I’ve been asked a few times why we’re going halfway around the world to get our kids when there are so many children in our own country that need good loving homes. I think that is a valid question that deserves more than the couple sentences I have given it already.
I need to start by saying that I think all adoptions are beautiful. Whether it’s domestic or international, a baby or a teenager, a relative or a stranger, adoption rocks. My goal with this post is not to say why international adoption is better than domestic adoption, because for many families it’s not. My goal is simply to explain why we felt international adoption was better for us.
We recently read a book in our small group called The Hole in our Gospel by World Vision president Richard Stearns. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. This book challenged the way we think of our neighborhood and communities. Now that we can send a message around the world in a few seconds, we can fly to nearly anywhere in the world in a day or less, and we have constant news coverage of anywhere in the world, who is our neighbor? One hundred years ago or less, one could not help some of the poorest, most desperate places in the world because they did not know about them. Even if they did know about them, going there or sending supplies there was extremely difficult and expensive. That is not an excuse anymore. We know about these places. Roughly 22,000 kids die every single day of causes that can be traced back to issues that relate to poverty, mainly hunger. 22,000 kids. Every. Single. Day. That is insane.
As a Christian, I feel as though these people are my brothers and sisters. Just because they live halfway around the world doesn’t mean I can ignore them. I can’t pretend they don’t exist because it’s inconvenient or makes me sad. They ARE my neighbors.
I like to think I am realistic. I know one person cannot ‘save’ all those trapped in horrible situations. I don’t believe in handouts. I believe in personal accountability and think that you are responsible for your own well-being. But think back to studying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You can’t start to think about higher order things until your basic needs are met. When you have to walk miles just to get a bucket of water, when your brain isn’t fully developed because of years of malnourishment, when you live under a repressive government, what are you to do? You can only think about surviving. This is not a fictional story or a tale from long ago. In many parts of the world, this is reality.
So when we decided on adoption and thought about where to adopt from, we looked at the life an unwanted child would have in the United States compared to other parts of the world. I know that unwanted kids in the US don’t have it easy. There is great need there for sure, and I am very thankful that so many people have a heart for that. I am proud to live in a country where if someone finds herself pregnant, she can select from a list of families that want to provide her child a home. I am proud to live in a country that provides basic food, shelter, and an education for their unwanted kids. But many countries don’t. And when we started looking into adoption, we had to look at what neighbors had the greatest need. From there our decision was relatively easy.
I know that Africa has real, deep issues. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how to solve them. I know that adopting two kids is not going to make a dent in the nearly 5 million orphans that Ethiopia alone has. But you know what? I believe it will make a difference to those two kids. I believe God has called us to those two kids. International adoption is more complicated and more expensive, and raising children of a different race will not be easy. But I believe those things strongly enough to quiet my practical side and to look past who I thought I would be as a mom to listen to that call.