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how do you explain it?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I've been racking my brain over the last few days trying to find something to blog about and the only thing that keeps popping to mind is a comment we get from some well-intentioned people when they find out we're adopting...
"We just think it's great what you're doing. These kids are so lucky!"
If I heard it once I've heard it a thousand times in the last few weeks...and it always leaves me struggling for something to say. I usually mumble something about us being the ones that are blessed...but somehow it just doesn't seem like enough.
The thing is, while adoption is a great thing, and the kids are better off...we're not so great and they're not so lucky. At least not in the way they're implying.
They seem to think just because we've adopted internationally and are getting ready to go back one more time that we're great humanitarians. That we've cornered the market on sainthood. That we're modern-day Jobs.
But they're wrong!
I try to tell them we are being completely selfish. It has nothing to do with 'rescuing' children. It has everything to do with wanting to build a family. That selfish pursuit means we dragged these kids away from the only home they'd ever known. We took them away from everything familiar and plopped them down in the middle of a culture completely different from their own. These kids had to bounce back from not only losing their 'home', but their caregivers, food and language as well.
Now, I'm not naive. I know these kids had it pretty rough. I saw the rooms they 'lived' in - full of lead paint and rows upon rows of cribs. I felt the drafts coming through the windows as I played with them on the cold floor in the babyhouses. I watched them scarf food down until they were sick, out of fear it would suddenly disappear. I was the one who went shopping for 6 to 9 month old clothes to put on a almost 2-year-old girl.
Meshack and I stayed up late every night rocking the children so that they could go to sleep without rocking themselves in their cribs. We applied the ointment to the patches of scabies all over their bodies and then did it all over again the next month because it wouldn't go away. We were the ones who had to rush to their side every time they bumped their heads so that they could learn that it was okay to cry and that we would be there to comfort them.

We know. And we couldn't imagine building our families any other way.
Still, we feel selfish in our pursuit. These kids bring way more into our lives than we could ever give them. All we can do is provide them with warm beds, plenty of food, lots of opportunities to grow, discipline and plenty of love.

These kids have given us ten times that.
They've given us a family.
If they should be pitied for anything it's that they got stuck with two middle-aged, out-of-shape, Bon-Jovi lovin' parents. They deserve to have a mom and a dad with boundless energy, who can't say no when they want to play hide-and-seek, who will drop everything to play Barbies and can still run behind them when they try to ride a bike without training wheels.
They shouldn't be pitied because of where they came from. They should be admired.
These kids beat the odds.
They beat the system.
They survived.
They were strong enough to make it until we could find them...and came out the other side stronger for it. Sure there are some 'leftovers' from the experience. But it's nothing that's holding them back...nothing they can't overcome.

These kids are inspiring.

It has nothing to do with Meshack and I.
It has everything to do with these kids.
So that's why I get a little tongue-tied when people say "We just think it's great what you're doing. These kids are so lucky!"
I can't help but think...
I'm the one that's blessed.
I'm the one that's richer for it.
I'm the one who is lucky.
But how do you explain it?

5 salty messages:

Missy April 20, 2007 at 6:48 PM  

My co-workers keep commenting on how "good" I am for wanting to adopt...so I totally understand. I just want my kids and being "good" doesn't have anything to do with that.

Jenni April 20, 2007 at 6:56 PM  

I think you explained it pretty well in this post. I always find it hard to respond to those comments too, even though they are well-intentioned. The need to "rescue" kids is not the reason most people adopt. They do it to be given the privilege of raising a child.

Starfish April 20, 2007 at 8:39 PM  

That statement always left me tongue tied too. There really isn't anything you can say to people who dont' know what it's like...

Email me and I'll tell you how I got the paperchase the way I did.

kate April 22, 2007 at 6:23 AM  

Thank you for an thoughtful, well-written post. You've nailed it.

Suzanne April 25, 2007 at 6:46 PM  

I act like I didn't hear properly and say, "Why YES, we are so lucky." and if the clueless one still doesn't get it, I add, "They needed parents, we needed children; it's a good fit."

I read somewhere (ah yes, the famous somewhere) that 'rescue' adoptions are most likely to disrupt. I thought that was interesting.

Just found your blog, btw. :)

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