We sent an information sheet into an adoption agency yesterday asking them to begin the process. It’s so early, it seems almost silly to blog about yet. It’s a little bit like we’re telling everyone we’re trying (though not quite so TMI!). But to me it marks a pretty big step. After all of the agonizing of what we’re going to do, we’ve decided and we’re moving forward.
It’s funny to begin preparing for this child. A lot of my friends are pregnant lately and I realized, doing the math in my head, there’s a very good chance that our third has already been conceived. On another continent, in some region I’ve never been, a birth mother either has or is about to begin a story that will lead to us bringing our third baby home.
The story is so different with adoption. With Noelle, when we found out we were pregnant, we were ecstatic. With Joy, I was so shocked, it took me a few days, but we quickly became so excited we’ve called her Joy ever since. With this third baby, we are over the moon, but it’s tempered by what we know is coming.
I’m in regular community with Burmese people who have lost everything they’ve ever known to live new lives in a crazy new world with strange languages, strange sounds, strange faces and strange smells. I work with women and their babies; I see the shock and fear on their faces the first few months that they are here. The babies cling to their mothers and never stray farther than a few feet. I can tell the difference between the children when they first come and look at me with wide brown eyes as if I might snatch them away, and a year later, when they plop themselves in my lap and are comfortable with these crazy white women. We’ve seen artisans in full-on shut-down mode, unable to face the changes that are occurring. One widow in particular haunts me–she was done with life and it was evident. Her four kids were out of control, playing with fire unmonitored in their house. Bed bugs poured out of the mattresses. The boys peed wherever they wanted. She was in serious PTSD. After escaping the junta, her husband died in the refugee camps and she is here alone and responsible for providing for her children and making a new life. The look in her eyes, the vacant look of so much pain she has become stoic, is one I’ll never forget.
Yes, at times it’s so inspiring to have laughing, joyful women (and some men!) creating community together. Pictures like this one do me good.
At Hill Tribers, we build hope out of the ashes of war. We help them make new lives out of the small looms they grabbed as they fled. We love what we do.
But underneath the hope and inspiration is the knowledge that war is devastating, that refugees should not be here, that grief and pain and injustice should not occur. No amount of community-building can erase that truth.
That’s how I feel about adoption. I’m so excited to meet our new baby. In all probability, within the next six months, that baby will be conceived. But in the next two years, something will happen that will rip that child away from the home that she should have known, the life she should have lived, the parents she should have had. I’m not sure what the story will be and in truth, we will probably never know the details. It will probably have something to do with a special need her parents could not take care of. But while I’m filling out forms and planning the baby’s room, that tiny peanut will be entering a world of grief and pain and loss. And then, when we fly to China to take her, she won’t be coming home, at least not yet–she will be leaving home. And it will be hard.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from the Hill Tribers, it’s humility in the face of this kind of pain. My first priority is, and always will be, education and community support for women so they don’t have to give their babies up for adoption. I’ve given my life to this call. I’m not sure what that will look like as we turn our sights on China, but the truth is, that’s what we think should happen in an ideal world. And then, recognizing that this world isn’t ideal, we’ll bring our baby home and let her grieve and learn and grow.
We’ve chosen China Special Needs because it fits the story we’re in. Her story, the one that’s beginning soon, will be grafted into the story we’re living in this community in Austin. And together, out of the pain and grief and injustice, we’ll begin a new life as a family with humility and joy.