My thoughts about adoption have evolved in these three years. When we made the decision to start the journey, I was fired up with emotion and fervor. EVERYONE should adopt! RAH! RAH! RAH! I would get a little frustrated with those that told me, "Oh, I could never do what you're doing." I couldn't understand why anyone would hesitate to bring a child without a family into their home.
And then we actually started the adoption process.
For two years, it was as if we were on a roller-coaster ride. A really old, unstable roller coaster where the track is falling apart, the seat belts don't buckle, and the brakes have stopped working.
It was hard; emotionally tolling on our family, our resources, and our relationships.
Over the course of the two years it took to complete our adoption from the DRC, I learned a lot in general about adoption.
Don't assume everyone you work with has integrity. I learned the hard way that there are not as many adoption agencies truly advocating for the best interest of the child as I had imagined. If you are considering adoption but not sure where to start, head over here.
The international adoption process isn't for everyone. Not every family has the emotional resources or time to invest in a child that comes from trauma and brokenness. Some parents are fighting to keep their current home situation functioning and healthy. Adding another piece to the already volatile dynamic could cause the family to implode.
The entire family needs to be on the same page. When the process gets hard and frustrating (and it will), both the husband and wife need to be able to look at one another and know that they made the decision to commit to adoption together. It is crucial that married couples both be invested fully in the decision to adopt.
Adoption is an option for the orphan, but it is not the only answer. Providing in-country hope, resources, and families for orphans who will never be able to be adopted must become a priority for American Churches.
It is vital to have a group of people surrounding you who get it and completely understand what it means to love a child you have never met. I'm so grateful for the other families that were walking through the process at the same time. We encouraged each other, calmed one another down, and just offered any bit of support we could. We celebrated like we had won the lottery when someone received a new picture of their child. I haven't even met most of them in person, but I feel like I lived a lifetime with them.
One year ago today, we held our son Tyson Henry Word for the very first time. In just that one day, I learned a few things about adoption.
Adoption is birthed from loss. It is possible to experience pure joy and deep heartache at the very same moment. Holding our baby boy for the first time was one of the sweetest moments of my life. It was also one of the most emotional. As I cuddled Tyson and he clung to my shirt, I was reminded of how this baby had come to end up in our arms at all. We had traveled across the world because this little one had already faced broken relationships and loss. The gravity of that knowledge laid heavy on our hearts.
I learned what it feels like to take a child from the arms of a foster mama who loved him deeply. Actually, I purposely did not take Tyson from her arms. As a foster mom myself, I knew I couldn't. Brian held him first and I just hugged her tight. There were not enough words to share my gratitude with her.
In the past year since bringing Tyson home, I've learned even more about adoption.
The bonding time is critical. Only Brian or I held Tyson for the first few months. Those in our community were so gracious and understanding with this request. This time was precious to us and so valuable to our family as he adjusted to his new surroundings.
I have learned not to take my days for granted with him. There were months of his life that I missed, so I refuse to waste a minute wishing for what comes next. I have lost too much of his past already.
Every single piece of paperwork, every roadblock, every single piece of red tape that was on the path to our son was worth it. Every single one. And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I've learned that through these past three years, international or domestic adoption is not for everyone. But, without question, it is for our family. Through sharing our story, I hope that it speaks to others out there who are considering the journey.
Adoption has turned my life upside down and wrung me inside out. It has stretched and refined my thinking, challenged my worldview, and convicted me of what is truly important in this life.
It is the hardest and the best thing I have ever done. Adoption has changed my life for the better.
Happy One Year Gotcha Day, Tyson Henry Word. You have brightened our world with your infectious smile and dimples for days. We love you dearly and cannot imagine our world without you in it.