When we started our adoption in April of 2013, it was very important to us that we had all the funds saved ourselves. We are hardworking middle class people surrounded by other hardworking middle class people. I didn’t want to ask anyone to finance what I felt was a very personal calling from God. Knowing what I know now I would have jumped in much sooner, and expected more from God than I did in the beginning.
We decided to pursue domestic adoption for two reasons. First, we wanted to share our lives with children and second it matched up with our desire to meet needs locally. We are very strongly pro-life and see domestic newborn adoption as the front lines in the pro-life battle in the country. If the church is going to continue it’s pro-life stance, there has to be families opening their arms to those babies they are choosing life for. Because choosing life over abortion isn’t the end of the story for many of the birthmoms who are not equipped to handle parenthood for variety of reasons. A birthmom is not only a teenager who got pregnant unexpectedly, a birthmom can also be the mother of three facing a life threatening illness whose treatment has left her and her husband unable to care for another child. The newborns aren’t always the healthy, perfect baby that you imagine in your mind’s eye. Sometimes they are children left waiting at the hospital because they were born with a heart condition that the parents weren’t prepared for, or they have been exposed to over 10 different kinds of illegal drugs in utero and will be born addicted and require a long NICU stay, or they were simply dropped off at a safe haven location and left there.
These are all examples we have seen personally in the last 10 months.
And all of them, even the abandoned baby in the hospital awaiting both parents to love her and open heart surgery, have high costs. Why? It’s a question I get asked all the time, why are abandoned children so expensive? And the answer is most profoundly because it’s a person. Changing the course of a human life, bringing them into another family, changing their name, giving them a new social security number and an inheritance…..in our country it’s expensive because we have laws that protect the rights of everyone involved. However, it’s also expensive because it’s private. With domestic newborn the government is not involved and subsidizing like they are with foster care.
Which brings me to another question I hear often. “Why doesn’t everyone adopt from foster care where it’s free?” I have friends who foster and adopt from foster care, and its a wonderful option and there is much need there. But it’s not “free,” not even close. Foster care is a government subsidized system of care for children whose parents wanted to try parenting but were failing for some reason, with the intent of reunifying children with their parents. The state funds that go into each child in care are astronomical, it’s just not passed on to the adoptive parents. Many times foster parents open their homes to children for a year or more who they will not be adopting, and you’ve got to hand it to them, what these foster parents do is just amazing. Other times it will become obvious that the parent is not going to show enough improvement for reunification and the process to terminate parental rights begins and hopefully adoptive parents will be found, a process which could take years. This takes an emotional toll on the children as well as a financial toll on the state. While it is a blessing foster care is available, it is truly a wost case scenario regarding breakdown of the family.
Usually birthmothers who are pregnant and choosing life want the best for their babies. That’s why they are willing to go through pregnancy and delivery, and make an adoption plan, because they feel they are doing something good for their children by selecting loving homes for them. I wonder how much ground the pro-life movement would loose if the only option to offer these birthmothers was that their children would stay in the foster system for months if not years instead of going into a permanent home immediately? If foster care was the only option, a huge gap would be there that the foster system- overstressed as it already is- wouldn’t be equipped to handle.
All through the first months of our adoption I would question if spending so much money on an adoption was wise. I’m pretty frugal inherently. We had saved $25,000 in funds over the previous few years and were planning to call that our limit. After all, our cars are both well over 100,000 miles, or pool liner is ripped, our deck is rotting through in places, and our laminate floor is peeling up from one to many leaky old appliances. We have no retirement, and a student loan we are paying off. We are maddeningly middle income Americans and don’t really have the money for such God-sized dreams.
Once we got involved in our adoption and looked around and found something really surprising: most people pursing domestic adoptions are also average median income Americans. They are not the people you would think would be adopting, with lots of excess everything and money laying around. But they are on the path anyway, because that’s where God has directed them to go. I don’t want to make adoptive parents out to be super heroes. They are just following God’s directive the way you might be if you’re homeschooling your children, or are serving in your church’s children’s ministry on Sunday morning. But they are doing something that Christians should do whether it’s free or expensive: opening their hearts and homes to orphans in a practical way that benefits our society tremendously. It just happens to be really expensive in our culture, but thank God that’s not stopping everyone because there is a desperate need for people to take this path. And if the Church is going to be pro-life, the church must make a habit of supporting these families financially even if adoption is expensive.
Now for my own adoption, I’d rather not be doing fundraisers. I wish God would just send checks for things He’d like done directly from Heaven so my pride wouldn’t have to get involved. But in my inbox sits two situations about babies due in the next few months that they are having trouble finding a families for. One will be born addicted and the other has tested for higher than average possibility of down’s syndrome. And right now we can’t say yes to either because of lack of funds. But someone will be saying yes and will be bringing these babies home and lives will be changed. The unwanted will become wanted. Maybe even someone in the same church as you. So definitely pray in support of adoption, but also give. Even if it’s only $5 and even if it’s to someone else’s adoption fund. Little amounts add up quickly and a $5 donation can bring an adoptive family to tears with gratitude. And if you can, if it’s been pulling on your heart, adopt. Because there is more need than you know.