So, I decided to resurrect this blog. We feel this is a good idea since we are asking people for donations and so many people have been generous with their time, money, and resources. And it’s a way for people to stay connected to our lives (specifically with the adoption) even if we can’t personally contact all of the many people who have helped us. Since we haven’t been blogging up to this point, and we are really far along in the process, I’m going to play a little “catch up” and start from the beginning. The beginning, as always, starts, before the beginning.
We began our adoption journey over a year ago. There are a lot of common questions that we get regarding our adoption, and I would like to try to answer all of those questions, but one of the first and most common ones is: Why?
Since we do have biological children and we are quite busy people (We started an organic vegetable CSA two years ago, Jonathan is an English teacher, we have two rental units attached to our 1875 farmhouse that constantly needs work, our property is insanely time consuming to maintain) and we aren’t exactly “loaded” (financially) so…why?
This is a really difficult question to answer! Which is funny, since we’ve spent so much time thinking about it. The best way that we can explain how difficult is to answer is to compare it to someone asking you “So, why did you decide to have children?” It’s just an impossible question. Not that it offends us, or that we mind attempting to answer it, it’s just that, well, it’s complicated.
There are so many reasons why we’ve chosen to grow our family through both adoption and biological pregnancy, but perhaps if I had to choose just one reason it would be this: When you’ve lost a child– when Joseph died– something about our understanding of the brevity, fragility, and miracle of life was grown exponentially. When Joseph died, we were made acutely aware of the fact that children really are God’s gifts to us, to the world. Well, we already knew that. But until you’ve held your own child without a breath in them, there’s nothing that can prepare you for the intense understanding that you are granted in your time of grief of how miraculous life truly is. And while we were always interested in adopting, his death brought us to this place of realization that our family was the most important thing, and to not pursue bringing an orphan into our family might mean never bringing an orphan into our family. Life–it just happens so quickly. And if you don’t make decisions, decisions will be made for you. Once we started looking into it, we also realized that adoption is an extremely long process with extremely serious requirements. For instance, our income level needs to be a certain amount based on the number of children we have in order to be approved by immigration to adopt. Therefore, if we were to have any more biological children, we might not be able to adopt: that door might close. If we didn’t plan for adoption, we may never adopt. And it is a priority for us.
And furthermore, the idea that there was any child in the world who needed a family that didn’t have one, it just seemed ludicrous.
In my experience, when your child is born, your heart is grown in all of these joyful ways. You realize that you can love more than you ever thought possible. But when your child dies, your heart is grown in a different way. You realize you can hurt more than you ever thought possible. Your ability to understand the depths of another’s pain–your empathy–is increased exponentially. This love, it functions as energy. Energy that you have nowhere to put because your physical child is in Heaven where you can’t take care of him. And we needed a way to harness that energy and focus it on a dream: the dream of adoption.
Our dream is to adopt a child into our family. We want more children, and a child needs a family. Adoption, it’s an awesome concept. When people ask me, why do you want to adopt? Why would we not want to adopt? This isn’t to say that it’s wrong to not choose this as your path for your family, but for us it truly is for our family a natural step. Just like other people decide to get pregnant, we have decided to adopt.
To answer the second most common question, although it may not be asked outright is that, yes indeed, we have thought long and hard about the fact that we are white parents living in Vermont adopting a child from Africa. Adopting internationally and transracially is something that we do not take lightly. We are white. We do live in Northern Vermont (a predominantly white community). We’ve agonized over a great many things, had hard conversations, read every last bit of literature that there is on transracial adoption, looked very honestly at our motivations, and tried our best to predict how we can navigate the future in the best possible way for our child. All we can say is that we are going into this humbly and openly, with our eyes as wide open as we could manage to pull them open.
I’ve become strangely comfortable with approaching anyone who is Black in my community and asking them, “So, what’s it like to live here?” and “Do you think it’s irresponsible to adopt a Black child into this community?” It took me a bit of effort to get to that place, but, oh, how we’ve grown. And oh how we know we will grow through all of this. And we pray that we can miraculously have the wisdom to handle the upcoming challenges as wisely and lovingly as possible. To be able to teach our child to be courageous and love themselves, to be able to provide them with enough role models and mentors that look like them, and to build a culture of love and openness in our home that allows for hard questions. Pray for us.
And then there’s the financial piece. The other question. Yes. It’s expensive. Adoption is about $30-35,000. We’ve used our own money, we’ve fundraised through selling necklaces and putting on a farm to table adoption fundraiser. We need to raise about $15,000 more, pretty quickly.
The biggest upcoming thing we’ve got going on fundraising wise is that we’re putting on an adoption auction fundraiser on Facebook on the third week of March. Any donations are so helpful. Example donations include: theater tickets, handmade soap, giftcards, artwork, a service such as housecleaning, babysitting, a mini photo shoot, filing taxes..anything at all! And if you can’t think of anything, the next business you pop into, ask them! We’re so grateful for all of the support we’ve received and continue to receive.
And finally, as for the specifics of our adoption, we are adopting a child age 0-3 years old of either gender. We are open to some special needs which we have identified. We decided it was important to allow Clara to remain the eldest, and it will probably work out that Felicity will have a sibling that is very close in her age. We’re hoping this works out smoothly. A little nervous about it. Again, pray for us.
Now, where are we at in the process? Well, we are pretty far. We are expecting to bring home a child within the next 9-12 months. Some people post timelines on their adoption blogs but ours would be INSANE because we’ve been in three different agencies and four different countries before finally staying in one program. And that has added a ton of extra steps. International adoption is messy. In adoption terms we are “paper pregnant”.
So what does adoption look like? I’ve pretty much run around like a chicken with my head cut off for the past six months asking people to sign, print, notarize. Sign, print, notarize. To-do list. And it’s an extraordinary crazy to-do list when that list includes: start onion seeds. Order compost. Send out CSA member notifications. Apply for adoption grant. Apply for farm grant. Build a Root cellar. Learn how to cure squash. Send immigration letter to adopt an orphan. Pay phone bill. Research growing grains. Order flooring for Unit 2. Budget. Check the budget.
Are we crazy? Yep. Our to do list proves it.
If you have any more questions please feel free to contact me. And thanks again to everyone for your sweet words of encouragement, unwavering prayers, and giving hearts.