Friday, June 17, 2011

Rich, Crazy or Angelic?

As this is our first adoption, we are just starting to experience the reactions of others towards the news of our adoption. The fact that we are considering relocating our family to Kenya for upwards to a year, does make the process a bit different than most... so it is to be expected that most reactions are going to be more extreme.

It appears that people seem to immediately categorize us as different from them. We are doing something they could never do, because:

We must be rich.  I wish. No, we are not rich. We are no different than the rest of you who struggle to pay their bills, children's braces, hockey lessons etc. To afford this adoption, we have sold our boat, and will likely have to mortgage a piece of property that we own out of town (read - retirement fund) or we will have to sell it. Most people who adopt do not come from a great deal of money. They too, beg, borrow and fundraise to make it happen. Where this is a will, there is a way - and people find the money.

We must be crazy. Okay, perhaps a little. But in the sense that we love adventure and view a relocation as a great learning opportunity for us all! Just to be sure that we are not completely nutz, we did ask our social worker! Ha! She felt this was a fantastic opportunity for our family and that they kids are at a perfect age to do this! So there you go - professional approval! ;)
Anyone is capable of this... Yes, work does get in the way doesn't it? But - many people take their maternity leave during this period so it does not interfere with work. Because we are self employed, we are not entitled to mat. leave unfortunately. Which, actually makes it more difficult for us financially.

We are Angels. Yes, we were initially compelled by the desire to help - but I really don't consider us Angels (at all! lol). Perhaps we are being guided by Angels... but that is as far as I will go. I honestly think that we will take more away from this experience than what we will be able to give. Giving is truly the best gift that one can experience, and there is not a feeling on this earth that can compare. 

The fact that we are about to embark on this amazing journey, must mean we are different in someway - otherwise everyone else would be doing it as well. So what is it? I've thought about this often. Why don't more people adopt? The only things that I can think of, is they have not been "touched" by adoption. Adoption is an amazing thing... but typically something that one does not think about unless they have read a blog, heard a story or met an adopted child, or an adoptive family. Seeing all those Haitian babies crammed into a small mud hut after the earthquake, is what got to me.  When I started to google - my heart became overwhelmed with amazing adoption stories. Many of which are in the blogs that I have posted to the right. 

Why was I so impacted by the Haitian orphans, or the adoption stories of others?  My heart was unlocked as a child in Grade 7... I still have vivid memories of the little African boy from the African Children's Choir telling me the story of how soldiers came into his village and he watched them kill his parents. He was able to escape and run for safety into the jungle. The look in his eyes as he was telling me his story, stunned me! I recall just being fascinated by the courage of his words while searching for the sadness in his eyes. I was shocked that this little boy wasn't crying. I expected him to react in a way that I would have, or any other Canadian child would have. He was 8. I now know that he had built up a guard. One that protected him and enabled him to survive. What I thought was an eery blankness in his eyes, was indeed an disengagement from his trauma. He pushed that so far down, buried it deep. I wonder now if that little boy was ever able to feel safe enough to let it all out and cry for the loss of his families and the trauma that affected him so. 

There also was the tale of one boy who raised his 3 month old sister for months in the jungle when he was 3. 3! His parents too were killed by rebel soldiers. This little boy would experience overloads - a couple times he would just run and hide in the furthest, darkest place he could hide. I remember crawling in to coax him out of stacks of hundreds of chairs in the school gymnasium when the teachers could not convince him to come out. I too had no luck and eventually one his African guardians had to come in and talk him out. The trauma that these children had endured was unfathomable by me at the time. 

Amazing enough was the joy and life these children had! They had experienced the worst of the worst... but yet a balloon would literally make their smile light up a room! They were so appreciative of life and everything around them. You could not help but feel compelled to be around them, to help them, to teach them, and to love them. Because of these joyful souls, "Africa" got into my bones and would help create the story that is now unfolding before us. 

But I digress (majorly I think :).

So the only thing I am left with now is the thought that I was obviously very much so impacted by the African children I had spent time with when I was 12. This experience opened my heart and allowed me to be so deeply affected by the the images of the Haitian orphans, that it propelled me to investigation adoption. (Just goes to show you how life experience as a child can plant seeds for the future!) Since then, I have been touched by many adoption stories and really feel that this is the path we should be on. I hope this explanation can (kinda sorta?) make sense to those of you that really think we have fallen off our rocker... While anyone can do this, it may not be right for everyone for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it is just not your calling. There certainly is always room behind the scenes to support those who are adopting though! One cannot solely adopt on their own! It takes a great deal of support! You can help by lending a supportive ear, support a fundraiser, offer assistance with child care etc. There are a million ways that you can help an orphan come home! You don't have to be rich or crazy... but you may just be someone's Angel!

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” - Martin Luther King Jr.

(I know, I always leave my man out of the equation... While I may be the driving force in this "adoption", my man is the driving force to relocate to Kenya. He traveled to Africa when he was young boy and has fond memories of it. The images that were burned in his mind of many starving children, disabled with polio, etc... is his adoption motivation. Experiencing this African culture as a child is his motivation for the relocation. He would like to give our children the same opportunity to experience another culture... to live it and breathe it. One day - I'll get him to come out of the shadows and write a post.)


Sarah said...

I love this post Jolene. I think you should send it to Sharla for the Adoption Magazine!

Jo said...

Thanks Sarah! Funny that you should say that, as Sharla just contacted me a couple days ago about posting this (and another) over at the Adoption Magazine! You should see it re-posted in the near future!
Glad you enjoyed it... ;)