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Adoption: the hope for orphans around the world

by | Nov 17, 2015

By Joleigh Little, Teens for Life and Region Coordinator, Wisconsin Right to Life

Editor’s note. This appeared in the November digital edition of National Right to Life News at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsNov2015.pdf. The entire 41-page issue can be accessed at this URL. Please read as much of the “pro-life newspaper of record” as you can and pass along links to your pro-life contacts.

Joleigh and Clara Little

Joleigh and Clara Little

It is no small coincidence, in my mind, that whoever created National Adoption Month chose November to be that month, with its inherent focus on blessings and thankfulness. Because, you see, I’m that ridiculously sappy mama whose greatest blessings have come to her through adoption.

My love for adoption, much like my love for my daughter, though, is not a gooey, blind adoration that focuses only on the warm fuzziness and the photos of picture-perfect, doe-eyed cherubs. I brought Clara home when she was nearly three – after she spent her infancy and toddler years running an orphanage in Bulgaria. (Yes, you read that right – the tiny, quick-witted and even quicker-tempered little pumpkin had a staff of 12 doing her bidding both morning and night.)

Our first year home was… tough. We were strangers brought together by the miracle that is adoption. She was a little girl in need of a mom, and I was a mom who needed a little girl. It’s the stuff of fairy tales, until you factor in the daily reality of blending two people who have only just met into a family.

Clara came with her issues – and none of them had to do with her missing limbs and digits – those, in fact, are such non-issues that most days neither one of us even pays them a second thought. If you asked her, she’d also say “Mommy came with her issues…” because I know I did. We all do, whether we want to admit it or not.

I say this because, so often, the hard parts of adoption get glossed over in our gigantic love-fest, as pro-lifers, with the concept. (And don’t get me wrong… NO ONE loves adoption more than this girl.)

I don’t think we do anyone – most certainly not our cause – a service by ignoring the fact that adoption also means brokenness – whether it’s a shattered relationship or a less-than-stellar childhood that leads a birth mom to contemplate abortion as her only option, or the heart-wrenching reality of a couple that cannot create and give birth to a child who shares their DNA, both sides of the adoption equation often have to wrestle with loss and grief.

And let’s not forget the children who are at the very heart of every adoption. If they were abandoned, for whatever reason, their little bodies, hearts and brains know it, even if they’re too young to articulate it. Even babies lovingly carried and then placed into the arms of their new parents shortly after birth know that something has changed – that the voices and bodies now surrounding them are different than those they have known for nine months.

For children like both of my girls, adoption was precipitated by abandonment. For Clara it happened at birth when she was left alone in a hospital NICU at 29 weeks gestation, and for Annelise it happened at age two and a half when she was left in a train station.

All of that said, I get angry when people – be they fellow adoptive parents, pro-abortion activists, or bitter adult adoptees– focus too much on the darker side of adoption. Because adoption, regardless of what pain, grief or trauma makes it necessary, is a GIFT.

It is a gift for a birth family to know that the child they created is being raised in a loving home.

Adoption is a gift to the parents who receive a child – good grief, do you know what an HONOR it is to be entrusted with the life of another human?

Whether that confidence is placed in you by a birth family or by the adoption hierarchy in a foreign country makes no difference. Someone thought you were capable of raising a PERSON!

In 2012, Bulgaria gave me a human. In 2016 China will do the same. Mind. Blown! (Because, you guys, I live with me and I know I’m far from perfect!)

Adoption is also a gift for the children involved, although many may not feel like it when they are ripped from the only life they’ve known, plopped into the arms of strangers who are often a weird color (from their perspective,) and whisked to a location that is completely unfamiliar to them, with new sights, sounds, smells and customs.

If all of this seems contradictory, that’s because it is. Like every single other thing in life – marriage, jobs, family, friendships… EVERYTHING, adoption has its ups and downs. Adoption and attachment are hard for parents and children who suddenly become family, though they have no biological ties. Adoption and loss are hard for birth families who have to say good-bye, for whatever reason.

But you guys. Imagine the alternative. Loneliness, brokenness, despair, facing a future without an adult who has your back – being trafficked, left on the street to fend for yourself or, even being brutally killed before you are allowed to draw your first breath.

Without adoption, our world would be a far sight worse than it is. If adoption didn’t exist, there would be literally no hope for orphans around the world, and little hope here at home for birth mothers who truly, for whatever reason, cannot parent the children they carry.

So as members of the right-to-life community, my charge to you, if I may be so bold, is twofold.

First of all, be very mindful of how you speak about adoption. Don’t act like it’s perfect – nothing in life is. Don’t act like it magically makes abortion go away. It doesn’t. Don’t act like it will instantly heal all of the broken places in anyone involved. It won’t.

But please, also be mindful that you’re not speaking negatively of the most beautiful solution available to children who need a family. I am speaking, especially, to adoptive parents here.

I have heard more than one of you bemoan the fact that adoption is harder than it looks, and even mock National Adoption Month as being too positive. Just because you are in the trenches with a child who doesn’t see you as the gift that you are to them, doesn’t mean that adoption should be bad-mouthed.

I know it’s hard. TRUST ME, I KNOW! It’s not wrong to let people know that sometimes fairy tale endings take decades and sometimes they don’t happen even then. It’s okay to be transparent. Just please don’t, in your quest to “show the other side” of the glossy photo, demean the very thing that made you a mom or a dad. Even if you’re having a hard day.

Secondly, please don’t just trumpet adoption as the solution to abortion and then forget to BE a part of that solution. If you have felt led to adopt – do it. It’s on your heart for a reason, and whatever is holding you back can very likely be surmounted. It really can.

If you’re not in a position to adopt, please find someone who is doing it and offer support, be it financial (adoption is expensive); emotional (okay, I probably mentioned this – incorporating a small stranger, often an angry and/or sad one, into your family is the hardest work you’ll likely ever do); or even physical (offer to bring a meal, babysit the other kids, or just give a really big hug when it’s needed).

I firmly believe that if you’ve ever uttered the phrase “adoption, not abortion” and you haven’t adopted or supported someone who is adopting, you need to check yourself.

Adoption is everywhere these days, but it’s still not nearly common enough in our world. Somewhere between 147 and 153 million children are orphans. As a movement, we are intimately aware that adoption is absolutely a better alternative to a crisis pregnancy than abortion. But let’s not stop there.

Let’s become advocates for adoption – and for the children who so desperately need it to give them a family. And let’s think – always – before we speak on this important issue!

Categories: Adoption