Please Reconsider That T-Shirt

This is so true! No adopted child is “saved”, “fortunate”, “lucky” to be adopted so don’t advertise it!

PLEASE RECONSIDER THAT T-SHIRT

March 12, 2014

This isn’t a fashion blog (wouldn’t that be fun!), but let’s talk about clothing. And I’m sure you’re wondering how this topic could possibly relate to adoption, but I promise it does.

I remember the first time I saw one. The lady was confidently wearing it and toting her transracially adopted child in her arms. And then I saw another one sported by a mom who was holding the hand of an unknowing toddler with black hair and dark brown eyes.

One Less Orphan was screen-printed on the first mama’s shirt. Just ADOPT!  said the second mother’s tee.

With the same cotton fabric but with different texts and graphics, similar t-shirts say:

Save the children! (with a graphic of the country of China)
Orphan No More
147 Million Orphans
Expecting… (and then a graphic of Ethiopia… or China… or Korea…)
Adopt Ethiopia!
147,000,000 orphans… minus 1!
Change One Life

or a t-shirt that gives statistics of third world countries and then the words, Adopt One!

Before I write any further, I realize that the people who make and wear these pieces (or dress their kids in them) are likely coming from a place of love. They mean no harm. In fact, they are likely compassionate and creative and want to care for children just like you and I do.

But when I see these t-shirts, I cringe, recognizing the incredible amount of attention they put on adopted children. Just walk a day in the life of a transracially adopted child, and you’ll see he already gets copious amounts of attention given the mismatched appearance he has with his parent(s).

Then add the presence of one of the t-shirts, pushing him into the spotlight further and without his consent, and it screams, “THIS KID WAS AN ORPHAN!” It makes the child, even if unintentionally, the poster child for international adoption or for orphan care. Yes, the child instantly becomes an advertisement for adoption.

Beyond the issue of elevating the child as an ambassador for international adoption, these t-shirts connote far more than the actual words and graphics. Strangers and others start seeing the child as a service project. Or view the first grader as a charity case rather than a boy who likes Legos like his friends. Or perhaps others will believe the child is continually in need of saving or rescuing, given that the a-parents wear these t-shirts again and again and again. Some will fail to see the child as any other child but rather first as an orphan in need of pity.

And what comments and conversations do these t-shirts evoke?

Oh, you’re child is so lucky to have been adopted.
That poor, poor child. He’s so fortunate.

And to think she would have grown up in an orphanage without you.
You’re such an angel for adopting!
She was once so helpless and now she has you!
Thank goodness she could come to America.
I sure hope he grows up to know how lucky he is and what you went through to adopt him.

You can imagine how these comments and ensuing conversations might be internalized by the adopted child and how they may affect identity formation. That, however, could be a whole other blog post.

I understand that these shirts are worn proudly to raise awareness or to celebrate adoption and/or children. I recognize that proceeds for some of these shirts are used to feed and shelter vulnerable children, but could we think of other ways to accomplish these same goals — perhaps ones that do not dehumanize adopted children into numbers or charity cases in their presence? What an unnecessary and tremendous burden to put on adopted children, reducing them and their personal stories to pity, propaganda, and statistics.

I’ve surely stepped on some toes, but I urge you to consider what you might not have already.

* This post was posted originally here.

When Infertility and Adoption Collide

Another article that really hit a nerve for me, as I realise that I too will carry the burden of infertility for the rest of my life. As she writes: “After all, while adoption does grow a family, it isn’t a cure for infertility. It doesn’t erase the pain or the sleepless nights spent weeping for the loss of a dream.”

There were so many things my husband and I didn’t know before we decided to grow our family. We didn’t know how incredibly hilarious preschoolers are. We didn’t know that although a child may be potty “trained,” they might choose not to exercise that skill. We didn’t know how innocently a child can love and how quick they are to forgive. We also didn’t know how intensely angry and out-of-control that same child could be! We didn’t know about the Wild Kratts or Angelina Ballerina. We had no idea about car seat laws. We also didn’t know that we were walking into years of infertility.

About three years ago, my husband and I, quite naïvely, decided to grow our family of two. We began trying to conceive and pursuing our foster care license at the same time. I remember my husband saying, “Let’s just walk through whatever doors God opens,” and, while I was nodding my head in agreement, I was really only thinking of foster care, assuming we’d be pregnant in no time. Well, we walked through the open doors and none of them led to a pregnancy or even a baby.

Those doors led to two gorgeous kids, ages 5 and nearly 3 when they joined our family over a year and a half ago. They have completely changed our world, and, about a month after saying yes to those four precious eyes and twenty continuously dirty little fingers, Joe and I sat in a doctor’s office and were diagnosed with infertility. At that point, I was still in disbelief. I was thinking, “Okay God, You must be letting these littles settle in, and then You will give us a baby.” Nope. That’s not what He was doing. He was just plain ole’ closing doors.

Once I began accepting those closed doors, I realized something profoundly deeper than I ever had before–infertility is about more than not being able to grow a family, and, for that reason, exists independently from adoption. I got honest with myself and openly admitted that I really want a biological child too, especially after seeing and knowing the deep hurts of the two children in my arms. God has written a story of redemption for my two children, as He works in their lives and displays His love for them. I’ve been so thankful to be a part of that story, but I’m still hoping to be a part of another storyline for a child–a story where I protect them from the very beginning, always keeping them safe and loved, where the plot is without trauma, abuse, or tragic loss. I want to walk the journey that God intended for every child from the beginning, not just the journey that has resulted from a broken and fallen world.

Having experienced infertility and adoption both first-hand, I also began to call out all of my prior judgments of people who “just adopted” because they couldn’t get pregnant. First of all, there is no such thing as “just adopting.” Adoption is huge. It isn’t about “just” loving a child. It isn’t “just” a way to grow a family. It isn’t something you “just” do as Plan B. It is hard. It is life changing. It is born out of so much hurt and pain.

And it isn’t for everyone.

Adoption can be expensive. It can take years of waiting. It is emotionally draining, both before and after the adoption is complete. It can mean a completely different lifestyle from what was expected. Anyone who has walked through infertility can also identify with these, as it is also expensive, long, emotionally draining, and definitely outside of one’s expectations of life. While the journey of infertility may be preparing some hearts to be stretched and refined all over again with adoption, it may also be shaping others to move a different direction entirely. After all, while adoption does grow a family, it isn’t a cure for infertility. It doesn’t erase the pain or the sleepless nights spent weeping for the loss of a dream.

Adoption doesn’t end the journey of infertility.

It certainly hasn’t ended ours. We are walking these paths independently from each other. In one moment we may mourn the loss of a dream as we wait on a little pink line that never comes, and, in the next, we are celebrating the amazing act of redemption happening in our children and us through the blessing of adoption. And in each of these moments, we have learned that we can keep praising Christ, because He is our fortress. He holds us up. He supports us. He strengthens us. In the throws of infertility and adoption, He is there standing, proving His faithfulness. 

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13

* This article was first published on www.lifesongfororphans.org.

30 Questions All Adoptees Want Answered

This is a very practical list of questions that most adoptees would want to have answered at some or other time during their life, as they try and piece together who they are and how their story unfolded.

30 Questions All Adoptees Want Answered

Through my work as a court appointed agent with adoptees in search, I have learned that many older adoptees have persistent questions about adoption. As they grew up, they wondered about very basic information but were afraid to ask their parents.

To help other adoptees avoid the same adoption-related identity issues, I made a list of the things that the adoptees I worked with most wanted to know about themselves, their birth parents, and their adoption circumstances. I recommend that adoptive parents try to gather as many answers to these questions about adoption as they can when their children are young and the information is easier to find.

I encourage parents to share this information with their child before adolescence to promote a stronger sense of identity and avoid issues later on. Information that would be matter-of-fact to children at a younger age becomes a crisis if they’re older and don’t know.

I have been busy gathering information to share with my own nine children. It has offered them another piece of who they are.

1. What are my birth parents’ first and middle names?

2. Where was I born (hospital and city)?

3. What time was I born?

4. Were there any complications at the time of my birth?

5. Did my birth mother see me or hold me?

6. Who else was present at my birth?

7. What were the circumstances surrounding my placement?

8. Did my birth mother pick my adoptive family?

9. Did my birth mother know anything about my adoptive family? Did she meet my adoptive parents?

10. What did my birth mother name me?

11. Does anyone else in my birth family know about me? Who knows what?

12. How old were my birth parents when I was born?

13. Were my birth parents married when I was born?

14. Where did my birth parents go to high school? College?

15. What kind of students were they?

16. What religious backgrounds do my birth parents have?

17. What is my ethnic/racial background?

18. Did my birth parents marry each other or anyone else after I was born? Do I have any biological siblings? Do they know about me?

19. Did I go to a foster home after leaving the hospital?

20. What was my foster family’s name? How long was I there?

21. What do my birth mother and birth father look like? May I have a picture of them?

22. Are my birth parents still alive?

23. Do my birth parents love me?

24. Do my birth parents think about me? Did they ever regret their decision?

25. Do my birth parents have any special talents, hobbies, or interests?

26. What traits did I inherit from my birth parents? Personality? Looks? Talents?

27. Did my birth parents write to me over the years (journal/letters in a file)?

28. Are there any medical concerns I should know about?

29. If I called my birth parents or wanted to meet them someday, what would they do?

30. What should I call my birth parents?

*This post was originally published here.

When orphan care goes bad: Russell Moore on why adoption is not for everyone – The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/03/17/when-orphan-care-goes-bad-russell-moore-on-why-adoption-is-not-for-everyone/

Swanepoel Family Shoot!

We recently had our first family photo shoot! While it was quite chaotic trying to get Siya to look at the camera and cooperate, it was a wonderful experience! Very grateful to be able to look at these pictures and see how our Heavenly Father creates families, and to realise that family is not determined by blood and genetic make-up only, but also by love and doing life together! Thank you Marleen of Stroopsoet.Photography for these wonderful memories made. 102Stroopsoet (91 of 151) Stroopsoet (110 of 151) Stroopsoet (131 of 151) Stroopsoet (135 of 151) Stroopsoet (137 of 151) Stroopsoet (139 of 151) Stroopsoet (144 of 151) Stroopsoet (148 of 151)
108 109 110 114 Stroopsoet (16 of 151) Stroopsoet (19 of 151) Stroopsoet (22 of 151) Stroopsoet (54 of 151) Stroopsoet (57 of 151) Stroopsoet (70 of 151) Stroopsoet (117 of 151)These pictures were taken at the University of Pretoria’s main campus, such beautiful buildings!

Wednesday Wisdom 11/03/2015

“Adoption graphically and intimately describes the family character of Pauline Christianity, and is a basic description for Paul of what it means to be a Christian.”

Trevor Burke

* From the book Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor