“A child is abandoned every 18 seconds.”
Over two years ago and just hours before I met my daughter, I was given a document that explained where she had been abandoned. In that moment, I was simply grateful she would be in my arms that day. I couldn’t wait to meet the pretty 15 month old who had been given to us by God and her beautiful birth country!
Then, just last week, a kind friend sent me a photo of the place my daughter was found. It was not at all how I had imagined it. It was dangerous! This was no place to leave a baby. My eyes filled with tears. I was not ready for this. That baby girl was not just any baby. She was my beautiful, dancing, singing, graceful and gentle daughter. “How could they leave her THERE?!”
On the day my daughter was born, she went from the warmth and safety of the womb to being left alone and cold on the ground. Why was this a punch in my gut? A mother’s heart has no room for injustice against her child. Sadly, my daughter’s beginning is the story of hundreds of thousands of children.
I was 25 years old when I heard about the problem of abandonment of little girls in a certain country. I knew that my daughter would come from that country, despite the fact that we had to be 30 to adopt. And even though God blessed us with 3 biological children, I knew our other daughter was waiting half the world away. I researched as we waited.
My daughter’s birthparents would probably live in a very poor, rural area. Her birthmother would be heartbroken on the day of her birth. The baby she had carried would not be the hoped-for son. She would not be able to keep a baby girl. The rural areas depend on boys to carry on the work of their fathers, to grow up and care for his elders. Girls grow up, get married and move to care for their husband’s family. And a strictly enforced policy keeps the number of children per family in urban settings to only one, while rural families are allowed two children.
My daughter’s birthparents had very few choices. I am grateful they chose to keep her, not abort or kill her. They could have sold her for money. They didn’t. They risked much as abandoning a child is illegal. I love them for leaving her where she could be found quickly. I am grateful for the “mamas” (what my daughter called her round-the-clock caregivers) who lovingly nurtured her. They had very little to give but, they dearly loved the babies in their care. I can’t help wonder if my dear daughter’s parents hoped she could come to America. I also can’t help but think about how much we have in comparison. We, as Americans, have the resources to make a difference. What are we willing to sacrifice to save a life?
I think this question is nothing new to mothers of multiples. You understand sacrifice. Your lives are packed with love-filled stories of sacrifice of your body, your sleep, your time, your expectations, and sometimes even your sanity for little lives. But I think you understand something more deeply than most people. You know that laying down your life, though tiring, is actually life giving. And really, what do we sacrifice compared to so many birthparents’ sacrifice because of disease, war, child-restricting policies, abusive circumstances, and poverty like we do not like to imagine.
Would you please ask yourself the following questions?
Do you and your spouse share the desire to adopt?
Is there a certain age, race, country that you feel particularly drawn to?
Will your family lend their support?
If any answers are “no”, you need to talk it out with your family. You cannot adopt a child without a mutual desire. There are so many other ways you can help. To name a few: you can give financially to help with a friend’s adoption and, you can sponsor a child through many wonderful organizations.
If your answers are “yes”, please begin your research. Let me assure you: You are never ready for the work it takes. You will not have the resources. You will have to sacrifice. But, I know you get that! The mountains of paperwork, the hoops you must jump through, the emotions, the travel all fades like the pains of childbirth. Nothing can compare you for the day you meet YOUR child.
My precious daughter prays every night and says, “Jesus, thank you for my ‘flamly’.” Honestly, I have never taught her to pray that. I think she deeply understands something I cannot. Even at 3 years old, she knows family is HER gift from God. I hope someday, in spite of her finding place, she will believe something else. I hope she will also understand deeply what the names mean that we chose for her. Everyday at naptime I hold Grace like a baby and look into her black, almond shaped eyes. And when I do, she looks up at me because she knows what Mommy will say. I tell her what those names mean. “Grace, you are our little pearl of grace. You are our precious gift!” And she smiles.