Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Adoption needs: There's more than meets the eye

One of the "perks" of being friends with a pastor is that every now and then you get a shout out in a sermon. On a good day, the pastor even quotes you or cites you as an example of someone who did something right. On a bad day, the story starts with this: "One time, one of my former friends...."

So far, to the best of my knowledge, we have not been mentioned in a statement beginning with "one of my former friends..." However, Brad's most recent shout out in church (he's a celeb...hard to keep track of all the Brad shout outs, you know...) came last Sunday when our pastor friend was teaching about Ecclesiastes and used adoption as an example of a way to reach out to the oppressed. (Yay to our church and to many others out there for talking more and more about adoption! However, to our pastor friend: Brad says he's going to beat you up for specifically mentioning him in a sermon. Oh, the price of fame.)

This is what the pastor said:

"The other day I was at my friend Brad's house. He and his wife have two young boys, and their house is often crazy. Both boys were crying and Brad and his wife were running all over the house to keep them in line. Knowing that Brad and his wife are in the process of adopting another child, I asked Brad, 'Are you sure you want to have another one?' And Brad said, 'We don't need that child as much as that child needs us.'"

BOOM. Score one for Brad. He's right.

But at the same time, let me explain that statement a little bit more, because it might sound like we are just do-gooders who don't reap any benefits from our decision to adopt. Yes, that child does need us. That child does not have a family, does not have a true home, does not have a parent who will love him or her no matter what. That child probably will have spent some time in an eerily silent orphanage where babies don't even cry anymore because they've given up on the hope that someone will pick them up to snuggle. (Oh, how it hurts to think of their hurts.) That child might have attachment problems and other emotions to sort through someday in order to get past the early hurts.

So yes, that child will need us more than we need that child...for a little while. But then we will look into that child's eyes, and those eyes will get us. Those eyes will melt our sometimes callused hearts, and those eyes will change us forever. Then those eyes will combine with that smile (or maybe even that pout), and we will know that child is our child, and our child will be loved by us forever. After we have seen our child, we won't ever forget those eyes.

Take Brody, for example. This was the first picture of him I ever saw. I tried with everything in me not to fall in love with him ("It's not official yet," I kept telling myself. Little did I know it would take over a year to be official.). I failed--miserably--to stay immune to those eyes. How could I not fall in love with my son when he was looking back at me like that?


And this is the first time I ever held him. Game over. Holy awesomeness. This child must be ours.



So yes, Brad is right: That Congo baby does need us to be his or her family. That baby needs us to provide, protect, and love unconditionally.

But from the moment we see our child, we will definitely need that child more than the child needs us.