I’ve been around personal adoption stories. Friends who were adopted, friends who adopted by choice, friends who adopted because that was the only option, adoption that saved lives, adoption that challenged. I’ve read adoption stories online, pondered the wisdom gleaned from others, prepared myself and hungered for the experience, even as I fear its burden.
We planned to adopt, then suddenly found out Aria was going to come instead. And now that she’s 1, we’re kind of back in a loose, slow conversation about how this perspective on what love and family and space and kingdom means for us...and when and where.
Then it kind of seemed like it might hit us in the face.
Side note: At the moment, it doesn’t look like it. This communication ground to a halt. We’ll see if it crops back up, but for now, we don’t think a brown son is in our immediate future.
And here’s the thought that came to me that had never occurred to me before ever in all my history of thinking about adoption:
They probably have families. Maybe big ones.
Mind-blowingly simple, right? I mean, we imagine these kids whose parents have disappeared or died, but how many of them are abandoned because they tip the scales of what the family can handle? In other words, they are just the extra around the edges that must be trimmed off so that the original family members can survive. And while this is heart-breaking in and of itself (and why I think organizations like Compassion International and World Vision are doing such brilliant work in helping families keep their kids and raise them well), what was new to consider were the siblings.
In our situation, we would adopt a child here in Peru (and plan to), knowing full well that the child will move back to the United States with us at some point. Somehow, knowing there are four older brothers and sisters makes that less...fitting. The parents choose to let go, fine. We are aware that it is a possibility and are ready to fill that gap. But a big brother or big sister doesn’t get to make that decision. It just happens. And maybe the grandmother or aunt is incapable of caring for a child, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t provide value in relationship with the child as they grew up.
What about the rest of the family? Doesn’t the fact that there are immediate blood relatives right here, fully known, make adoption into a family like ours not ideal? That we would not only rescue a child from hunger and need, but also steal the child from those who already love him/her, just aren’t in a position to give complete care.
I still love adoption and see the grace and sacrifice and acceptance and faith in it. I want desperately to adopt, at some point. But now I know that I will not be able to wrap a child in my arms and somehow see them as mine, and mine alone. Not ever. Because somewhere, someone is related to them by blood. Adoption doesn’t negate that; it expands it. We don’t cut them off from their origins to redefine their existence. We just give them another path to join so they don’t have to walk alone anymore. And someday we may be back down the road to know if those original ties still connect any dots. Adoption not only grafts in a new branch to a family tree, it grafts in a connection to another tree entirely.
I just never thought about the brothers and sisters.