Wednesday, May 16, 2012

FAQ's of our adoption journey

I've had lots of friends and friends of friends email me with questions about our adoption journey and adoption in general. I figured I might as well make a blog post out of it I could refer back to or send to others.  As you know, I am no adoption expert nor do I have all of the answers! I'm just on this journey God is taking us on! (The pictures are from my trip to Uganda)

1. International or domestic? How do you decide?

This was decided through a matter of prayer, fasting, and the Lord leading for us.  It is sad to me that people rank one above the other in matter of importance or which is a "nobler cause". Adoption is the gospel whether you adopt from your own city or across the world. God will call some to domestic adoption and others to international. We couldn't make a dent in the orphan crisis if we all only adopted one way or the other. This is why He refers to us as a body of believers, all serving different parts and functions.  There are needs both here and abroad. The Lord had just put Africa on our heart. We tried to pursue other avenues and kept feeling totally unsettled. We ended up choosing the continent first, then our country based off of what criteria we matched within. For example some countries you have to be over 35 or married over 10 years so that wouldn't work. Some countries you have to have no biological children at home or not more than 1.  Some countries you have to stay in country months and months so that limited us. We ended up with Congo, a relatively new program, in the rape capital of the world. We were excited to bring home children from this country that may have ended up in prostitution or abducted/affected by war. However, I cast no judgement on foster care or domestic adoption. Instead it excites me so much to see families adopting from US. The wait is often quicker, sometimes not, and I've heard several stories of there being such an abundance of African American children on waiting lists with no prospective parents open to transracial adoption. 

2. What about the cost?

I would never let cost be a deterrent to adoption (unless maybe you are up to your eyeballs in debt and it is a source of dissension in your marriage). Yes adoptions run $12,000-32,000. Ours with two children will end up being in the neighborhood of 38-50,000. But I've tried to let this be an area of trust instead of stress. I do believe we need to be wise when entering this as with all financial matters, pray and seek counsel. But this is something God asks us to do hundreds of times in the Bible- to care for the orphan, to fight for the fatherless, to sacrificially give and serve the least of these. We do have to "count the cost" but we also have to trust God for big things. If he has laid adoption on your heart, he will provide. It may take work on your part, and lots of prayer. But he will equip you for the journey he has called for you. You can fundraise, seek grants, write letters to friends/family/church, yard sale, sell necklaces, dinners, speaking at churches, etc.  There are lots of ministries out there to help you with fundraising or grants!  

I think we see such a big price tag as the bottom line, but I wonder if that is exactly where God wants us to be.  Rarely in life do we have to depend on him dollar by dollar. It is an awesome experience to depend on God for everything, we just rarely get the chance to do it. Also,logistically this is not a one time lump sum. It is broken up into payments and chunks that are more manageable. Not to mention, there is a 13,000 tax credit still in effect once you finalize your adoption. It is in petition to continue after 2013 so do your research and sign the petition for the refund to continue!
In addition, before we had our first child, someone told us kids cost over a million dollars over their lifetime. Not sure if this is true or not, but regardless, it did not deter us from having kids. I can't put a price tag on motherhood or any of my children. We will just continue to try and seek Biblical wisdom in our finances and ask Big things of God as he asks big things of us.

3. How did we decide to adopt two?

There were numerous factors that led us to adopt two at the same time. First, both my daughter Reese and husband John had been praying and both told me within a day of each other that the Lord told them we were supposed to adopt two. Crazy! As I was trying to come around this idea, the Lord poured confirmation after confirmation over me.
Disclaimer: don't hear the following as 'everyone should adopt two'.  This was the personal journey God had for our family and is not for everyone.
First, I didn't want our child to be the token black child of our family. I wanted them to have a sibling that understood their background, what it feels like to struggle with identity or belonging, someone to lean on when they may get made fun of or left out, and to see that their color of their skin is valued by our family.  I also knew that we didn't want to have any more biological children. 3 kids seemed incomplete for our family. I knew we would most likely end up adopting again. I would rather do the paperwork and waiting game once instead of twice. I know it will be crazy bringing two home at the same time. I will be stretched to the limit where only God can handle it, not me.
We have priority over requesting siblings, but if no siblings are in our age range or available,we will accept unrelated children. They're gonna be related eventually! But at least, our children will come from the same place and see a familiar face most likely. I pray this helps their transition. I am not so naive to think this will be easy. Having or raising children isn't easy even if you birth them. But I am honored that God has called us to this. I will walk through good times and the crazy difficult ones knowing this is what God has called us to. I'd rather walk in obedience even if it's hard, rather than fight God on the beautiful story he has for our family.

3. What about special needs/medical issues or potential issues down the road?
This is a question I struggled with at first as the Lord refined me here. At first I was not open to anything as we were deciding to adopt initially. However, the Lord has taken that fear away from me. I know He has our children hand picked.  We are not guaranteed to not have medical issues with kids we birth, so we are pretty open when it comes to special needs. I am opening myself up to it and letting God direct on a case by case basis. People have asked us things like "what if they have hidden diseases?" "what if they give your biological kids diseases they bring into the home" etc.  These questions point at fear that safety is all I am to be concerned about.  I have chosen to make obedience my first priority and let God handle the details.  Safety of our kids is important to me, but not more important than following God. I came to God with psychological baggage and "disease" and he adopted me regardless. Any of our kids may have attachment issues, sensory disorders, learning difficulties, medical issues, identity issues, etc. I humbly and gladly will walk forward with what God has for us.

4. What about adopting a child of another race?

This was a no brainer for us. For others this is tough. I have wanted to adopt transracially since college. I even told John on one of our first dates! :) John grew up in another culture so race to him was not a big deal either. Not to mention, there are a lot less families willing to adopt transracially so we knew that is where we fit! Not to mention, most of Africa is black so we were pretty sure once we chose Africa we would have black children...haha. But seriously. We are excited to have a family with a little color in it. Like we tell our kids, how boring would it be if God made us all the same color. We want our family to reflect the Gospel. The Gospel is inclusive, the Gospel tells us we are not superior to anyone else. The Gospel is anti-racist and race is disregarded at the foot of the cross. 
Yes there will be struggles our kids will face growing up with black skin with white parents. We are preparing ourselves how to handle this as a family. Teenage years may be hard for them to identify with one group or another. My prayer is that they will know who and whose they are on the inside more so than the color of their skin in relation to ours. My prayer is that the Gospel will shout louder than the feelings of not belonging or race.

5. What if my spouse doesn't want to?

Just like #1 this one has to be addressed in prayer and fasting. God places our husbands as the spiritual leaders of our families but that doesn't mean he may not work through me first as he reveals the story of our family to us. In our case, I brought it up, not John. Although we had talked about it as a couple for 8 years, we had never said 100% yes we will do that. John always had more hesitation than me. Once i knew it was getting solidified in my heart, I put it to him and asked him to pray about it for a week with no pressure to talk to me about it before then. I also asked that he make sure he is praying and listening to God without letting his fears cloud out God's voice. 4 days later, he came home after 3 hours of prayer and said 100% yes and we should adopt two. God moves mountains. That was pretty quick in my opinion! But one thing I do know, God will never call us to something that will disunite us from our spouse if we are listening to His voice. God wants to draw us together in marriage. Now this may come through hardship, but we will still be moving toward each other. Pray pray and pray BIG prayers. Fast and then pray some more. 

6. What if my family is against it?

Start with prayer and fasting yet again. But regardless, we decided that our family comes first and what God asks of us trumps our families opinions. we went to scripture, sought counsel, and then told our families our hearts. We had several mixed reviews from the get go, but we knew following God meant sometimes not following our families desires for our lives. Just like when Jesus called his disciples, he asked them to leave behind their families and follow him. One guy couldn't even bury his dad, talk about "not honoring your father and mother", but Jesus calls us to himself first. Love God, then love your neighbor. We still honored our family members who were not ok with it, and we still spoke respectfully and tried to honor and hear our family members who were not ok with the race thing, but in the end, we knew we were going to follow God first and foremost. After the initial shock wore off, there were several instances where we saw God move mountains in family members hearts. 
We pray that our adoption will shine the Gospel love that knows no boundaries into our families where racism may still have a hold on their hearts. We pray by getting to know and love our kids, they will realize that race isn't as big a deal as we make it out to be in our society. Because after all, real God centered love is not bound by race or color, country, language or upbringing. 

7. Isn't it taking the child out of their own culture?

This is a hard question for me to answer calmly. I am working through my issues with it and realizing that some people have a very limited view of the orphan crisis and we all are entitled to our own opinions. I laughed out loud when a fellow blogger, Linny, responded to this question this way...
From in regards to one of their son's.
Frankly we are wondering if you ask an orphan sitting in an orphanage that question what would they say??
Let’s just imagine it for a second. Imagine walking up to a 13 year old boy in China who has Arthrogryposis. He is sitting in a cement building looking at the same walls he has seen for the last 13 years. He has never been outside the gate. The doctor he has seen a few times comes to the orphanage. He walks on his deformed sides of his legs and his hands struggle to do the normal daily tasks. He gets up when they tell him, sits where they tell him, he eats the same food day in and day out. He doesn’t even dream of anything different, because he knows nothing different, so there is no hope in his heart. He is curious about what he sees from the outside window, but it is far, far away and there is no real thought that he will ever be part of it. After all, when he ages out he will be put outside, most likely to beg on the streets. After all, in his culture an orphan has no place. BUT he gets to see Chinese faces everyday!! That surely must make him feel so cheery.
OR There is a 13 year old boy with Arthrogryposis who was adopted by an American family when he was just four years old. He sees pictures of how his legs once turned so desperately, but he walks with little effort, as his mom and dad had his legs worked on by a specialist. He spends parts of his day in school where he is surrounded by kids from all cultures. When he is home he can be found talking to his dad about flying planes, or his mom about hunting for treasures in another city. He laughs, talks, rides a bike, shoot baskets outside with his Caucasion brother, gives piggy back rides to his Guatemalan sister, and can be found reading to his little African sister. He is also becoming quite the drummer because of the lessons he takes. Hmmm, let’s see.
Yeah, absolutely, he would rather have been left in his culture. Ugh

Similar for our kids. Once kids age out of an orphanage, many turn to prostitution to make an income. Many men have several wives. Many turn to drugs and living on the streets. Many continue the cycle and abandon their children due to choice, death or poverty. Many young boys are forced to fight in a violent war. 
In the orphanage our kids live in, there is 4 "mamas" and 102 kids. This is one of the best orphanages in the area. They get one meal of rice and beans a day and sleep 4 to a twin bed. They do not get individual attention or affection, unconditional love, or discipleship. They cannot afford school fees for these children so few have a skill that will actually help them if they age out. 

I feel like adoption is the response to trauma and tragedy.  God did not intend for these children to be abandoned by their parents due to choice or death, but we live in a world with sin and free will. Yes, I would love our kids to grow up in Africa with their birthmothers loving them well and taking care of them, but instead they are in a tough situation. Abandoned, malnourished, and without much hope. So yes, it would be great if they could stay in their culture, but not stuck in an orphanage with 100 other kids eating one meal a day maybe. More important than culture is that they grow up knowing there is a God who loves them and a Jesus who died so that they would be saved from their sin. Will we educate our kids about their culture? Definitely! Will we travel to Africa as a family? Tons of times I hope. I would love to do ministry there as a family every few years. But God has called little old us, here in North Carolina. We are just a tiny piece of this puzzle, but if it means that we can raise our kids knowing Love and knowing Jesus, then I will take them out of that African orphanage and bring them here to our home. 

8. Is adoption the answer to the orphan crisis

Like I said before, adoption was not the original idea. Marriage was, family was. But adoption is the response to tragedy.  There are over 163 MILLION orphans in the world. Adoption will not solve it all, nor should it.  That is why adoption is not the only answer in my heart to the orphan crisis. It is a part of it, but not even maybe the biggest part. Orphan prevention is another piece. That is why our family will sacrificially give to ministries who try to prevent kids from being orphans in the first place. Sponsorship programs allow families to be relieved from the financial burden of feeding or sending their kids to school when they do not have an income to support it. But we cant knock down this ginormous number with only orphan prevention because there are millions already orphaned, Adoption and orphan prevention can partner together to really work at this issue. But it takes both and then some. I was so encouraged to see the Ugandan ministries we work with empower the family to raise their kids. So only adoption will not solve the orphan crisis. But it will help for one child..and another..and another. And we will work to keep families from giving up their kids due to poverty alongside of adopting. We partner with a ministry called CARE FOR AIDS that breaks the cycle of poverty in Aids stricken families in Kenya with health and spiritual counseling as well as skills training to ensure they can bring in an income to remain parenting their children and send them to school. It is an amazing orphan prevention ministry!

9. Why Adopt?
Jesus.  It is merely our response to the Gospel.  God adopted us into his family, he bought us at a high price, he welcomed us as his firstborn child despite our disease, he treats us like firstborn children,  Adoption is merely our response to the love that has been given freely to us. It is the ultimate discipleship. It is caring for orphans. It is serving the least of these. It is advocating for the fatherless. And loving the oppressed.
Second of all, we wanted more children and this is they way God put on our hearts to pursue it. Since I was a little girl my heart has been drawn to the strength and beauty and plight of the african people, little did I know he would weave that into my story for how we expanded our family.

Here are a few of my previous posts about adoption as well:
This post was how we announced our adoption.
This post is more on the medical issue question.
Here is a post with more scripture references.

Here's a great video about adoption

Here's a great ministry called loving shepherd that you can fill out an adoption assessment to help you navigate the channels.

Feel free to comment or email me with any thoughts you have as well!

post signature


  1. kylie. amazing resource with incredible truth, love and grace. i heart your face off. :) will you adopt me too? crazy great mama.

  2. Very well said. I absolutely agree! Thanks for putting it into writing <3