I think one of the biggest challenges for our adoption is the transracial element. We’re adopting a kid from Ethiopia—they’re going to be black. We’re very, very white. That can pose a lot of problems.
In our pre-adoption classes they had us do an exercise where we put a colored bead in a cup to match the race of each person they read off—your doctor, your boss, your coworkers, your neighbors, your favorite author, your favorite actor, your favorite musician, your vet, your barber, your lawyer, your accountant, your fill in the blank. At the end of it I had a lot of white beads in my cup. So did everybody else (including the black guy), which is partially because Minnesota is predominantly white. But it helps to see it so vividly.
As a child grows up they need to see people who look like them so they don’t feel like a complete outcast. And that means intentionally trying to be more diverse for the sake of our child. We’ve already made some good steps in the right direction—living in a diverse (for Minnesota) neighborhood, owning a decent mix of multi-cultural books, etc.—but we’ve got a long way to go.
In general, I think race is going to be a tough issue.
I love the story of Shaohannah’s Hope, a nonprofit adoption resource organization founded by Steven Curtis Chapman. It all started in 1997 when the Chapman’s 11-year-old daughter, Emily, went on a missions trip to Haiti. She connected with the children immediately and when the trip ended she didn’t want to go.
“Leave me here,” she said. “I want to stay.”
She brought her passion for children home and started trying to convince her parents to adopt. She bought books on adoption and pestered her parents with facts and notes urging them to adopt and laying on the guilt. Her campaign was downright annoying.
Two years later her parents finally relented and started the adoption process. In 2000 they adopted Shaohannah and have since adopted two more girls from China and founded Shaohannah’s Hope to provide support and resources to those adopting. (I liked the story so much I already blogged about it once for the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07).
Speaking of adoption being everywhere, it’s also famous. While a number of famous people end up in the spotlight for adopting, perhaps what isn’t as well known is the famous folks who were adopted themselves.
That’s not to say that adopted kids all become famous or that you should adopt so you can have the next Steve Jobs. Instead it points to the normalcy of adoption. All kinds of people adopt, place their children for adoption and are adopted themselves. Start talking about adoption and you’ll be surprised at how many adoption connections you discover.
One of the cool things about adopting is realizing that adoption is everywhere. As soon as we started talking about our adoption we started hearing adoption stories everywhere.
There are five families at our church that we know of who have adopted, and three of the five are transcultural adoptions. There are also several families who are considering adoption or have considered it at one time. I’ve also heard from one person whose family placed a child for adoption. And that’s just in our church. Outside our church I’ve heard from several people who were adopted themselves, and more who have adopted or considered adoption.
There are 144 million orphans around the world, according to SOS-Children’s Village. 14 million are AIDS orphans and by 2010 that number will grow to 25 million, according to UNICEF.
In the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, God commands his people again and again to care for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. God continually mentions the orphan and insists that people watch out for the orphan. For me, adoption is one way of doing that. The world is a broken place, and if we’re going to make the kingdom of God known today, we must respond to something as brutal as 144 million orphans. Whether we respond through adoption or sponsoring a child or whatever–how can we not respond?
This is not the kind of news story you want to read about at the beginning of National Adoption Awareness Month. A French charity tries to fly more than 100 orphans out of Chad under the guise of adoption. Turns out they weren’t orphans and it hardly sounds like adoption. More like human trafficking.
And for me, that’s one of the scariest things about international adoption. I don’t want to steal someone else’s child. The questions raised in this brutally honest Mother Jones article, “Did I Steal My Daughter?” ring true.
That’s part of why we made the choices we did. We chose to work with Children’s Home Society, which has been doing this since 1889. That’s quite a track record. They helped establish the orphanage in Ethiopia where our child will come from, so there’s reassurance that this is no fly by night operation. Ethiopian culture also looks favorably on adoption (so I’m told).
There are certainly adoption horror stories out there. But I think we’ve done what we can to make sure everything is legit and that we’re actually helping children who need help and not just lining someone’s pockets or stealing someone’s child. It’s really sad that we have to worry about those kinds of things. Nothing is ever simple.
And in the mail today is a bill for $4,600, due upon receipt. It’s for our processing/placement fee and nothing moves forward until we pay it. As if that $27,000+ number wasn’t scary enough, this bill is a nice little reminder that the money has to be paid sooner rather than later.
Reality just moved in.
This also represents the first adoption bill we won’t be able to pay just by writing a check and tightening the belt. We’ll probably be turning to a credit card (low interest balance transfers, nothing high interest thank you) or borrowing from my retirement savings. This is why we’re asking for donations. And why I have a list of 15+ organizations offering adoption loans and grants that we might possibly qualify for. And this is one reason why I hate having student loan debt.
November is usually a month for writing a novel. But this year I’m doing something different. In addition to National Novel Writing Month, November is also National Adoption Awareness Month. So instead of writing a 50,000-word novel, we’re going to blog every day about adoption.
That’s right, we. My wife, Abby, has also jumped on the bandwagon.
You can follow the links there to learn more about our adoption journey and keep up on our month of adoption blogging. We appreciate the support, encouragement and prayer. Thank you. And feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments (or e-mail us)–adoption can be a confusing process and we’re happy to answer questions.
A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.