Well, today I got one such experience, by someone totally uniformed on our lives, and woefully inaccurate in their understanding of things. In my attempt to deal with my own discomfort in this experience, I wanted to fire off something to clarify this. It is honestly not for any reader necessarily, but for my own need to put it out there and process it myself.
We have had a few posts lately about our puzzle fundraiser. To clarify - this is our fundraiser to go directly to adoption fees, and adoption fees only. That is it. We are doing fundraisers because people have asked us how to help and expressed dismay at the cost of adoption. So, we are letting people know. If you are not spoken to by God about contributing, please don't. Please don't. These funds go directly into our "adoption jar" which pays directly only to our adoption fees. Adoption is costly. It is wonderful, it is needed, it is a huge blessing. But it is costly. We figure to adopt the two girls who need us it will run around $25,000. So far we are more than a third of the way into paying that. The majority of that we have paid out of our own pockets. We HAVE gotten some donations, one very nice one, and every single penny helps! We are very thankful for each person who has come alongside us in this. We have been told - "I wish I could do what you are doing, but I can't" for a variety of reasons. Age, health, spousal wishes, on and on. I completely get it. We are all called to be there for the widow and the orphan. It is very clearly stated in the Bible. I can give you a long list of scriptures if you would like. But, I know that there are many things in this life that I CANNOT do, or actually, I could try, but you really wouldn't want me to. You wouldn't like the end result. It isn't my gifting or what I have patience for. I get it if this isn't your gifting. It is no criticism on you that it isn't, just as it isn't a criticism of me that I am not a Wall Street bank tycoon or something.
The fundraising is not for day to day living expenses or additions to the house, or the remodeling that we are doing to fix the bedroom situation. We can afford to raise our children, feed our children, pay our bills, and do what we do on a daily basis. Our children are well rounded, well experienced, well loved and doted upon. We are grateful for blessings like hand me downs or whatever that stretches our budget, but what family isn't? A bummer that gas is so costly, so we are paring down our trips to accommodate that. It is LIVING WITHIN a BUDGET. None of any donations to the adoption fund goes to living expenses. It goes directly to payments to the adoption agencies. If you do not feel like this is a good idea, please entirely disregard it. If you do, feel free to help, or simply send prayers. I feel every one of those prayers!
I know many people would disagree with how we choose to spend our lives. I get it. It isn't about proving anything to anyone or saving the world. It is about doing what we can, loving what we do. It is about loving each blessing in our lives. No, we won't drive new cars, we won't have a fancy house, we won't go on fancy vacations to lovely places. But I wouldn't trade it for the morning I had with my kids this morning. With knowing that my kids are growing healthy and strong. I cannot imagine life without any one of them. I won't have a fancy retirement, fancy furniture, or what not. I honestly don't care. That isn't what I want. At the end of my life, I know that I mattered to each one that lived in my home. I know that my life stood for something - loving those God has placed in my life. At the end of the day, if everything I owned in the world were to disappear tonight, but each member of my family was safe and intact, I would not shed a single tear. Yes, we could "do much better" if we didn't have so many dependents. If you consider that "doing better". I don't. I don't criticize those who do.
In the meantime, we are moving forward. I found a way to juggle and work two full days a week, with an entire half of that going to our adoption fees. It makes a difference. How quickly or slowly we go in this process depends upon this. We are budgeting, selling, fundraising, working, and enjoying life. At this point, I am so hurt by the comments that I got that it makes me just want to dig in my heels and go back to saying "never mind, we will do it entirely ourselves". Maybe that is the way to go. Except the person who said it has never seen our home that we have been at for nearly five years, has seen our family maybe twice a year in the past few years, and probably wouldn't recognize any of the kids if they passed on the street on the street (the homegrown as well as the adopted). Okay, that is my mean comment. I am finding it hard to take comments as valid from people with that little perspective.
So, just to clarify, if God moves in your heart to help with the adoption fees, I want you to know that any bit of donation goes directly to the adoption fees. We aren't even to the point of looking at travel fees. We are hoping by then our tax return will be in. The adoption tax credit will be great - if it ever arrives. At this point, we are moving forward without it. We have to. We were hoping it would be here by now to cover these fees, and it should have been, given when we filed. Sigh, that is another frustration, but there is nothing we can do about that. God must have a reason for that too.
Thanks for letting me vent, if you made it this far.
There are some days that we notice that not only are a "conspicuous family", and a "large family", but in other ways considered "not normal". Yes, my kids don't all look like me. Yes, some of them had hard starts. But each one is a child of God, deserving of a family and a good life. I am so grateful for each and every one of them. I DO realize that with this adoption, we will have ten children, way over what is considered "normal". That is OK. I honestly cannot imagine adopting again. I cannot imagine it. But you know what, when I look at each precious face, when I see them developing into the amazing people they were created to be, there is no counting the cost. A week on a beach? That is what we need for the homestudy or for travel expenses. I would gladly trade. Not for the beach. That gives me a week of selfish comfort. I will take these young lives instead.
Someone asked me once when it was "enough". At this moment, I am convinced that it is "enough" when the girls get home. I cannot imagine what would convince us to do this again - even if we had all the money in the world. We laugh and say that our dream someday is to know of another adoptive family, working their way towards bringing their kids home, and handing them all the money they need. Anonymously, but I well know the joy. It isn't that the money is what counts - it is what it means for a child's life. I am convinced that we will have reached our limit with these girls. Who knows what God will say later? There is so much need in the world. When we cannot raise any more children, there are so many things we can do to make a difference. We CHOSE to adopt these two little girls because we wanted one more go round with little ones, because we knew that we had something special to offer them, and because NOW was the time as we feel we need twenty strong years to raise these children. Someone who interviewed us finally got it. He looked at us and said, "This is your ministry, your children are your ministry.". I will never forget looking in his eyes and feeling like there was finally someone who "got us". He understood it. This is our joy, our passion, our love, and our skill. God has placed each member of our family here and we are doing the best possible for each and every one - and that doesn't mean spoiling them!
I know that our time of raising children is going to be done one day. I adore each and every one of my kids. This is our life now. I don't want any other. I don't want "me time". I want to be with my family every minute that I can. But I also know that when God determines that our mission should move to something else, He will tell us. He has so clearly aligned all this, that we cannot say no. And knowing the blessings even when it doesn't seem like it should be a blessing - well, it convinces me to go ahead even if it doesn't make sense to others. I will take the laughter around my table. I will take all the chores to keep us going. I will take finding unique ways to raise the funds to adopt the girls - more than I usually make in a year. It is just money. Our budget does not include adoption fees, but every bit that it gets stretched allows something else to be poured back into the adoption fund. Our family budget provides for our day to day expenses. Soccer shoes, horse show entrances, music time, all of that, but not the extensive addition of adoption fees. That we are creative about coming up with - selling items that aren't used, bartering time, starting businesses, being of service, working extra hours. We know that we will get there. We will. If you want to help us along, please do, we are so grateful, you have no idea. If you don't want to or cannot, please, be blessed. I don't expect everyone or anyone to agree with us. But I have eight proofs of the richness of life, of the extravagant blessings of life. How would you choose which one to not have here? I cannot. First I could not imagine them, then I worked to imagine them as possible family members, then I worked to imagine them are real people, and then I met them as real people, real honest to goodness children of God who are such a part of my soul I cannot describe. That is the gift of God. That each member of our family is so rich. So amazing. So real. So who they actually are. The days I think that adopting strangers again is the craziest thing ever, all I end up doing is looking at these delightful young people in my home who I never knew existed a few years ago. And now I cannot imagine life without them. That is maybe what carries me on when I get scared. I remember being scared before each of my homegrown children were born - what if I didn't love the new one like I loved the other? It is the same here. I worry about that - but I live with the proof. Maybe that is the difference this time. I live with the proof times five. I cannot pretend that this kind of life is impossible. That it is impossible for children without a family to have and accept the gift of a family, and for a family to have and accept the gift of a child. This is possible, and lovely and wonderful and challenging, and amazing. I would never be who I am now without them. I never saw this coming, would never have thought that this would be my life. And I wouldn't change a thing.
Thanks for letting me talk it out. I know many people don't understand and never will, but they also have never spent a day in our home. Somehow writing it out has let me let it go. I am so blessed. I am so blessed and grateful, and whatever may come, it will be good. These girls will add to the tapestry of our lives, we will add to theirs, and we will give them a home and a forever family, two parents and eight siblings who will love them for the rest of their lives! I don't need anyone else to understand. I do, my husband does. That is all that matters when you are a family, isn't it?
Love always! Life is too short! Love richly, love wildly, and love fully!
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11