International and Domestic Adoption.

When we first arrived home with Baby Boy, one of our airport pictures somehow made the rounds until it was shared on the Facebook page of a local news station. A friend told me about it, and I went to see the picture and, unfortunately, also saw the comments that ensued. Most were positive, but unfortunately the first comment was about how there are plenty of American kids who need homes and she was sick of these couples trying to be Angelina Jolie. (For the record, I was totally Team Jennifer.)

I bring this up because I made the mistake of reading some of the comments a few weeks ago on the NY Times article that we happened to be photographed in. The article wasn’t really about us, but about another family that we know and are connected with — and the comments were largely about how Christians have an obligation to adopt American orphans first and foremost.

Ummm…really??  I find this whole idea puzzling that American children are more deserving of homes than children from other countries. I had no idea this whole notion existed until it was asked of my husband: Why are you adopting a child from Africa when so many American children need homes?

It truly had never occurred to me that it was an issue. Certainly, we considered domestic adoption when we began our process. But our hearts were pulled toward Africa and God opened doors for us there; we never really thought of it as domestic VERSUS international. I never thought of one as being better than the other; I never thought of us having an obligation specifically towards American children in need of homes first and foremost. All children deserve families, no matter where they are from. All forms of adoption should be celebrated. What truly matters is that when a family adopts a child, there is one less orphan in the world. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one less orphan in America, Africa or China — it only matters that this child now has a family.

Throughout our process I’ve come to know many children (now adults) who were adopted from foster care. None of those people — who are so intricately involved in domestic adoption — have ever expressed a disdain for our decision to adopt internationally. They have been excited for us and spoken so many meaningful words of encouragement that I take to heart and appreciate more than I can say, because I truly value the words and insights of adult adoptees. And even though I have a special spot in my heart for Africa — and particularly Congo — my heart leaps with joy and excitement whenever anyone tells me they’re adopting/adopted/have adopted whether it’s domestically or internationally. One less!  Hooray!

I try to disregard the comments made by perfect strangers, or people in our circles that maybe say them out of genuine curiosity and not to be malicious. But I’d be lying if I said they don’t hurt a little because of what they imply about me and the heartlessness with which they disregard our son’s story.

I don’t know what God has in store for our family. I don’t know if our family is complete and we will simply be a part of orphan advocacy or if we will adopt another child one day — internationally or from the foster care system. But I do know that whatever comes our way we will consider a blessing from God. And in the meantime I am overjoyed at the ways parenting a child from another country has opened my heart and eyes and enriched my life so very much — even if Angelina Jolie did it first.

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