that. JD and I had a great conversation last night. We're still torn between international and domestic, so I did call Rachel at BCS today to tell her that we would want to know if there were a sister pair that becomes available for adoption (not foster to adopt and under age six). If something were to come of that, we feel pretty certain that's the direction we're meant to go. In the meantime, we're going to continue on our path overseas. We're going to have an honest conversation with Wide Horizons next week and just take this weekend to calm our hearts and minds. We'll know more after we talk to our social worker there. It is of comfort (in a 'we're not alone!' kind of way) to know that many, if not all, adoptive parents ride this roller coaster at some time or another. We love you guys!

  3. Heather,

    I totally understand your place of confusion. Adoption makes you ask yourselves and eachother a lot of questions the non-adoptive set of parents does not have to think about. I will be praying for you and JD in this time of making deicions.

    Here is the thing....I don't want to make you feel guilty. Because all of the things you are talking about for reasons of why you feel girls would be best (or even girl/boy pair) in your family are all valid, loving reasons. But the intricacies of family dymanics and personalities is only something that God can know and be trusted with. For all of your loving reasoning and thinking, shutting off a passage (boy/boy) from which God could place the perfect children in your family is not a decision that you ultimatly want to be responsible for.

    We were convinced that a boy would fit best with our family dynamics (adding #3 to a boy/girl pair). B could keep her princess status all to herself and not feel too displaced by a younger sibling. That is a large part of why we chose Korea...the abundace almost certainty of recieveing a boy referral. But as you know, God had a different (better) plan for our family. Recieveing a girl referral ,with no special needs, already having a girl in our family, and not "requesting" a girl...was nearly unheard of with our agency. They even reminded us that we could turn down the referral, if we really wanted a boy. Well, you know how that turned out.

    In the words of Garth Brooks..."some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers".

    You and JD have always been open to what God wants for you and your family. Don't start trying to take control now. He already knows who and where your children are. He has picked them out to fit in your family just the way He wants.

    Sorry to go on so long. Please know that I have been in your shoes. And I know that your and JD's hearts will be forever changed through all of this crazy rollercoaster. Just hang on.



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