For me, it’s kids. When I hear a news story about kids, whether they’re being neglected or harmed or abused, I feel sick to my stomach. I cannot sleep. I cannot shake it.
My pastor gave a message about ferreting out your cause, years ago. I’m going to paraphrase (and butcher I’m sure) what he said: How as Christians do we know what to give our money, energy, time, etc. to? Is it everything? Is it nothing but the church? Something else? How do we know? And he explained that Jesus said it’s the thing that makes you sick to your stomach. The thing that causes you to react “from the bowels.” That’s your thing.
And babies are my thing. My cause. And I feel confident this is from the Spirit and not just maternal strings being pulled, because I don’t actually like kids that much. (They think I’m weird.)
Adopting is something that my husband and I both mentioned when we were about 19, not even dating. Just something for our bucket lists. I jokingly say it’s the reason I married him. We, however, went on with life and had 2 biological kids. But before our second child, we really started thinking about adoption. It was something we couldn’t ignore. We met with an adoption agency, and I was struck by how big of an anomaly we were for them; being so young (comparatively) and saying we were interested in adopting any race. At one point during this agency meet & greet, I actually leaned over to my husband to confirm we weren’t leaving with a baby that day. That’s how big of a deal we felt. I thought she was going to open a drawer and pull out a kid, saying “actually, we have one right here . . .” The agency director explained that they, in years past, have even had to turn away Black birthmoms, because they didn’t have families willing to adopt Black babies.
No baby should have to wait for a home. Period.
Cue my life’s purpose. Cue a lifelong sickened-by-the-Spirit commitment to helping place babies for adoption, regardless of their race.
We’ve now, by the time I’m writing this, adopted a baby. Our third kid. Our sweet little pumpkin. It’s official, and he’s stuck with us forever.
I will not say the process was easy. Or even quick. It was emotional, and draining, and sad, and expensive.
We waited a year before getting matched at all. A year. When we did get matched, it was with a birthmom pregnant with twins. She still had three months to go in her final trimester, and we got to know her. We got to know her struggles, and her love for her unborn babies. We also got really excited. And when that birthmom had those twins and chose to parent them, it was very, very hard. As much as we tried to guard our hearts, and the hearts of our other two kids, it was beyond disappointing.
I was able to soothe myself, knowing that we were able to represent the hands and feet of Jesus, if only for a flash in this woman’s life. And I thought it was going to be another year before getting matched again.
But don’t you worry, God had his plan. And if I was asked to do it over again, I actually think I would.
I got a call on my way home from work on a Friday afternoon. I remember it vividly, because it was one of those life-changing phone calls.
It was our social worker and she says, “So a baby was born today. You can meet him tomorrow and take him home on Monday.” And my reaction was, “Um, wut?” But she was right. We met him, our little teeny-tiny baby. And we got to take him home on Monday. In this rapid situation, totally different than the prior match, we didn’t tell our kids. In fact, we sent our daughter to sleep-away camp for a week the Sunday before being placed with a new brother for her. We got to surprise her with a new baby. And it was priceless.
Many people think of adoption as only for those at their last resort, who cannot have kids otherwise. And that’s fine if that’s why they do it. For us, it’s a way we serve our community. To answer for that sick feeling in our stomachs.
For others, they’d like to adopt, but the cost is just way too much. I find this often with younger couples, who don’t have a $30K nest egg just waiting to be spent. Here’s where that life’s purpose comes in.
My solution to that is removing that one barricade for them. If cost is the only reason that a baby who needs them cannot be theirs, I’m going to diminish, and hopefully destroy, that one barricade.
Our plan is to a) spread our story often, so people consider it an option more and more, and b) use our tax refunds to start a non-profit. Our friends and family and church, and even some relative strangers, were so, so generous to us, that we now need to pay it forward.
With our fund, I hope that one day we’ll be able to encourage couples, especially minority couples, to adopt.
I am not saying that adoption is the only means of answering the Holy Spirit. Not even kids. For all I care your thing could be animal welfare, or homelessness, or heck, air-traffic controller malnutrition, if that’s a thing. What I do care about is that you find your thing. What makes you sick to your stomach? What makes you want to make a change or step up and fight?
Find your thing.
And let’s work together to do something about it.
Shannon Rosenberg is a business intelligence consultant during the day, baker by night, and mom of three between. She continues to look for ways to work hard at work worth doing, and setting up a non-profit to ease adoption costs. Check out the often-outdated (see the part about having three kids) blog https://rosenbergadoptionfund.wordpress.com/ for updates and future fundraisers.