Thursday, November 17, 2011

What a GIFT!

You may have gathered from my recent facebook postings that my friends, Jason and Andrea, are adopting another daughter this week. It's been a wild and crazy ride this time around from the word "go," but I want to give them time to share their own story before I share it with you. But I wanted to share with you some of the amazing things I've seen from here. I'm told it's both Special Education week and National Adoption Month. Happy coincidence.

One of the reasons I am so pumped about this (besides the pure adrenaline rush and the fact that this kiddo is a Kentuckian, just like me!) is that my kids get to experience it this time around. When my friends adopted their first daughter, Abigail, Israel was just almost a year old and Eden was in hiding. This time, they get to experience it and understand a little about what's going on. We've made a couple of visits to the hospital lately to visit friends and their newborns who "just came out of their mommy's tummy," so when I told them that Abigail was a big sister, they of course asked, "Did Andrea have a baby in her belly?"
"Well, no." I said. "Someone else grew this baby in her belly and now she gets to be part of Abigail's family!"
Israel busted out: "That is SO COOL!!! Mom, we should do that!"
I agree with him on one count, anyway. :)

It is so cool. And I think these babies must be doubly loved. First, a mom, who for whatever reason would rather not have a child, finds out she is going to have a child and decides to keep growing that life for months. That's some love. She may not feel well, she gains weight, she deals with whatever social or familial repercussions exist with her pregnancy. She feels she is inadequate for the task of raising the child she is growing. She could be prideful and try to act like she has it all together*, but instead she decides to find a family she feels could give the child what she can't give her. I have nothing but admiration for such a mom. That is some love and some courage. (I'm sure God understands something about that, as He trusted His child to another family, to0...for opposite reasons, but requiring courage and love nonetheless.) I know how hard it is for me to admit when I don't have it all together. It's hard for me to admit it even to just one other person. I cannot imagine how much courage it takes to admit whatever weaknesses you find in yourself in a way that is put on display for strangers. To want the best for your child and be willing to look for someone else you believe can provide have to love your baby a lot to go through all that for her. It's a selfless act of love.

Of course, the child is a complete gift in all respects. And no one knows this better, I'm guessing, than the parents chosen to adopt her, who receive the gift of a child. Parents who adopt amaze me with their love. Having had two surprise babies with nine months each to get used to the idea, I have no idea what it would be like to think about it before-hand and choose to suddenly welcome a baby (plus whatever birth family she comes with!) into my family. Jason and Andrea in particular amaze me because they chose beforehand to pursue a child with "special needs." The terminology changes all the time, but the term always is trying to get at the fact that some children face extra adversity in life and challenges to overcome. One of the challenges I've seen for parents I know of special needs children (in addition to the anxiety and agony brought by various medical procedures and unknowns) is that they have the frustrating job of teaching the general populace that their child is a gift. They know it. People who know their child personally know it. But I have heard enough stories from friends to know that too many people have become doubtful in this regard. Showing every day how valuable and amazing their children are seems to be more of a difficult job than it should be. Enduring people asking, "What's wrong with her?" in front of your child? No parent should have to try to come up with an appropriate response to that. But to have an inkling beforehand of what your child may face because of others and choose to walk that road with them.... Well, when I write it that way, what parents wouldn't make that choice? But to choose to walk that road with a child as their parent when no one is asking it of you? Amazing. And I know that both the child and the parents will be greatly blessed by the process and better people because of each other. That's the way it goes in life. But I reserve the right to be amazed by it anyway.

And if you haven't had the pleasure of praying for baby Shilo ("God's gift"), go right ahead. She seems to be recovering well from the heart surgery she had today at the ripe old age of 6 days. (She'll have open heart surgery in a few months.) She's a strong girl, that one! I can't wait to get to know her in person. I am beyond happy that we, in whatever small way, get to be involved and are blessed to call this family our friends. I'm with Israel: This whole idea is SO COOL!

*I'm not meaning to imply that birth parents don't have it all together and adoptive parents do. I don't know any parent of any child who can honestly be convinced they have it all together.

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