Honoring the Spirit of the Adoption Decision

Honoring the Spirit of the Adoption Decision

I never thought that I’d deliver a child biologically. As a little girl, I can remember saying, “I’m just going to adopt them all.” By “all” I was referring to the orphaned children of the world. Even at a young age, I had a heart broken wide-open for kids without families.

I guess that’s not surprising, as I was an international adoptee who held deep interest in the plight of orphans. I saw myself in the eyes of every little orphaned face featured on the evening news. So very often, their stories would move me to tears. I could not bear the thought of other children losing a parent. It hit too close to home. I just wanted them all to be safe.

The idea of adoption seemed, well, natural. And, it didn’t seem fair that I had been given a family, in America, when so many other children were still without. Honestly, it seemed like an injustice. My solution was to adopt them all. Obviously, this was not a logical plan, but then again children don’t see the same barriers as grownups do.

So, imagine my surprise when, as an adult, I looked at my husband and said, “I’m pregnant!” I was more than surprised; I was shocked. Wonderfully shocked! However, this was not the plan from my childhood.

A couple of years after giving birth to my son, the voice from an earlier time returned. The call to adopt was still imprinted on my heart. I began to seek out adoption with fervent passion.

Only, how and from where would my husband and I be adopting? Now, I’m a firm believer that when you commit to adoption, then there is a child waiting for you somewhere in the world. Our job is to be true to the commitment and focus on the vision of that child.

My husband and I were open to adopting domestically, or internationally. We researched all options. It turned out that both of our adopted children were waiting for us beyond the borders of America: Ian Viktor waited in Russia and Eviana Tiblet waited in Ethiopia.

Many times, over the years, people have questioned why I adopted from other countries when there are so many children in the U.S. in need of families. My answer is always, “I went to where my child was.”

What parent wouldn’t? What parent wouldn’t go the distance to get to their child? I cannot say that the judgments don’t hurt a little. They do. However, it’s my choice to minimize the judgments of adoption and focus on the glory of adopting.

The decision to adopt is such a personal one. It’s not an easy one, nor should it be. We’re dealing with a child’s life, after all. I won’t get into the politics and/or corruption that sometimes top the headlines of adoption; that’s for another time. Unethical adoption exists. It is never okay.

Today, I’m speaking on behalf of ethical adoption and the why of the adoption decision. How we arrive at the decision to adopt, in my belief, is a sacred process. It’s cherished space and should be revered.

For me, adopting was (and remains) a valid form of delivery. As I look back on both of my decisions to adopt, I can see that, in many ways, those decisions were both led by a justice-oriented mind-set and a redemptive heart.

By justice-oriented, I mean that I wanted to bring forever-family to a child who had no option of reunification, no extended family willing to offer a home, and no opportunity for in-country adoption. I desired the return of agency for an orphaned and marginalized child.

At the same time, my faith also played a big part in my decision to adopt. Adoption, for me, is redemptive. Its deepest and strongest foundation is not of humans adopting humans, but of God adopting humans. Adoption is the spirit of being embraced into family. It’s the working blueprint of loving beyond borders. How the adoption spirit is ignited within those who choose to adopt, in my humble opinion, is not to be judged.

There are families today who arrive at the decision to adopt from a place of justice-oriented leadership. They desire to improve the human condition through adopting a child. That’s a beautiful statement of grace. There are also families today who have experienced deep and profound loss and for them, perhaps, adoption is a redemptive choice. It’s a beautiful statement of faith. One form of decision is not better or of a higher status than the other.

We don’t have to understand the why behind a person’s decision to adopt in order to respect that decision. We certainly should not stand in judgment of it. We can do great damage to our adoption community if we allow judgment to take root. Our conversations can become dangerous, if not handled with care.

Family does not solely belong to itself. It belongs to a wider community. I see each of you, dear adoption tribe, as members of my extended family. How we treat each other; how we adopt each other into this wider community, this bigger family, will speak volumes to the world about who we really are.

How can we show up as a community that uplifts, even if we don’t always see eye-to-eye? How can we offer our respect, even when we don’t understand? Who will we choose to be in 2018? These are quality questions to contemplate as we approach a new and exciting year in the adoption arena.

There are millions of children around the world who need families, and thousands of foster children in America who need permanent homes. There are young women, right now, making the selfless choice of finding forever families for their unborn babies. Let’s keep our focus on the children.

I’m so deeply grateful for the pebbles along the road that led me to my kids. And, I am forever moved as I witness the adoption journeys of other families. Thank you for sharing your lives with us. The tapestry of adoption grows daily and it’s a beautiful work of art. For those families who still are waiting to adopt, I offer this advice: live each day as though your prayers of adoption have already been answered.

There’s a quote by Tony Robbins that I love: “Trade your expectations for appreciation.” I believe this quote is relevant for this topic of how we arrive to the adoption decision.

When another person’s decision to adopt does not match our expectation, then that’s when we run the risk of sliding into judgment.

Each of us can help build a kinder community, with a more uplifting and positive language, if we can — in those moments of expectation — make the conscious choice to move quickly into appreciation; in other words, if we can move from the head and into the heart.

Appreciation can be the bedrock from which we create a more welcoming and inclusive adoption community! Let’s appreciate the decision to adopt, no matter what that decision is rooted in, because a child has found a family. That’s the true spirit of adopting: a child has come home.

Written By
Michelle Madrid-Branch

Michelle Madrid-Branch is an author, speaker, and global advocate for women and children. She is the author of Adoption Means Love: Triumph of the Heart, Mascara Moments: Embracing the Woman in the Mirror, and the children’s book, The Tummy Mummy. To learn more about Michelle, please visit MichelleMadridBranch.com