Monday, March 26, 2012

A Dose of Reality

The other day an article was posted about the future of orphanages in Rwanda...you can read it here. To sum it up a little, it basically talked about how Rwanda is trying to phase out its orphanages and move towards a foster care system. You can read the article to get a fuller picture...

I'm blogging about this because I had a pretty strong reaction to it that I wanted to share.

But first I wanted to tell you why this is good. In an ideal world, children would not grow up in an institution. They would each get an opportunity to grow up in the setting of a family (either as adopted children or foster children), spend their childhood giving and receiving love. I mean, the US used to have orphanages and they got rid of them. Now all kids grow up in homes here...

Of course, there are so many issues that still exist in this system. Kids are shuffled from one home to another. There is abuse, mistreatment. Foster kids can be viewed as difficult, looked down upon...and this stigma can be even greater throughout the world...

I'll never forget a conversation Anthony and I had with our Compassion guide during our first trip to Rwanda in 2008. We loved this guy. He was young, married, a Christian, educated, and just all around a nice guy. Eventually the fact that Anthony and I were planning to adopt from Rwanda came up. The guide was really nice to us about it, but you could tell that there was a little confusion as to why we were adopting when we had 3 biological children. We asked a little bit about adoption within Rwanda, by Rwandans, and he told us it didn't really happen. He said that maybe extended family would take care of a child, but that they would never be viewed as one of their children. That they would be second class.

So, while the idea of each child growing up in a home is really really good, there is a lot of education and changing of attitudes that needs to be done. And it can be. And I pray for those that are leading this, that they will understand the issues fully and be thoughtful in the way they approach it all. And I pray for the people of Rwanda, that they will embrace the children of their country as their own. And I pray for the children...oh, how I pray for the children.

BUT, none of that was my initial reaction. My initial reaction was fear. Fear that this would mean that we would never be able to adopt from Rwanda again. It's a fear that I carry around with me all the time anyway and this article really hit me in that place. I mean, the reality is that we have no promises that we will be able to adopt from there again. We only have the hope. And this article, for me, attacked that hope. And as soon as I realized how fearful I was, I began to realize how selfish I can be.

I have this idea as to how our family should look. I tell everyone (including God) all the time about how important it is to us that Nathan have a Rwandese sibling. And I stand by that...I believe that. But the reality is, that the way that I see my family, and what I hope fo my son, that just doesn't trump what is best for an entire country. My hope to add one more child to our family from those beautiful hills does not trump the needs of the hundreds of thousands of orphans there. And if what is best is to place them in foster care and maybe permanently close to international adoption (although I have never heard that said) then I need to support that no matter what that means for us.

Parents that are in the process of adopting internationally often get wrapped up in what they view as their own rights. We get angry at foreign governments who don't handle things the way that our western minds think they should. Their changing timelines grate on our american sensibilities. And sometimes parents cause real problems by fighting the wrong fight and causing these foreign governments to close up leaving so many children without the chance to be adopted, all because some american family wasn't getting things their way.

Look, I had to fight when I was in Rwanda for my son. Sometimes you need to. But I never lost sight of the fact that their were other families and children behind me that I didn't want to screw things up for. It was not all about me and my rights. Adoption is not about catering to the adoptive parents and if you can't handle the humility that comes with having to bow to everyone else's laws and timelines (that may NEVER make sense to you) than international adoption is NOT for you.

I'm still afraid. I try so hard to trust in God and His plan for our family, but my heart breaks at the thought that this may not work out. We may not adopt from Rwanda again. But my hope is that in these times when I feel shaken, that I will get over my own wants and hope and pray for the children of Rwanda and that what is best for them will come to pass. And even though we can provide opportunities that a child in the foster care system in Rwanda will never have, that does NOT mean that the life we can offer is best. And it does not mean that I deserve to have another child from those hills. God is the same God for them there as He is here. He cares for them more than I ever could. And while I still have hopes for our family, I trust that God will keep working for those that He loves. That He never forgets the orphans. That He is the "Father of the fatherless".

Thursday, March 22, 2012

So hard.

The adoption road can be so very hard, for so many reasons. And right now, for those that are hoping to adopt from Rwanda it is really tough.

I want you all to know that I trust that Rwanda is truly trying to do what is best for its children. It's a big, tough job and while we may not always understand why things happen, I do think that it is important to trust that they are doing what they think is best.

With that said, please pray for the families whose paperwork is over in Rwanda right now. After at least a year and a half, and longer for many others, some families are learning that their files have been closed and they will not be receiving a child. It is so heartbreaking. And is certainly causing those that are still waiting some serious anxiety...so please lift these families up.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Huh?

We just went on a small family vacation and I had to tell you a little story...

So our hotel had a continental breakfast that we took part in every morning. There was this really sweet black gal named Mary that worked there, that chatted with us each morning. And when I say she chatted with us, I really mean that she tried to talk with Nathan, pretty much ignoring the girls completely. I'm sure she was curious...

Anyway, so on the last morning there, out of nowhere she says, "'Boy, he really favors his dad." Huh? We didn't think at first that we heard her right, but then she went on to explain which facial features she thought were similar between the two. We weren't sure what to say!! Finally we just kind of laughed and said that that was funny since he was adopted. So awkward.

Oh, the funnies of adoption!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How we got to where we are...

It was in college that I first realized that adoption would be a part of my family story. There was never a question about it for me from there on out, I just knew.

Anthony always wanted to adopt too, so from the start of our relationship, we just knew that it was something that we would do.

We all make plans when we are deciding to get married. We dream together about where we will live, what we will do, and how many children we will have. And for us, it was always that we would have four biological children and adopt two.

We started our family quickly and added even faster. Married in 2002, Adele in 2004, Elise in 2005, Lucy in 2007...it was a lot of pregnant and it was really hard. And it was during that pregnancy with Lucy when we felt like God stepped in and said, change of plans, 3 is good, time to adopt. And that is what we did.

If we had continued on with our "plan" we would not have Nate. We would have gone on to have another baby instead of throwing ourselves into the adoption process when Lucy was only 9 months old. But that wasn't what God wanted for us, so we closed up shop and changed the plan and were blessed with the most amazing little man that we get to call our son.

So, we began to dream again and our plan became let's adopt three, two international and one domestic. We had Nate (2008) and began looking forward to a domestic adoption. And then August 2010 happened and God decided to change things up for us again. We watched a documentary and decided not to do a domestic adoption after all. All our sweet adoptions would be from Rwanda. We felt so at peace with this decision...and then a couple weeks later Rwanda closed. But it was too late for us, we were committed to Rwanda, so we began to wait.

I won't lie, the wait has hurt...a lot. But we stayed the course, stuck to our new plan. When they reopen, we'll adopt two. We'll have our six and be done. It was a good plan. Then this past December happened.

I blogged about a family we knew that came home with their new son from Rwanda. But I didn't tell you part of the story. I didn't tell you about how they had been approved for two children and came home with one. And I didn't tell you how this rocked me. I didn't tell you about how this was making me wonder. I didn't tell you about how I wondered if we would be able to carry through with our plan after all.

So I asked questions. We know that we are pushing it to ask to adopt again to begin with. To ask for two, well, it may kill our chances for even one. But instead of panicking, I knew, I knew that I was watching God change the plan again.

Rwanda is our heart. And we just feel like that is where God has had us from the start. And we are going to wait on Rwanda. We have hopes that they will reopen to international adoption again. And we have hopes that they will allow us to bring Nate a sibling that will be able to share a history with him in a way that none of the rest of us can. But that would make five and six is our heart.

So about a week after that family came home, we were just sitting on the couch and I turned to Anthony and said something that neither of us thought we would talk about again...I asked him what he thought about having another baby. And three weeks later I found out I was pregnant. So I guess we have a new plan and so far, I guess God thinks its a good one.

Each turn we have made has brought another child into our life. This is no different. Unexpected? Yes. But right. And we are so at peace and so thankful. What a journey this continues to be!