We get this question fairly often.  Sometimes it varies and the question is “why adopt internationally?”  “Aren’t there kids here in the U.S. that need homes?”  or maybe: “Why adopt a child of a different race? Aren’t you worried he will have “issues” when he grows up?”… or perhaps: “Why are you adopting a child with cerebral palsy?  Don’t you know how difficult that can be?  Why would you choose that?”We are getting better at answering these questions (we certainly get the practice!! 🙂 )  We are actually glad for them, because it gives us the opportunity to engage in some deep conversations with people (friends, family and total strangers!) as a result.  Not everyone is in agreement with our perspective; but I think, for the most part, people are genuinely interested and many have had their views stretched and challenged as we share. 

I realized last week that I should probably address these questions on my blog as well because of the wide variety of people that “drop in” — many of whom aren’t in “adoption circles” or haven’t had the opportunity to hear Peter and my thoughts on the matter. Please feel free to email me if you would like to discuss any aspect of our perspective or if God has been laying adoption on your heart and you’d like more information.  (*Also, please note:  I tried to be short and succinct so this page didn’t get super-long.  There are obviously more reasons to answer the “why adoption?” question.  I don’t have the space to do them all justice here — so I just focused on the main points.)

To start with, if you haven’t ever read international orhan statistics, you really should look over the numbers.  They are staggering — especially if you really allow yourself to contemplate the enormity of the figures. (Follow this LINK)  In addition to the “orphan” numbers, the number of children abused, sold into prostitution, killed by senseless acts of violence, and lost to the faceless predators of diseases such as Malaria, TB and AIDS is mind-blowing. The country we are adopting from (Liberia) has one of the highest infant-mortality rates in the world.  The reality is that children are the easiest prey and the hardest-hit victims in the world.  

Peter and I have always felt we would adopt someday because we both have a deep love for children and wanted to extend that love to a child that (for whatever reason) was not able to be raised by their own family.  We are deeply pro-life and feel that adoption is the other side of the coin when it comes to us standing strongly for a child’s right to life.  We have discussed adoption for years, but it became obvious to us last fall that God was leading us to pursue adoption now.  After reading and researching for weeks, God started opening our hearts in a deep way to the plight of the orphaned worldwide.  We began to see that this journey was about more than just adopting a child… it was awakening our hearts to a bigger reality.  We began to see that we were accountable for our response after becoming aware of the tremendous need.  We started feeling deeply responsible to do what we could to advocate for the fatherless and oppressed.  We are adopting because we believe God meant it literally when He admonished us to care for the orphans, the widows and the strangers. There are many ways people can meet these needs.  Some people will minister in developing countries; many will sponsor children through international programs; some will give to charities; others will foster children here in the United States; a few will start mercy ministries and other humanitarian organizations.  We feel led to adopt in this season of our lives– but it doesn’t stop there.  This adoption is a part of a life-long process of allowing our hearts to be touched and softened and then putting our convictions into action. 

We belive strongly that God’s heart is for adoption.  After all, He has adopted us into His glorious family!  He is the model of a loving adoptive Father.  We believe he blesses adoptions.  We believe he blesses transracial adoptions as well.   He is the Creator of colors and race.  He loves each race passionately and equally.  His heart aches for all the children growing up alone in this world, without a family, no matter what their nationality is. He tells us to care for orphans and widows and doesn’t specify that we limit our care to those of our own race.  We are all His children.  Every child deserves a loving home and family!  And regardless of the spectrum of opinions concerning interracial famillies, it seems obvious to us that a loving family of any race is FAR better than a life alone! – especially a life alone in the conditions that many orphans face.  I also want to say (in response to some of the comments we have recieved) that our decision to adopt a child of another race is not because we feel it is cool or popular to be a multicultural family.  (Oh yeah, I am just such an Angelina Jolie-wanna-be! 🙂 )  We feel blessed that we’re becoming a multiracial family and hope to adopt from other countries in the future as well, but our decision was not based on popularity. Our decision was based on the need that we see and the prompting of the Lord.   Henry may have issues when he grows up because of being raised by parents of a different race.  I hope not, but he may… So may our biological children for different reasons!  No parent is exempt from the possibility of their children “having issues” when they are grown.  We will do the best we can to raise a healthy multiracial family. We are committed to reading and learning all we can from those who have set a beautiful example. We are committed to developing friendships with other families that look like ours.  We are committed to keeping our son’s rich heritage alive and embracing his cultural roots.

For this adoption, we felt like God led us to adopt a child from an impoverished country… It’s not because children in foster care in the United States don’t need families — they DO!  We would like to pursue a domestic adoption in the future… but this time, we felt led to open our family to a child whose future was institutionalization unless they were adopted.  Obviously there is a great need for children in the U.S. to find loving , permanent families… just as there is a need for families for each one of the millions of orphans around the world.  The bottom line for us was feeling God unmistakably leading us toward Africa.  (On a quick side note, as far as the Pro-life/adoption issue in the United States, there is such a need for adoption to be recognized as a life-giving alternative to abortion, and for families to step up in willingness to be adoptive parents to these babies.  But that’s a whole post in itself (right, Lauren??)

In regards to the question about Henry’s handicap… We feel strongly that God is not a respecter of people’s abilities.  He loves unconditionally and has equal love for all his children.  With this in mind, we set out to discover the child God wanted to place in our family.  We were not expecting to adopt a child with cerebral palsy, but God made it very obvious that Henry was our son…  It’s easy to look at all the medical, emotional and behavioral challenges associated with his diagnosis and ask why we would willingly choose this path.  It’s a fair question.  Our answer lies in our deep belief of two things: First, that God is real and He is love, and Second, because we believe the first thing: nothing else really matters.  The minute we truly believe #1, our lives are no longer about ourselves… no longer our own.  Everything we do, everything we think and feel and act has to be for His glory and His honor.  We are following His voice.  We are following His lead.  We are trusting Him to give us strength when we are weak and gird us when we are discouraged.  We are learning to lay our heads on His chest and hear His heartbeat and follow that heartbeat.  Nothing else matters

We believe God’s heart beats for the children with cerebral palsy that languish in institutions around the world, forgotten and often neglected.  We believe God’s heart beats for the babies that are left in gutters and dumps.  We believe our God is a God of the powerless, the weak and the frail.  His heart beats for the precious, orphaned children all over the world… and our hearts are beginning to ache like His.  We are learning to love in a new way – a deeper way – as unconditionally as we can in our finite beings.  And we are learning to “put feet” to our convictions and follow where He asks us to go and give what He asks us to give.  We really do feel blessed beyond words that God opened the doors and led us specifically to Henry.  We are in love with this precious little person whom we have never even met!  We are also trusting that the Lord will lead us again as we pray about future adoptions.  Regardless of the questions we face or decisions we have to make in the future, we’re learning to keep our eyes fastened on God’s face and our ears tuned to his voice… so that our hearts will begin to beat in synch with his and our steps will be aligned with his.