"…to the praise of the glory of His grace…" Ephesians 1:6

International Adoption – Why?

I was sent a link to this blog and thought it captured beautifully a biblical heart for adoption. Hope it is an encouragement to you as our church family takes time this month to especially pray for orphans and adoption. The blog is from Erica Johnson and her blog is called “A Place for Mercy”

The Why

When we first decided to adopt Elijah, we needed no other reason for bringing him home other than the fact that he had no other parents and he needed a family. That was it. He did not have a family, we were a family and we were capable of becoming parents just for him. And so our journey began. The paperwork took what felt like forever. I thought we would never have the funds to finish the adoption. We spent hard months wondering about our son and if he was hungry or thirsty or scared or sick or anything else that could happen. And some people wondered why we were doing it. Why would we put ourselves through that when we weren’t having fertility issues? Why would we spend money we didn’t have to bring home a child who had no connection to our DNA? He was why, plain and simple. He was so worth every heart ache, every drop of sweat and tears that went into bringing him home. And I can not imagine our life without him.

Now, here we are. We are doing it again. We are working our tails off to bring home another daughter. And people have asked me why. I have had people close and dear to my heart ask me why we would ever adopt a child who will need the extra care that Adeline will. I have had people wonder at why on earth we want a child like her. This breaks my heart, because I think she is absolutely perfect. Formed out of love and created in the image of the Father of all. Nevertheless, I understand the questions. I understand the fear and uncertainty that comes with adopting a child with special needs (believe me, I have been there!). So, today I want to just tell you why we are doing this thing called adoption again and why we chose Adeline to be our next child.

The simple answer is that we are doing this all again for Adeline. We want to be her parents and we want to go through life being her support and help. But I understand that that answer is not good enough for most. I understand that there must be more to it than that. And honestly there is. We have all heard the statistic that there are 147 million orphans in the world, in fact I have used it here in this blog. What we often don’t see is that statistic broken down to see where those orphans are and how they were orphaned. UNICEF defines an orphan as a child between 0-17 who has lost either one or both parents due to death or abandonment. So, many of those kids still have one parent who is living, willing, and able to care for them. For example, if something ever happened to my husband, and I was left caring for my kids alone, they would be part of that orphan statistic. They would be part of the 147 million, even though I would be caring for them and loving them. The last thing they would need would be for strangers to come and adopt them. So, when we look at children who have lost both parents, the numbers are much smaller. There are roughly 17 million children who have been orphaned by both parents. And while there is huge difference from 147 million and 17 million, those 17 million kids still need families. Yet, if something ever happened to both Nate and I, and we could not take care of our kids, I would still not want them to be adopted by strangers! We have a great family, and my kids have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and very close friends who would love to take them in and care for them. They have people who are already present in their lives and who would want to love them and help them grow. And the same is true all over the world. Most kids who are a part of that 17 million will have extended family who can and will care for them.

You see what is happening? The more we look at it, the smaller and smaller the numbers get for children who genuinely need adoption. There are other factors to take into consideration as well, many countries across the globe do not have international adoption programs. There are actually only about 50 countries that have international adoption programs working, and some of them are only open for special needs children to be adopted. So when we take that global number of 17 million, and chip away the kids who are being cared for by extended family, then take into consideration that not all of the kids who could adopted live in countries that have adoption programs, we are left with a much smaller number. So out of those kids who can be adopted and who would actually need it, how many are in the age range that most people are seeking? The majority of people looking into adoption are looking to adopt a child under 5 years old. Honestly that is a stretch, most families are looking to adopt a child who is a baby or toddler. Now, this is where the numbers are not known and adoption can get tricky. We all see these heart wrenching photos and hear stories of babies left on sides of the street and in trash cans in third world countries, and we think that number of 147 million is made up of healthy babies who just need someone to love them. This is no where near the truth. The vast majority of orphaned children who need a family are over the age of 5, and many, many of them are even older than 10 and are approaching adulthood. Yet, many of the families flocking to help save orphans through adoption are not interested in these kids, they want a baby, and a healthy one. Well, the other large majority of children who need a family are ones who have special needs. Children with Downs Syndrome, children with Cerebral Palsy, children who have HIV or Sickle Cell…. and children who were born missing their limbs…

This is where we come in and where Adeline comes in. She is a baby, and while babies are highly sought after in the world of adoption, ones who have special needs will wait. I have seen it. When I was staying at Elijah’s orphanage, the kids who waited the longest for families were the children who had cerebral palsy or mental disabilities. I spoke with and emailed parents who were on waiting lists to adopt and who had been waiting years to adopt a baby. I told them of the children I knew who needed a family today. The children who had been passed up time and time again. The children who watched their friends leave with new mommies and daddies and who wondered when it would be their turn to have a family. And I wept at every rejection. At every returned email that explained why this family would not waiver from their desire for a healthy child, a part of me burned with anger. I loved these kids. I could see the potential in them and I knew that any family that would call them son or daughter would be lucky to have them. Then, I came home. And while I was back in the comfort of first world living, my heart was with those kids. I still think of them often. I rejoiced when their turn actually came and a family finally came. And I wept when I heard the news that others had been moved to another orphanage that did not allow adoptions to take place. My heart broke knowing that their time would never come, and that they would grow up without a family.

Then, one day I saw a picture on a blog. It was a baby girl who needed a mommy. A sweet friend was doing exactly what I had done in the past and was trying to find her family. I found myself making excuses for why we could not be the ones to take her… Then I was brought back to 2011 when I read email after email explaining why each family could not take the children I loved. The excuses seemed so small and insignificant each time I looked at those beautiful brown eyes and her perfect face. God had been working in our hearts for the past few years and during the hard stay in Uganda. God had used those sweet babes to show me how those “hard to place” kids are still just children who need what every other child needs, a family to love them. And so, after all the preparing and softening that God had done in our hearts, we were ready to say yes to Adeline. We were ready to accept her and love her no matter what. That is why. We had been shown the children who wait the longest, we had loved them and known them. I did not want Adeline to wait years and years for a family to come for her. I want her to know stability and love now. I want her to feel wanted and cherished. I don’t want her to be an orphan any more. No more being alone, no more feeling abandoned and rejected. That is why. So that Adeline will be an orphan no more.

Posted by Erika Johnson