This is a post that I have thought a lot about but still don’t have a clue how to start it or what to all say. This is the topic that is so dear to me that I rarely share my true emotions with those around me because I know some of my points of view offend people. I don’t think this will be my best post ever but hopefully I get my thoughts across!
We adopted Sofie from Bulgaria. She was just about 3.5 years old when she came home with us in August 2011. She only weighed 19lbs, had dark circles under her eyes, a bald patch of hair on the back of her head and a raw, open, sore rash all over her bum. Shock of all shocks, she has Down syndrome… and we requested a daughter with Down syndrome!
Jon and I always intended on adopting a child with special needs. It was something we were committed to early on in our dating relationship. He has his own story about coming to that decision. For me, it was my home share sister, Maggy, that really influenced this choice. I had talked about adoption since I was young, but it wasn’t until Maggy came when I was 16, that I wanted to include a differently-abled person in my own family future. When Livi was 18 months old, I tentatively suggested that maybe it would be kind of awesome to adopt another little girl sooner than later. He stopped for only a second to think about it, then wholeheartedly said “I think that could be kind of awesome.” We are truly blessed to have been so well matched for each other in the parenting department. We agree on almost everything when it comes to our kids and how to expand our family.
The whole adoption process only took 18 months from start to finish. That is very fast by adoption standards. The reason being is we didn’t have to wait for a referral of a child. There are thousands, if not millions, of children with special needs and health issues waiting for families that people don’t even consider. People will pay tens of thousands of dollars and put their bodies through hell with fertility treatments, then as a second choice wait years and years on a wait list for a “healthy” baby to adopt. I don’t get it. Seriously, I have a hard time understanding and empathizing with this way of thinking.
Here is where my really inflammatory views come in… The world is grossly overpopulated. Humans are sucking the Earth’s natural resources dry. The Earth can not sustain this ballooning population, especially in our wasteful society. People have too many children while there are millions upon millions of orphans in the world. It was one thing to have a handful of kids 100 years ago, with the mortality rate so high and young as well as needing a large family to work on the farm. It is quite another to have numerous children this day and age for our own desires. If society would change their attitude about adoption being a second choice, the world might not be so overpopulated and there wouldn’t be so many orphans in the world.
I know my thoughts on this are different than most and I’m not trying to offend or judge people… unless you have 10 birth kids, then I might judge you 🙂 It is just something that I do feel strongly about. We are all different and think differently. Maybe I just don’t fully understand. I know I don’t understand the struggle with infertility because it is not something I’ve ever had to deal with personally. From the various reactions that our family gets, I know that many people don’t really understand us. It is obviously a complex issue that is emotionally charged… maybe I should delete these last paragraphs, but that would be very unlike me.
Adoption was NEVER a second choice for us and Sofie is perfectly healthy! Down syndrome does not mean the person is sick, unhealthy, diseased or even really disabled. Jon and I wanted to expand and grow our family through adoption. Plain and simple. Just as a couple might decide to try and get pregnant, we decided to adopt. Our only parameters were that she was a little girl, born in 2008 or later and had Down syndrome.
I don’t really know how to make people who don’t understand our reasons for choosing Down syndrome get it. We’ve gotten some pretty amusing and angering responses when we have told people we were adopting or have adopted a child with DS. Wide eyes, responses like “Why would you do that?”, “Did you know she had Down’s when you got her?” and “We only want more like Livi” were spewed back to us. Depending on my mood and temperament at the time, I handled each response differently with or without the grace that was required.
Honestly, my best answer right now to why we would choose a child with Down syndrome is “Why not?” Why not choose this precious child? Why is it better to choose a child that society views as ‘perfect’? No one is perfect – each of us is unique. In a way, Down syndrome was the easy choice for us because I had so much experience with extra chromosomes! We love the dynamics and awesomeness that people with different abilities bring to life and the community around them. We wanted to ensure our family was a a big part of that community.
My hope is that one day that community becomes everyone’s community and society in general. I hope that people with Down syndrome are not overlooked for adoption. I hope they aren’t seen as the second rate children, especially since an adopted child is frequently looked at as second choice already. I hope more people consider adoption and at least change their views towards it! I hope more people get to experience the awesome and challenging journey we are on!
We did not adopt to save the world, to follow God or be seen as Saints. You don’t have to be religious to adopt, which was another assumption a lot of people made. Through this process I did experience God in a way I hadn’t before. Despite being raised a Christian, neither Jon nor I were practicing in any traditional sense at the time. We adopted because it was a desire of ours. It was how we wanted to expand our family. We wanted to experience adoption, just like some one might want to experience pregnancy.
People sometimes say that Sofie is lucky to have us, but the opposite is true. We are so blessed to be her parents and in her world. We are better people because of her. She is perfect.