Adopting a baby vs. a child is akin to adopting a puppy vs a dog. Everybody wants the puppy. The cute face. The chubby rolls. The coos and giggles. But then.... that puppy grows up and isn't a puppy any longer. Suddenly, the puppy needs more room to grow and play. Messes are bigger. Food consumption is greater. Their desire to be shown affection and attention grows with each passing day. No longer are they the cute face you get to look at when you walk through the door, but now they can acknowledge that they need you and they desire to be with you even if you don't feel the same. And you know what they call those puppies? Dogs.
Humane shelters are filled with dogs. Puppies hardly ever enter into humane shelters to be adopted. But dogs are another story. People willingly adopt a cute little rolly-polly puppy. They play with it and feed it "Puppy Chow" and buy it some cutesy little toy. They keep the puppy as long as it's "travel size" for their convenience. However, once that puppy exits puppy phase, the honeymoon period is over. Not everyone who buys a puppy has space for a dog-- physical space, and space in their heart.
Adoptions are similar. Babies are sought after in adoptions. It's easy to want to be the family that goes to the hospital and receives the newborn. Getting to parent a child from Day 1 is such a tremendous blessing. We've been able to do this twice with our biological children. Caring for a tiny helpless human being is a huge job, and a great honor. We loved it. We are loving every minute of parenting two toddler-age boys (although some moments drive us up the wall, it's still totally worth it!). And often I catch myself thinking, what about those babies who don't have a family ready to take them home from the hospital? What about those babies who grow up in the foster care system ready to be adopted, but exiting the baby stage into the child stage lessens their chance for a forever home?
As my own babies were growing out of "baby" stage, I would occasionally be sad. I loved their tiny little selves. But I reminded myself, as they exited a previous stage and entered into a new one, that there would be multiple things to love in each new stage. And, I truly absorbed the phrase "every age and every stage is my favorite." I look at my two little ones and I'm daily amazed at what they can do and what they can say and how they can show love. And I know that these two young boys are capable of being rock solid family members and I'm so blessed that Jesus chose me as their mom.
This recognition of what our own kids are capable of has led Aaron and I to really contemplate adopting an "older" child. We still want our adopted daughter to be the youngest member of our family, so we still plan on waiting a few years to begin the adoption process. And we know that we want to adopt domestically rather than internationally. However, we don't necessarily feel called to adopt a newborn. We are trying to listen closely to God to find out, in fact, if He's leading us to adopt a two-year-old or older.
Sure, there are things about baby stages that are just precious-- like tiny outfits, tiny blankets, tiny hair bows for little girls!
Oh! But listen to all of the things that come with toddler-hood:
- telling you what food they want
- telling you where they hurt
- playing with toys (with you, and independently)
- and most importantly-- saying I love you
Toddler-hood is so fun! And toddlers are so precious!
We feel very called to adopt a sweet little girl. And we feel like God is leading us to a little one who isn't quite a baby. We have a lot of love to give, and I am fully confident that God will direct our paths and that He already knows the treasured one who will one day join our family!
Until Next Time,
Much Love, Reba