Listening to: Mumford and his sons (apparently adopted, the ages don’t work!)
Reading: Parenting the Hurt Child
Writing about: Calling, Parenting, and Adoption
I was much more intense when I was 18 years old. I had bumper stickers or patches on most everything I owned. It was obnoxious, and I was obnoxious. Here is an unbelievably embarrassing but telling story about 18 year old me.
Before I was married, or out of high school (or out of puberty) I was so committed to the idea of adopting children that I thought it would be a good idea to get a vasectomy before I was married to ensure that the older version of me wouldn’t give up on my ideals. To force adoption on my future self. I didn’t do that, because it is ridiculous.
It took me years to tell my wife that story, and here I am publishing it on the internet (that is something 18 year old me would do, but current me is still confused by).
So anyway, all that is to say two things:
Teenagers are ridiculous
Adoption has always been very important to me.
Fast forward a few years and I got married to the greatest woman in the world. I thought it would be cool for Les to co-write some foster articles with me, but she was less than enthusiastic about that idea. So you will be missing the better part of our process and conversation. Just keep in mind that the person telling you this story is the same person that was described in the first paragraph.
Leslie and I have talked about adoption throughout our relationship. I think we both thought it would be part of our story. We were married young, and went a bunch of years before we had our first biological child. She’s awesome, and smart, and kind, and beautiful.
Around the time Anna was born there was a real groundswell in evangelical Christian communities to get involved in international adoption. You can expect a conversation about this some time in the future. We kind of assumed that we would adopt internationally and started exploring the process.
To be clear, we knew that we were called to adopt children…but we really didn’t have a sense of how we should go about it. Some of you are, undoubtedly, in the same place right now. One guiding principle for us was that we wanted to “meet a need.” We didn’t want to be in line with a dozen potential parents for a kid that would have a family with or without us. We wanted to be a family for a kid who may otherwise go without. I still believe our attitude and approach was healthy…but the deeper we got in the process, the more complex things got for us. We were not moving towards clarity.
At the end of the day, for a lot of reasons (that may or may not get another post later) we did not feel like international adoption was what we were supposed to do. We have no beef with the idea, generally speaking, but we felt sure that it was not what we were supposed to do.
So we started exploring what was, in our minds, the only other option: domestic adoption. We met with some folks from agencies, made a little book about our family, then got pregnant with our second biological child. Mae is a tiny little peanut, she is charming, funny, tough, and strong willed. She has a magnetic personality, and she didn’t sleep for a year. That is real. Not like “oh man, we never get sleep, ugh!” Mae had severe reflux and ear infections. She only slept face down, on our bellies, in a recliner, for a few hours at a time, every night F o r e v e r ! Mae dominated our attention for most of her early life.
I wrote more about what makes Mae tick Here
By the time we were coming out of the fog and Mae was getting stable, we decided it was time to make a real move on the adoption front. We didn’t really want to have any more biological children, and we still don’t (it bears repeating, that my wife did not have any input in this article).
We were in a bit of a pickle. We knew we wanted to meet a need. We were concerned with becoming “competition” for families who could not have babies biologically.
But, at the same time , we weren’t really open to meeting the most pressing needs in the domestic system: kids with developmental disabilities or serious health issues, adolescents / teenagers, and large sibling groups.
We felt stuck. We didn’t feel right about international or domestic adoption,
but we knew we felt called to adoption.
Again, there is nothing more right or good about any particular form of adoption. They all do something beautiful (providing kids with families) and they are all morally complex. We have friends who know they are called to domestic adoption. We have friends who are sure about their calling to international adoption. Both sets are doing great things. But, when it came down to it we knew that we were not in either of those sets.
1,000 words into the post and I still haven’t used the term “foster care”…only adoption. That should communicate to you how totally out of the question it was for us. We didn’t know much about how foster care worked, we just knew we weren’t interested. We never discussed it seriously, never considered it, we were not going to do it.
And that is where we found ourselves when Leslie had a moment with the Lord.
If you know Les and I, we are not the type who talk about hearing from God every day.
I think both of us want to live good, holy, ethical lives. We both are committed to the Lord and Christian community. But I doubt anyone has ever thought of either of us (ESPECIALLY ME) as “super spiritual”.
My bosses boss once said I was “worldly” and he meant it as a compliment about my ministry style. You don’t say “worldly” about the kind of person who hears directly from the Lord every day. But you do say it about me.
Anyway, Leslie heard from the Lord. She can point to a message one Sunday where she felt like God directly called her to pursue adoption through foster care. Here it is.
The Lord did not do the same favor for me. Leslie did that. It wasn’t more than a week before we both had a real heart change….before I had a heart change. Les was essentially instantly on board.
We felt encouraged and called. We felt resolution to all of the questions and conflicts we had felt in our adoption journey. We felt oriented, directed.
Then we started moving.
(Part two is complete, you can see it here )