Thursday, December 09, 2010

Adoption and the Immaculate Conception

The kids and I went to Mass yesterday morning.  (We go once a week and I consider it part of our homeschooling.  What better way to start the schoolday than worshipping God through hymns, liturgy, and Scripture?)  And it happened to be the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception. (Which, for those who may not know, refers to Mary's conception, not Jesus'.  You can read more about it here.)  The priest talked about how Mary said yes to God when she said yes to the angel, essentially inviting Jesus in (literally, in her case!) I have to tell you that I love this. I love that we, like Mary so many years ago, have the opportunity to say yes to God, and yes to Jesus. On one level, we say yes to Jesus at the point of conversion, and yet on another level, we continually say yes to Jesus when we do His work, when we allow Him to use us, when we trust Him.

Adoption, interestingly, is one of those things where, at some point, you simply just have to say "yes." As a friend of mine recently blogged, "it doesn't just happen." And no you won't know the outcome right off the bat. No you can't foresee every little challenge or triumph. But you can say yes. And saying yes to one of these waiting little ones is surely saying yes to Jesus.

As everyone knows by now, we are in the process of adopting two sweet little ones from Ethiopia, both with Down syndrome.
And I'm discovering that people seem to conceptualize chromosomal abnormalities (and various medical/special needs) in different ways.  Most people giving birth to a child with an extra copy of the 21st chromsome, for example, desperately wish that this was not the case.  I'm sure I would have felt the same way.

But I feel like we're in a strange position, being adoptive parents.

Because really, I see these little girls as perfectly wonderful.  NOT lacking in anything.  I'm not sure if it's okay to say this, but...well...I'm not sorry that they were born with Down syndrome.  This is simply who they ARE.  I know it's a road most birth families would not choose for their child.  And I know that our girls will face adversity and that they'll have to work harder for some things.  But I also know that some things may come a little easier.  And that they will be blessed through overcoming whatever obstacles lay ahead. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I just don't see their extra chromsome as a necessarily bad thing.  In the least.  In fact, I wouldn't change it if I could.  I DO feel terribly that they have been living in an orphanage for so long.  I feel horrible that they couldn't remain in their respective birth families.  I don't want them to struggle with medical issues.  And I'll be downright ANGRY the first (and second, and third for that matter) time they are teased for one thing or another.  Like all of my kids, they will be at some point.

But really?  People who think those with Down syndrome are somehow "less", or even less fortunate?  They just don't know.  They don't know the vastness of God's love and they don't know the beauty that I see in these little girls' smiles.  They don't see the joy in simplicity or the value in diversity.  Would people have Trisomy 21 in a perfect world?  I don't know.  Maybe they would, without the medical issues that sometimes come along with it.  Maybe they wouldn't.  But my goodness, imagine the sweetness we'd miss out on without these little ones in our world!

So that's how I see it these days.  I would never want to make light of how anyone feels about their child or their child's struggles--that is not my intent.  I have not walked your road.  BUT, in a day and age where these children are usually either killed in the womb or shut away in government-run asylums, I don't mind standing up and saying that I love my sweet girls, extra chromsome and all.  I'm determined that our home will be filled with joy and love and acceptance, not sympathy or wishing things were different.  This is how God made these girls, and I seriously feel blessed beyond belief to not only be a part of their lives, but to be their adoptive mom.

How amazing is that???!!!

What holds so many adoptive families back from the adoption of children with special needs or children who are older?  In other words, waiting children?  What keeps them from saying yes?  I think sometimes it's fear.  Many are saying yes to adoption, but no to the children currently needing homes.  I keep hearing about this Evangelical adoption culture that seems to be materializing, and about how adoption is becoming so much more popular...but we can't pat ourselves on the back just yet.  Not when we look at the statistics.  Too many little ones are still waiting for us to be celebrating this "accomplishment". 

I wonder, if we are at a place where we feel excited about opening up our home and our life to a child needing a family, is it THAT much more of a stretch to consider an HIV+ child, or a child from such-and-such country that maybe wouldn't be our first choice but there's such a huge need, or a child with Down syndrome?  Maybe a child listed on Reece's Rainbow?    

Oh how I wish I could show you the video someone sent me yesterday of my little T. (18 months old or so).  Because she is a treasure of inestimable worth.  Her smile lights up the room.  I seriously feel like we've struck gold...I cannot BELIEVE she has been waiting so long...I feel so blessed that she will be my daughter.  Even though I have no CLUE how I am going to successfully parent seven children.  :)

Of course, I know WHY she's waited so long.  It's because she has Down syndrome.  And it's the same with our little four-year-old M.  Who is also a total doll, by the way.  (See I can go on and on about how cute they are without it technically being considered bragging, because they're not technically my daughters yet.  :)  )

I want my life to be a continual pattern of saying yes to Jesus.  Of allowing Him to transform me and change me.  I have such a long way to go, and yet what an amazing process it is.  I was really grateful for the priest's words yesterday, and for the many faithful throughout the millenia who have said yes to Jesus.  May we all, like Mary, find the strength to do so!


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