Monday, June 21, 2010

if you are adopting transracially... might find this frustrating, offensive, difficult, and possibly more helpful than anything else out there to prepare for the road ahead.

[I know I probably need to be frustrated, offended, and made to read/watch difficult things in order to be the best adoptive parent I can be.]

For those who dare to join me, I'm attempting this Crash Course in Transracial Parenting. It's clearly not for the faint of heart, but then... neither is any type of parenting, adoptive, transracial, or otherwise!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

not enough

I have been putting off writing about this topic because I feel like in order to do it well I will need more time than I can seem to find. But I don't think that chunk of uninterrupted time is ever going to come, so instead of writing and editing for hours on end I will force myself to just share a few brief thoughts.

I have been poking around adoption blogs and adoptee blogs for awhile now. By no means do I consider myself an expert, but I am learning a lot (and realizing how much more I need to learn). In this process, one of the most important things I am coming to understand more fully is this:

Wanting to care for orphans is not a good reason to adopt.

Believe me, I am a strong advocate for adoption and I have a deep and passionate concern for orphaned children. I just don't necessarily believe that adoption should be promoted as the only reasonable response to the tragedy of orphaned children.

As another blogger put it:

If a person has a heart to care for the orphan that is really, really wonderful. As an adoptive parent my advice would be, send a check. Offer respite care for an adoptive parent. Help with a fundraiser. Take a missions trip to an orphanage. Sponsor a child. Sponsor several.

If a person
wants to parent children who were biologically born to someone else, adoption is a beautiful, transforming, life altering for all involved parties, option.

At its core, adoption is not about caring for orphans; it is about parenting a child. True, that child was at one point in time classified as an orphan, and true you are providing care, so in that literal sense, adoption is a type of orphan-care. But if your primary aim in adoption is anything other than being a parent -- even something noble, like rescuing an orphan or caring for the needy -- I wonder if it might be best to consider some other form of aid.

I can hear the protests: "But there's such a huge need! These kids need families! Everyone should consider helping to meet this need by opening their home to an orphan!" Well, yes and no. Yes, there's a huge need. Yes, these kids need families. And yes, I wish more people would carefully consider adoption as an option in their family planning.

But if you consider the prospect of parenting a child who was not biologically born to you and find that you are not called, equipped, and excited to do just that, then NO, you should not adopt. It doesn't mean you don't love orphans. It doesn't make you a "bad Christian" (as if there were such a thing). It's just not your particular God-given calling. By the same token, choosing to adopt doesn't give adoptive parents the right to look down our noses at anyone. As one adoptee blogger put it: Adopting a child doesn’t make you a saint. It doesn’t make you a hero. It makes you a parent.

To summarize, wanting to care for orphans is great, biblical, praise-worthy, etc... but as an adoptive parent it is simply not enough.

Friday, June 18, 2010

grief, grace, and PBJ

As excited as I am to bring home our boy, I have been struggling with lots of sadness lately too. Of course we are excited... but how does he feel? We chose this, we chose him, but he had no choice and that makes me sad. Although the process of adoption will meet his need for a loving lifelong family, it will also be yet another traumatic experience for him. He will be brought to an unfamiliar place (the transitional home in Addis Ababa) where complete strangers (that's us) will hug him and kiss him and speak strange-sounding words to him. Then a few weeks later these same strangers will come back and take him in a horribly loud and crowded machine for hours on end, only to emerge in a new place where nothing smells, sounds, tastes, feels or looks right. And this is only the beginning.

I am starting to love this boy more and more, which makes me grieve for what I cannot give him. I can't fix the brokenness that led to him needing to be adopted. I can't rewind the tape and change the events and decisions that brought him to where he is. I can't change the fact that he will not be raised by the people who gave him life, that he will never look like his Mom and Dad, that he will grow up across the world from his first home... and it makes me sad.

Yesterday I got home from a lovely (and by lovely I mean downright awful) day of travel with 2 exhausted, over-stimulated, post-Disneyland preschoolers. [I may or may not have burst into tears at the airport McDonald's and required the help of a kind stranger to regain my sanity and my chicken nuggets.] By the time we got home we were all hanging by a thread. The kids needed dinner and there was no food in the house so I started making PBJ. As I made the sandwiches my thoughts wandered to Ethiopia and my heart got heavy. I don't know if I can do this... He needs an Ethiopian mama... He deserves better than me... I know I'm going to make a million mistakes... I looked down and realized I had put peanut butter and jelly on the top of the sandwich and stuck and extra piece of bread on top. There was no fixing it, the sandwich was ruined and I started to cry (again).

"What's wrong Mommy?" I gulped and sniffed and looked down at the sandwich. True, I couldn't fix it, but I could make the best of it. "Nothing sweetie. Mommy made you the coolest, most special sandwich ever! It's a TRIPLE-DECKER PBJ!" The kids of course thought it was awesome and will probably not accept PBJ any other way from here on out.

God is funny. He is not above using PBJ to bring His deeply-needed grace into our lives if that's what we give him to work with. As I sliced up the triple-stack sandwiches I received the peace of his presence with me, reminding me that yes, I will mess up... but YES, God will redeem. He will use me to bless my children, even when I'm spacing out and buttering the wrong side of the bread. In this adoption journey, in my daily parenting challenges, in all areas of life I find myself utterly and completely dependent upon that grace -- the grace that takes our broken offerings and makes them into something beautiful.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

saving a spot

I'm being followed. Whether the boys and I are piling in the car for preschool or riding bikes to the park or just sitting around the breakfast table together, I can't help picturing a third little boy in the mix. Wherever we go, I picture him with us - where he would be sitting, how he would laugh at Dexter's silly faces, what Nate would want to show him and teach him.

Today the boys and I went to my parents' cabin on Vashon Island [more pictures here]. We left some room for Ballast boy #3... Can't wait to round out these pictures with another sweet son.

P.S. We heard from our placing agency today -- all our paperwork has been translated into Amharic and we are just waiting for the orphanage director to sign one more piece of paper in Addis Ababa before they can petition for our court date. The paper is supposed to be signed later this week, and from then it will take about 2-4 weeks to receive our court date. Please keep praying we will be assigned a date before the closure in August and September!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

the wheels are turning...

Our referral paperwork arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday! Sometime this week our agency's lawyer will petition for a court date for our case. It could take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to find out our court date, which we are hoping will be scheduled sometime in July. It is so crazy to think that in less than two months I could be kissing the sweet chubby cheeks of our cute little guy! It's harder to think about the fact that we will only have a day or two to get in as many kisses as we can before we get back on a plane to come home without him... Those will be long weeks while we wait for an Embassy appointment.

Our agency director returns home from Ethiopia this week, bringing with her new photos and stories to tell about how our boy is doing! She got to spend time with him just a few days ago and we can't wait to hear all about it. Seeing the pictures will be exciting, but strange too... he will look so different than he does in the pictures we have, which are now a few months old. We have memorized every little inch of him in those photos, so I know it will be surprising at first to see a bigger and older boy smiling at us in the new ones. We can't post pictures online until we pass court, but if you see me in person I'm happy to share - just ask! :)