Year after year, month after month, I find myself repeating this part of a verse from an old hymn. I don’t know if it is melancholic, celebratory, anticipation… or just a bit of listlessness.
The third quarter of the year has ended. I have successfully managed to lead a team of fifth grade teachers and 63 students through a quarter, with all of the parent emails, test requirements, essays, lesson planning, and professional development. And, I use the word “successfully” rather loosely here. I don’t dare to hope that all of the parents are pleased with my decisions, that my team is always thrilled to hear my thoughts and opinions. or that most, if any, of my lessons have been an astounding “check-plus” in anyone’s book. I guess I define “success” to mean that the kids are learning, no one had an emotional break-down in class, we are hopefully meeting our academic standards, and our team-meetings are quick, easy, and to-the-point.
The students were released early today, and almost the entire 5th grade retreated to the large park across the street from the school for an afternoon of paper-bag lunches, popcicles, icecream, soccer, tree-climbing, and other frivolities. I was amazed (again) at how much my students are really just BIG KIDS. They desperately need time to be incredibly goofy, to attack each other with hugs/tackles, to climb trees and fall from trees, to steal the ball from their teacher in a pick-up game of soccer… in short, to play hard.
I find myself, at this third-quarter mark, looking for my own play ground. I have worked hard. And it was wonderful, difficult, and important. And now I want to work hard at something else. I want to run, yell, laugh, tackle, hug, eat, live, without worrying about lingering emails, approaching standardized tests, or academic expectations. I have loved this world for almost 4 years, and I think I will always love this world, just like many of my students will always greet me with a smile long after I have stopped teaching them. These years have been a “teacher” for me: all the same, I feel like I am growing out of it, a bit.
My professional-side wants to step in here and say, “I’m not leaving any time soon. We aren’t done yet. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and you still have quite a ways to go. Don’t start writing any good-bye notes, yet.” And this is true. I will probably stay a teacher for several more years before any major lifestyle changes occur.
I guess this is where our adoption comes into play. Thomas and I have wanted a family for several years now, but God has seen fit, in his incredible will for us, to not give us biological children. Instead, He has given us more almost 300 children over the past three years to love, cherish, and teach. And, for that, I am incredibly humbled and grateful.
But why are we adopting? I’m sure I’m no where near first place on the list of people who have asked this question. I would love feedback from anyone out there who has considered adoption.
Thomas and I want to have a family. We feel called to be parents. Yes, we are young. According to national statistics, most people my age are only just considering marriage. I’m going on four years of a wonderful marriage, and we both feel ready for the next step. (Famous last words, I know, I know, I get it already.)
We want to teach our children to eat, to pray, to love each other, to not hit when angry, to read good books (again and again and again), to ride bikes, to cook, to clean, all of it. We know that we cannot adequately prepare for the ups and downs of children, just like we could never adequately prepare for marriage. But, we survived marriage and we want to try the next stage.
But this leads to a philosophical quandary of such. If we were able to have our own biological children, it seems that odds would be in our favor that we would end up with children that enjoyed books, liked to play outside, and eat tasty food. Certainly, there are no guarantees, and Thomas and I both know this. We would keep and love and cherish any biological child God gave us. But with adoption, we can actually CHOOSE our own child… But should we?
Is it wrong to want to give a normal home to a child who needs that normal home, even if that child will simply complete the normal expectations? In short, what if we don’t feel adequate to adopt a severely special needs child?
Please know, I write this with an almost overwhelming sense of guilt and shame. I love children of all sorts. If you are angry at my words, know that I am petrified by them. If you are angry, please share your thoughts gently with me. It has taken months of discussion, prayer, and gathering courage to say these words.
It seems that many adoption sites show that there are millions of children in the world who need a loving home. But it also seems like the only children that we are allowed to adopt are those children with severe special needs. I see their pictures and read their bios, and my heart yearns to love them. But I know that I would always wonder, “What if I had looked just a little longer? Would I have found a child that would take part in our expectations?”
I feel horrible writing this. I don’t want anyone to think that I believe children with special needs are burden that should never be taken on. My best friend and her husband adopted a beautiful little girl with CP just this past year, and I have been inspired by her faith and steadfast love. My best friend in highschool had a little brother with Downs, and I absolutely loved spending time at their house. Some of my most beloved students have had special needs. I love these people. And, because I love them and yearn to see them happy and healthy, I just don’t feel like I can offer that home, and it would be wrong to bring children like them into my home.
Does this mean that my expectations should change? I don’t know. We are praying about it, a lot, and talking with families much wiser than us. Perhaps our expectations and desires will change. Or, maybe, this is God’s way of showing us what we are truly yearning for. Maybe He will give us those desires, or maybe He will change the desires themselves. I guess that is what the Christian life is all about: the True Father bringing us into His Family and learning how to be in that Family.
Please pray for us.
Have you considered adoption? Have you ever felt like you were sitting at a blind crossroads? How did God show you where to go? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.