By Joleigh Little
Editor’s note. November is National Adoption Month. We’ve been running new and previously run stories on adoption all month. This wonderful post appeared last November on the author’s wordpress account, “See Joleigh Adopt.”
Adoption is hard. Adoption is messy. Adoption takes work. Adoption is expensive. Adoption will bring you pain. Adoption will take the life you once knew, turn it upside down, chew it up and spit it out in pieces that are barely recognizable.
Now… please go back and substitute “parenting” everywhere I wrote “adoption.”
Huh. Still accurate, isn’t it?
But that’s just one side of the coin. Adoption is also rewarding. Adoption brings joy. Adoption gives children families. Adoption will take the life you once knew, shave off a whole lot of the selfish, destroy a giant dose of the pride and bring you repeatedly to your knees, which is where you should have been in the first place. (Again, an awful lot like parenting!)
I have heard time and again that every adoption begins with brokenness. This is true. We live in a broken world. There are broken things. There are broken people. Evil exists. Terrible things happen. If you carry it back far enough, and I’m talking Garden of Eden far, our existence as a race began with brokenness. Disobedience. Arrogance. And ever since that time, the voice of the serpent is still hissing in the affairs of man. If you doubt this, turn on the evening news.
But. And there’s always that “but” isn’t there?
It’s totally up to us to decide what to do with that brokenness. Wallow in it? Rage against it? Stomp our feet and talk about how unfair it is? Give up and shut ourselves away from it?
Or… fix it. Where we can, how we can, with what we have.
Adoption is the result of brokenness, yes. But it is NOT the cause. It is, in fact, the solution. That solution doesn’t come easily. As an adoptive family you are absorbing into your midst someone who has been hurt. Sometimes brutally. Sometimes in ways that are subtle.
It’s okay, though, because you have been hurt, too. Everyone has. And because of that hurt, because you have lived for so long in a broken world, you have a gift that you can give to other broken people. It’s called empathy. You might also call it compassion. In short, it is love. The greatest gift we can give another human being.
And that’s why I love adoption.
I love adoption because adoption is the solution to often terrible problems. Adoption takes a child who has been abandoned, or hurt, or broken and makes that child a son or a daughter.
I love adoption because it gives those of us who are mere mortals a very real sense of how God feels about us.
I love adoption because it takes children from situations in which no child should EVER live and brings them to a place of safety. It pulls children out of an existence that is often very difficult and places them in a life that, while perhaps still difficult, will at least allow them to heal.
Closer to home, and by that I mean domestically, I love adoption because I have friends who, for whatever reason, cannot create biological children. Adoption has made them parents. Really great parents, in fact.
I love adoption because it gives scared women and girls, who are unprepared to parent, a very real and viable alternative to ending the lives of the tiny people growing inside of them.
I love adoption because it is the absolute best solution in a situation where parents cannot raise their biological offspring to adulthood.
That doesn’t mean I love the poverty, the drug or alcohol abuse, the death or the other horrible circumstances that make adoption necessary. But I sure as holy horse radish love the solution! I love that there IS a solution and I love that it’s a good solution.
I agree that the hard side of adoption needs to be discussed. It’s not all purple unicorns, shiny hearts and fuzzy kittens. But, then, neither is life. People are hard to love sometimes. YOU are hard to love sometimes. I know I am.
I will even go so far as to say that I love adoption because it is hard. I think that sometimes we have things a little too easy here in our comfortable American lives. We eat our fast food, drive our fast cars, scurry through our days from one thing to the next, giving our kids 16 different extracurricular activities and, let’s admit it, as often as is humanly possible, we choose to do things the easy way.
But “easy” doesn’t always equal “right.” For me, “easy” would have been to continue living my life, throwing myself into a job I love, passing my evenings and weekends knitting and spending my extra cash on beautiful, expensive yarn and not ever stepping out to make a stranger my own.
I can’t even write that without crying because while my now sometimes upside down life is very different from my carefully ordered world of four years ago, and most definitely a lot harder, it is so much better. Richer. Fuller. Happier. Funnier. Whole.
And this is the reason.
Her story begins with brokenness. Abandonment. Having to fight for limited attention from too few caregivers for too many children.
Our story together is not without its rough spots. She’s very strong-willed. (So am I.) She’s a little bossy and controlling. (So am I.) She has excellent verbal skills and needs to learn to use them for good and not for evil. (So do I.) In the beginning, I had to choose to love her. Actively choose. Because she wasn’t familiar those first few weeks and months, and she really did very suddenly change my nirvana into a nightmare on a few levels. (Think split lips, a loose tooth and constant bruises across my thighs while she fought her way into my heart.)
But, somewhere along the way, after choosing to love her, something beautiful happened.
She became mine.
So, I love adoption for all of the reasons I outlined above, and more. But the biggest reason I love adoption is that Clara has a mom. And I love that God chose me to be that mom.
So yes, adoption is hard. But it is also so amazingly and achingly beautiful. As a wise friend of mine, who has also chosen to love a child she didn’t make, recently said, “God calls us to do hard things. God equips us to do hard things.”
In closing? Please. Go do hard things. And remember that “hate” is a very strong word — especially for something that brings such incredible beauty out of brokenness.