The most common question that Joey and I are asked is, "What made you decide to adopt?" The next most popular one is, "How did you find Archie?" So I thought that I would share the whole (possibly really long) story.
So what made us decide to adopt? I like this question because it gives me an opportunity to share my heart for orphans and adoption.
Adoption is something that Joey and I talked about long before marriage. I personally knew from a very young age that I would one day be an adoptive mother. Passion for orphans has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. In fifth grade, we were asked to write down on a paper star what we wanted to be when we grew up. Each of us then had our picture taken holding up our star, with our future job written on it, and the pictures were put into a slideshow that was played at our graduation. Among the veteranarians, athletes, doctors and lawyers, I stood proud with my star- "Foster Care Mother". Weird. At ten years old, I couldn't really explain it to my friends when they questioned my choice. And it seemed super strange to everyone. But I knew it was right. It was simply who I was.
After Ace turned two, we started talking about giving her a brother or sister. We didn't immediately know that this would happen through adoption, but it was definitely something we talked about. Of course, I had always pictured that we would have a few biological kids first, then later when our kids were grown, we would adopt. That was really our vision. Aside from trying to live the life we had imagined (silly us), I also knew that adoption would be a lot of hard work, would completely drain any money we had in savings, would force us to face a lot of opposition. We would endure pain, we would face trials that we never imagined existed. So I very quickly and intentionally pushed the idea of adoption out of my mind. I mean, we were comfortable. Why would we put ourselves through all of those hardships?
Well, that lasted about a minute. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't think about anything else. And there was a reason. This was not our plan for our life, but this was however God's plan. And it was now. Not in ten years, not when we had our dream house and were through having biological kids, but now. It hit me pretty hard and I knew I needed to quit fighting it. I knew in that moment that we would be adopting. But I still had to share it with my other half. Knowing his heart as well as I do, I was certain that he would be on board.
I am so blessed to be married to a man who shares my passions. Joey did have some apprehension, a lot of questions, and uncertainty at first. But before long, he was confident in our decision. And so the journey to our second child officially began. I spent a lot of time researching. Different agencies, what country would be best for us. I had known of and LOVED Reece's Rainbow for a long time, but I didn't think that a special needs adoption was the direction we would be going...at least not this time around. So I started making a list of the countries that would work for us-countries from which we could adopt a healthy infant. But why, why, why was I every single day coming back to Reece's Rainbow. I would literally talk out loud to myself, listing every reason why we were not going to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. It was around that time that I came across this quote by Joseph Campbell- "We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
We stared at those faces. Those precious children whose fate would likely be death (sooner than later) if no one were to come for them. I emailed the director of Reece's Rainbow, and just told her what we had been thinking. I told her that if we decided to adopt, we would need to find a country that didn't require long stays in-country, and didn't require both parents to travel. She responded very quickly, and told me to look into Bulgaria.
She then sent me the link to a specific little boy. One who had been waiting a very long time. The kids on Reece's Rainbow are grouped by age, and I immediately read on his link that he was listed with the "older boys" (6+). I almost didn't even click on the link- seriously. "Nope, we are looking to adopt a baby", I said. I didn't want to click on it, I didn't want to see a face that I was going to fall in love with. But, thank God, I clicked on the link. And there he was.
I knew that face. It was not the first time I had seen him. About a year earlier, I saw his picture on Reece's Rainbow. And I loved him from that very moment. I just had no idea he was mine. The picture below is the first picture that I ever saw of him. The picture above was the picture I saw of him...when I finally realized he was ours.