So a common concern some parents have when considering adoption is the affect this will have on their biological children. I think when making any big decisions in life, you have to really consider your family (as most good families do) and adoption is no different. Adoption is much different than pregnancy in the fact you do have the ability to decide lots of things: age, gender, and special needs. This can be really hard, yet really beneficial. Clay and I weren't overly concerned about any negative impact this would have on the kids long term. We really felt like the positive impact it would have, would far outweigh the negative and I still can't list any major negatives. Plus, kids pour out love. They are so giving and open. We should learn from them! Some thoughts we had on gender, age, and special needs in regards of thinking about it with L and O in mind:
1. We knew for us at this time, changing birth order wasn't a wise idea. We knew Lola needed to stay the oldest and Oliver needed to feel like big brother so we were only open to children younger than him. If that wasn't the case, I would have LOVED to adopt a 4 or 5 year old and Clay was very drawn to children much older than that. FYI: Ollie and Mei are just 11 months apart.
2. Gender- that was easy when considering the kids desires. Lola wanted a sister so bad and when Oliver was born and turned out to be a boy, she asked "why is she a he?" And a few days after he was born she asked if "he was still a boy?" They've been best buds and she quickly choose to see the JOY in having a brother, but we knew she'd be much more on board with the adoption if she was gaining a sister. And I have a sister and just really wanted to give her that same gift… but now that I have- you know what that means. Ollie really needs a brother. ;) Boys are awesome. And so are even numbers.
3. Special needs: This one can be really hard. It's a very personal choice/matter. After being involved in this amazing adoption community and seeing such a wide range of medical needs, our list was pretty open. There were a few needs that were very close to my heart, yet not in the best interest of our children right now. I would encourage all parents to educate themselves through experienced parents (not google) before deciding what you are or aren't open to.
Some ways this has been amazing for our kids:
1. This adoption process was very time consuming for me. I sewed dolls to raise extra money, fundraised, did lots of paperwork, applied to lots of grants which means more paperwork, and cut back sonic trips, target trips and extra curricular activities. (to name a few things) This didn't go unnoticed by the kids or husband. At times I felt guilty, but I knew they'd understand one day soon. Plus, we can't have the mentality "we get what we want, when we want it" for several reasons. I hung a sign during this process in my work room that reads "Don't hope for it, more than you work for it." I wanted a third child and I have a deep desire to see orphans in loving homes. My goodness, I was going to work hard for it! I am glad my children see that. Is this a good time to add "God doesn't make wussy women!"
2. I don't want my children to be colorblind. I want them to be aware of skin color, differences, and cultures so they can celebrate it with a welcoming heart and use their compassion to be an example and make a stand.
3. I wanted my kids to have a playmate. Adopting a two year old gives them an instant playmate. Bam!
4. My children will be more mindful and considerate of those with disabilities or differences. At 6 and 3, we are learning a lot about this through experiences and conversations. I am so proud of them.
5. I could go on and on but I will end with, my hope is their experience in China and having an adopted sister plants a big fat seed in their heart for all the other children without. I hope to water that seed throughout their childhood.
So tonight right before bedtime, I asked Mei to sit down while she finished drinking her milk from a carton. She's use to this and always sits down on the tile so spills aren't a big deal. I decided to sit down next to her. Then she moves to my lap and leans close to my chest as she does often. Then here comes Lola and she joins us. It's actually pretty quiet as we all are pretty tired, but then Lola looks up and says sweetly "the paperwork was all worth it." I was in la-la land and it took me a minute to figure out what paperwork she was talking about. Then I realized the adoption paperwork… "Yes it was Lola." And then she smiled and said "and she was worth the wait." By this point my chin is quivering and I felt my heart fill up with lots and lots of thankfulness for my family. All 5 of us.
My friends, don't be fooled by fear, you are gifting yourself and your children when you choose adoption.