Saturday, May 17, 2014

Say What? : An American Baby

I usually get a little nervous when I sit down to write a Say What? post. But my stomach is doing some extra turning as I think through what I am writing today. It is something I have wanted to write about for a while, but I have shied away from it for a lot of different reasons. Primarily, I do not want to offend anyone. I don't really know what my readership is out there, but I do know that we all have varied life experiences that color and shape the lens through which we view the world and everyone/everything in it. So my life experiences very much color the way I see and feel about the world around me, especially the adoption part of my world. The last thing I want to do is be offensive or put someone off, but I do feel like what I am about to try to address needs to be said. And so I am going to try to get it out there, and I am asking for your grace as I do.

I have to start out by saying that, to me, adoption is one of the most beautiful things in the world. And just like anything that is truly beautiful, it is different. Adoption never looks the same. For anyone. Ever. People adopt for different reasons, from different places, at different times. And no one reason, place or time is better than another. So here is where we are starting:

"Why aren't you adopting an American baby?"

"If there are so many American babies that need families, why are you adopting from Ethiopia?"

"Don't you feel like you are turning your back on an American baby?"

"Did you just give up on an American baby?"

I have gotten each of these questions over the last 2+ years that we have been in the adoption process. Most of them from people who do not know me or Adam personally. One was actually at our adoption yard sale. I am always a little surprised when people ask me this type of question, and I always struggle with the best way to respond. Generally, it goes something like this:

"Oh. Well, we just really feel like God has called us to adopt from Ethiopia."

So deep. So profound. You're moved, right? Gah! I freeze up, because there is so much I want to say in that moment, so much about adoption and love that I want to convey, so much about how love isn't about borders and nationalities. So while it is true that YES we absolutely know that God has called us to adopt from Ethiopia, there is SO much more I want to say. And that is why I am writing today.

I need you to know that I LOVE American babies. I have lots friends with American babies. I am about to be an aunt to an American baby. And some of our very closest friends are in the process of a domestic adoption of an American baby. I hope to one day give birth to an American baby. Yay America! We are not anti-domestic adoption in any way. In fact, it is something we will very likely pursue in the future.

But what we know right now is that the Lord has called us to a place on the other side of the world. God has asked us, and so many beautiful families we know, to love regardless of borders and nationalities and ethnicities and races. We are not doing this because it is somehow more noble than a domestic adoption. It isn't. At all. We are not doing this because it is faster than a domestic adoption. It isn't. We are not doing this because it is cooler than a domestic adoption. It isn't. Not even a little bit.

We are doing this because it is what we know we are supposed to do.

Since I was a junior in high school, my family has worked with an orphanage down in Honduras. Beautiful people in a beautiful place. And while we were doing that work, we got similar questions:

"Why aren't you helping people in America?"

And I could never come up with a great answer. But my friend Ashley did. Here is what she said:

"I don't think God looks down at us and says, 'Those are my American children, and those are my Honduran children.' I think God looks down at us and says, 'Those are my children.'"

And I think that is so beautiful and completely spot on.

More than that. I think it applies to the adoption world, too.

When we consider adoption, I don't believe God says, "These are my American children, and those are my Ethiopian children."

I think He says, "Those are my children. Love them."

And that is what we are compelled to do. Every single one of us. We are compelled to love the fatherless and care for the abandoned. It is God's heart. You see it all over His Word. Take care of the fatherless. It doesn't matter where they are from. Nationality does not determine how deserving a child is of having a family. That should be a right, not a privilege. It is something every single child is entitled to.

Several months ago, I shared a video with you called, "Depraved Indifference." In it, a pastor is talking about the orphan crisis and what our responsibility is. Here it is. Take a minute to watch it.

We are all called to love and care for the fatherless, wherever they may be. If that means that you are a foster parent, then I applaud you. If you are domestically adopting, I am cheering you on. If you support orphan care ministries here in the U.S. and/or around the world, you are doing an awesome and necessary thing. If you are adopting internationally, I am running the race right beside you. All of these things are pieces of God's heart for the fatherless, and they are all important.

What I think most people mean when they ask me about not adopting an American baby, is "What made you choose Ethiopia?"

This a question I LOVE to answer. So please ask me. Ask me, and I will tell you how we did not start out even on the African continent, but in Asia. And then we found out that we were not old enough to adopt from that part of the world. How we felt called to Africa, Uganda specifically, and then some requirements changed. And the Congo was closed when we applied. And how, FINALLY, we found a country whose requirements we met and whose children we felt instantly drawn to.


I love to tell the story of how God brought us to Ethiopia. So ask me over and over again; I will always answer.

"Father to the fatherless, defender of the widow is God in His holy dwelling. God 
       sets the lonely in families."
Psalm 68:5-6a

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