October is Down syndrome awareness month, and November is Adoption Awareness month. If I’m passionate about two things, these are them: down syndrome & adoption. Check the majority of the accounts I follow on Instagram – they are accounts of those who have adopted a child with Down syndrome. A crazy notion for those who have never encountered the love and wonder of an individual with almond eyes. And for many who have, a crazy notion still. From a young age, this has been my heart. After my brother was born, I knew I wanted a child with Down syndrome, and when I realized that’s not something you get to choose for your bio kiddos, I knew I wanted to adopt.
There was never one definitive moment when I knew adoption was in my future. It was always in me. Threaded in my DNA. Three of my favorite movies as a child (and still today tbh) were “Anne of Green Gables,” “Annie,” and “The Little Princess.” Can you guess what they all have in common? Yes, orphans. Adoption. All the goodness. Of course, this was not my conscious decision to only enjoy movies where an orphan was the lead character. It just happened. But today, I can see how the theme of adoption has been a beautiful refrain in my life. God certainly called me to this from the very beginning. And has confirmed it time and time again. I have doubted many major life decisions – do I want to be a teacher? Do I want to live in Michigan? Do I want to pursue a Master’s Degree? – but never, not once, have I doubted this call to adopt.
Then, at age 18, I met him. My little prince. In a small village on the other side of the world. A 2-year-old boy with Down syndrome. He sat there, moaning to himself, eyes looking into the distance. No tears, no smiles, seemingly expressionless. I remember this moment like it was yesterday. He did nothing, said nothing, but I knew. He was mine. “Lord,” I urged, “please give him a smile.” Days passed, I snuggled him, tossed him in the air, read to him, tickled him, gave him a world of kisses. Zilch. “Lord, please. Bring him joy.” It was during my final days in his country – he was laying on his back and I looked him in the eyes, smiling bright, talking to him, rubbing his tummy. And there it was. His mouth did the most gentle curve upward and his eyes folded into slivers. “Jesus, thank you. thank you. thank you a million times over for your joy.” From that day on, my little prince was smiley. Giggly, even. Full of the joy of the Lord. And all too affectionate.
Our hearts were connected the day I laid eyes on him, as only the Lord can complete. Chinese tradition calls this connection “the red thread.” I have told select few that I loved him like he was mine. Like I imagined I would love my biological children someday. It felt intense, beautiful, nonsensical. And once I met D (my biological son, if you don’t know me) for the first time, I knew the love was the same. The kind of steal-your-breath, make-you-wonder-what-you-did-to-deserve-this, on-top-of-the-world love. Oy, it changes you.
So there’s my heart – an open book once again. In a few years (because laws) and counting, we are going to fight for our then-teenage-prince, so that we may actually, legally call him ours. We are believing for this, and we trust God’s faithfulness to meet each and every need along the way. As we wait and prepare, we will continue to pursue and pray for this special boy. Adoption is exciting, and truly a picture of the Gospel. That doesn’t make it easy. I have witnessed the great heartache that presents itself in the adoption journey. But I have seen the orphan. I have looked them in the eyes. I have held them in my arms. And when you have met them? When you know their names? You can’t walk away unchanged. There isn’t a mountain I wouldn’t move to bring them care, justice, education, safety, love, and a family to call their own. Fortunately, I am not alone! Our God is the Father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), and the mover of mountains.
When I share my heart and passion for orphan justice, people begin to defend why they never adopted, why they never could, why they are not interested. AND THAT IS OKAY. You’ve heard it here, folks: not everyone is called to adopt. James 1:27 tells us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the word.” Everyone IS called to look after the orphan. And that means whatever it means for you -adoption, advocacy, prayer, financial support, foster care, sponsorship, emotional support, education – but it doesn’t mean nothing.
Happy Adoption Awareness Month to all those families who have adoption written in their stories already and to all those families yet to bring their baby home. One less is one less. Until there are no more.