Monday, February 3, 2014

Am I Heartless if I Don't Adopt?

To everything there is a season; to every argument a counterargument; in every life, a balance to be struck. But a huge question that keeps haunting me is: is there really a balance to be struck with adoption discernment? Or is it simply, if I don't adopt, I'm heartless? 

My husband and I had a great, honest conversation the other night. We had received some detailed information about a child in another country, and we were able to look through it and really see what it would mean to adopt that child from that country. We looked at each factor in turn, giving our opinions honestly as we could.

We had to face the costs - probably about $25,000. Despite thinking about fundraising and the tremendous support of the Reece's Rainbow community, that number is so daunting.

We had to face our fertility - and the fact that we do want to have more children biologically. Abstaining is unnatural; it is natural that a husband and wife come together to have children. And we just don't feel comfortable bringing home a special needs child and a newborn - either at the same time, or within a very short window. We're not sure that would be fair to either child, and we're not exactly pros at balancing multiple children yet!

We had to face our fears - both of ours, honestly. My greatest fear is that I will ruin everything (I do have a flair for the dramatic). That we will adopt and it will really hurt our family - that it will hurt my marriage, hurt Zuzu, hurt our family. The fact is that right now, we live a rather idyllic existence. We have a great rhythm as a family, my marriage is happy and healthy, our baby bright and well-adjusted. We have a good community and good jobs. We are beyond blessed.
I am frightened to introduce strife. I am frightened that we will adopt a child and the child will bring with them so much hurt, so much pain, so much - that it will sink us. We will be ill-equipped and we will fall apart under the strain of it all. Would it be that child's fault? God no. But I am even more frightened that in our weakened state, we would blame that child - we would blame that child for the wreck of our idyllic life.

It all feels like too much right now. I wonder if, after we have another child, it will seem easier - maybe our life will be more chaotic, our first child will already have shown her less-than-angelic side, we'll be less afraid of getting some mud on the tires of our life, as it were.

But that makes me feel so heartless. Especially when I read things like this. That…that was really, really hard.

I want love to be enough. I want to be able to make it work in my family, right now, no matter what. I feel like I can't breathe when I think about what some of these children are enduring, when I realize the stark contrast between their childhoods and my only baby's charmed life. I want to mother the world - I always have. Not unlike my own mother, who would take in my stray friends and treat them like one of us, I just don't see many distinctions. I am a mother, and they are children, so why shouldn't they belong to me, if a place to belong is what they need?

But I have to balance this heart with the realities of my life, and that fact that I have a little person I am already responsible for, and a man to whom I have pledged my life who gets a rather big say too. That is hard - I hate being restricted by anything, I hate having to realize that life isn't a movie, that no one comes in to make it all better at the eleventh hour. Sometimes you have to say "not now" to a desire - even good, holy desires.

Right now, our adoption plans are...on hold. I don't know for how long - maybe it just means we've stalled out on international adoption. Maybe domestic is still in the works. It doesn't mean there aren't other things I can do to help, and it doesn't mean we'll never adopt. I'm probably still going to blog about it - because it is on my heart a lot these days. Adoption has forced me to look at so many aspects of myself, has made us dig deeper as a couple, and as Christians. We have to see where this takes us, but it doesn't seem like it's international adoption right now - unless or until God shows a way, softens hearts, opens doors, reveals a path. If I'm open enough, I know it'll happen - in His time.


  1. Martha, I so admire your honesty. Not only are you asking yourself those hard questions, but you're willing to share the responses with all of us....regardless of what they are. I wish I was able to be that vulnerable.

    Your 3rd factor is totally valid. It's so scary to willingly bring potential chaos into a smoothly running family unit...especially when that "potential chaos" is a little life. I think another possibility to consider is that should you and your husband get pregnant before adoption, there is the chance that that little baby could be special needs. Perhaps it seems different because with adoption of a special needs child, you go into it knowing what to expect (to some degree). But, even a special needs biological child could bring that same hurt and pain, as well as bring strain on your currently "idyllic life". Just something to think about, maybe. :)

    I hope you know that I'm just trying to play devil's advocate and help to uncover every possible stone to help you with this journey...I totally assimilate with the questions you've asked here....I've never had the guts to ask myself the same ones.

    1. Oh I had hoped to make it clear that ANY new baby will throw the whole game off!!

      I think the difference with a biological special needs baby is that you don't have the attachment issues that complicate everything so very much more. That's my big fear, much moreso than any physical issue, are the emotional issues that all children who are adopted have. It's not their fault, and not all of them have it severely, but they all have it, to some degree. It's very very scary for me, because it often results in lashing out and aggressive behavior. That's what gives me major pause, honestly.

      Granted, I could get a child with an aggressive personality! But I hope not :)

      Thanks for the feedback - honestly, this journey is making me be more honest than I have been in a loong time.


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