Turning 36 was the turning point of my life (for those of you counting that was 10 years ago). For some people 30 or 40 are milestones in their life. For me 36 represented the downhill fast slide to 40 and I was in a downright snit over it. This did not play well in our household. Mark would ask me what I wanted for my birthday and I would say "NOTHING". I had an all out pity party going and it was ugly! He was nice and patient at first but after awhile of asking he very wisely quit. My birthday comes and he hands me a birthday card. I open it and there is a note in there saying that he has given $50.00 on my behalf to a charity to feed starving children.
God has such a wonderful sense of humor. I giggle now even as I think of that birthday. That was the best birthday present I have EVER received in my entire life. It wasn't just a donation it was a wake up call, it was a literal revelation. It was like God said this girl needs some help and walked up and did one of those V-8 smacks upside my head and knocked some sense in there. It was like stepping outside of myself and realizing the world didn't revolve around Elaine and life wasn't about how old I was, it was about living and what I could do. Because I turned 36 years old somebody who was hungry just got fed (thank you Mark)! I realized that age didn't matter, the clock is always ticking so what did I want to do with the rest of my life?
This started me on a new journey and I decided I needed to be more thankful. While watching an Oprah show she suggested we think of something everyday to be thankful for. This sounded like a great idea. Geez what a novel idea (insert sarcasm here). Well that's how it happened sorry to be corny. As I thanked God everyday for something, sometimes different things, sometimes the same I came to realize something. I had a lot. Not wealth per se but I was blessed. I had love in my life, I was warm and dry and every night I went to bed in clean smelling sheets and was comfortable. I had a lot of food. I had a big house with empty rooms. I started to wonder if I could do more than just give to charities and realized I had a lot of extra time on my hands. Soon I began to obsess about those that didn't have what they needed. It became something I felt passionate about.
My 2 older children (who are the greatest :-) were getting ready to leave for college. More empty rooms... I didn't have a career...more time on my hands... it just seemed like the natural thing to do was to start praying about adoption. It fit. We adopted a joyful little girl from China in 2005. She runs around the house laughing and looks like a little sprite. We are now paperchasing for our son and brother. Why? Because we can ;-).
I am frequently asked this question and am always surprised to hear it. Not because it is a bad question but because it was never a question for me. I had been hearing for years about the orphans in China and knew there was a need there, so it just stood to reason that is where I would go. It was just that simple. For me it was never about China having girl orphans or what they looked like or the actual country. I loved children + I had the means + Chinese child needs family/love = adoption. It fit together for us like a beautiful puzzle.
America has virtually gotten rid of orphanages. This is good in one way and bad in others. Obviously good because our children are not in institutions anymore. Bad because sometimes they are now stuck in the foster care system. The foster care system is set up with the goal to reunite the children with their birth families. This is a very noble goal, but often unattainable. They are placed in foster care because their parents are deemed unfit or unable to parent them. Substance abuse is a factor in 75% of these cases. Parents are given chances over and over to be reunited with their children only to have it fail and the child go back into foster care. The very system set up to protect these children have now put them in a vicious cycle. While we need good foster parents in America, there were a lot of factors to this scenario which would not make this a good fit for our family. We have/had other children in our household who need a stable environment that introducing a foster child could threaten, and I did not think my heart could take attaching to a child only to have them leave. Foster care is a very bureaucratic system that is not for the faint hearted. Please keep in mind that this is a simplified explanation to a very complex answer.
China has one of the most straight forward and consistent systems for foreign adoptions. While there are many qualifications to adopt from China it is set up so that it benefits their orphans who need homes. These children have been abandoned because of the one child policy and do not have a family or any known parents to take care of them. Some of these children will have no chance for domestic adoption in China. America protects the right of biological parental rights and actually makes it quite complicated to adopt foster children in America.
So why China? I believe God led us there. I believe he knew there were 2 children there that were to be ours. When something is right it just fits.
"I don't want to bring another kid into this world. But how do you argue against
loving one that's already here?" Martian Child