Wednesday, May 8, 2013

how we got here

i announced on facebook that we're adopting again, but i wanted to share a little more.

when i went to uganda in march, i didn't have adoption on my radar. we were a couple months away from celebrating one year home with kal and buma, and it just didn't seem like we were ready to grow in that way again any time soon. we were, however, ready to try a go at pregnancy. since having a basketball-sized cyst and my right ovary removed in september, i'd been fretting about my health and whether my other ovary would hold out long enough to have a biological child. so after talking with my doctor, we resolved to start trying to get pregnant as soon as i returned from uganda.

let me pause here and tell you how planning to get pregnant has worked for us in the past. when we had been married about six months, we started talking about having children and decided we'd start trying to get pregnant after we'd been married a year. about a month after that discussion, we started feeling a tug toward adoption and never looked back. three years after that, kal and buma came home.

so it seemed kinda funny when i got to uganda and started feeling that little voice in my heart speaking to me about adoption. the second day we were there, we visited the baby's home where my friends, scott and erin, volunteered in 2006 and eventually adopted two of their children from. my experience there was a re-awakening of sorts. i'd been in the business of daily mothering and really had forgotten the reality of orphans. i think it happens to most of adoptive parents -- once your kids our home, once they aren't orphans any more, once they do normal kid stuff that drives you crazy, forget that many, many children still live this utterly devastating existence of orphanage life. what i mean by that is that you forget that kids aren't being loved every hour of every day by a mom and dad. so when i had kids fighting each other to sit on my lap, and crying hysterically when i'd have to put them down, i started feeling convicted about how crappily i parent my kids much i forgot that they were once kids just like the ones i saw in the baby's home in uganda. i also felt convicted about the fact that i'd written adoption off as something we "might do again one day, but certainly not any time soon" as if we were immune from being called again because "we'd already done our part."

it wasn't until the last stop we made in uganda that the calling to adopt was really solidified in my heart. we visited a baby's home run by a friend of scott and erin's in a little, tiny town a couple hours from kampala. scott and erin's non-profit, the mighty river project, had been helping with a few benevolence projects in and around the town, so we went there to check up on things. the director of the baby's home had been telling erin about these two children who she thought erin should adopt, and when we got there, she immediately placed one of the kids in erin's arms and said, "here's your son." we went around to find the other child (his older sister), and when we saw her sitting on a blanket eating lunch, all i could think was, "wow, she looks just like kal."

i don't believe in romantic love at first sight, but i'm now solidly a believer in love at first sight in the family sense. the holy spirit began planting seeds in my heart about those kids from the moment i saw that little girl. and when we got to interact -- when she sat on my lap every chance she could get, when she gave the biggest pouting face in the evening when i had to leave her to go eat dinner, when she cried when the other kids crowded around me and she couldn't get through to me -- i knew God was doing something special. but i was scared and admittedly thought adopting two more was insane. so, despite what i felt in my heart, i posted on facebook and resolved to advocate for them until a family was found.

the morning we were leaving, i went out to tell her goodbye. she had watched our luggage being taken out as she sat on my lap, and erin had heard her asking in luganda if we'd be coming back. she also heard her say about me, "mommy mine." we had fred, our ugandan friend, tell her i'd be leaving to go back to america. she got a sullen look on her face, one that kal gets a lot when you know she wants to cry but is trying not to. and then she held on to me for dear life and had to be peeled off by a nanny. in that moment, i could hear my heart screaming john 14:6 "i will not leave you as orphans, i will come to you." i wanted to promise her that. but as erin and fred said goodbye to all the nannies and the rest of the children, i just stood by the van, out of her sight, in tears. in the van, erin said to me, "i've never cried about a kid i've had to leave in africa except the two that are mine."

when i got home, jamie and i talked a lot. he (understandably) wanted to make sure what i was feeling wasn't like the high you get when you go to summer camp with your youth group. he asked me a lot of questions about how i knew we were supposed to adopt the little girl and her brother and not any of the other children i'd met while in uganda. we discussed how this would impact kal and buma. we had a huge parenting disagreement about a situation with buma that led to more questions about if we are really cut out to be "adoptive parents." we wondered about money. what we concluded was simply God was calling us. the wise counsel we sought was overwhelmingly encouraging about moving forward. i never "came off the mountain" in terms of what i felt for the kids and what had happened in my heart those last couple of days in uganda. and we saw the chunk of our adoption tax credit we'll get as part of our tax refund this year as a huge financial confirmation.

this adoption process will probably look nothing like our first. we'll be doing what's considered an independent adoption and using a lawyer in uganda to facilitate the ugandan side of things (which is totally ethical if done with care taken to ensure the lawyer you are working with has a good reputation, and we know ours does), while we essentially do all the US paperwork without the help of an agency (except for the home study part, which we are about to start work on). as i said, we will be able to cover a large portion of adoption costs with our tax credit, but we will be fundraising for travel, so we'd love it if people started giving us their junk for a yard sale :)

i do want to say that (a) we'd still like to have a biological child at some point (subpoint...we never planned to have this many kids), so i don't want anyone thinking we think everyone should give up or delay pregnancy to adopt (ie, this is our story and our calling) (b) we don't think all people who adopt have to adopt two at the same time (again, our story, our calling) and (c) we aren't rock stars or anything, and i'm being really honest when i say that i still crappily parent kal and buma sometimes and see this adoption not only as God's plan for growing our family, but also as a refining process for me to become the mother i need to be for all my children.