By Joleigh Little , Teens for Life Director, Wisconsin Right to Life
Adoption — not abortion. Those three words are easy to say. So easy, in fact, that I said them, almost as a matter of rote, for decades. But it’s far easier to say than to do.
Today, on the last day of National Adoption Month, I’d like to ask you to think a little bit about that with me.
We know that abortion takes the life of a living, growing, developing, fully alive human child. It should not be an option to brutally kill a defenseless person because their existence is inconvenient. So because of that reality, any other option stands out as a better choice.
But that doesn’t make the other options easy ones. And that’s where I want to ask your indulgence. I want to ask you to spend a few minutes with me really, really thinking about adoption.
I share all of what follows –ask you to consider these things –for a very specific reason. My goal is not to talk you out of adopting if you have considered it but to help you understand that adoption is a lot like anything else you will do in life that is worth your time– and that includes commitment, courage, and sacrifice.
Let’s begin at the beginning. Yes, there are the happy ever after stories. The loving married couple who has waited their entire lives to be parents is finally united with the child for whom they have longed for years.
A beautiful little orphaned girl is placed in the arms of her new parents for the first time. A little boy, about to age out of a broken system, meets his dad for the first time.
These beautiful moments do happen every day. They are to be celebrated because they mean life for these children. They represent families built out of brokenness.
However, behind those snapshots, those vignettes, there are other moments–tougher moments– that need to be recognized. We need to really see them if we are going to keep saying “adoption – not abortion” and own it.
Adoption means that someone has lost something. That is always true. Whether the separation happens in an instant after birth in a hospital where loving adoptive parents are waiting to receive a child or whether the separation happens in a more brutal manner – the child abandoned in a bus station, wrapped in a plastic bag, for example – every child who is available for adoption has suffered a loss.
The older a child is the more loss he or she has suffered. There is always a birth mother in the adoption equation, and sometimes a father as well. These are people who, for whatever reason, cannot raise their children to adulthood. Sometimes they agonize to make the perfect and most loving plan possible, and other times they are forced by circumstances to abandon a child and hope for the best. Other times, a child is left without parents through death. Whatever way the separation happens, there is loss.
Adoption requires courage. While it is very easy to look at and grow attached to a photograph of a child who lives a world away, it is another thing entirely to meet that child, who may be a grief-stricken, terrified, traumatized tiny human who just now has been ripped away from everything he or she knows.
It is brutal and raw to witness that level of brokenness. It is more difficult still to sign on the dotted line of a form, written in any one of a dozen languages, and agree to absorb into your family, that wounded child.
Sometimes that courage takes the form of facing your fears while standing under the stream of a lukewarm shower 5,000 miles away from everything you know, and reminding yourself that the child screaming angry words at you in a language you cannot understand is NOT the child you will have a year from now.
Adoption is hard. Sometimes it means repeating the same directive hundreds of times, day after day, for years on end and realizing that complying may always be out of your child’s reach due to the alcohol poisoning they suffered in utero.
Other times it means waking up a dozen times during the night to comfort a tiny person who is living her worst nightmare, surrounded by unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells and people. For many it means sitting for days and weeks on end in a hospital room while medical professionals work to correct a physical issue that threatens the very life of this child you’ve grown to love.
Adoption is expensive. It is utter madness that we live in a world where you can take the life of a child for a tiny fraction of what it requires to save the life of the same child. Having walked the adoption path twice, I will tell you that every penny is worth it, and that (at least in my experience) every dollar went to pay for services rendered with the utmost care and dedication. No one, at least in Hague countries with proper oversight, is getting rich in the process. But people’s time and expertise, plane tickets, attorney’s fees, orphanage donations, hotel costs and other things add up fast.
As I mentioned in the beginning, adoption is a lot like anything else you will do in life that is worth your time. Marriage takes commitment. Parenting takes work. Making a difference in the world takes sacrifice. Most among us do these things every day without thinking twice. So don’t let the challenges deter you.
I am asking you to consider all of this for two reasons. First of all, I don’t ever want you to say “adoption – not abortion” again without understanding the reality behind those three words. (Don’t stop saying it. It is absolutely true. Just realize that there is more to the picture than most of us ever sees.)
Secondly, I very much hope that you will look at the realities of adoption and do one of three things: adopt, reach out to help a family who has adopted, or be in serious and fervent prayer for families who are releasing children for adoption, or making a child their own through adoption.
Our Movement is comprised of amazing people with vast resources. Some have money to give, others give of their time and talents, while still others support in other ways. Together we are an amazing force. On this last day of National Adoption Month for 2016, as we move into one of the most celebrated seasons in our culture, I’m asking you – ALL of you – to find a way you can make the adoption equation easier for someone.
If you know of a family who is fundraising to adopt, contribute – as much as you can. If you know of a family who has adopted, please find a way to help. Offer to bring a meal in the early days. Stay in touch as they’ve had their child home for a longer time. Offer to babysit so the parents can get some much-needed time to breathe. Pray that their family would thrive.
And you. If you’ve ever considered adoption, please – ADOPT. I don’t have words to explain what it means, so I will just leave you with this.
It may seem a paradox but it is not: Adoption is the hardest thing you will ever do but it will bring you more joy than you can imagine.
Adoption will reveal things in you that you didn’t realize were there. It will stretch you. It will try you.
But, and please hear this from the deepest places of my heart, it will change you in the best way possible. Adoption filled my home and my heart with two little girls, each of whom faces her own struggles in life.
Separately we are broken and imperfect people. Together we are a family – one that, like yours, still has flaws – but one that loves just as deeply as any created by biology.