Thursday, May 3, 2007

Is adoption risky?

"You have taken a big risk. I am so glad it has worked out for you."

"You have been very lucky."

"You are fortunate that things are going so well."

My wife and I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from friends and family that care for us so much. This long exhale comes now that it seems like all is well with our family after our recent Ethiopian adoption. After all, we did take a big risk.

Or did we?

My wife and I don't feel like we bet the farm. Did we really jeopardize our family? Did we jeopardize our relationship with our birth children? Did we really jeopardize our sanity? (OK, yes, I will give you that one. But our sanity was nearly gone anyway.)

Is adoption risky?

I think that adoption carries no more inherent risk than having a birth child. There is a great cloud of uncertainty surrounding a potential birth child. All of the possible birth defects, complications, the child's personality, even gender can't be known prior to conception when you are debating on whether or not to have a child. With an adopted child, certainly more is known about such things. Of course there are other unknowns. Were they loved by their parents? What experiences have they had? Have they been traumatized? Are they well adjusted? These unknowns feel more foreign to us than the more familiar unknowns of a birth child.

Even if one concludes that adoption is more risky, the next question is this:

For what are we willing to risk?

In American society, we are willing to take all sorts of risks. We sell short, buy stocks on margin, use home equity lines of credit for vacations, drive fast on interstates while talking on cell phones, develop tan lines, go bungee jumping, and eat fast food more often than we should.

If we are willing to take these risks -- to risk for self gain and self pleasure -- then let us also be willing to risk for others. And what better risk to take than for a child in need of a family.

John Piper says, "Risk is right." And so it is.


7,812 Miles said...

I love this post...thank you for sharing it! It puts into words the thoughts that I have had when I face opposition to our adoption when people mention the "risks". Its funny, to me having birth children seems more risky, but what do I know? ;)

Brian (dad to 3) said...

I don't feel like my adoption was a risk I took for my kids. I'd put it in the same class as bungee jumping: for self gain and self pleasure.

Anonymous said...

I have heard about your family for years from Grandpa Jim, and held my breath as I heard about your adoption plans. The sigh of relief is the warm breath of caring and prayers that surround such courageous parents. I wish you an easy journey full of enough challenges to keep it interesting and enough love to lift you to heaven.