Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Long Road

The road leading us to this child, this adoption, has been very long. My first realization that I wanted to adopt came when I was a child and saw a 20/20 report on the orphans in Romanian. The images of those children- shaved heads, starving, rocking themselves in their cribs - seared into my soul. My immediate response was that I wanted to help a child like that one day. My heart has always been soft toward children in need (hence my chosen profession of pediatric nursing). The images of those children were a small seed planted many years ago.

When I was in nursing school I had the opportunity to visit Haiti and work in clinics with a clinical mentor who also ran an orphanage. This was a pivotal experience in my life for many reasons. One of them being that I really fell in love with the kids and developed relationships with them. Thankfully, I was able to visit Haiti many times over a several year span and continue those relationships. They weren't just "orphans" to me. They were children who had unique personalities, senses of humor and talents. They just lacked a family (for a long list of reasons). At that point I could definitely imagine adopting a child. When Rhett and I were getting serious in our relationship I told him he had to come to Haiti with me if he wanted a future with me. Thankfully he came and also fell in love the the kids and we talked about adopting "one day".

Life moved along, we married and started our family. Claire was born and 21 months later Ford came along. By this time we were making plans to move overseas. While adoption was something we loved and supported it didn't seem possible for us at the time. Gus was born 6 months before we moved to Kenya. We said the whole pregnancy that this was probably our last biological child. Rhett would say it definitively while I would say it half heartedly - mourning the end of that baby making season of our life. I definitely wanted to add to our family and after having 3 children in less than 3 1/2 years the idea of adoption did sound like a great option! We had our first visit to Lifeline Children's Services around that time. We learned about their different programs, timeframes and wait times. We went to Kenya thinking that when we came back we would adopt.

While we were in Kenya I watched my baby grow into a toddler and passed the point where I was usually pregnant again. I started to really want another biological child. In the meantime, our cross cultural experience living in Kenya had challenged us and changed us. We wondered if international adoption was really the best thing for us. Rhett was content but I was yearning for more children. The adoption spark dimmed in my heart and I entered a long season where I really desired another biological child. There were times that I would consider adoption as a way of adding to our family again but I was honestly so focused on having another biological child that it seemed very distant and not really a viable option anyway. When we moved back to the USA we were starting from scratch. We were in no way prepared to financially to start an adoption. Having another biological child seemed like the only option to have a child at all. Obviously we never had that biological child or I wouldn't be writing this.

One day I woke up and realized the pursuit for another biological child was over and we needed to move on. We had another serious adoption conversation. I really desired a newborn because my heart was yearning for another baby. I am one of those people who love pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, newborns, babies . . . all of it - I LOVE EVERY SLEEPLESS MINUTE. We considered domestic newborn adoption and had some hang ups. I remember praying and telling God that if He didn't want us to have another baby then He would need to change my heart. I didn't really think He would. I mean, I l.o.v.e. babies. How could that change? Well, imagine my surprise when over the course of a couple months it did. I saw people with newborns and realized how great it was to not have any children napping, or sitting in a high chair, or even needing a stroller! I thought of lugging around an infant car seat again and instead of having nostalgic pangs for babyhood . . . I didn't feel anything. How strange? What was God doing?

That led us to a decision to adopt . . . a toddler or young child (younger than our youngest was our thought). We decided to look into domestic options. We prayed, sought wisdom and made decisions as we researched what those options were. In the end we were surprised to find ourselves contemplating international adoption again. It seemed as though we had come full circle.

We were both a little surprised when we realized we were adopting a child from Asia! Asia isn't familiar to us. We've spent a lot of time in Haiti, traveled around Europe, lived a short time in South America and two years in Africa. We've spent 24 hours in Bangkok once and that was as close as we felt to the whole continent! It is neat that God is stretching us in that way. Giving us a gift we never expected.

Everyone has a different story of how they came to adopt. Ours is a long, winding tale that spans years. So many times we thought we had a plan. We thought we had the best plan. Sometimes wrestling those plans out of our hands was a long painful process. When I finally stopped and sought God and asked Him to change my heart (not give me what I longed for) He gave me a wonderful surprise. A route I never really imagined to our daughter in Asia. If I'm honest, I kicked and screamed and had hissy fits leading me to that point. I thought I had a better plan, an easier plan, a cheaper plan. My heart is so full of thankfulness at His MERCY. I can't tell you how often I think "I'm so glad I didn't miss this" - and we don't even know who our child is yet! I'm so glad I didn't miss this entire process and being part of the AMAZING community of people who I have met as an adoptive parent. My heart is full of thankfulness that I didn't miss this opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger than me and my plans. I'm thankful that adoption is a part of our life, our family and our story.

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