By Joleigh Little
November. For those of us in Northern climates, the month brings to mind frosty mornings, barren trees and the upcoming holiday season. In my family and many others, November also has a special significance because it is National Adoption Month.
Adoption means different things to different people. To me, adoption is synonymous with family, motherhood, and life. I cannot remember a time when adoption wasn’t on my heart. From my early days of pro-life involvement as a teenager, it just seemed like the perfect solution to the crisis of unplanned pregnancies. It naturally followed that if I was saying “adoption, not abortion,” it would only make sense that one day I would adopt.
At the tender age of 39, I finally put feet to my convictions and began the journey to my first daughter, Clara. It was a road fraught with paperwork, more than a little frustration, significant personal growth and, in the end, the greatest joy imaginable as I saw her little face for the first time, peering over the orphanage balcony at me in a small town in Bulgaria.
Several years after Clara came home, she and I hopped on an airplane and made our way to China to meet her little sister. Since no words can truly do the experience justice, I will spare you the details and leave it at this: China was hard.
As anyone who has adopted older children knows, the truly difficult work of adoption starts after the last of the paperwork is finished and the travel is behind you. Then it is time to begin the challenging miracle of making a stranger your own. It is work. There is grief. And frustration.
And it is totally worth it.
For me, the adoption journey was complicated ever so slightly by the fact that I was adopting and parenting as a single person. At the time it didn’t seem nearly as harrowing as it does now when I look back! (This is possibly because I spent a decent amount of the first year home with each daughter on a combination of auto-pilot and adrenaline.)
About the time Clara turned six, she started to notice that most of her friends had dads and she didn’t, and it seemed to her that this was a bit unfair. Never one to let an injustice ride, she confronted me about the disparity in a conversation that went a little bit (exactly) like this:
She: Mom. I fink I would like to have a Dad.
Me: Honey, that’s just not the sort of thing I can go to Wal-Mart and get for you. If you want a dad, I guess you’ll have to talk to Jesus about it.
She: Fine. Den I will.
And so she did. (Side note, if you need something feel free to ask Clara to pray for it.)
To make a very long story short, God sent her a dad this summer, and as God has a tendency to do, he sent just the right one. (I’m pretty fond of him, too.) And so our household has gone from slightly crazy-eyed single mom with girls (and dogs) to a markedly more normal set up that includes a mom, a dad, and four bonus older siblings who drop in from time to time to impart wisdom and much laughter.
From the outset of my adoption journey, I have encouraged anyone who has a heart for adoption to step out and begin the journey to which they feel called – married couples, single moms, even single dads. Adoption is far from easy, but having a family is the absolute best thing that can happen to any child who waits in an orphanage. What that family looks like matters a whole lot less than the fact that there is someone consistent to provide love, food and nurturing.
I love that November shines a national spotlight on the gift that is adoption. And while that light is shining, I will take a few paragraphs to do my own public service announcement on the topic.
Adoption numbers in the U.S. are dropping at an alarming rate. This causes me great sadness, as I have seen the gift that is adoption twice in my own household and hundreds more time in the community of family and friends that surrounds me. The best way to reverse this upsetting trend is to adopt or find a way to support someone who is adopting.
Congress recently renewed the Adoption Tax Credit, a very pro-life move vigorously supported by National Right to Life. Adoption is a ridiculously expensive endeavor, and one that is worth every single penny spent. Our pro-life members of Congress can be very proud of the help they have given to hundreds of families like mine whose tax burden is eased a bit by this credit.
We who are pro-life know the gift that is every child – regardless of their level of development or ability, or where they live. Our continued advocacy for adoption, support of people who are adopting or making an adoption plan for their children, and yes, even our willingness to step out and embark on an adoption journey of our own is the best way we can proclaim that value to a world that desperately needs to be reminded.
As National Adoption Month draws to a close, I encourage all of you to take a moment to consider how you can be a part of the miracle that is adoption. It truly is an amazing gift that transforms the life of a child, and the heart of a nation.