Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why International Adoption

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Kenya on Semester at Sea. Semester at Sea was a study abroad program through the University of Pittsburgh, but instead of going to one country you went to 12 (mostly 3rd world countries) and had your classes on a boat. We had already seen some extreme poverty and been to the poorest villages in South Africa where Apartheid was just ending. I was in Kenya coming back from our Safari. We were on a bus and there were hundreds of people on either side of the bus, mostly women and children with no shoes, the women carrying things on their heads. The children were stopping and waving at us. It was obvious these were people trying to survive. I thought right there and then, there are so many kids in this world that deserve a better life there is no reason for me to bring several of my own children into the world. I always kept that moment with me. I often wonder what some of my other classmates from that experience are doing. When times are tough I think, "no I couldn't have been one of those people who just went and looked at the wild elephants, I had to get involved." But I believe anyone who had seen what I did would have done the same thing. When I met Scott I told him what I wanted to do and he agreed. Although he really wanted a biological child, it is amazing to me the passion he shares for this without ever having been on this trip.
As this year got tough for us and we told people we were adopting I could see people's heads spinning and the wheels turning, why would they adopt when they are losing a business? There's no book on how to have your business fail while adopting internationally and if there was it doesn't seem like a huge market. When we started this how could we have known what would be happening two years down the road? Should our kids suffer because times have gotten a little tough? No, we are still so rich and still have the most important thing, the ability to get jobs which can support our family. I think people don't understand these are OUR kids, even though we don't know them. Even when I was pregnant with Annie I said to my girlfriend at work, I wonder if my other children are born yet?
The other comment I just love is when people say well what about the kids here? What about the kids here? They are gonna get fed and gonna get an education with or without parents. And what makes you think American children have more of a right to a family than African children? To me that's like saying you shouldn't raise money for lung cancer because breast cancer is more prevalent. Cheryl is known for telling people who say that, "what are you doing for the kids here?"
I often think about how it's no coincidence that Jesus was born in the poorest town in Israel, he has called each of us to do something no matter what the obstacles. With our challenges this year I asked him, if I can only do one thing please let me bring my kids home. It looks like God will come through.
The one thing most of the African Adoptive families I have gotten to know have in common, is that most of us are living on the edge financially and most of our lives center around a strong faith.

4 comments:

Nancy said...

This post reminds me of a prayer from church today:
O God, so much of life is spent saying "I can't." We are presented with opportunities to work for justice for the poor, and we say "I can't. I don't know enough about it." Lord forgive us our shortcomings and awaken a sense of hope in us. Redeem us from ourselves and help us to know that all things are possible in you.

NoSurfGirl said...

We're almost finished with our homestudy, and are in the process of getting on the AFAA waiting list. I feel scared and happy and sort of jealous of you and also glad that I have a little more time to prepare all at the same time.

Jeff and I are also thinking of going out, when the time comes.

How long were you on the waiting list? You are adopting older children (we're looking at a 4 year old and a baby, our kids are still very young) so I guess you probably didn't wait as long, maybe.

Thanks for this post.

-Sarah

Richardson Family said...

Sarah;
We actually waited eight months before getting a referral. We had asked for kids five and under but after eight months, cheryl said we could wait years so we upped our ages to seven and younger. We got our referral January 10th and now are leaving June 28th. Our dossier was in Liberia the beginning of April 2006, so it has taken us a while. If you are adopting from Liberia, you might want to check with Cheryl on the ages. Best of luck,
Sue

Janie said...

I love this. I marvel in your convictions. I aspire to be more like the wonderful person your are!