Sunday, November 2, 2014
I woke up this morning to Orphan Sunday splashed throughout my Facebook feed. People are advocating, and it's good to bring awareness to the issue. To those who disparage the 143 million orphans number touted by many, I say, that's fine. What about 1 million orphans? Is that okay?? What about a thousand orphans? Surely no one can deny that there are a thousand orphans. And yet, who can wrap their head around such a number?
I'm in a weird place, this Orphan Sunday. In years past, I used to resent that our church did nothing to acknowledge it. Yet living in the wake of a not "happily ever after" adoption, I'm much more reserved in my feelings about adoption.
My advocacy shirts have become pajamas. I can't bring myself to wear them out of the house any more.
While I would love nothing more than to plaster these beautiful faces out there as the success story of adoption, I now realize that would be doing a disservice to the families who end up like us.
I love my girls. I'm grateful that I get to be their mom. I can hear them downstairs laughing right now, and it makes me smile. Their adoptions have been beautiful, and it's a privilege to help them learn English, and fit into our family, and see their medical needs met and watch them grow and change.
But the system is broken. I don't know how to make it better, and maybe it never will be in this fallen world, because, hello? kids are supposed to be raised by their parents. No longer can I blindly advocate that everybody should consider adoption. I don't believe any more that if you "step out in faith everything will be okay." I think that, in general, social workers have gotten away from best practices, and are allowing families to push the envelope. No one means any harm. The thinking is, "Better for that child to be in a family than spend their life in an orphanage, right?" Only, I'm not even sure I believe that any more.
Adoptive parents have gotten "entitled" as well. Not all, but some. There are those who will tell you that you might have to "shop around" to find a social worker that will approve you for 2 at once/adoptions less than a year apart/adopting out of birth order/taking on more than you can handle.
Those situations are called risk factors for a reason. There is a risk. No one wants to think about it, prospective adoptive parents don't want to hear about it, and nobody wants to live it. Yet for all the dozens, if not hundreds of "happily ever after" stories, there's a percent of stories that go untold. The stories where families struggle and have regrets.
Adoption can be beautiful. I know that, and I believe that with all my heart. But it can also be a disaster. Please, if you're considering adoption, take off the rose colored glasses and have the hard conversations with your spouse. Talk about all the possible "what if" scenarios you can think of. Seek out the fostering and adoptive families you know. Get to know them; listen to their stories. Think about how you would handle the challenges they face.
I've wondered if God allowed us to adopt Luke because He knew I'd never feel "finished" until I was completely overwhelmed. I don't like to think that fits with His character, but the thought is there, nonetheless.
My biggest regret is how things have changed for our other kids, since bringing home Luke. Being unable to go out to dinner as a family to celebrate a birthday might sound trivial, but I grieve for things like that. Things that used to be "family" events have now become a "divide and conquer" mission for us as parents. It's not fair to the kids.
As Orphan Sunday draws to a close, yes, consider what you can do to help children in need, both here and around the globe. But don't get so caught up in the emotional frenzy that you make decisions that ultimately harm the ones you love most, your family.
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