Yesterday I received a message from someone, asking a lot of questions. I don't have a ton of time to answer them in detail as I'm busy with caring for my family and bringing Katya home, but I felt they were important and deserved some answers. So, I'm going to give some answers, and I'm also going to have Charity write some answers (without reading mine). I will share mine today, and maybe in a few days, I will have the opportunity to share some of Charity's answers too. I hope that it will clarify the situation for any of my readers who are experiencing similar questions or concerns.
C. from down south in the USA writes:
I have a question about your adoption belief system. Maybe that's not the right way to put it. I'm wondering why this one little girl from half way across the world is more important to you that the millions of needy children that pour through your local agency every year. Don't get me wrong- I am pro adoption. But for that very reason I feel like $20,000 spent on one child could be better used to minister to ten US children who do not having loving families. And I'm not measuring the worth of a soul either. All little children deserve a loving family.
Which brings me to my next point. You are not really finically able to get this girl. Is it wise to put all you've got on the line, when you don't have what it takes to bring her home? You are asking for other families to put their all on the line too, for the sake of you providing a home for this child. And like I said, that same amount of money could reach many children. At least in the state of ______, adoption is free. Even your court costs are covered. On one of the blogs (I think Reese's Rainbow) there was a lady practically ridiculing those who back out of adoptions like what you are doing. I was really turned off by that. I think lack of money and other resources is a perfectly good reason not to adopt. Adoption is no easier than any other parenting and especially adoption overseas and special needs. It is no picnic.
I think if you are a prepared family with a call from God to adopt, with your own money in hand, then by all means you should answer that call. But there are few families like that.
The other thing is, while I was touched by the stories of these precious, innocent, abused children, needing help, attention and love, I had to think of two things.
1) What are the governments of these countries doing about the millions of orphans? Why are they not doing something to provide homes or education? If they were concerned about the welfare of the children and they wanted them to find good homes, it would not cost $20,000 to get a child. It sounds like someone is making dirty money. If nothing else, someone should be teaching, educating, and handing out condoms to these people who are creating a world full of orphans. You have to get ahead of the game and stop the mess, because not you, or anyone else is going to be able to give homes to 300,000 children. Not at $20,000 each!
The other thing is, while I understand how fundraisers work, I think it is selfish of people to have to GET something for donating to your cause. If they really cared about helping you bring Kayta home, they would give without Tupperware, books, clothing, cake, etc. I say, shame on them for not just giving you the money.
I hope I didn't come across too strong. These thoughts have been on my heart for a long time. And if you knew me better you would know, I never mince words. I hope you will share your story with me. I am in a community where adoption is looked down on, and F. and I feel called to adopt. Not sure when. We are waiting on God's timing. I have worked with precious foster children.
#1. I'm wondering why this one little girl from half way across the world is more important to you that the millions of needy children that pour through your local agency every year.
When Paul and I first set out to adopt, over 6 years ago, we actually had in mind to foster to adopt through the USA system. We took all the classes, and began to wait and wait for our homestudy appointment. We had NO intention of adopting internationally, and had in fact refused to even consider the idea, due to the costs. It wasn't even on our radar, so to speak. Until the day God literally dropped Kristina's urgent need for a family into our laps and said, "There's your daughter." God spoke very clearly to both of us. We wrestled with the projected cost of her adoption-- $45,000. She lived in the far, far East of Russia, and airfare alone for her adoption ended up costing close to $10,000 for the two trips we were required to make. After seeking a lot of counsel and spending serious time in prayer, we committed to her, knowing it would take a series of miracles from God to pull off her adoption. Fortunately, we were in a church that was big on believing in God for miracles, and they prayed hard with us through the whole process (almost a year long). Ironically, about a week or so after we committed to her, we got the phone call that the local Social Services was ready to start our homestudy. Interesting timing. God's timing, I believe to this day.
With Katya, again, we did *not* set out to seek an international adoption. We were open to whether or not God wanted us to adopt. We had a handful of opportunities to adopt a child here in the USA presented to us by people advocating for children over the last few years. Every single time, God firmly closed the door and said, "No." We were happy with our family of 4 children, and did not necessarily feel the need to adopt again, but we wanted to be open to it if that was what God had for our family. God eventually laid Katya on our hearts, and we began to pray and advocate for her. In Sept. of 2009 I went on a medical missions trip to her orphanage and spent a week working there. We continued to advocate for a family for Katya for almost another year, but no family was able to complete her adoption. We try hard as a family to be open to God's leading and voice in our lives, and we know that He has spoken to us that we are to pursue adopting her. It's that simple.
Just as God called Abraham to leave what he knew and what was familiar to him, God has called us to do this. Why? He knows.We don't have to know for sure. Adoption isn't just about "getting another child". If that is all it was about, it would be simplest and easiest to just go get the handiest child. As you say, all children are deserving of a family! But I believe God has specific children for specific families--just as He had a specific husband for you, and a specific husband for me. Just any man wasn't necessarily what we were looking for, right? We wanted to be led to THE ONE that God had created uniquely for us, and us for our husband, no matter where he was located. ;-) That is the philosphy my husband and I have about adoption--we believe that God will show us which children He wants our family specifically to have. No matter where on God's planet they are located, when God calls, we must follow the call.
#2. A. Which brings me to my next point. You are not really finically able to get this girl. Is it wise to put all you've got on the line, when you don't have what it takes to bring her home? You are asking for other families to put their all on the line too, for the sake of you providing a home for this child. And like I said, that same amount of money could reach many children. At least in the state of ______, adoption is free. Even your court costs are covered. On one of the blogs (I think Reese's Rainbow) there was a lady practically ridiculing those who back out of adoptions like what you are doing. I was really turned off by that. I think lack of money and other resources is a perfectly good reason not to adopt
Before a family is allowed to adopt internationally, there is a very rigorous examination made of their finances, and their financial status, in addition to many other aspects of our lives. All aspects are examined closely--income, debt load, personal net worth of all property and assets etc. Not only does the home study agency make a close investigation of all of this, the USA Gov't does as well. The USA gov't especially wants to make sure that a family bringing a child into the USA has the financial resources to care for the child in EVERY aspect--housing, food, education, medical care etc. Home study agencies AND the USA gov't are both wise enough to realize that many families can take care of a child after they are home quite well--they just don't have $25,000 plus sitting loose in the bank. Because of that, fund-raising to help with SOME of the adoption costs is recognized by them as a legitimate thing. Both the home study agency AND the USA Gov't get paid to examine us--that is where some of the adoption costs come in. Several thousand of them, to be exact.
As to us asking other families to put their "all on the line too"--in my world, asking some one to put their "all" on the line means that you are asking them to give every thing they have. I am unaware that we have asked ANYONE to give every thing they have--to sacrifice till they are at risk of losing their home or starving themselves or their children. If so, that was never our intention. Even we--while living sacrificially, are NOT starving, our house is firmly in place over our heads, and we are all properly clothed. Doesn't God ask us to be willing to sacrifice for others?? Doesn't He have plenty to say about the snares of riches and His heart for how we should care for orphans and widows?! Wouldn't Jesus were He on earth today have plenty to say about the wealth and luxury that is present in so many of our homes and lives when others around the world have so little? And no where do I read in the Bible that we are to limit ourselves to caring just for those in our own country.
I would never presume to tell any one that they MUST adopt internationally in order to obey God's call for their life. But that is what He has called *us* to do--and we MUST obey Him. We must obey Him even when it's not easy or pleasant, and even when our human eyes do not see exactly how He is going to provide for this adoption. I have full faith though that HE IS FAITHFUL and that since He provided for Kristina's adoption He is perfectly capable of providing ALL that we need for Katya's in one way or another. God sometimes WANTS us to walk by faith, and not by sight, and to get out of the way with our human reasoning and our desire to be "safe" and have all our ducks in a row so to speak, so that His power and glory can be manifested! With Kristina's adoption, we saw that again and again and again . . . . and with Katya's, God has ALWAYS made sure we had the money we needed for the next step ON TIME. Lack of funds has not delayed her adoption process. Not once. (Thank you, God!)
B. At least in the state of ______, adoption is free. Even your court costs are covered.
Nothing in life is truly free. Somewhere, there was a price, and someone paid it. In the case of adoptions in your state, SOMEONE is paying for those. Probably tax-payers in the USA. And that's fine. I have no real problem with that. BUT realistically, we need to think about this: When you adopt in your state, *YOU* are asking others to pay for *YOUR* adoption--without them even KNOWING or GIVING PERMISSION to have their funds spent to pay for your adoption. Because there ARE costs associated with that adoption that ARE paid to the Social Workers, the Judges, the Lawyers etc. And those costs are paid by SOMEONE. While I can not cite a reference, I have been told that the total costs for an adoption through foster care easily run up to $10,000 or more. Paid for by SOMEONE, SOMEHOW.
When we ask others to help with our adoption, IT IS A CHOICE THEY CAN MAKE. They can choose to help, or they can choose not to help. We appreciate ALL our friends, whether they choose to help or not. Whether they help or not is totally between them and God. We can present the opportunity for them to help bless Katya's life, because this isn't about us--it's about the life and soul of a child. And God will make sure that she comes home, with or without help from others. He knows how to do what seems impossible. So my question here is: Is God calling you to help with someon's adoption--not necessarily even Katya's? If so, listen.
#3.Adoption is no easier than any other parenting and especially adoption overseas and special needs. It is no picnic
You are so right about that, C. Adoption is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Parenting our hurting daughter for the first 6 months she was home had me on my face before God many times. The first 4 years with her were VERY hard even though not so hard as the first 6 months. After she made the choice to yield her heart and life to God's control, the change in her has been amazing. But she's not all healed. She still carries emotional scars as well as special needs that will impact her whole entire life--needs that there is NO CURE for. Needs that will impact her life in many, many ways, including her choice of life work. But hasn't God called us to be wiling to suffer for His sake? To suffer for the sake of the Gospel?
With Katya, we don't know what challenges all lie ahead of us. We have no rose-tinted glasses. Remember, I spent a week in her orphanage. I know how hurting and broken Katya is to a certain extent. Realistically?? I think we are embarking on the hardest part of our lives--you pray for us!
Having said all that, I will also tell you that adoption has been one of the biggest blessings in our family's life in SOOOO many ways!!! Its' broadened our world, given us new friends, helped our family grow more into the kind of people God wants us to be, given us the love and joy of another daughter in our home, and so many other things. God knew our daughter had a heart that would be hungry for Him, and He orchestrated her life so that she would learn to know Him as her Savior and Lord. To me, there is nothing more amazing than that! Praise God!
And, when my precious Kristina, now 11, tells me, "When you rocked me and sang to me in the orphanage, that was when I knew I wanted you to be my Mama. No one else had ever done that, that I could remember!" I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God led us to Khabarovsk, Russia to bring her home. Her heart was hungry for a family, even though 5 years of orphanage life had taught her that she could not depend on any one to truly be trust-worthy.
#4. A. 1) What are the governments of these countries doing about the millions of orphans? Why are they not doing something to provide homes or education? If they were concerned about the welfare of the children and they wanted them to find good homes, it would not cost $20,000 to get a child. It sounds like someone is making dirty money. If nothing else, someone should be teaching, educating, and handing out condoms to these people who are creating a world full of orphans. You have to get ahead of the game and stop the mess, because not you, or anyone else is going to be able to give homes to 300,000 children. Not at $20,000 each!
Many of the countries are still recovering from years of back-breaking poverty and Communism. They are doing the best they can with what they have in terms of education, resources and the values they have been taught (or not taught). Many are VERY concerned about the children, and that only what is best for them be what happens. In fact, that very awareness has INCREASED the cost of an adoption. Here's one example--in both Russia AND Katya's country, families used to be able to basically go over, meet their child, fill out the paperwork, and get home in a week or so. As problems arose for many of these families, and some of the children were abused and/or killed by their new families, or rejected for one reason or another (some truly as trivial as after they got the child they discovered they had a prominent birth mark under their clothing!), countries said, "Wait a minute! This system is NOT working! We need to have more time to observe families interacting with the children. The parents need more time to interact with the children before they decide they really want to adopt them. The children need to have more time learning to know the parents before they are forced away from all that they are familiar with and put with these strange smelling and speaking people!" So . . . longer times in country. And yes, that costs. People have to have some where to stay while they are spending time interacting each day with their child at the orphanage. People need to eat. People need transportation. In the case of our adoption of Kristina, we were required to go meet her, spend time with her, then return home, complete more paperwork, and then retun to finalize the adoption. That second trip was almost 3 weeks in country. You can not travel for free.
As to dirty money?? Umm, the people who help with the adoption have families and lives too. Do you think they should spend each day working to help famiiles adopt for free? And if so, who should pay for their food, clothing and housing? Do some of them make a VERY good living at what they are doing?? Yes, probably so. And since many or most of them are not Christians, they do not know what God says about living simply. They see it as a chance to provide a good living for themselves and their family--and is that really so much different than what most people want to do?!
B. If nothing else, someone should be teaching, educating, and handing out condoms to these people who are creating a world full of orphans. You have to get ahead of the game and stop the mess, because not you, or anyone else is going to be able to give homes to 300,000 children. Not at $20,000 each!
Birth control is not the real solution to the orphan problem in either of the countries I have contact with through adoption. Because most of the orphans are not in the orphanages due to huge family sizes being more than what any parent could care for. According to UNICEF, there is a 67% birth control rate in Katya's country. Most families have only one or two children. What then is driving the high percentage of orphans? MOST of it stems from this: Lack of education and support about special needs. As soon as a baby is born that shows signs of special needs, the pressure is on. "Put your baby into an institution. You can not care for this child! Who will help you?! There are no programs for a child like this. There is no life for them. They will ruin your life! You will end up homeless and on the street! Put them away--forget they were born to you and go on to have another healthy child who will care for you!" When THOSE are the voices you hear from everyone in your life--or nearly everyone--and when you KNOW there is no support system, and NO ONE YOU KNOW has EVER cared for a child with a handicap, so how would you go about even starting to care for them?! When even your very Doctor angrily tells you, "This child has no business being in your home! You have no way of caring for this child! Let the experts do it!" WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?!!
It's all very well for us to sit here in our snug little communities where a mulitide of resources are at our finger tips, and where on a normal day we are likely to see someone with a developmental or physical handicap about and out in town, and criticize the women who are broken and scared and hurting in countries far away and say, "I would never give up my baby!" No, here in America, you would not. But you don't know what you would do if years of conditioning had taught you that NO parent should raise a child with a handicap, and that they belong in orphanages. You don't know what you would do if you had NO RESOURCES. You don't know WHAT you would do if Doctor's LIED to you about how horrible your child's life was going to be if you took them home.
And what if you lived in a 7 story flat that you had to climb 7 flights of stairs for EVERY DAY with NO ELEVATOR in the building, and your child was born with a handicap and you were told, "This child will never walk!" Realistically, how are you going to carry that child 7 flights of stairs once he's 5 or 6 years old and weighs 50 lbs? And what about when your husband hisses at you, "If you don't send that child off, I will leave you! And then where will you be?! You know you don't make enough at your job to keep a roof over y our head!"?? What would you do? And what would you do if your parents, who you live with, scream at you, "Send that child away! Don't bring her home! If you do, a curse will fall on all of us! We will kick you out onto the street tonight if you show up with that child in your arms!" ?? What would you do? Put yourself in the shoes of these precious, hurting mamas, and pray for them.
THIS is REALITY for the women of these countries! Are things changing?? Is there hope?? Yes!!! Thank God, there are whispers of hope! There are small rays of light shinning into the countriese and change is starting to happen. As families adopt special needs children and countries start to see the change that a loving family can make in these kids lives, change starts to happen. Even though we are no longer required by law to send post-placement reports back to Russia for Kristina, we continue to send photos and reports on our own! We WANT them to see how she is thriving! We WANT them to know that the child who was deemed "severely retarded" and scheduled to be shipped to a mental institution by a panel of TEN EXPERTS (and yes, I have the paper with every one of their signatures) is doing well in 4th grade, excelling in piano lessons, and a wonderful addition to our family! We want the sceptics to KNOW that a good family, good nutrition, good love MAKE A DIFFERENCE and create positive changes than a typical orphanage can never duplicate.
Most agencies that I know about--certainly both the one we used for Kristina's adoption AND Reece's Rainbow--work to provide support and education to the birth countries of our children. Realistically, not even all the children in orphanages are available for adoption (that is a whole 'nother post in and of itself, and one I will not get into today). But Steven Curtis Chapman of Show Hope has said
that if each Christian would adopt ONE child--just one--there would be an end to the orphan problem in the whole entire world. That's pretty staggering to think about . . . and pretty sad too. Can every Christian adopt a child? No. But far more could than are doing so. And some of us are willing to adopt more than one, so if the body would arise and begin to act . . . .
What kind of miracles do you think we could see God do if the professed Body of Christ would rise up and begin to pray and seek God's face and heart for orphans?!! I think there is NO END TO THE MIRACLES WE WOULD SEE, and God would be delighted to move mountains and bring His children home!! WOW! Just thinking about that gets me excited! C'mon professed followers of God--Arise in greater numbers than you have been!
#5. The other thing is, while I understand how fundraisers work, I think it is selfish of people to have to GET something for donating to your cause. If they really cared about helping you bring Kayta home, they would give without Tupperware, books, clothing, cake, etc. I say, shame on them for not just giving you the money
While we appreciate out-right donations, there is no way under the sun I would expect people to just hand over money while I sit still. If I can work to help raise money for my daughter's adoption expenses, why is that less honorable than my husband going to work each day? The economy here in Ohio is rough for many people. And if I can help someone obtain something they NEED and still pay my adoption expenses, I'm happy to do so. No one is being asked to order something they don't need. But if you need a bowl, I'm happy to sell it to you. If your child needs a cobbler apron to keep their clothing clean, why shouldn't I sell it to you and help you AND me both in the process? Is it wrong for people to work to earn their bread to pay for their other expenses? God says we should be willing to work, so I think not. We have tried hard to provide items that would be a blessing to a wide variety of people. While I'm aware that not everyone wants every type of item we offer, that's fine. We don't expect people to all need or want the same thing! We have even been contacted again and again by people asking us to make custom items for them so that they don't need to go elsewhere to buy it. Many of the poeple who have purchased items from us have given out-right donations too. Either at the same time, or at earlier or later dates. Lots of people have given freely from their hearts expecting nothing in return.
And don't forget .. . . some people just enjoy fundraisers, and see the first three letters in the word as part of the whole package deal--FUNdraiser.
When we have helped with others adoptions, we have both given out-right gifts, and also purchased items that we needed. I have NEVER ONCE bought some thing just to buy it to make them be able to adopt. Never. If I don't want the item, I simply donate if I wish to help. I would assume that most, if not all, of our helpers are doing the same thing with us.
#6. I hope I didn't come across too strong. These thoughts have been on my heart for a long time. And if you knew me better you would know, I never mince words. I hope you will share your story with me. I am in a community where adoption is looked down on, and F. and I feel called to adopt. Not sure when. We are waiting on God's timing. I have worked with precious foster children.
I am aware you don't mince words. And while I try to be kind and diplomatic, I'm sure you have seen I don't mince words either when the situation requires it. I appreciate the honest struggles and questions you are having here, and I pray that as you seek God's face and His heart for orphans with your husband that you will find answers. Its' not easy to feel called from God to adoption and to think you are not in a supportive community for it. I hope and pray that something will change there for you--perhaps God will use your burden and passion for orphans to reach out to others. Be the seed of change! I know that as a result of our adopting Kristina, other people have opened their eyes and hearts to God's burden for orphans, and have adopted. I thank God for using Kristina's story to bless other people.
And I thank you forgiving me an opportunity to share my heart with you, and the rest of my readers. God bless you and your husband.