Sunday, October 12, 2014

What makes me mad...

Ok so I'm a peacemaker and you will rarely ever find me posting or sharing anything controversial on my facebook page or even on my blog. But something is really bothering me lately and I feel like I have to write about it because I know I can't be the only one.

What makes me mad is this...

The fact that it seems like much of the world out there thinks choosing to adopt as a single is a bad thing.

Why do I think this is the case?

Because myself and people I know who are prayerfully considering adopting as a single have gotten comments such as the following (which I will comment on one by one below):

1. "Kids need a dad." 

2. "Really? You're going to adopt as a single? Is that really fair to the child?"

3. "Are you sure you can handle that? I can't imagine parenting without my spouse. It's going to be so hard. I don't think you realize..." 

4. "Have you really prayed about this?"

5. "Are you sure you're not just getting ahead of God's timing? Maybe you should wait to get married first."

And the list goes on. When you're on the "single" side of the conversation - it feels very isolating, very much like a couples world and very much like you're being judged all because you don't happen to be married. Being single is not a disease. It's not a sign that something is wrong with you. I have a whole bunch of amazing single friends that I honestly don't know why some awesome guy has not scooped them up and married them yet. Seriously strong, Godly, smart, successful, amazing woman. All single. Just like me. And we're all living life and we're just as happy, sometimes moreso, than our married friends. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING SINGLE!!!!

And you know what, in regards to that list above - none of y'all are asking any questions that I guarantee most of us singles praying about adoption haven't already wrestled through ourselves. Many of us, wrestled through for years and years and years.

In most cases, it's not even like we are choosing to be single. We just haven't met the right person yet. And we're not willing to just run off and marry some Joe Schmoe just so we can have a family or our kid can have a dad. That would be a whole lot crazier in my opinion than adopting as a single.

So here's my response to the list above and don't misunderstand - I'm not saying everyone thinks this way about single adoption. I have been blessed to have amazingly supportive people in my life who have definitely not made me feel like being a single parent is a bad thing at all. But I also have gotten, at one point or another, all of the responses above from various people - most of whom are Christians. Not all of which were even married themselves but nevertheless couldn't fathom the idea that I would become a mom as a SINGLE!

1) I wholeheartedly agree that having a dad is ideal for a kid. A good dad. A loving dad. An involved dad. A dad that is also a good husband. And you know what - there's a whole heck of a lot of kids in the world that have a dad but they don't resemble any of those things I just mentioned. Being a dad or a mom for that matter is about a lot more than biology or a piece of paper saying so. And I would honestly truly rather stay single and parent my son as a single mom for the rest of my life rather than marry someone who won't be the very best dad to him (notice I didn't say perfect). Yes, I pray for him to someday have an amazing, dedicated, loving earthly father in his life - but if he never does, God is still faithful. God is still His father - the only father any of us will ever have that will truly be perfect and never let us down. And I know He will equip my son with everything he needs. And He'll equip me with everything I need to raise him as a.... single mom.

2) Is it fair to a child to be adopted by a single mom? Wow - that's an interesting question really. Is it fair to a child to not be able to be cared for by their birth family? Heck no! Is it fair to a child to be thrust into institutionalization because of circumstances beyond their control? No way. Is it fair to leave a child in an orphanage with the possibility of never being adopted if you knew of a truly loving single woman who would gladly bring this child into her family and love him and raise him? Yeah, you get my point. I think this question is frankly ridiculous. Maybe cause I work in orphan care and I've met hundreds and hundreds of children all over the world who very well may never have a mom or a dad to tuck them in at night. It's heartbreaking. Maybe it's because I know there are an estimated 163 or so Million children who are orphaned by at least one parent. Yeah, when you know all that - it seems to me there really is no argument for not supporting or cheering on any woman who is able to be a great mom but might just not be married yet.

3) Just because married couples can't fathom parenting as a single does not mean that a single cannot do it. It may mean that they need a different type of support system than married folks do. It may mean they don't get as many breaks or they might not have the option of homeschooling or various other things that some of our couple friends are choosing. But it doesn't mean it can't work. And you know - when people ask me if it's hard being a single mom - I honestly don't know how to respond because I've never been a married mom so I have nothing to compare it to. I think we make it work and God give us grace and people around us to make it a whole lot easier. But at the end of the day, it's hard, just like parenting is hard for our couple friends.

4) Did I pray about it? My thoughts when I was asked those questions were - are you kidding me? I sure hope anyone who is adopting, whether single or married, has prayed long and hard about the decision. It's not something you just wake up one morning and decide to do. And even if your initial decision was on a whim - all the paperwork and fees and classes and scary attachment and trauma stuff you learn about along the way would be sure to scare off anyone who isn't serious about doing this or feel completely sure that God called them to do this. I prayed about it for several years - not wanting to get ahead of God's timing but also not wanting to hold so tightly to the idea of family in my mind that I would miss something else He might have for me. I just kept praying until I was sure. Christmas morning 2010, I woke up and had the very distinct feeling that someone was missing from my home. A little someone. A child. I had wanted to become a mom for many years but I never ever had felt like literally someone was missing from my home and my life until that morning. The next 7 months, I prayed non-stop about adopting as a single. I asked God to show me where, how, when. I attended webinars by adoption agencies, talked to tons of people, researched online, and so on. And then I went on a trip in July 2011 where I picked up a little boy in an orphanage in Ethiopia and felt like the missing piece of the puzzle had been placed in my arms. Turns out, it had. Once I knew, God flung the doors wide open. It wasn't crazy fast or even easy and there were never any guarantees but I just knew if this was truly a God ordained thing - He would work it out to get that little guy home. 15 months later, He did. And my life is so much more rich with that little boy in it. It's been hard and I've come face to face with my own brokenness and junk but not for one second do I think that it was a mistake or I somehow heard God wrong.

5) I could have waited to see if I was going to get married. But then again, I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for oh, you know, like over 20 years. I'm almost 40 (39 next month). I honestly could care less if I ever have biological children cause I've always wanted to adopt anyway so it wasn't necessarily a time clock ticking kind of thing. But it was and is a "hey I'd like to be young enough to be active and do things with my child" kind of thing. And honestly, I have no guarantee that I'll ever get married. And while I surely hope someday I will - if I never do, that's ok. I like my life. I like the things God is doing in it. And I really love being a mom. I'm glad I didn't wait to be a mom because I wouldn't have gotten to be this child's mom and I totally, fully believe that God puts families together and it is very apparent to me that He did so with this one. My son is SO my son! I can't imagine us being more perfectly suited to be a family if we were biologically related. I'm serious. He's my kid through and through. And it's awesome.

When I was praying about adopting, I was very discouraged specifically by some adoption agencies. One in particular literally said "well, we do sometimes work with singles but it's not our preference". I think I caught the lady off guard when my first reaction was this "well, it's not my preference to still be single at age 37, but I haven't met the right person yet so there ya have it." She laughed awkwardly and then I think she realized how ridiculous that comment was. It was hard not to get discouraged by feeling like adoption agencies and people all around were thinking it was not a good idea to adopt as a single. When I really wrestled through all the arguments against it and realized none of them were really good reasons to not give a child a loving home, then I was able to move forward without worrying about what other people were thinking. But I had to come to that place within myself and with God - the place where I knew I could provide a loving, stable home for a child and that I could do it as a single.

I really hope that adoption agencies and the church as a whole begins to embrace singles who adopt. I don't believe every single should adopt, just like I don't believe every couple should adopt. But I do believe God calls families to adoption - and that includes some single parent families. I am very passionate about changing the stigma that seems to be around singles and adoption. Instead of discouraging people from becoming single adoptive parents, let's pray for them, let's support them, let's surround them with community and love and help.

LOVE our Ethiopian family

We just returned from Ethiopia and oh boy - my heart is completely wrecked. Mihretu and I traveled on our own last March (2018) over his ...