Age Matters…Not So Much

We were discussing a possible change to our dossier literally as we posted the last blog update. Keith had been nagging me over the issue, and I was just as unwilling to change. While our dossier technically states an infant of either gender and a toddler girl, we specified further with our agency that we wanted a child no older than 2. Keith wanted to change our status to two kids up to 4 years old. This thought is terrifying for me.

I will admit on a daily basis that I’m not good with babies. They’re just not my thing, and I even had one. That’s not saying I don’t love kids. I just want to play, pretend, color, read books, etc. Although I seriously never ASK to hold babies, I do politely admire their cuteness when they’re forced into my arms. However, like most other people, I know the first 3 years are not only the foundation for family bonding but also the most important years in development. If I miss those years, what’s the point? Right?

When I’d had enough of Keith’s relentless badgering, I began scanning our adoption books for ammunition to use in our next discussion. I confidently picked up a book recommended by my best friend from high school who is now a child psychologist…and with patients who were internationally adopted...had warned us about adopting above a certain age. As I read through the table of contents, finding words like “therapies,” “attachment,” “institutionalization,” these chapters gave me hope for my case. Yet, I found nothing!!! On the contrary, the issues that would prevent attachment had more to do with a parent’s actions (voice, discipline method) than a child’s age at adoption. I quickly deemed that book useless and picked up another with the subtitle: 15 Things You Want to Know Before Adopting. Sounds like a warning to me. Nope. None there either. In all my digging I found research supporting the exact opposite of what I was after! Even interviews from parents said they preferred an older child to an infant because bonding and adapting was easier.

Later that day some friends were over for dinner. They have recently decided to adopt domestically, and we began discussing the issue of age. Obviously, the biggest need is with older children, as couples typically seek to adopt infants. In Ethiopia it is even greater because sibling groups can’t be separated. If a child isn’t adopted within a magical age window, he is stuck in the foster care system, along with any present or future siblings…unless couples are willing to adopt more than one child AND willing to accept older children.

For me, it comes down to a matter of selfishness. Why am I adopting in the first place? Who am I adopting for? We would just have more biological children if it were a matter of merely expanding our family. We (all of us) are called to care for orphans, live a life of suffering, model after Jesus, love others selflessly, and I could go on. If I refuse a child above an age because I think it would cause more work for me, this adoption is for and about only ME.

Today, Keith made a phone call to our agency to expand the criteria for our children. We are now waiting on a sibling pair birth to age 4, with no gender preference. I say this timidly, as I am petrified over this decision. It’s a good thing we have several months left to wait because God has a lot of work to do on me. I’ll be posting a list of specifics you can pray for.

I love how Russell Moore puts it in Adopted for Life: “What better opportunity for you to model the God who adopts from every tongue, tribe, nation, and language and sets all the children together at the same table with the same inheritance and the same love?” (p 107).