My desk is strewn with adoption paperwork and my to-do list for collecting more paperwork is long and intimidating. You see, we’re in process again… for the fourth time. We are adopting a little girl who will become our 11th child.
I’m sure it’s the question everyone wants to ask us, but they are too polite to do so. Instead, they smile a lot and say things like, “Wow!” and leave a lot of pauses while they think of something else to say. I can’t blame them, really. It’s not a normal thing to do. We get that. We sometimes wonder at the whole thing ourselves. It’s not as though one day my husband and I sat down and made a plan, carefully writing down, “Have 11 children” on our list, waiting to be checked off. In fact, when we were first married we thought four seemed like a good number and thought we would stop there. I guess we’re not so good at plans.
After we brought home child #10, we were pretty sure we were done. Ten seemed like a good number and since some of our children have different quirks and challenges that can take up quite a bit of a parent’s time we felt we had enough on our plate. We were set and things were good. Occasionally a child would ask when we were going to adopt again, and my husband and I would look at each other, smile knowingly, and assure the child that we were done and it just wasn’t going to happen. Who had the energy for all that paperwork, anyway? Certainly not us!
And then you see a face. A face of a child who does not have a family, who needs access to advanced medical care, who reminds you so much of your daughter that you can’t forget her. You find yourself going and looking at her photograph multiple times a day, each time hoping she has a family and each time also secretly hoping that she doesn’t. You begin the ‘what if’ conversations with your husband. What if we were to bring her home? The first few times this game is played, it usually ends with someone saying, “That’s insane! What are we even talking about?” And then the idea starts to grow on you. At some point, it starts to seem a little less insane. After a little more staring at the picture and thinking about her and playing the ‘what if’ game, it almost starts to feel normal. It’s at that point that you realize that you’ve already made your decision and your heart was just waiting for your head to catch-up.
This little girl we are staggering through stacks of paperwork for has the same special need as our daughter. We already have the doctors. We already have the experience. We already know what day-to-day life looks like with this special need and have discovered that it’s not really a huge deal. Our heads say we are really one of the optimal placement possibilities for her. Our heads say that past experience shows that there are not many people willing to take on the array of medical issues this child has. Our heads say that it is a “good thing” that we are doing by adopting this child. But I will be truthful and say that’s not why we are doing this, though these are good reasons. They are good reasons, but they are not the best reason.
The reason we are doing this is because having seen her picture and read her file, we now feel a hole in our family. What had seemed complete at the time now feels incomplete. We are doing this because we have fallen in love with her, have taken her into our hearts and made her ours even before the paperwork says we have a right to. We are doing this because when all is said and done, we realized that we wanted another child in our family. This child.
This, to me, is the only really, truly honest reason to adopt. While there are a lot of virtuous reasons to pursue adoption, they will not get you through the hard stuff. It is all out love and commitment that get you through the hard stuff, and even then there are times when it can be rough going. Never adopt because you feel it is your duty, but because your heart is crying out for someone to love.
We are neither saints nor psychos. We are merely parents who enjoy our children and discovered we were missing one.