Choosing International Adoption
The first question most people ask is "Why adoption?" and the second is "Why international adoption?" Our answer is simply that we don’t really know. The short response is because we feel drawn to international adoption, but I am not going to pretend that I understand why we have been drawn to this. Maybe it’s because all kids are worthy of a home and parents to love them and God has chosen us for this journey. Maybe it’s simply because we are being led to where our child is waiting for us.
To truly understand what led us to this decision, I am going to take you back several years. Vince and I, as many of you know, are high school sweethearts. I have been curious and drawn to adoption since that time, but that was information I kept to myself for many years. After we were married in October of 2010, people wanted to know when we were planning on starting a family, like literally at the reception, people were asking. Shortly after our one year anniversary, I began researching adoption on my own, because at that time I had no idea how my husband would react to the idea. As cliche as it sounds, one night after watching The Blind Side, Vince mentioned how awesome it would be to help a child in need in that way. I took that as my opportunity to discuss adoption and how I would like to adopt one day, and he was very open to the idea and even excited.
For three years I did research into countries and agencies. I emailed asking questions and talked to people who had adopted. I read hundreds of blogs as well. At the time, four of my friends and acquaintances had or were in the process of adopting domestically and internationally. As I was gaining information and informing Vince of what I was finding out, I still had reservations.
For someone like me, someone who suffers from anxiety, the idea of adoption is terrifying. For those who suffer with anxiety, control is very important; we need to have control in order to keep the anxiety and panic at bay. There is no greater loss of control than during the adoption process. Dealing with the unknown, the delays, the court process, the paperwork, the governments of two countries, etc. Maybe this was the cause of my reservations, for the delay of taking that step. Maybe it was also the fact that this was so unconventional.
Vince and I both come from very traditional families; people get married and they get pregnant and they live happily ever after (for the most part). We also come from a very traditional small town, which most of you know as well. When it comes to anxiety, or maybe it’s just who I am as a person, I care what people think and what they are saying, so this fear may be the other cause of my trepidation.
In some ways, if I’m being completely honest, I was also afraid that Vince wasn’t truly on the same page as me. I was afraid he was just trying to make me happy by going along with this crazy dream of mine. To this day, whether it is my anxiety or just my personality, I still let that fear creep up and threaten to strangle me. This isn’t a new car or a new television. This is our child, a child we will love and cherish for the rest of our lives. This is the biggest decision of our lives.
Another fear is the money. How in the world would two school teachers afford to adopt? The idea of fundraising, asking for donations, saving every penny, applying for grants, and possibly taking out a loan, is almost paralyzing.
But even through the fear of what others might think or say, the fear of the unknown and of the adoption process, the fear of trying to find a way to afford it, my heart still wants what it wants, and right now, it wants to adopt a beautiful child who might otherwise never know the love of a family. My heart feels as if our child is already waiting for us, as impossible as that sounds. It’s amazing how your heart can be in love with an idea, with something or someone it hasn’t even seen yet. But I promise you all, it can happen.
When we first discussed this seriously last year, before our fifth wedding anniversary, we talked about countries. We were first drawn to Japan, since we were comfortable with that country, but realized that the list was still not open after several years of being closed. We ruled out most of the African countries because of the government delays and/or long stay in country. Both of us being teachers and coaches with several animals to take care of, we knew we needed to be in country less than two weeks if at all possible. So through research and talking with agencies, we narrowed the search down to Taiwan and China. We feel as if both countries have called to us, but we felt the pull of China a little more. Gendercide in China is more common than most are aware of, and the high number of orphans in China is staggering. We decided to contact our agency and start the process, but once again our plans were changed. God intervened once more. The wonderful lady who I have been relentlessly bugging with hundreds of questions for three years, informed me that Japan was getting ready to open to possibly ten more applicants. Vince and I talked about it for nearly four weeks. We prayed so hard for the answer, for a sign. We kept debating and going back and forth. I finally realized God was sending us signs, small signs almost every day. A picture would show up on my Facebook wall, or an inspirational meme was shared that spoke to us, or the word “Japan” was on the grammar worksheet I passed out to my students from a workbook. Vince and I sat down and really talked about it. We feel like our hesitation may have led us to this moment because maybe Japan was always where we were meant to adopt from.
So at this time, we feel adopting a son or daughter from Japan is what God intends for us. This does not mean we will never have biological children as well or that we won’t adopt domestically in the future; it simply means that we are choosing to start our family in what some may believe to be the untraditional way. So if you are wanting and willing to take this journey with us, feel free to follow our blog as we bring home our baby girl or boy in the near future.
Vince and Ashley