Tag Archives: Adoption

We’re Adopting! (Again)

My wife already broke the news, but now it’s my turn: We’re adopting. Again. We’re not exactly sure what or where or how or when, but we’re starting the adoption process. At this point we’re actually leaning towards adopting older kids through the Minnesota Waiting Child program. We went to an informational meeting last week and we signed up for a required training class at the end of the month (which they describe as trying to scare you out of the program).

I don’t want to say we’ve decided anything for sure (the training may just scare us away), but we’re definitely leaning in that direction. We’ve been having lots of conversations about adopting older kids and what that means and what ages and how many and all of that. We’ve been talking to Lexi about it (Milo doesn’t seem to have an opinion on the subject) and she was initially very set on having a sister. Though this morning she told me we could have a baby in Milo’s crib because there’s room, we could have two kids in the basement bedroom, one kid could sleep on the bottom of Lexi’s bunk bed and another could sleep in the bed with Abby and I. Then Lexi told me I can just sleep in a sleeping bag to make room for more kids.

Despite Lexi’s plans I doubt we’ll be adopting five children.

It’s not easy and it’s never simple, but I love adoption. I love the hope it offers, the second chance it gives and the way it changes me. I like the idea of creating a family through adoption, taking multiple stories of brokenness and creating something new and full of grace. Not to discount the pain and loss involved on many sides, because that’s very real and has equally real consequences, but I’m kind of an insufferable optimist. I don’t like that adoption is necessary because that means hurt and brokenness has happened and nobody wants that. But if those are the chips we’re dealt, I guess I’m the kind of person who would rather pick them up and put them back together again. It’s not about rescuing children or saving them like some kind of hero. Adoption should be a last resort. It’s about giving these kids what they deserve.

Babies are great. But I don’t think we’re going back there again. At the same time our family isn’t complete. I don’t know what this looks like and how it all comes together, but I’m excited to find out.

Reflection on the Earthquake in Haiti

There is an endless stream of tragic stories coming out of Haiti right now after the devastating 7.0 earthquake that flattened Port-au-Prince. These ‘mega-tragedies,’ if you will, seem to be happening more frequently than ever before. I’m sure that’s not the case, because tragedy of one kind or another has always followed humanity. But technology has enabled us to see tragedy unfold almost instantaneously, and the result is a magnification of that tragedy. We began to see it with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and it’s become much more palpable with recent tragedies, from the Southeast Asia tsunami of 2004, Katrina in 2005, the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, etc.

Updates come instantly, from text-based updates sent out and passed along on Twitter or Facebook to video and pictures that are captured and immediately broadcast. We no longer have to wait for the six o’clock news—or even flip to cable news, like my generation—to see what tragedy has occurred today.

This is an example of technology making tragedy more palpable, more personal, more painful. You can see it in the way we open our pocketbooks and lift up our prayers. With that endless stream of tragedy there’s also an understandable temptation to turn away. It can all be too much.

Continue reading Reflection on the Earthquake in Haiti

We’re All Adopted: Overcoming the Stigma

I came across this reflection on the stigma surrounding adoption. It’s pretty heart-breaking. The writer, an adoptee herself and an adoptive mother, talks to kids about adoption a lot.

Here’s what 10-year-old “Sam” said when she asked him what he thought it meant to be adopted:

“Well, being adopted is when the kids that nobody wants are put into an orphanage and then if the kid is really good, someone rich will pick them and buy them to have in their family.”


She writes about five themes that continually come up about adopted children:

  1. Adopted children are unwanted.
  2. Adopted children can become more desirable when they exhibit good behavior, i.e. being the perfect child.
  3. Adopted children are thought of as a commodity; they are a good that is exchanged in a transaction typically received by someone considered rich or well-to-do.
  4. Adopted children are disposable; their permanence in their adoptive family is always conditional.
  5. Adopted children deserve pity, because they are the kids who no one wants.

That’s even more heart-breaking. Help me in overcoming, shattering and in any way possible breaking these myths about adopted children. Kids (and all of us) need to hear the truth.

Continue reading We’re All Adopted: Overcoming the Stigma

We’ll Take Any Newborn

A few weeks back I pondered the difficult question of adoption and abortion. I asked the church why adoption isn’t standard practice in the face of abortion.

Well, one church has answered. Pastor Vic Pentz of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta promised in a recent sermon that his church would “care for any newborn baby you bring to this church.” They’re partnering with the adoption agency Bethany Christian Services to make that acutally happen. It’s a bold statement and doesn’t get into any of the many complicated issues involved in adoption (it’s not exactly as simple as bring a baby to the church), but I love it. It’s a strong step forward for the church.

If the church is going to value life, I think they need to truly value life. And that means stepping forward to care for babies that would otherwise be unwanted. That means walking alongside moms and dads who would consider abortion because they don’t think they have the resources to care for a baby. That means doing whatever it takes for life, whether it’s keeping families together or creating new ones.

Adoption is not Horror

You may have heard about a creepy new horror flick from Warner Bros. called Orphan. I’m not a fan of horror flicks in general, but this one seemed kind of dumb and insensitive. Really? An adopted child is going to be your psycho villain?

I’m not off the wall outraged at this. Just because Jason wears a hockey mask in Friday the 13th doesn’t mean hockey players should be up in arms. But still. When you take an innocent child, even worse an orphan, with no parents to love and protect them, and make that unprotected group the center of your evil plot line… well, that may not be evil itself, but it’s not doing orphans any good.

Tom Davis is encouraging people to respond to this film with their own stories of how orphans have changed their lives. Stories to counter the creepy trailer where parents adopt a child only to discover how scary that kid can be and how their family becomes threatened from an adopted child (the movie’s tagline: “There’s something wrong with Esther”). I’m trying not to take that personally and realize it’s just a movie, but yikes. Sheesh, let’s promote some misconcpetions about adoption, shall we?

Tom launched the Orphans Deserve Better campaign where you can share your stories of how orphans have changed your life (like  this one from a mother of three). They have a much better tagline: “There’s something wrong with millions of children having no family.” I love that this is all about a positive response. Let’s not rag on Warner Bros. (I’ve yet to see the word boycott thrown around), instead let’s focus on the positive.

I love it. You can’t read anything I do online without realizing how Milo has changed my life. My favorite story might be the way Milo and Lexi go to sleep. They share a room and at first we thought they’d wake each other up and it’d be a horrible mess. But Milo actually goes to sleep better when Lexi stands at his crib and talks to him, the two laughing and giggling, sometimes shrieking, long after bedtime. It lasts half an hour, sometimes 45 minutes, and then the two drift off to sleep. The strict parent in me wants to step in and yell and tell them to go to sleep, but they do eventually, so I let it go. Milo seems to sleep better this way. The same thing is starting to happen in the morning when they wake up. I haven’t heard Milo crying in the morning for a few days now. Instead it’s all giggles. That’s awesome. (Right now Lexi is repeating “Eth-io-pia!” and Milo is laughing.)

And if you want further proof of how a child can change your life, look no further than the Palmer family, who uprooted their four children to move from Oklahoma to Uganda to finalize the adoption of the newest member of their family. They have an incredible story. Just recently they shared the tragic story of a child recently adopted by a Uganda family who soon died in a terrible accident. It’s a heart-breaking story. But beneath the pain and horror (there’s a real horror story for you) there is a measure of hope. That child, Jonathan, was loved. Even though his life was cut horribly short, he died with a family.

Adoption and Abortion

If the practice of abortion ended the world would have to deal with 42 million unwanted children every year. How can anti-abortion advocates respond to that when there are already 148 million orphans in the world? How can we ask for more unwanted children when we’re not taking care of the already orphaned children in the world?

I ask this question not to defend abortion. I don’t like abortion. The numbers are staggering—42 million abortions worldwide every year? That’s nearly as high as the annual worldwide death rate (approximately 56 million people die ever year).

I ask this question because I don’t think anti-abortion advocates focus enough on solutions. Adoption is one solution, and while churches and Christians are very supportive of adoption (I should know), they’re not supportive enough (to the tune of 148 million children without families).

For many Christians, adoption is a “good thing.” It’s a good deed you did and we’ll applaud you for it, but it’s not a normal practice. It’s what you do when you can’t have kids. It’s what you do when you’ve already had a few kids “of your own.” But it’s rarely a first choice. It’s rarely promoted as something all families should consider (I was ecstatic to see Rick Warren talking about promoting adoption in his church).

I know adoption isn’t for everyone. There are inherent challenges and if you’re not prepared you have no business adopting. But it just seems inconsistent to me that Christians are so against abortion but don’t seem truly prepared to end abortion.

When a pregnant mother considers abortion, would you step forward to adopt her baby? And why would she believe that you’d adopt her baby when she sees the 148 million orphans we haven’t adopted?

Abortion is a difficult issue and I hate talking about it because it’s so divisive. But this question has been nagging at me for a while. Why isn’t adoption standard practice in the church? It’s definitely supported and encouraged when it happens, and I’d wager that it’s more widespread in the church, but it’s still far from the norm. If adoption were the norm it would change the abortion debate. For that matter if adoption were the norm it would change the world.

The World is Too Complicated

Some days I’m convinced the world is too complicated. The past week is a good example:

  • People mourning the undisputed King of Pop, who for the last 15 years or so traded in that crown for the King of Weird. Musical brilliance and creepiness combined. That’s complicated.
  • The ongoing crisis in Iran. Bottom line: freedom and democracy good, bloodshed bad. Beyond that, I’m lost trying to understand the political ins and outs.
  • Then there’s Honduras. Did you hear they had a military coup this weekend? The funny part is listening to people argue why one side is legal and the other illegal. I swear if you switch the names it’s the same argument.
  • And let’s not talk about the time I tried to explain Twitter to a friend at a party.

For all the complication and confusion and head-scratching, I’m glad that some things are simple:

  • Like water.
  • Like the importance of having a place to live.
  • Like adoption. OK, there’s not much that’s simple about adoption, but kids should have families. Who can argue with that?

For all the complication in the world, sometimes we need a little simplicity.

Taking Milo to the Doctor

Today we dropped Lexi off at a friend’s house and took Milo to the University of Minnesota’s Pediatric Clinic to see a Specialist in International Adoption. That means we took him to his first doctor in the U.S.

We left the parking garage and walked through the long underground tunnel (which inexplicably comes out on the second floor), eventually arriving at the Pediatric Clinic. We avoided getting lost in the campus’ labyrinth, which reminded me why I went to a small school (though ironically, I don’t think I ever consciously decided I wanted to attend a small school).

The high point was perhaps handing over a yogurt container to the receptionist that contained a sample of Milo’s poop. I believe it was blueberry (the yogurt container, that is). We had to collect a stool sample at home and bring it in. It’s kind of like show and tell, but not really. It wasn’t just plopped into the old yogurt container either, it was inside a Ziplock bag. But let’s just say those things aren’t exactly as air-tight as advertised. That yogurt container gave off a distinct odor when I pulled it out of the bag and set it on the counter. And it wasn’t residual blueberry.

Anyway, we eventually had our appointment and several doctors and specialists told us how beautiful Milo is. Not just handsome—beautiful. Despite my lack of any sports-related skills, Milo will at least be raised confident enough in his manhood to be called beautiful.

Continue reading Taking Milo to the Doctor

Reflecting on Adoption and Ethiopia

Diaper-Changing MiloI said it before, but it’s still hard to believe that last week I was in Africa (especially since I woke up to snow on the ground today). It’s even harder to believe that after something like 19 long months, my son is finally lying on the floor of my office, sucking his thumb. Our long, expensive, wearying, sometimes overwhelming process to adopt is finally over. And now we’ve slipped into the practical urgency of life with a 5-month-old: Eat, poop, sleep. Life has been reduced to bodily functions.

I haven’t had much time to process all of this. Whether or not that’s surprising, I don’t know. But with my wife home from work for a few weeks and me doing minimal work, I should be busting with spare time. But, you know, that whole eat-poop-sleep thing.

I have a lot to process about both adoption and Ethiopia. I imagine I’ll be writing a lot of little posts as I try to process little moments here and there. Writing about the whole experience is just too overwhelming. I don’t know where to begin (nor do I have that much time to sit down and do it).

Continue reading Reflecting on Adoption and Ethiopia

We Leave Tomorrow

In less than 24 hours we’ll be on a plane for Ethiopia to bring home our son. It’s been such a long wait. And it’s almost here.

As the hours tick down, I love how all the extra stuff falls away and doesn’t matter anymore. My last day has been flittered away with random tasks here and there, none of which really matter. It doesn’t really matter if I heard the conference call my wife already heard a week ago. It doesn’t really matter if I write that blog entry today or not. It doesn’t really matter if I clean off my desk or not.

As I’ve told about everyone I can, you can follow along at our adoption site. My latest blog posts (if you come here you already know where to find them) will be there—many are just pre-programmed updates of what we’ll be doing each day— as well as my on-the-ground Twitter updates (assuming it all works).

I’m awash in emotion right now. I’m so excited to meet Milo and hold him in my arms. I’m eager to see his homeland and the country where he was born. I’m worried about Lexi and how she’ll do without us for 10 days (and how Grandma will cope with 10 days of Lexi). I’m expecting to be broken as the reality of this 19-month journey finally comes together.

Some things in life just wash over you, flooding you with grace and love and mercy and hope. That’s already happened so many times in this journey, but now we’ll be diving into it. Can’t wait.