Although there was a time when I thought it was.
Back in my naive, idealistic youth, before we had kids, adoption was our Plan B. “If we can’t have children, we’ll…” and all that. Truth be told, I was bloody scared that we wouldn’t be able to have children – because then we’d have to face the messy reality of adoption, and I wasn’t sure if I could cope. When we found out we were expecting Mister, I let out a huge inward sigh of relief. Now we could continue ignoring the A word.
Back then, adoption was only a Plan B – something you considered only when all other doors had been slammed in your face. In my naivety – and I’m incredibly ashamed to write this now – I would wonder why childless couples didn’t ‘just adopt’, as if it were akin to popping to the Post Office for a book of stamps. If this is you, please know that I feel so terribly sorry for this attitude, which came from an immature, misinformed position, and not from a desire to be accusatory or hurtful. Infertility is painful enough, without idiots like me putting unrealistic expectations on you. And whilst, for many couples, infertility can be the trigger which gets them thinking about, and eventually excited about, adoption, it is not a given that just because you can’t have children naturally, you will automatically be in a mental, emotional, social and financial position to adopt. And, of course, you may just not want to – and that’s fine. Adoption is a big ask. It is certainly not Plan B.
For us, adoption has become Plan A. And I’m always expecting people to ask us why we’re not planning any more birth children, but they never do. Perhaps they think it’s too personal? Perhaps they’re worried that there’ll be some medical details which will be just a little too gross? Or perhaps they genuinely don’t care? Whatever the reason, I can’t believe people aren’t just a teeny bit curious. The truth is, I’ve been fortunate enough to have fairly easy pregnancies and labours. There have been no conception problems in the past, and no reason to believe there would be in the future. We could withdraw at any point of this adoption process, and, to the best of our knowledge, find ourselves expecting – naturally – within a few months. We are not adopted, nor do we have any adoption in the family. In short, our motivation to adopt is not based on any practical, medical or historical reasons – our motivation has, in fact, come from the sense that God is calling us to expand our family in this way. Adoption was always God’s Plan A for bringing human beings into His heavenly family – and so He calls many people to consider it as a Plan A for their earthly family too. We don’t expect this to be perfectly understandable to those without a faith, but there it is, and we can’t change it.
Let me try to explain how we feel about pursuing adoption. We feel as excited as we did when we were expecting our two birth children. We have no qualms about being able to love all of our children, birth or adopted, equally. We don’t see adoption as ‘parenting someone else’s child’. Although God hasn’t actually closed my womb (to the best of my knowledge), it wouldn’t feel right to try and conceive again. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to have a child by adoption. None of these feelings would be true if God hadn’t intervened to change our hearts and minds on the matter.
Adoption was Plan B. Now it’s Plan A.
(And, listen: for the record, I’m cool with answering your questions. Please don’t feel there’s anything you can’t ask. If you want to tell us we’re mad fools, please do it. We’re going to have to become pretty smart at talking through issues, emotions and identities with our adopted child as they grow up – so we might as well get good at it now.)