Growing up I was not the type of girl who dreamed about my wedding day, my Prince Charming, and our happily ever after. Nevertheless from a young age, I believed marriage and family were special, important, and sacred. They were two things in life that needed to be taken seriously and that should be seen as special gifts. When my husband & I got married, we both knew that in the near future we would like to have a family, and we both knew that our family might be a bit different than the traditional family.
When most people think about starting a family, they think about the traditional method: husband and wife get pregnant and 9 months later a beautiful baby is born. As we began talking about staring a family, we both had a desire to birth children, but we also had a desire to grow our family by a non-traditional method. I birthed our first son when I was 25 years old, and I birthed our second son when I was 27 years old. Our daughter was born when I was 29 years old, but I did not birth her. She was born in the beautiful countryside in Ethiopia, Africa. She is our daughter by adoption.
Everyone has a different reaction to our decision to grow our family through adoption. Some people are excited and supportive. Some think we are doing a “kind deed” by helping the poor child. Others are skeptical and wonder if we will love the child the same as our birthed children. Some people feel the need to share some examples of other adopted children who rebelled when they grew up and treated their adoptive parents poorly. Others are in dismay as to why we would adopt a child when I can physically birth children, and they are perplexed as to why we would want a child of another race. Others are against adoption, especially international adoption.
Our reason for adoption is simple: love. We wholeheartedly believe that every child is uniquely created and is deserving of love. We believe that every child, regardless of skin color and special needs, was created to grow up in the context of a loving family. All children were wonderfully and lovingly made, but we also know that this world often times is not what it should be. We have all experienced heartaches and pain. We have all been let down by others or felt the pains of rejection. Some of us have experienced poverty, discrimination, and other disadvantages. Deep down within all of us, we know that this is not the way we were created to live. We were created for more.
Our daughter is no different. She was lovingly and wonderfully made. She was created to grow and flourish in a family, but sometimes life is not how it should be. While in a perfect world, every child could grow up with their birth parents, often times that is not possible for many reasons. People might reason then that we are adopting because we pity her situation and feel compelled to save her. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We aren’t trying to be a savior. We by no means are perfect parents, but we do love her, and we believe love is deeper than blood lines or skin color. We love her like we love the children we birthed. In our eyes, she is no different than our two older sons. We believe that she is a perfect fit for our family. She, like our other children, is a special gift.
We started this adoption process over a year ago. Our daughter was growing in her biological mother’s tummy when we decided to adopt our 3rd child. Although I was not physically pregnant, my heart felt pregnant. Even though I couldn’t feel our daughter kicking inside of me or listen to her heartbeat at the doctor’s office, my heart longed for her just the same. When I was pregnant with both of my sons, I often thought about them and the day they would be born – how would my delivery go? What would my child look like? Would I feel a connection with my child? Would I be a good mother? My feelings about the arrival of our daughter are just like the feelings I had when I was physically pregnant – I feel great joy and a hint of nervousness too. Pregnancy and adoption have many similarities. Both families must endure a time of waiting. Both families eagerly anticipate the day they first meet their child. Both families look into the eyes of their child and know that this child is a special gift and is a perfect part of their family. Why? Because of love: a parent’s love endures, eagerly hopes, and relishes in the beauty and wonder of their child. Regardless of how a family is formed, through adoption or through physical birth, love is what defines a family.