I was eight years old the first time I heard the word adoption. Adopting a monkey, to be exact.
I remember receiving a flyer in the mail asking my family if we’d like to “adopt” a chimpanzee at the zoo. I was born with a bleeding heart, and I got it in my head that those monkeys would legitimately die if we didn’t step in and help. I began a crusade to convince my parents that they NEEDED us. I had been lead to believe those chimps were in grave danger.
And you know what? My parents refused to do it.
As you and I both now know, “adopting” a monkey was simply code for “Send the zoo a $30 check every month,” but at the time, I thought it was a truly noble deed. I lost many nights’ sleep worrying about how those poor monkeys would eat. (Spoiler alert: they lived.) My broken heart eventually moved on, but that idea of standing in the gap for someone in need stuck with me long after that failed crusade.
Fast forward about 17 years, and I remember sitting in a Corner Bakery booth with my then fiancé and our pastor walking through a premarital counseling session. This day, we were talking about if and how we’d one day want to build a family. The question came up about infertility, and our pastor asked if we’d consider adoption in that scenario. That was a no-brainer to me. I didn’t care how I became a mother; I just knew I wanted to be one. My husband felt the same. Yes, we both answered. Of course, we’d consider adoption.
The part of the conversation I remember so distinctly was when I said something that made our pastor pause. I bluntly told him, “I wouldn’t only consider adoption because of infertility. It doesn’t just have to be a Plan B.” I remember there was a pause as he considered my statement, nodded politely, and we moved on to other things. But, his pause stuck with me because it got me thinking. Did people really only consider adoption as a second choice? Why couldn’t adopting be our first choice for how we build our family?
In the fall of 2014, I found myself out on the train tracks in downtown Frisco taking family photos. By this point, I was a frazzled mom of two biological toddlers, one of whom had finally emerged from a solid year of colic. Most days, I felt like I was swimming completely upstream. I lived for naptime, and when people asked if we had plans for more babies, I laughed. Nope, I would say. We are done. With a capital D.
But on the day we took those photos, that nudge I had been feeling the last two decades came back to the surface. As my husband and I wrangled those two babies to smile sweetly for the camera, it was as if I could visibly see a space where a piece of our family was missing. It was the first time in a very long time that adoption came back to my mind, and I just couldn’t shake it any longer.
I wish I could tell you that things from there were seamless and the road was easy and clear, but that just wouldn’t be honest. It took another full year of research and hard conversations before we submitted the application to adopt from China. But as we joyfully shared our adoption plans with family and friends, we were hit with an unexpected question over and over again: Why not just try for a third biological baby? Wouldn’t that be easier?
The answer was so clear to us, but just as our pastor had to pause to process it so many years before, choosing adoption when we hadn’t struggled with fertility issues was so hard for many to grasp. So we got very clear about our answer: We believe that adoption was always Plan A for us. For many couples, adoption is something they come to after many years of infertility, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But that isn’t our story.
Photo Credit: Kristin Michael Photography
When we realized that God was telling us He had another child for us, another biological baby was never even part of the conversation. Adoption was the plan all along. We didn’t enter the adoption world because we needed another child; we entered it because we felt strongly that there was a child that needed us.
When people our see our family of five now, it is so very obvious that this was always how it was meant to be. We hear over and over again, “He just fits.” And they’re right: he does. Our third child may not share our DNA, but that doesn’t make him any less ours. We know was the plan for our family from the very beginning.
And I feel pretty confident that the darn monkeys started it all.