- OAKLAND, CA -
-SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA-
Faith, Justice, Race, Healing
Frequently Asked Questions
My Precious Foster Son
How did you end up in South Africa?
* Are you currently in South Africa? * How/Why did you choose Adoption?
* How did you end up in South Africa? * Why did you adopt older children?
How/why did you choose adoption?
I am always surprised how often people's assumption is that adoption is the result of infertility. That is not the case for us.
Adopting children was never my back up plan. It was always THE plan. Or at least part of it. From the time I was a small child I have always wanted to adopt and have biological children.
I knew I'd adopt no matter what. I also decided long ago that if, for some reason, I did not conceive naturally that I would not take extraordinary measures to be able to do so. Rather, I would see it as the Lord entrusting to us more little broken-hearted souls in need of healing hands in a loving family.
Even beyond my natural draw toward vulnerable children, my journey has grown in me a social and theological framework that compels me to offer myself, my home, and my little family to broken children and raise them into grace-filled, mature adults. Someone has to take responsibility for these little souls. Why not me? In fact, why not most of us?!
The problem of orphans and abandoned children is so massive, and it's consequences on society as these children grow into broken adults is so daunting, that it can paralyze us into doing nothing. The problem is so big, how can we put a dent in it? Can you imagine if an army was raised up in the Body of Christ who would each play their part? There would be no more orphans!
My conviction is that the Biblical mandate to care for orphans was not a suggestion... It is an integral, unmistakable, inseparable part of the very DNA of Father God's heart. Whether that be through adoption or through other means, one of the primary ways God says our love for him will manifest in our lives is in caring for orphans.
May we raise up an army who will do just that!
My journey to South Africa began in childhood. I grew up in a predominantly black, inner city neighborhood in East Oakland, California. Not only did my environment give me a front row seat to social and racial dynamics, but this legacy-filled city called Oakland had also been the birthplace of the Black Panthers just ten years before I was born, making it a city whose very DNA was grounded in a passion for freedom, equality, and the pursuit of civil rights. As a result of growing up there, by the time I was 12 I was already very passionate - and opinionated, I might add - about issues of social justice, especially race.
I was 13 when I saw Nelson Mandela released from prison on TV. I asked what was happening, why this was so important, and I got the five minute version of the Apartheid system in South Africa. My little adolescent mind was properly blown. I was haunted by the reality that if such laws existed in my corner of the world, I would not be allowed to live in my neighborhood among people that I considered family. My best friend was remarkable, beautiful, and black. I simply could not wrap my mind around the prospect.
Even at 13, I was already well educated about the Civil Rights Movement, thanks to the History Channel, PBS, and all the books I could get my hands on. But in my mind, that was the past. This thing called Apartheid was happening now! In 1990!
I was horrified and captivated. So I began reading. Following things as they unfolded in South Africa. For 15 years. Through the transition into democracy, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the electing - and removing - of Thabo Mbeki, and most things in between.
At 26, I started Seminary to get my Master's of Divinity. With my passion for race, justice, and reconciliation, I declared a concentration in Intercultural Ministry. This concentration required that I go oversees for part of a year to do a full time internship, to a country of my choice.
The choice was a no-brainer; I felt a piece of my soul was already in South Africa. Only trouble was: I did not know a soul there. At 30 years old, I landed an internship in the Justice, Truth, and Reconciliation Dept. in the national office of the SACC, one of the organizations that led the fight against Apartheid. It was extraordinary.
During those months, I fell in love with Soweto.
I returned to the U.S. long enough to finish my Master's Degree - just under a year - and then relocated to South Africa in 2009.
Are you currently in South Africa?
I am currently in the U.S. with my boys, getting them medical and therapeutic care.
Why did you adopt "older" children?
I LOVE BABIES. The tinier, the better. Premies are my favorite. There is a reason I was labeled, "The Baby Snatcher" by my church in California.
I love babies and I want lots of them.
When I was finally in a place in life to consider adopting, which happened to also be a time when I was surrounded by motherless children in desperate need of homes, families and a safe place to heal their shattered little souls... the prospect bid my heart to answer an unexpected question:
Am I adopting more for rme, or for the child?
Granted, it's not quite that black and white... And the obvious answer is, "both!" It is definitely both.
But here I was surrounded by children needing a family right in front of me, whom I already knew and had relationship with... and loved! So... was I going to go through the long process of being matched with a child simply because my heart melts over the tiny ones? Or would I be willing to take in this little boy who has aged out of the babies' home and had been turned away by multiple families due to medical challenges? They were getting ready to send him to a government orphanage, where I knew his sensitive little soul would languish.
So... I had to answer the question in my heart, "Am I adopting more for myself, in which case I would insist on an infant... or more for the child, in which case my heart would be open?"
There are tens of thousands of children who will never receive the gift of a forever family simply because most forever families are looking for babies. And these children passed that milestone long ago.
Making this little boy mine was not a laborious, difficult decision. It was easy, natural, organic. I did not spend hours, days, or weeks wrestling over this question... To be honest, I only thought more deeply about it many months after we'd already become a happy family!
True, I still love and long for babies... And that's ok. Hopefully someday I'll have one... or preferably a few! I took in a foster son who is also older and also now adopted (by me!). And both boys could not possibly be a better fit to create our family. It has literally felt like God hand selected them each for me and I couldn't be happier.
Adopting any child is an enormous gift to that child and to the receiving family. Period. I hope and pray that more families will choose adoption... And I also hope that more families will choose to embrace the older children that so few want.
The other day, my little guy said to me, "Mommy, thank you for lovin' me."
He remembers the before and after.
So... the long and and short of the question of 'Why?' is a combination of factors: 1. There are so many older chidren that no one will adopt, I wanted to be a part of putting a dent in that; 2. Though I wanted a baby my heart was open, and what was in front of me (twice) was a little boy with an utterly shattered, hemorrhaging heart and a broken body. I had both the capacity and the desire to meet their need for a loving family, though I was daunted by the prospect initially.
These boys are the loves of my life. I would make the same decisions again in a heartbeat.
I must unequivocally say... I HAVE NO REGRETS.
* All photos used with permission (where faces are recognizable). If subject or
guardian could not be reached, faces have been blurred.