When we started this adoption journey, I knew that it would change us. At the time, I thought the changes would be that we would have hair bows and doll babies mixed in with marshmallow shooters and constant water balloon making. What I didn't realize is how much it would change ME. As you go through this process you really want to learn everything you can about your child's birth country. It is the responsibility of an adoptive parent to make sure that they know where they came from and to celebrate the country and the culture that gave them life. I really feel like it will be a big part of their identity and helping them figure out all of that stuff when the are going through all of that self-discovery when they are older. We want them to be proud of their heritage.
That being said, we started learning about Russia, but honestly, it was a surface kind of thing. I read a tour book and learned about the different areas, especially Vogograd, where our little girl was to come from. It wasn't until they started talking about the ban on adoptions that I REALLY started to learn about Russia and what kind of life these children live. And let me tell you...once you learn something like this, you can never close your eyes to it again. When we had to tell the boys that our baby was not going to come from Russia, I knew that Noah really hit the heart of the matter when he sat at the table with tears in his eyes and asked, "but where will all those babies without mommies and daddies go?" Wow....yeah....how do you answer that question from a 5 year old??? I answered it with my own tears and told him honestly, that I didn't know, but that we had to really trust God that this was in His plan. I said it, but truly, I'm not sure I really felt it. It is a hard question I think for anyone, even the most faithful people I know I think have to question why these things happen to the most innocent of us. There is no answer for this question that I can find, and I still have no idea what to tell them except that we are called to do what we can, and that even though we couldn't help a baby from Russia, there were many, many other children in other places that also needed help.
Noah recovered from that conversation much more quickly than I did. That was in January, and I still tear up and can see his little eyes full of tears when I think of it. I have started thinking and learning more and more about China on a much deeper level since we started this process. It's not so much learning what they eat and what to buy, and what to see. It's about, how do these children get here, how many of them never get to leave and know the love of a family, how is there still a culture where children are not seen as the amazing blessings they are meant to be. I have been reading books that are truly some of the hardest things I have ever read, but give me a better idea of reality. China is a country very different than the US, and has a very strong cultural background. From a time when baby girls were not even allowed to draw their first breath or were smothered even after taking that breath, it is difficult to even fathom. Knowing where our daughter (or daughters, depending on His plan) came from is important, and very difficult. We will never know the woman that made agonizing choice to give her a different life. We will never know her circumstances, but I can only hope that we will let our little girl know that her biological mother loved her so much that she made the most difficult decision that any mother could ever make. I will forever be grateful to this woman on the other side of the world for choosing life for this child. To look at her picture and think that she could have easily not been in this world is something I cannot even wrap my head around.
The plight of the orphan is something that is overwhelming, without a doubt. With millions of orphans in the world, I used to wonder if us adopting one was really going to help anything. But, it is more than that. After you go through this you can never stop at adopting one. That is not to say that we will be adopting 10 children (unless that is what we would be called to do), but there are so many ways to help. I promised Noah that one day we would do a mission trip to Russia, and would try to make sure it was centered around children in an orphanage, and I plan to keep my word. Everyone has something they can do. Please don't close your eyes to children that need help all around you.