Originally posted August 19, 2007 on our old Vox blog. This is an article I wrote and Scott edited. We wrote it for the Tapestry newsletter. Tapestry is the adoption ministry at our church.
My husband, Scott, and I started our journey with the simple phrase, “We’re open to adoption.” God heard us and provided opportunities for us to learn more about adoption. In the end, we’ve chosen to start our family by adopting from Vietnam. We didn’t try to conceive, and we don’t know what the future will bring, but we do know that we are starting our family and “pregnantly” waiting for our child.
As we’ve started this journey we have encountered many different perceptions of adoption. I naïvely thought we might not experience some of these reactions since we aren’t infertile (at least as far we know). However, it seemed like some people need that answer as a reason for our decision to adopt. Since we can’t give it, I suppose we appear a little weirder to those people.
One lady told me, “You know, I know people who have gotten pregnant after adopting.” I replied, “We’re not adopting because we found out we were infertile.” She said, “I know, but still.” Still what? It’s an inappropriate comment? Another woman, whom I know a little better, said, “You’re doing it for good reasons . . . adopting another person’s child.” I was puzzled by that comment, but eventually I figured it out. We are adopting “another person’s child” in her eyes. But we are also adopting our child – the child whom God already knows will be a part of our family.
Adoption stirs up different feelings in different people – but we only feel love. We are ready to love our first child and welcome him or her into our home. In the same way, my seven pregnant friends are waiting to welcome their first children into their homes. My pregnant friends are all having baby showers and counting down the weeks until their little ones arrive. I attend their showers, but I’ve been introduced twice as “the one who is adopting.” It seems that I am no longer introduced with, “This is my friend Annie,” but with “This is Annie, the one who is adopting.” Apparently I have a new name! My standard response is usually just a smile because honestly I feel a bit put on the spot – but I really wish I could say, “and I drive a black Xterra.” I think others hearing this sort of introduction feel put on the spot too, because they usually don’t say much.
At these baby showers, after the introductions come the presents. I sit and watch as the expecting women receive newborn clothes, newborn diapers, mittens, and all sorts of breastfeeding paraphernalia. As I watch these gifts being opened, I realize I won’t need to register for those things. We won’t likely meet our child until he or she is 12 months old. So I sit at the showers with these thoughts running through my head, and at times I feel out of place. There is a whole pregnancy world that I’m not a part of . . . that I’m not experiencing. I’m not looking for pity, though. Instead, I’m looking for understanding and acceptance, because I’m going to be a mom, too – and I’m going to think I have the best child ever known to mankind. I’m going to be a mom, but I don’t have a protruding belly, I don’t have morning sickness (which I’m not upset about), I don’t have weight gain, and I don’t have water retention. I don’t have these telltale physical signs of “expecting,” but I do have a heart. I’m not undergoing physical change – I’m undergoing heart change.
Choosing to adopt is one of the greatest decisions Scott and I have made as a couple, and I feel privileged to be welcomed into the adoption family. I feel privileged because I get to experience the blessings of a community that not many people get to experience. We found this community in Tapestry, and have felt supported from day one.
Even so we still field occasional random and ridiculous questions, but we’re making peace with that. In fact, we’ve even learned to laugh at some of the questions and comments we get from others. Bearing in mind that we are adopting from Vietnam, we were recently asked, “So will your child look Asian?” Another person, in response to hearing the news that we are expecting, said “You know, there’s a Vietnamese piano protégé at my college.”
How do you reply to that? The best we can do is to try to understand, and to try to laugh about it later. After all, both comments were spoken innocently enough. But we are also giving serious thought to foregoing our 401k’s, and instead investing in a grand piano.