By Sara Parker
I have never tried to persuade someone to adopt, and I won’t start now— even during National Adoption Month. I am not simply placating when I agree that many people have valid reasons not to pursue adoption. Sometimes, the timing is not right. Sometimes a spouse is not on board. Sometimes the financial situation is too dire. And sometimes, let’s face it: it’s just not how you plan to build your family. I really do get it.
But I’ve got this little pet peeve.
You see, for every valid reason not to adopt, I hear several other excuses that just don’t ring true. Excuses like…I would love to adopt, but…
We don’t have enough money.
Our house is not big enough.
We don’t have enough room in our car.
I don’t have the time to do all that paperwork.
I just haven’t felt called.
Let’s be realistic. If those are your only hold-ups, then get thee to an adoption agency and get the ball rolling! If you feel that aching desire for a child, a deep draw toward adoption, and the pang of an incomplete family, then you won’t let money, a small house, a tiny car, obnoxiously irritating paperwork, or a simple case of self-doubt keep you away from your child. Here’s your reality check.
Why you don’t need a big fat savings account.
When we applied for our first adoption in 2005, we didn’t have a penny in our savings account. Living on one income (I had quit my job six months prior, in anticipation of the baby we were trying to conceive), we had no way to pay for an adoption. But we paid for what we could, put a big chunk of the expenses on a credit card, and took out a loan.
We did not take on the debt willy nilly. We devised a sketchy backup plan wherein we could sell our house, use the equity to get us through the toughest times, and squeeze into an apartment with our new child, our dog, and our three cats. We calculated that it would take us about six years to pay off the debt. Miraculously, we were debt free within nine months of adopting our sons. In case you hadn’t noticed yet, God is full of awesome surprises.
But if the cost still scares you, you could also consider foster-to-adopt. Yup, from what I hear, it can be complicated. Yes, it may get messy. Yes, you are opening yourself up to a huge chance of heartbreak. Then again, parenthood in general is complicated, messy, and potentially very heartbreaking. No sense in standing on the edge, dipping your toes into the frigid water for fear of the plunge. Dive in and start treading water. You’ll warm up before you know it.
Why you don’t need a bigger house.
There’s a concept called sharing bedrooms that actually teaches kids how to survive in combat.
In all seriousness, the size of your home and number of bedrooms does, at times, matter to social workers doing your home study. But three or four kids to a room is not unheard of.
Now, I won’t withhold the whole truth. About six months after adopting the girls, we upsized by about 600 square feet. But the move had less to do with a need and more to do with a long-term plan we’d conceived of years ago. Incidentally, while our kids could have their own rooms, currently, the boys share and the girls share. They don’t dig being alone at night just yet anyway.
Why you don’t need a bigger car.
Well, aren’t I a hypocrite? We, in fact, bought a bigger car before we adopted our daughters last year. But I have a friendwhose family of 10 takes two cars everywhere when they all have to go together. Two other friends went ahead and purchased passenger vans. My mom raised my three older sisters for several years without a car to escape the house with while my dad was at work. (But, wow. The thought does break me out into a cold sweat.) Do you really need a bigger car? And, if the answer is yes, are you willing to make some sacrifices to get it? Like, trading in that pretty, shiny too-small vehicle and purchasing a not-so-beautiful pre-owned behemoth?
Why your lack of time doesn’t qualify as an excuse.
If you were pregnant, you’d find time to make it to those prenatal appointments and hospital tours. Adoption is similar--only swap out fingerprinting for sonograms and airplane rides for labor and delivery. If you have a sure knowledge that your child is waiting on the other side of all that messy paperwork, you will find the time. I promise.
Why you don’t need to be “called.”
While I have many friends who felt called to adopt and who can share incredible stories of how God showed them His plan for their adoptions, I never felt the calling. I had a solid knowledge that adoption would build our family, and God affirmed it along the path. He never said to me, “There are orphans I am calling you to adopt and save.” Or, maybe He did. But my ears heard it this way: “Your sons are waiting for you.”
And five years later, “I think you’re ready for your daughters.”
There are 463,000 kids in the foster care system right now. Over a hundred million orphans in the world. In case you missed that sign you’ve been asking for, those numbers were your bolt of lightning, your shiver of goosebumps, and that audible voice of God telling you to go forth and adopt a child.
Not that I’m trying to persuade you or anything.
I’ve never tried to do that before, and I don’t plan to start now.
Even though it’s National Adoption Month.