"Why Not Adopt a Kid from the U.S.?"

This has been a question that others have asked us multiple times over the last 7 years ever since we began the adoption process for Mekonen.... so why adopt from another country? Why not adopt from here? And this time around, when we announced we are adopting from Africa again, we got the question several times. For our second adoption, the choice of where to adopt from holds an entirely new set of things to take into consideration given our current family make-up.

We have asked ourselves this question too. Why not adopt from here?

This blog post will only barely touch the surface of all that could be said on the subject, so please here our words for what they are and realize that there is a whole lot more to this than what is written here. I'm being completely serious when I say that I have read thousands upon thousands of real, legitimate adoption research and trust me when I say, adoptive families do not take their choices in the adoption process lightly, and that includes which process to go with- domestic or international. 

1. Kids are kids. When it comes down to it, kids are kids, whether here in the U.S. or in another country. At some point it can't be a country versus country thing, and instead there needs to be simply a recognition that kids belong in families- that includes "U.S." kids and kids from other countries. Personally, God has given Jon and I a heart for the global orphan crisis, not just the local orphan crisis. And, when it comes down to it, it's kids needing a mom and a dad. That's it. Kids in families. That's what matters!

2. Different process. Different circumstances. The adoption process for domestic adoption and the process for international adoption varies drastically. If someone is not well versed in the adoption world, they might not realize this. There are so many things families have to work through and consider when choosing which adoption avenue to pursue, especially a second time around when there are already children in the home, and even more so when any of those current children are also adopted. Things like birth order, gender order, family dynamics, personalities, age of the child when adopted, life situation of the family, adoption history, etc. that families must discuss and must decide on. Some of the above circumstances don't fit well with domestic adoption and some of the above circumstances don't fit well with international adoption. I could provide illustration after illustration, but it would take far too long for this post! 

3. Current Family Dynamics. This goes along with number 2 above. Many, no not all, but many domestic adoptions have some form of openness to them; and many, no not all, international adoptions have more of a closed way about them. This needs to be taken into consideration if there is already an adopted child in the home. If you had two children in your home, both of which were adopted, and both had drastically different adoptive upbringings regarding their birth families, this could cause issues. For every family? No. For every child? No. But we know our children, and we do know the kinds of situations they would handle well. As open as we are about adoption, we don't share everything publicly, so you just gotta trust that we know our kids and know what they need. 

4. Desire. Among many things in adoption, desire is huge. The motivation to adopt should never be to "save" or "rescue" a child. A child deserves, needs, and longs to be WANTED. To be desired. To be pursued with everything you have. They are to be desired simply because they are who they are. With that, also comes desire, or interest in, where your child comes from. God has given some people the burning desire to care for kids needing families here in our backyard in the United States, and God has given some people the burning desire to care for kids needing families that reside in other countries. There is nothing wrong with either of these. Again, kids are kids. And ALL kids deserve a family. For us, we both grew up with a global mindset, with families and churches who had their eyes on the world outside their backyard. For as long as I can remember, my heart has been drawn to people and circumstances outside the U.S. Although there are many similarities, the circumstances that bring international children to adoption and the circumstances that bring U.S. children to adoption are very different. Our hearts are burdened for the very specific circumstances in the developing world that bring children to a place of needing adoption. 

5. Need. Although the similarity of kids needing families exists in domestic adoption and international adoption, there is also the very real truth that not all children in other countries even get a shot at a family, unless it's through international adoption. This is due to the very hard truth that many of these children are coming from places where domestic adoption does not even exist, or it exists in such small numbers that it's not even really practiced, or there are places where the orphan is the most looked down upon member of society and socially they are outcasted, even among their own culture. Is that something that needs to change internationally? Absolutely!!! And we are right now, beginning to connect ourselves to people and organizations who are attempting this very thing, because long-term, those are the kinds of issues we want to be part of and want to help change. But changing the way society views orphans and adoption is a very slow and painful process. And in the meantime, there are children growing up undercared for, unprotected, and unloved. We simply cannot ignore them until "someone changes their country's views on domestic adoption and orphans." Trust me. I've read the research. I've read the stories of the agencies and organizations trying to do this very thing, and it is incredibly difficult. And on top of that, is the fact that not all places have vast numbers of people financially able to care for more children. 

And, may I kindly sandwich another point in here? Although most of the time when people ask the question, "Why not adopt a kid from the U.S.?" they are asking to truly hear our hearts and our story and how we ventured into the world of international adoption; there have been several who have asked this in such a negative, critical tone. But what I find most "interesting" is that almost every single time, the person criticizing our location choice of adoption and saying we should care about "U.S. kids" first has not adopted domestically themselves, and is currently not involved in ANYTHING having to do with the local orphan crisis. The strategy of "where, when, and how," can and should be discussed. But it always comes back to simply doing something. And if you aren't doing something beside criticizing, it's best to just not say anything at all. 

Personally, we have knocked on more doors than anyone in our life knows of and will continue to do so. In fact, some of you might drop dead at the things we've considered, so let's just say, be glad the upstairs of our schoolhouse is still not finished! So please remember, there is always more going on behind the scenes of people's lives, and behind the choices people are making for their families than you see in public and through social media. 

We see our home like a revolving door for various avenues of orphan care when the time is right - US adoption, foster care, Safe Families, international adoption, non-US domestic adoption advocacy, non-adoption oriented countries child development. The issues are many and vast - here or there.
We are currently adopting from another African country for reasons specific to our family situation now and long-term. Considerations like birth order, gender, development stage, personalities, adoption history, special needs, etc all play a part. Some of those things we will gladly share with you, and some of those things will stay within the walls of our home. 

The tension between what is and what should be is constant and difficult, especially regarding children. But what we must come back to again and again is that KIDS are what matter, whether here, or there. God dwells with and weeps over the child here and the child in China without a home. What we must always come back to is simply doing something.

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