A few weeks back I was speaking with someone who I love and respect. He knows our family fairly well, but not as well as he thought. This gentleman has known my husband since he was a toddler and has seen my husband grow into the man he is today. Based on that fact alone this individual really should have thought more carefully about our conversation. We were discussing something completely unrelated to our adoption when out of the blue he brought up Channah.
"Have you even met her?"
"What about your other children?"
"You cannot save the world!"
"It seems as though you made an emotional decision."
"It is bad enough you adopted that boy with Down Syndrome."
"You will be stuck with these children forever!"
I confess that I just allowed the gentleman to keep on with one reason after another as to why we should not adopt Channah. It truly caught me off guard and I could merely thank him for his concern and end the conversation as quickly as possible. Typically I am ready with a witty response or one that would at the very least cause someone to stop and think about what they are saying, particularly if they have no experience with adoption. But I said nothing.
Over the past few weeks I have thought about what this person said and in my mind I have come up with responses. While I am certain that this individual will never see my blog I still feel as though I need to share a little bit more as to the why of embarking on yet another adoption. Not to justify it for myself, but to share that there are of course always a million reasons why someone should not do something; our family, the boys included, seek God's direction in all things, even if they are difficult decisions.
"Have you ever met her?": No. I personally have never met Channah though I have spoken to two individuals who have. One is a fellow adoptive mother who spent some time with her and advocated for Channah for two years. This mother would have adopted Channah if it had been the Lord's will but it was not. WE were called to be her family. When I spoke with this adoptive mother I asked very direct and difficult questions. Questions that could have very easily had answers leading to reasons as to why we should not adopt Channah. I also contacted a missionary couple that run a foster home located directly next door to Channah's orphanage. They were so happy to answer a bunch of questions I had and were able to give me a little more insight to Channha's day to day life. They see her almost every day. Not once did they give me a reason to second guess our decision.
"What about your other children?": What about them? They are SO excited about the prospect of having an older sister. The boys fully understand what is involved thus time around since we adopted Dima and they will be the first to tell you that adopting Dima was one of the best decisions we ever made. Often times I see a completed writing assignment from school and they have composed a story or narrative that is either centered around Dima or mentions him. It is all positive. All four boys are happy, well adjusted young men who see the world through different eyes because of Dima. They have told me more than once that Dima has made them better people and they love him very much.
"You cannot save the world!": That is absolutely correct. I, Jenny, cannot save the world. That is why Jesus Christ died on the cross. What I can do, however, is make a world of difference in a child's life as a result of the love of Jesus Christ. That includes my four boys, Channah, and any other child with whom I come into contact. Without the Lord I can do nothing of value.
"It seems as though you have made an emotional decision.": That comment sounds as though one assumes that I just saw Channah's picture, cried, and immediately signed on to adopt her. Not so much. I saw her picture back in January and yes, felt drawn to her. But there was no way at that time that our family was in any position to adopt. We prayed. We sought the counsel of Godly friends. We spoke at length with our social worker. I spoke with other moms who have children with Cerebral Palsy. We prayed some more. Emotional decisions are made on the fly, quickly and without much thought. Our committing to Channah did not happen until June. So do the math - it took us six months to commit to her and begin the process. Hardly emotional.
"It is bad enough you adopted that boy with Down Syndrome.": Is it? Because we sure do love him and please refer to my previous response about how much his brothers love him. Just because he has Down Syndrome does not at all mean that he is a monster or some horrible burden. I can only assume that you said that because you personally would never desire to have a child with Down Syndrome. As we say here in the south to ignorant statements, "Oh bless your heart!".
"You will be stuck with these children forever.": Praise be to God for that! Adoption is forever and I am so happy, humbled, and blessed that I get to be Dima and Channha's mother forever. Quite frankly I cannot imagine my life any other way! But if you meant that Dima and Channah will be living with us forever, well, then you truly do not know our family as well as I had thought or hoped you did. Dima will be in school until he is 22 and yes, living at home. But then he gets to be off on his own with the help of the Key Training Center where he will live somewhat independently, have a job, go on trips with his friends, and lead a very fulfilling and productive life. Eric and I desire for Dima to be as independent as possible! He is able to do so much with his life now that he has a family and education. We want for Dima what we desire for ALL of our children. As for Channah, well, I hope that she continues to do well with her studies here in the States (she is in school right now with math being her best subject!) and is able to go onto to college. As far as we know she is not mentally deficient and there is no reason why she cannot have a secondary education, a job, get married, and have a family! How is that a burden?! Eric and I will push Dima and Channah just as we do Jeremiah, Elijah, and Sammy. And what if something were to happen to Jeremiah, Elijah, or Sammy where they had to live with us due to unforeseen circumstances? We would never view that as a burden, rather, it is always a blessing to have them with us.
Bottom line, we chose to adopt again because that is what God has for our family. What may be good for our family may not necessarily be good for another. While we certainly advocate for adoption, we advocate for an informed adoption. In other words, we encourage families to do their homework before diving into the adoption pool. No, it is not easy and our family, boys included, know that adoption is lots of work, patience, tears, and smiles. What we are certain of is that God guides our family each and every day.
So if the gentleman was sitting with me this morning having a cup of coffee and we were ending our previous conversation I would say to him this, "You know, thank you for your concern. It is kind of you to be looking out for us and I know you would never want anything bad to happen to us. It is really quite easy to come up with a million and one reasons why we shouldn't do something because it may be difficult or cause pain. It is my sincere hope, however, that you see what a blessing Dima has been to our family and that while life is not always easy, we are happy. Jeremiah, Elijah, and Sammy are happy, well adjusted, excelling in school, and have become such kind, caring, compassionate, patient, young men because they see life a little differently than most young people their age. Eric and I are certainly not perfect parents but we seek after a perfect God who is all wise. Life is meant to be lived and it is messy. But when one walks in obedience the blessings are immeasurable. I only wish you could walk one day in our shoes to see that."
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates. Psalm 127:5
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Psalm 128:3