Monday, June 13, 2011

Navigating Adoption

I recently saw a movie, one of those teen flicks that you go into assuming that it will be happily mindless and which is perfect for someone who is hoping to doze in and out of sleep on the couch with some noise in the background. You know the kind.  This was the day after camp, a day during which I literally ate, slept, read books, watched movies and slept again. (Thank you, dear husband.)

The movie that I'm talking about is called Easy A. It wasn't a movie I'd heard of, but Netflix recommended it so I gave it a shot. It actually ended up being rather entertaining. One of the subplots of the movie was the relationship of this young adopted boy to the rest of his family. You don't see adoption in most movies. In fact, I was having trouble thinking of any movies I'd seen with any kind of portrayal of adoption, let alone a positive one. It was not even close to the focus of the movie, but the interactions between the father and son nonetheless reminded me of the conversation. And made me yearn to move forward in this.  Funny how an almost insignificant scene can spark something in you.

For months now, my husband and I have been talking about it. We've talked to others who have gone through it, we've been reading books, we've been praying.  And let me tell you something. Adoption books are hard as junk to get through.  There are hard and sad stories, there are disheartening statistics, there are differing opinions on almost all aspects of adoption. Closed versus open. Domestic or international. Infant or child. Foster system or private agency.  Race, gender, prenatal care, sick, healthy. And the hows: how to acclimate an adopted child, how long the process of adoption takes, how to choose an agency, how to pay for it, who in the family gets an opinion, how to prepare your older child, how do you know if adoption is for you, the list goes on.

And one more "how" that I'll add to the whole process: How to stay sane.

Now, in my saner moments of this process, I have that thought that any foray into parenthood, biological or adoptive, comes with a huge list of unknowns. There are very few aspects of what kind of child I'll have that I can control. No matter how well I plan a biological birth, I could still end up with a child of either gender, one who may or may not have behavioral problems or attachment issues, who may have learning disabilities or health issues, one who might look like me or not...the only things I can control in a biological experience are who the father is and what I eat and do during pregnancy. That's pretty much it.  So, when faced with actual adoption applications, the ones where I need to check boxes, I feel so selfish. Who am I to decide exactly what I want or don't want in a child? Shouldn't I be open to whomever needs a home? I wouldn't get most of these choices in a biological birth, so should I really restrict our choices in an adoptive experience?  It's an amount of control in the process that I actually don't want. Sometimes I wish someone would just literally drop a baby on my doorstep in a cute little outfit, cuddled up in a bassinet so all the choices would be made for me.  Life is rarely like that, though.

One thing I do know is this.  I have an incredible template for adoption in what my Heavenly Father has done for me through Christ.  In those moments when I wonder if I'll love my adopted child as much as my biological, I am reminded of a Father who ultimately sacrificed his own son so that I could be adopted into His family, fully loved, fully brought into the inheritance normally reserved for biological sons and daughters. I have hope that the Father of all gifts, when He gives us this good gift, will also fully prepare us to overwhelmingly love this new addition to our family. That he will prepare my older child who, at the moment, is very confused about why his sibling will likely come from somewhere else and not his mother's belly, to be a fantastic older brother.  I am convinced that in this process of choosing and risking and waiting that I will understand whole new facets of God's character and his adoptive work in creation.

So, one week into submitting our application and already feeling the impatience settling in (yes, this will be a long road for this poor waiter!), I am trying to focus in on God's perfect timing.  That he sent His Son at just the perfect time to offer all of us orphans a perfect, forever family, one that brings life, security and significance in my status as child of God.  I'll take this process one step at a time and pray that as our family moves closer to adoption, my heart will move closer into the heart of my adoptive Father.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ten Years

It's just over a month ago now that college students and campus staff alike saw the end of the academic year, meetings slowed down and people on an academic calendar began to reflect on some of the bigger lessons of their year.  For me, this year feels particularly significant because of two things. One, it's now over ten years ago that I was in my final week of classes as an undergrad at Richmond. I was feeling that crazy mix of nostalgia, panic and impatience that plagues the seniors with whom I'm in contact every year.  I had a vague idea of what was next, at least for a few months, but beyond that I had no real idea what the future held.  It's now hard to remember not knowing what my twenties would look like! Two, it's ten years ago that my husband and I went on our first, albeit awkward, date. Ten years! I can still remember many of the specifics- the roommates convincing me to say "yes", the awkward front door interaction, Reed getting lost on the way to the coffee shop, my spectacular tripping episode while walking up the stairs at Palani Drive.  Ah yes, young love. 

Having a first date in the midst of so much transition and uncertainty was perhaps not the wisest I idea I've ever come up with.  I didn't know what I wanted out of life let alone whether I wanted anyone to share it with me. At that point in my life I was still really stubborn about men, still decidedly certain that marriage was not necessarily the path for me. Enter Reed. There wasn't this "starbursts and marble halls" moment, for those of you Anne of Green Gables fans, just this quiet, Godly man who wasn't afraid to be himself even if it meant our first few dates would be awkward. He didn't try to impress me or pretend he was some smooth talker, he was just, well, Reed.

Our courtship wasn't what you'd call a whirlwind. It was this slow learning process, playing football or basketball in the park, meeting each other's college and high school friends, learning the insanities and joys of our respective families, watching Office Space all the time as his time in the corporate world needed increasing doses of humor, the telling of childhood and college stories and those tentative moments of talking about the future (possibly together) that we hoped for.  We did have our romantic moments-running in the rain, hiking humpback rock, sweet and quiet dinners out, playing the guitar together at the gazebo on campus and, of course, his very well-orchestrated proposal involving trickery, way too many roses and a self-composed and well-performed song.

Now, on our eighth anniversary, I am so thankful for our story.  So thankful for the best friend that I made during those two years of dating and engagement and for the ways I have seen God work in both of us since we made those crazy and unkeepable promises to each other eight years ago. I didn't know what was ahead- the craziness of starting over in a new town, the joys of the sweetest little man on earth entering our family, the struggles with loss and infertility- but I knew he was the right man for me to share that journey with.  And so today, I'm deeply thankful. Thankful for 10 years of knowing Reed and 8 years of marriage to him, of learning to trust God when I'm a good wife and when I'm not, and so thankful that He has set this covenant relationship up in such a way that I can wake up each morning and confidently know that my husband is committed to God and to us and to our child.   

Happy Anniversary, Husband. Thanks for our life together. I can't wait to see what's next!