Friday, August 12, 2016

Our Path Towards Adoption

Monday was a big day for us.  We officially completed all our paperwork.  From home studies to fingerprints to much more, we have submitted our dossier forms for adoption from the Dominican Republic.  It has been many years since God first put the thought in our minds and hearts about adoption, but this past spring we felt it was time to take the next steps in this journey.  We'd love to have a personal conversation about it, but below are most of the basics.

Why Adopt?
We believe we are called to help restore the world that we are currently a part of.  You can call that living on mission for God; the idea that God has a purpose for you that is bigger than any of your own desires.  We don't exist to consume the world, but to bring about positive change that has an eternal impact (Matthew 6:19-24).

Every follower of Jesus who professes Him as their only salvation from their sins and the brokenness of this world believes that they have a part to play in the restoration process.  Purpose. Mission. You get it.  Part of that is certainly providing opportunities for people to place their faith in Jesus.  It also means seeking ways for God to use you based on your gifts, passions, and leading of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-28).

There are many ways to be used by God and those are seen throughout the Bible.  It is our responsibility to listen and discern how God may be leading us.  Caring for the marginalized people in our world is a major theme throughout the Scriptures.  This can range from widows, orphans, foster care, sponsoring a child through Compassion International, homeless shelter support, volunteering at a local school, and helping to babysit those kids down the street who have little adult support in their lives.  Ultimately, we believe everyone can play a role, and one part of our role for our family is adoption.

Adoption is a sign of the gospel.  We are the children of God (plethora of verses) and just as Christ adopts those who place their faith in Him, Christians are called to help restore the world, which includes orphan care (James 1:27).

Both our children are excited to add to our family.  They have even learned about adoption through Doc McStuffins' newest sibling being adopted in some recent episodes!

Why the Dominican Republic?
In short, there is such a great need that we felt led to the Dominican Republic.  There are an estimated 200,000 orphans under the age of 5 in the country.  That is overwhelming to even try to comprehend.  Thanks to the internet and social media, we live in a world where we are bombarded with tragic issues and needs.  In fact, we can become desensitized to it (or worse, think that liking a post or sharing it is helping the problem.  While raising awareness is important, actual involvement is far more important) or we may not be sure what we can do to even make a difference.

With that said, we are a big believer of the idea that we should "do for one what you wish you could do for everyone."  Instead of feeling helpless, you can choose to make a difference.  You may not be able to change the world, but I believe you can change someone's world!  Nobody is going to change the world, but everybody has the potential to change somebody's world.  Pick someone and go all in!  Andy Stanley has a great message on this here.  Be bold and do something now.

What Will the Process Look Like?
This is where we start to get the "deer in the headlights" and the jaw dropping looks from people.  While any adoption is a big process, there are a few unique wrinkles to our anticipated adoption.  The four of us will have an extended stay in the Dominican Republic during the adoption process.  Without going into the details of length, eventually one of us will be bringing our 2 current children home while the other stays with our newest family member in the D.R. for a significant length of time as paperwork gets finalized.  We are up for it the adventure, but that does not mean it will be quick and easy.  We are fortunate to have the flexibility in our jobs to embark on this journey.

When we receive a referral for adoption (hopefully in mid-2017) we'll then have 4-6 weeks to make our way to the D.R.  We are seeking a child 2 years of age or under to keep the birth order of our family.

How are you preparing?
Yes, we will be a "mixed" family (transracial, conspicuous, or whatever you would like to call it).  This simply means that people may look at us a little different since we won't all have the same skin color.

So,
1. We're trying to prepare for adoption and attachment in general (here's a read).
2. We'll continue to try to understand life as a transracial family (thanks to currently being in seminary I have found numerous published journal articles on this!  Plus, we have other friends who are walking this journey already).
3. The racial tension in our country is real, so we also need to be prepared and understanding of various perspectives (in reality, everyone should listen more and talk less).  Thanks again to seminary for helping with this in a cross-cultural context class (and more helpful resources are here and here).
4. Learning about the culture of the D.R. for our future child's benefit.

At the end of the day, adoption is a past-tense verb.  It is not an adjective that will define our child.  When he or she becomes a part of our forever family, they will simply be our "child."  We don't refer to our other children as "c-section children."  While adoption will be part of the story, it will reflect the past more than the present or future.

What Can I Do to Help with the Adoption?
1. Prayer. Lots of it.
2. Be a future babysitter.  To those of you who help with our current childcare, you are playing a major role in the expansion of our family.  You are helping to form our current children and will also with our future children.  Do not take this lightly, because we do not.  You are amazing!
3. Donate your frequent flyer miles to help with airfare.
4. If you'd like to support our journey financially, then visit  https://www.adopttogether.org/strahmsadopt to make a tax-deductible contribution.  Every dollar helps as you play a role in the adoption.

If you'd like to take a deeper look at faith and adoption then Russell Moore's Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches is a great read.

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