We had been married about two years, and things were truckin’ right along, when my wife Rachel said to me, “I think it’s time for us to have a baby.”
My eyes widened and pupils dilated a little bit. “What? Really? Are you sure? Are we ready to take care of a baby?” Clearly, I was a little apprehensive. But she was right. We had a son, and I can’t imagine life without him.
So, we were a family of three, and things were going good for a couple of years, and then Rachel said to me, “I think it’s time to have another baby.”
And I swallowed my tongue and bit my knuckle. “Are you sure?” I said. “Do you think we can handle another baby? I mean, things are pretty good like they are, right?” But of course, she was right again. We had a daughter, and I can’t imagine life without her.
So, we were a family of four and cruising right along, and a couple of years later Rachel said to me, “I think it’s time for us to adopt.”
My eyes got wide and my mouth got dry, and I thought, “Whoa, I don’t know if I can handle that.”
But by this time, my wife’s track record was such that I was ready to give her the benefit of the doubt. I said, “Of course you’re right. It’s time for us to adopt.”
Let’s back-track a little and explain how we got to here. The evangelical church in America is in the middle of an adoption explosion, and our church is one of the explodiest. If you walk around The Church at Brook Hills on a given Sunday, probably one out of every five families you pass will include at least one adopted child, and that is not an exaggeration.
In this culture, adoption has become not just common, but normal, in the sense that it’s something that normal people do. This is the best kind of peer pressure. But to us, it was only confirmation of what we already felt.
Let’s back up a little further. I’ve always thought that adoption was a beautiful thing, and I have a lot of admiration for people who will take in someone else’s children to raise as their own. My feelings are so strong that it’s hard for me to watch the part in Terminator 2 where John Connor’s foster parents Todd and Janelle get killed by the transforming robot. C’mon, John Conner, at least have some respect for your foster dad before he gets stabbed in the face!
But even though I’m not worried about threats from time-traveling liquid-metal robots (not much, anyway), I never really considered myself the kind of person who was capable of being an adoptive parent. Really, for most of my life, I didn’t consider myself capable of being any kind of parent. I once had a potted cactus in my apartment, and somehow I managed to let it die. A cactus, for pete’s sake. I was terrified by what might happen to an actual person in my care.
Then I met Rachel, and we started talking about our future (sans robots) together. From the beginning we talked about both having children and adopting children. Adoption was something that held a special place in Rachel’s heart too. And with her, raising children without dooming them to the fate of my cactus seemed more realistic.
Knowing Enough to Know I Don’t Know
So skip ahead a few years, and I managed to trick Rachel into marrying and having a couple of kids with me. And I am happy to report that as of, oh, say fifteen minutes ago, they were all still alive and well.
I’ve learned a lot about kids in the meantime. For one, they’re even greater than I thought they would be; and for another, they’re pretty resilient — so far I’ve been unable to expose them to enough cartoons and gummi bears to do any obvious damage.
I’ve also learned that I was right when I thought that I didn’t know what I was doing to begin with. But, I’ve also learned that nobody else knows what they’re doing either, and it doesn’t matter anyway. You can never know enough for your wisdom to surpass God’s providence. So, most stuff you just have to leave in His hands and let go.
Given that, and the fact that our two kids are now pooping on their own (mostly; I mean really, who among can say that we truly do it on our own? No man is an island.), Rachel and I decided that the time was right to adopt.
So, at the beginning of this summer, we started in on the tsunami of paperwork that you have to complete as part of the adoption process (see image, above). The adoption agency that we’re working with is exceedingly thorough. Thorough in ways that make a proctological exam seem like a firm handshake. They’ve investigated our personal histories, our finances, our marriage, our religious beliefs… They asked me my position on the Oxford comma and whether I was more of KFC or Chick-Fil-A guy (whereupon Rachel had to stop me from slapping the case worker right in the face).
They also asked us a lot of questions about what kind of child we were willing to adopt. And here’s where we come to the part of the process that always made me the most apprehensive about adoption. Namely, the fact that we can only adopt one.
I didn’t know exactly how the adoption process would go, but I was sure that in the course of it we’d see lots of kids who needed parents, and all but one of them we’d have to leave behind. Sure enough, there’s been a lot of that so far, and we’re still just in the paperwork phase. Adoption agency informational materials, email newsletters… they’re all filled with pictures of kids — real kids who are really out there, somewhere — who need parents to love them and raise them, and they don’t have them. And there’s nothing we can do for them. For all but one.
It’s overwhelming when you think about it like that, and in the past, I’ve allowed feelings of despair for those kids to make me avert my eyes from all of them. Even if we adopt one, there will still be so many, so why bother?
Of course the answer is, bother because if we adopt one, then there will be one less left alone. This is what we can do, this is what God has put in front of us, so we’re doing it. For one.
So Here We Go
Now we’re into it for real. We’re wrapping up paperwork, filing for permission with Chinese and U.S. authorities, and waiting to be matched with our daughter, who is most likely out there right now, somewhere, waiting for us.
We’re also in the process of putting together the remaining financing for this grand adventure. We’ve saved a lot, received some generous gifts, and made a couple of the initial payments for legal and paperwork filing fees. But we’re still looking at a funding gap that’s big enough to cover a quality late-model used car, a couple of Super Bowl tickets, or half an hour in Las Vegas with Charles Barkley.
So with that in mind, I’m putting a Donate button up on the website (here and in the right sidebar), and humbly asking you, dear reader, to pitch in a couple of bucks if you can spare ’em. Any funds we collect will be used directly for adoption expenses. If, by an outpouring of generosity or by Charles Barkley confusing my website with a video poker machine, we happen to raise more than we need, we’ll pass any excess funds along to another deserving adoptive family.
I’ll also be posting continuing updates on our adoption journey here on the blog, so please feel free to follow along. Our very tentative timeline right now is for a match with a child in the spring of 2018 and a trip to China for the big pickup later that fall. If you’ve got any questions, or if you want some particular information because you’re interested in adoption, I’d be glad to hear from you in the comments.
And if you have experience with adoption, we’d love to hear from you and get whatever pointers or advice you can give us. Also, we’d love to hear some name suggestions, because we’re still working on that. We asked our kids what they want to name their new sister, and they’re pretty committed to the name Rainbow Flower Anderson. That’s nice, and no offense if your name is Rainbow Flower, but I don’t think we’re going to stick with it long term.