When people find out that we are working on an adoption process, they assume that we are going for a newborn (or as close as you can get to that in an international adoption). I tell them, no, she is actually an older child. Eleven years old, to be precise.
No, we aren't worried about birth order, you see, she has severe special needs. She is cognitively younger than our son, and smaller, as far as we can tell from our year-old file. He will be her big brother. We pray that he does a good job!
Then people ask "Why?!"
"Why would you do such a difficult thing?"
There are a lot of answers to that question, ranging from the trivial to the profound.
We like being parents.
All adoption has the potential to be very difficult, medical needs or not.
Orphans need families.
But the big one, the one that can be hard for me to say, is this: God told us to.
I have been interested in adoption ever since I was little, but not in special needs adoption.
God started planting seeds in my heart shortly after my son was born. I remember looking at my tiny boy and knowing that I would love him no matter what (by the grace of God). It didn't matter if he didn't grow up to be like other kids, if he was brilliant or delayed, if he was robust or sickly. He is my son, I thought, and I will love him always.
Around the same time I started reading Susanna Musser's blog and becoming aware of what needs there were in the world.
Then God started to yell at me.
(Side note: I am a reformed Presbyterian and tend to be pretty un-Pentecostal. I don't say that God told me to do things very much.)
I did not actually literally hear God's voice with my ears, but in order to be any more obvious I think He would have had to use audible speech. Every sermon I heard, every scripture passage I read yelled "do something!"
I tried some "somethings". I started donating to Hidden Treasures and writing notes to adoptive families. We had a family from our church over to dinner to talk about adoption (they had adopted their two daughters.)
The instructions didn't go away, though. God kept telling me "this isn't enough, you aren't there yet."
I started praying for specific orphans (ask any adoptive family, that's a "dangerous" thing to do).
I shared everything I read with Mr.
He too was shocked by the condition of some of the orphanages and was fervent in prayer.
Scripture and sermons kept saying "adopt!" to me, but nothing could happen if Mr. wasn't on board.
One morning, I had slept in a little bit and Mr. came in to wake up me and Jr.
He had been reading the Psalms, and looked at me and said "we should adopt."
It wasn't long before we had found Garnet and decided that she was our daughter (we thought it was Penny at first, but God led us right to Garnet).
Once we had been through all that, actually paying the commitment fee was pretty easy.
So, no, I have not always been interested in special needs.
Garnet's Eastern European country was barely on my radar before last year.
I was never looking to adopt an older child.
But God knew better than all of that, and by His remarkable guidance, here we are, waiting to meet our Eastern European darling.
So the simplest, but most profound answer to "why are you adopting Garnet?"
... God told us to.