Like about a quarter of Americans, adoption was something that I thought I might do “someday.”
I’m not sure exactly how I came to this vague conclusion, though I suspect it had a little to do with growing up in a home where lots of folks came to stay for a while when they hit a rough patch. It wasn’t foster care in any official sense, just compassion and hospitality lived out without fanfare (which, I will admit, I did not always appreciate at the time).
This experience, plus my evangelical faith, my sociology degree and my overgrown sense of responsibility to “do something” when faced with injustice made adoption a no-brainer. At least in theory.
And so it was that I found myself again in the hospital waiting room, anxious to meet my second nephew—a perfectly healthy baby, nurtured and protected from the start. I knew that my love would expand to greet this new little person, that there would be more than enough.
Sitting there, flipping idly through the pages of an outdated magazine, I heard the story of another baby. He had been born too early, with a variety of complications that may (or, I suppose, may not) have been the result of bad choices made before he was born. His future was uncertain. His parents were overwhelmed with their own lives and not sure that they could parent him.
Joy and grief mingled there in waiting room. And, uninvited, the thought crossed my mind, “what if I could adopt him?”
The timing was terrible, I thought.
I was single, working full time and scrambling to recover my financial footing after some hasty decisions left me in a tight spot. I knew nothing about medical stuff and too little about being a mom.
There was no way it could work.
But in that moment, I also knew that if the opportunity arose, the village that I had unintentionally created would make sure it worked. I knew that if this were my child, my family and friends would rally, and we would find a way. Period.
It would take another year (and a cousin adopting her daughter from Ethiopia) before I would muster the courage to tell my extended family and officially get the adoption ball rolling.
But it was on that day, the day that I met my second nephew, that vague thoughts of “someday” collided with God’s plan for my family and the idea of adoption became very, very real.