Wednesday, November 14, 2012

National Adoption Month 2012

November is National Adoption Month in the USA. It is also the month of a little presidential election and all sorts of scandals. I'm going to go way out on a limb and presuppose that the election and the various drama squashes all the other things happening in the world in November.

If you cannot bring yourself to read a single word or link below, here is our fifteen second National Adoption month message:
  • If you feel called to adopt, be strong, be courageous. Teach us all about perseverance. Be informed. Do your research. Be ready to work your buns off. Get ready to grow. 
  • If you don't feel called to adoption: Find a family that is currently in the process or has already adopted and ask them this question, "How can we support you?" Then, respond with love and grace and the desired support.
  • Consider that adoption is just one of many ways that you can help alleviate the problem of parentless or institutionalized children. 
Troy visiting our Haitian family - Hope/Phoebe's first mom and sister 
For this post, let it be stated, the word "orphan" does not necessarily mean a child without living birth parents. The word is used frequently but no longer means what it originally meant.

We don't write very frequently about adoption. It's not because we don't have any thoughts or feelings about it. When it comes to adoption our thoughts, experiences, feelings, opinions, etc, are all incredibly complex. Sometimes they even seem incongruent or opposing. To be brutally honest, in some areas we're still deciding how we feel about the larger issues that are at play. We're in turmoil over the abuses we've seen in the international adoption system.

(TED piece on orphanages here.)

We're that guy - the one that won't be excited when you tell us you're coming to Haiti or __________ (insert any country name) to "start an orphanage!!!" I write that knowing full well it invites a lot of people to feel defensive and angry.  It is okay, I can take it. Be defensive and angry for a bit - but when you're done with that try listening to the multifarious problems of building new orphanages in materially poor countries.  They are not immediately evident. They are complex. Let us be ever aware of the consequences of our choices. Let us not create more orphans, please.

The month of November is important because the conversations about "orphans" and adoption are all important ones. We can learn from one another. We are just another voice in the cacophony of voices. There are lots of resources available. The vast number of resources might be overwhelming. The best way to start - is to start ... all that to say, we've rounded up some links for those considering adoption.

Links to first mom thoughts:
I personally have a heart and a burden for first mothers. I think open adoption is something that everyone should at least consider if possible. (Within reason of course! I'm not suggesting it happen at the risk of a child - but I am suggesting it is okay if an adoptive parent has to feel a little uncomfortable.) I say that as a person formerly closed to the idea but now in active relationships with the first mothers of our three Haitian children. If it is a possibility for your child, please consider it.

Transracial Adoption links/thoughts:
Adoption is an amazing and challenging adventure, but it isn't all that romantic. It's hard work. Some adoptive parents will even tell you it is the hardest thing they've ever done. It can be a beautiful solution for a child that needs a family but it doesn't take away the pain that most everyone involved will walk through. God certainly takes ashes and destruction and turns them into healing and redemption ... I've seen Him do that numerous times, for that I am thankful.

Adoption is not easy. I hate that it such a giant pain in the butt and there is plenty I'd like to change about the process and the system, but in the end I have come to believe it shouldn't be easy. If we cannot muster the patience to get through the heartache and unpredictability of the actual legal process we probably won't very easily cope with the life-altering heartache that often comes with helping a child heal from such a big loss. Think of the adoption process as preparation for the real work. If you want to adopt be ready to grow, be ready to rumble.
This page (see permanent tab 'adoption' on top of this blog) has many other links for those researching and thinking about caring for children either via adoption or other avenues of orphan care.

The "after-care" piece is so important, especially for families that are adopting kids that are coming from traumatic backgrounds and that have experienced more loss than we can easily imagine. Families that willingly enter into "special needs" adoptions need our support times ten. Let's be supportive!  They are brave and need to be backed with love and prayers and babysitters.

a few ideas:
  • Give to an adoption fund for families that choose to adopt - adoption is financially challenging. 
  • Give a teen mom a place to stay for a time or rides to and from school/work/doctor appointments; tangibly support her efforts to parent her child.
  • Pray for adoptive families! The first couple of years + more can cause strain on marriages and relationships. Be the person that loves and cheers and helps. 
  • Pray for young/new mothers (love and support  - avoid judgment and condemnation)
  • Ask adoptive families how you can help?
  • Support work that seeks to keep children with their first moms and tries to keep families together - reduce the huge need for adoption by going to the core issue (Heartline!  - and a thousand others)
Our kids have taught us a lot of things, most importantly - We all have a need to be loved, healed and restored.  Happy National Adoption Month 2012.