This is such a multi-faceted question. We are constantly processing the need for adoption, the many many children that need homes, and all the different ways we could bring one to our family. Our hearts continue to stir and be drawn to foster care and/or international adoption of older children. I definitely think the Lord is preparing our hearts for that in some capacity in the future.
At this point in our parenting journey and our children's lives, we believe that the wisest choice is to pursue another infant adoption. We fully understand that all forms of adoption come with loss and baggage. We walk that in a very real way everyday. However, we know that when taking in an older child, parents are likely to experience another level of emotional and behavioral challenges because of the years the child has lived in uncertainty. The child's history would likely require extra special and tender attention. We believe every child deserves that care, and we want to be the ones to provide that love someday.
However, we fully recognize that at this stage of life, with three young kids, we cannot provide that yet. We want to have the emotional and mental capacity to walk to the deepest parts of that journey with a child. We want our children to be old enough to have a level of independence, empathy, and understanding that they will grow through the experience with us. We want to have more years of experience and wisdom in being parents, so that we are better equipped to deal with various challenges that arise.
Domestic infant adoption comes with its own set of challenges and things to process. We know that we will walk seasons of pain, confusion, and anger with Esme as she gets older. We will get to love her, guide her and reassure her through all the hard questions. But we also know that we have been with her since the day she was born. We know that she has felt the stability of our home and the steadfastness of our love everyday of her life. We pray the foundation we are laying for her will help her process her story as she grows up.
At this point in our lives, we know we have the capacity to love and care for another child. With three children six and under, we believe it's important to maintain a sense of normalcy and stability for our kids amidst a time of great change. Adoption is not just about us, it's not just about the child we adopt, it's about our entire family and how we will all change and be affected by the process. Maintaining birth order is one way we can stabilize this process for our kids.
We are doing our best to communicate with them about all of the details in this adoption process and what life will be like when we add another child to our family. But they are young, and they do not understand everything. We pray we are laying a foundation of openness and love for adoption that when they are older they will see and know the importance of being a family for someone who needs one. We pray that when they are older their hearts will be compassionate and kind and understanding and aware. We are already so proud of what they do understand and the ownership and involvement they are having in this adoption.
In addition to all of that, the passion I have for birth families, particularly birth moms, continues to grow stronger. Having experienced building that relationship through Esme's adoption, I am convicted more than ever about the importance of loving and caring for birth families. It is a beautiful opportunity to be Christ's love in the depths of someone's pain and loss. There is a sacred, precious, instantaneous and unbreakable bond that is created between two mothers who love the same child. I would be honored to share that relationship with another beautiful birth mom.
Honestly, if you would have asked us before we were married which route of adoption we thought we would take, we most likely would have told you we wanted pursue international adoption in Africa. My heart had always ached to give love to any child that needed it no matter if that child was in the nursery at church or around the world. However, Travis's family's experience with adoption in Africa really opened up both of our minds and hearts to the possibility of pursuing that ourselves.
Those feelings were ever more heightened the summer after we were married. We went to Tanzania, Africa for three weeks on a mission trip. It's safe to say we fell in love. We spent a lot of time with children who were living in poverty, homelessness and in the slums. They longed for our attention and affection. If I could have brought a group of them home with us to love and take care of I would have. They stole our hearts.
Since then Travis and I have continued to talk about when we thought would be the right time to start adding to our family through adoption. We have always envisioned that, Lord willing, we would add multiple children to our family through adoption. So, the question has always been when.
Once it became clear to us that the "when" was approaching, we started to seriously considering all of the options. There are so many avenues of adoption. It's truly overwhelming. We looked into domestic, international, foster-to-adopt and many of the various options within those options.
As we started to explore and dig, the Lord began to lay domestic adoption on my heart. I felt like pursuing the adoption of a newborn would help our children with the transition of adding another child to our family. Because Kingston and Raena are so young, I just wasn't sure how relational dynamics and birth order would play into all of it. We want what's best for all of our children, and it was very important to us to consider the implications any of the routes of adoption might have on our kids.
I continued to pray about it and think about it and try to decide if this was really where God was leading us. We took an opportunity in the fall to attend an informational meeting at a local agency in LA that completes domestic adoptions. That meeting gave us a ton of information and insight into the adoption process.
After that, The Lord continued to grow my passion for domestic adoption, specifically, open-domestic adoption. As I truly started to process the idea of bringing a child into our family that I did not give birth to, my heart began to grieve, deeply, for the birth parents of that child. Being a mom myself, I cannot imagine the strength it would take or the pain it would cause allowing someone else to raise your child. What a selfless and sacrificial gift those parents are making! What an honor that we might be chosen to receive that gift and that responsibility. I don't feel worthy. I could cry right now just thinking about it.
My love and compassion and respect and awe for those birth parents is endless. It was in processing that, The Lord revealed to me that my call goes much deeper than loving our adopted child. I want to love that child's mother. I want to love that child's father. I want to love anyone who we have the honor of knowing because we are allowed to raise that child. I want those parents to know that they are loved, that they are respected, that they are strong, and that they are worthy. They are giving the ultimate gift, making the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of their child and they deserve to be honored.
As we continued to research and pray about adoption and what that might look like in our home, these feelings continued to weigh heavily on my heart like nothing ever had before. I could not shake them. I cannot shake them. I cannot deny this is where The Lord has taken us and a passion that He has given us.
Our hearts continue to be open to where God may lead us for future adoptions. We see beauty in all forms of adoption and we would be honored if The Lord would allow us to experience any and all other paths at some point. For now though, we are SO excited about where He has lead us and cannot wait to see Him work the rest out