I was thinking about beauty this morning, a sometimes dangerous thing to do. It's hard to let go of the images of paper-thin, perfectly air-brushed women crowding my television, my movie screens, and the check-out aisle at my grocery store. I can drive myself crazy believing I somehow need to measure up to what isn't real in the first place.
Or, I can delve deeper and discover what true beauty means to me.
There are many things I find beautiful: a sense of humor, a passion for Christ, a protective heart. But above all, the precious Chinese orphan and the incredible process of adoption resonates for me as truly beautiful.
China is a gorgeous country full of centuries-old traditions and craftsmanship but they have sacrificed the heart of their nation on the altar of communism. In the name of population control, they have wrenched apart families and taught a new generation of Chinese that girls are worthless commodities to be thrown away and forgotten. In a land where children used to equal wealth, the staggering abandonment of over 1 million girls each year should bring us to our knees in grief.
It does me.
I cannot imagine nurturing a child in my womb, agonizing over the delivery, counting ten perfect fingers, ten wiggling toes, and receiving the trusting gaze of my newborn child and then wrapping up this girl-child, this disappointment, this one who can never do for my family what a boy-child can, and dropping her off at the local bus station in the middle of the night.
Doesn't your heart ache to imagine this?
If I could, I would open my home to them all.
I am often asked questions about adoption from those who do not understand what moves our hearts to seek our daughter in another country and from those who feel the first twinge of awareness that there is another precious child who belongs at their dinner table.
I welcome the questions. I welcome any format that allows me to plead the case of the orphans. Some of the most common questions (and our answer!) are as follows:
1. Why are you adopting from China and not from Tennessee? Those already engaged in the adoption process can tell you that it is unlike anything you've ever experienced. We looked into Tennessee and into other nations besides China but both my husband and I felt an inescapable pull toward China. We believe it is because our daughter, who was chosen before the foundation of time for our family, is from China. Who knows where our next adoption will take us?
2. Don't you think you have a responsibility to take care of American orphans before taking on the children of another nation? No, but if that is your heart, I can show you how to get the process started! I believe that we as humans are responsible for orphans, it doesn't matter where they are born.
3. How can you take another person's child into your home? I'm not. I'm bringing home our precious daughter. Love binds a family, not blood.
4. How can you pay $18,000 for a child? How can I not? It's a ransom to free my daughter from an unspeakable future and bring her home where she belongs. $18,000 is small change to save my child's life. I would do the same for my boys.
5. Don't you worry about what you're getting? No more than I did during my pregnancies. You never know what you're "getting". My boys could have physical or mental problems. They could have personalitites that disrupt our home. They could prove to be challenging (okay, they've proven that!). I trust that, as with my boys, my hubby and I will learn to parent our daughter as we learn her unique personality and place in our home.
6. Why do you want to adopt when you already have children "of your own"? Because all of my "own" children aren't home yet. She is mine. Just as my boys are mine. I see no difference. If you knew you had another child out there, what wouldn't you do to bring them home?
7. Why are so many children abandoned in China? China has a 1 child law per family. Rich families in the cities can pay a fine each year (the equivalent to what we pay in gas each year!) for a second child but now the government has announced it will crack down on these families by publicly embarrassing them and raising the fines to discourage multiple children.
Girls in China are not given the right to own property or inherit businesses so having a girl means all the family property/businesses will go to her husband. Having a girl is called "watering your neighbor's lawn" and so they are abandoned at bus stops, parks, and hospital steps while couples try for the son and heir.
Boys who are not physically perfect (those with cleft palates or other surgically-correctible conditions) are abadoned as well and labelled as "trash" because they are not the epitome of physical perfection. Often, babies with medical conditions (most of them surgically correctible) are left to starve rather than offered medical help. To rescue one of these precious little ones, you can adopt from China's "Waiting Child" program.
8. Aren't you afraid your daughter won't bond with you? There's always uncertainty in any new situation but I love my daughter with an unshakeable mother's love and we will form the bond that is right for us.
9. I'd like to adopt but I can't afford it. How did you do it? We held fundraisers: garage sales with all of our friends donating items and helping us run it and an international dessert auction with our friends again helping and inviting others. We took on extra jobs and put everything we saved toward our adoption account. And it helps that the process is drawn-out and the fees come one at a time so you don't have to have it all up front.
10. Where does the money go and don't you think that China is making too much money off of this? Most of the money does go to China. Some goes to our agency (they are responsible for translating our documents, arranging our travel itinerary and interpreter, and running interference between us and China) and some to our Home Study process but most of it goes to China. A chunk of that is for the child's orphanage. Yes, some officials in China make money off these precious babies and it's a crime but leaving them there to die or get kicked out of the orphanage at age 14 (!!) is a crime too. I don't care who gets the money as long as my daughter is safe.
11. I want to support adoption without adopting. How can I help? There are several ways. You can give to a local adoption fund or a family you know is raising funds for their own adoption. You can get involved in a local orphanage or in an overseas orphanage...they always need volunteers and supplies. And you can be a voice on behalf of millions of children who have none. You can educate others and maybe you will light the fire in another family to realize they are not yet complete.
I believe once we truly open our eyes to the plight of the orphan, we cannot look away. We cannot ignore these helpless children who deserve a childhood with decent food, education, and most of all, unconditional love and an indestructible sense of belonging to their forever family.