“Before you think of adopting someone else’s child, you need to think of giving birth to your own!”
– My father, 1990-something.
There’s something in an African father who cannot abide the thought of his daughter raising another man’s child, I swear.
It’s a need and a passion that has lived inside of me for as long as I can remember. Maybe it started when I first saw my neighbor’s Cabbage Patch Kid doll, complete with an adoption certificate. (My parents never spent money on frivolous items like name brand playthings when we were kids. I don’t think we’d ever earned anything manufactured by Mattel.) Perhaps it was because my mother was always housing, even if it was briefly, some stray child or another in our home. A fairy could have whispered in my ear that this was my life’s destiny. I don’t know! All I do know is that my desire to adopt has never waned.
I’m usually very careful about who I discuss my adoption dreams with. At the moment, that’s all I can afford to do; dream, that is. The first question folks usually ask me is “WHY??” – and not in a kind, inquisitive way. That one word, “why”, is generally laden with incredulity and implications of madness and stupidity on my part.
Why, when you already have 4 kids?
Why, when your house is so small?
Why, when you’re already so stressed out as a mom?
I don’t know…because. Will that suffice? Obviously “because” isn’t a good enough reason to offer any reputable adoption agency or potential birth mother forced to give up her child for whatever reason, but I can tell you this: My “because” too is laden with intent, purpose and ambition.
When we speak of love in popular culture these days, we often reduce the definition to romantic love. Oftentimes it gets boiled down to meaning sex. Very seldom do we hear about the different types and ranges of love that human beings experience: the love between two friends; the love one has for God; the love between a mother/father and child. I want to adopt a son because I love him already.
I dream of my son infrequently, but recently I’ve thought of him daily. I don’t know what features he will have, but I know that he will be dark. His birth mother and father will have blessed him with skin that I do not have the genetic power to produce. He may be sweet, he may be fiery, he may end up with special needs…I don’t know. All I know is that I love him already, and that I can’t wait to meet him.
Now that I’ve taken on this job and am focused on paying off our debt, I think we are in the right place to begin to plan to bring another child into our family. The first step has been to have meaningful conversations with my husband. Adopting a child is not like bringing home a pet fish, and is not as simple as “saving some infant from a horrible life” as many in American culture tend to believe. I have spent the better part of this week poring over stories of well-intentioned, poorly equipped adults who have adopted Black children, only to return them or “re-gift” them like bad fruitcake because the child was not the suitably grateful, happy-go-luck little negro they expected. I don’t understand these folks. If you make a commitment to be that child’s parent, you have a moral obligation to see that child through whatever they are besieged with. That’s the bargain when you take on the title of “parent”. One doesn’t get the option of turning one’s biological children back into sperm and injecting them into your testes if they don’t turn out as you’d hoped…why then does
re-homing abandoning an adopted child become a choice? If it sounds like I’m judging these parents, I AM.
In conversations with my husband, I see that we are not yet ready to bring our son home. There are financial burdens that we were not aware of, and legal obligations that we had not considered. We also need to be emotionally fortified before we bring our young man home. What if he doesn’t like us or our children? Will our existing family unit be supportive enough for him? Can I realistically take on the role of mom of 5 kids when the other 4 have already beaten me down and have turned my husband and I prematurely grey? We won’t know until we try, and we are certainly willing.
I have no delusions about adoption, or child rearing in general. My children have cured me of all of that. My biological children have shown me that a child needs more than just “love” to become a strong, smart, high-functioning individual. A child needs shoes, food, discipline, information, the truth, a stable home, consistency and most important, certainty. If God grants us the opportunity, it would be my privilege to show my son all these things and to raise him to be the great man I know he is already destined to be. Yes! I believe my son is destined for greatness. What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t hold this conviction prematurely?
I cannot wait to meet my son, but I know that our union will come at a cost. The only regret I have is that our coming together will mean his separation from another woman. As a mother, that breaks my heart – but I promise you sister, whoever and wherever you are: I will love our son, and do my absolute best to raise him to be the man of our dreams.
Have you ever considered adoption? What advice do you have for would-be adoptive parents? With all the horror stories in the news, is it better to abandon the whole enterprise altogether? Discuss!