Adoption Interviews: Gene Mason

In August 2007 Gene Mason and his wife brought 18-month-old Eden Hope home from Wuhan, China, to Birmingham, Ala. They adopted through Lifeline Children’s Services in Birmingham and the entire process took 22 months. Gene is 37 years old and works as a communications minister at The Church at Brook Hills and also runs Communicorps, a web site sharing communication tips and ideas for ministries and organizations (so, yes, another Church Marketing Sucks connection).

1. What motivated you to adopt?

We actually chose to adopt before we “officially tried” to have children. Our desire as a couple and as a family is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), and for our family to be a picture of Christ to the world. Adoption is a wonderful picture of Christ, in that he has adopted us into his family–Hebrews says that we are no longer called slaves, but sons of God. So our adoption decision was first and foremost to glorify Christ.

Secondly, our travels internationally have given us a burden for the needs of the world. There are more than 20 million orphan children worldwide who have no mom or dad–orphans in the strictest sense of the word, and more than 200 million who live in poverty. Christ has commanded us to care for them. So to be able to start a family and have the blessing of children while at the same time submitting to Christ’s command and his heart for the world to us was a no-brainer.

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Addition by Adoption

Today is National Adoption Day. Go adopt somebody.

OK, it isn’t that simple. But you can do something today to help support adoption. You can show your support for our adoption and spread the word. We’ve created a nifty new header on our adoption page and some slick banners you can add to your site. Add them to your blog, your web site, your MySpace, whatever. The code is available on our adoption page so all you have to do is copy and paste.

We hope you’ll spread the word.

(Oh, and by “we created” I mean we begged and pleaded our good friends at Taylor Design Works to help us out and Mr. Taylor himself agreed. Because while I can talk a good talk, I can’t design my way out of a paper bag.)

How Do You Get Out of a War?

Today hundreds of Twin Cities students skipped class to protest the war in Iraq. I heard the story on MPR (oddly enough I couldn’t find the story on the Star Trib or the Pioneer Press web sites) and I was struck by what the students were calling for. They wanted immediate troop withdrawal, war funding to go to education and army recruiters out of high schools (for whatever reason those rationales are not articulated clearly in the online article, though they were in the report I heard).

Even if you’re completely against the war, I don’t get what immediate troop withdrawal accomplishes. So we completely pull out of Iraq–what’s left? The country would plunge into civil war and it’d be a terrorist fun zone. That doesn’t sound like a way to end violence and death. While I’m not happy about the mess we’ve made in Iraq, I think we do have a responsibility to set it right. Being in Iraq in the first place may not be good, but leaving now would be even worse.

I applaud these students for protesting. That’s what makes this country great (try that in Pakistan right now). But I just don’t see the logic of their demands. Once you’ve made a mess you can’t just walk away and let someone else clean it up. That’s not right. Even Lexi knows that (sometimes).

It’s a lot easier to start a war than it is to end one. It’s also a lot easier to protest a problem than it is to figure out how to fix it. (Blogging and protesting are a lot a like that way.)

Adoption: Everybody Wins

Another movie about adoption for you: Bella. Or at least involving adoption. I’m not quite sure how it comes into play. But producer and star Eduardo Verastegui spoke at the White House today as the unofficial ambassador for adoption:

“Families have changed their lives forever after adopting a child. Because it’s not only that a family can give a child a home, but they themselves would have the gift of motherhood and fatherhood. So in adoption… everybody wins.”

Mazie Ate a Pound of Chocolate

So I caught our dog Mazie cleaning out a bag of Hershey Kissables (basically candy-coated chocolate). I came down stairs to find her licking out the inside of the bag. There was nothing left. Apparently the bag had been full.

So Mazie ate about a pound of chocolate.

And proceeded to throw up. Twenty-two times.

I think she’s finally better now. I’m not sure if I am.

Giving Back to Ethiopia

Several times I’ve mentioned that part of our adoption payments go to enrich the community we adopt from. It’s the whole idea that adoption alone isn’t a complete solution. Children’s Home Society and Family Services has four specific projects going on in Ethiopia which help provide education, health care, employment, family services and more.

With all the adoption horror stories we inevitably hear, I like hearing about good things like this.

Adoption Blogging from the NYT

Apparently we’re not the only ones blogging about adoption in November. The New York Times has joined us, offering the Relative Choices blog. I’ve only read half the entries, but they’re incredible. Better than you’ll get from me. Here’s a sampling:

The Real Thing:

So in a way it is kind of nice to know as a parent of a child, biological or otherwise — whatever you do is going to be wrong. Like I say to Willow: “Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”

And she says — as has been said by children since time immemorial — “So what, I don’t care. I would rather do that than be here anyway.”

Reclaiming Ownership of My History:

Adoption isn’t just about destiny, circumstance and self-congratulation for “saving” a child. It’s also about the consequences of conscious decisions made for adoptees supposedly “in our best interest.” Regardless of whether it’s for better or worse, adoption is the power to change a life and as the saying goes, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” My history had been hidden and altered, affecting my life in ways I’m only beginning to understand. Furthermore, my father’s actions may have possibly prevented me from ever finding out the truth.

And finally, the story of a woman adopting a 6-year-old from Ethiopia. The following paragraph describes their first meeting, and while there are more poignant moments elsewhere in the story, this one grabbed me. I guess it’s because this is exactly what we’ll experience some day soon.

Blind Date in Addis:

I walked through the orphanage gate very apprehensive, but excited. There were kids playing, running, kicking a ball made of tied up socks. They were giggling and happy, drawn to us the minute we arrived in their midst. Some of them got very friendly and wanted to be held and touched.

(link via TPY)

Adoption is a Last Resort

I love the quotes my wife pulled from the book There Is No Me Without You, especially this one:

“Adoption is a last resort,” said Haddush Haleform, head of the Children’s Commission under Ethiopia’s Ministry of Labor, “I am deeply respectful of the families who care for our children,” he said. “But I am so very interested in any help that can be given to us to keep the children’s first parents alive. Adoption is good but children, naturally, would prefer not to see their parents die.” (emphasis mine)

It’s a much needed kick in the teeth. To anyone feeling like a hero because they adopted one child, there are millions more who need help and you’ve done nothing to stem the tide of orphaned children (don’t misread me: adoption is a good thing, but it does not fix the problem). To anyone feeling like they can’t adopt, you can do any number of things to ensure that children don’t need to be adopted.

As Ethiopia becomes more and more important to our family, this underlines the importance for me of supporting families in Ethiopia. We will adopt and help the one in a million child, but we should also help the millions of others who won’t be adopted and we should also work so that adoption isn’t necessary in the first place. That’s the kind of justice that should be happening. (And as I understand it, some of our country fees go to do just this kind of work.)

Making Progress Again

Ironically enough, our adoption process has slowed down a bit the past couple weeks while we’ve also been intently blogging about adoption. We finished our home study and received the massive stack of paperwork for our dossier and that’s pretty much when things slowed down. It didn’t help that the latest adoption bill came at the same time, and paired with the check that must be sent in with the dossier, it’s almost half the total bill.

Yeah, ouch.

So you can see why things have slowed down. We’re not eager to pay those bills.

But in the last few days we’ve started moving again. Well, Abby has us moving and I’m trying not to slow us down. She has a running check list of what we need to do and last night we filled out paperwork to request extra copies of our birth certificates (yes, we know how to party on a Saturday night).

Among the paperwork we still need is a letter from the chief of police saying we’re not criminals, a letter from the bank saying we have money, a letter from our doctor saying we won’t die, and letters from both our employers saying we have jobs (and yes, being self-employed I’m supposed to write my own letter). The only thing we don’t need is a letter from our great-aunt Ruth. Though we might need a letter from you, so don’t be surprised if we ask.