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.
Continue reading Adoption Interviews: Gene Mason
Between our new banners that are popping up across the web, a new Facebook group (currently with 40 members!) and daily conversations, word is really spreading. Which is encouraging. We need as much encouragement and support as we can get.
Sometimes it feels kind of quiet out there in cyberland, so it’s been helpful to see people responding the past few days. Thanks.
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.)
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.”
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.
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)
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.)
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.
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.
From Minnesota–the adoption state–comes stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody and her debut movie, Juno, about a teenage girl who gets pregnant and decides to place her child for adoption (notice a theme?). It’s got Rainn Wilson, Michael Cera and some other folks (somebody named Jennifer Garner?), and the trailer is funny.
Which is often a sign of sure disappointment with the movie itself, so relish these great lines from the trailer in case the movie sucks:
Juno (pregnant teen): “If I could just have the thing and give it to you now, I totally would. But I’m guessing it looks, probably like a sea monkey right now, and I should let it get a little cuter. ”
Vanessa (potential adoptive mother): “Your parents are probably wondering where you are.”
Juno: “Nah… I mean I’m already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?”
But personally, I’ve got high hopes. While the offensive factor is pretty high, adoption humor is a vast untapped reserve of comedy. And as Joshua Cody pointed out yesterday, it’s nice to see adoption modeled as an alternative to abortion.
This is the first in a series of interviews with people who have experienced adoption. I hope to offer multiple perspectives on adoption since nobody wants to listen to me ramble about adoption all month.
Joshua Cody is 20 years old and a student at the University of Georgia. He’s our intern at the Center for Church Communication, specifically making my life easier at Church Marketing Sucks. He’s also adopted. A lawyer in a black Lincoln delivered Joshua to his parents in a parking lot when he was only three days old. He’s seen the video and noted that his parents looked a lot happier than he did. As you’ll see, he’s pretty comfortable with his adoption–to the point of making jokes.
1. When did you first realize you were adopted? What kind of impact did that have on you?
As soon as I was old enough to know that babies didn’t come from storks, I knew that I was adopted. My parents concentrated on using proper language to convey the idea, telling me that my real mommy and daddy couldn’t take care of me.
They would always tell me that I was luckier than all the other kids because they picked me, and all the other parents didn’t get to pick. I grew up feeling really special about the whole thing.
2. Do you know what motivated your parents to adopt?
My parents simply couldn’t have children a la natural. As a child, this came over as “mommy’s pipes are broken.”
Continue reading Adoption Interviews: Joshua Cody