by Kristin Wooten
I’ve always known I wanted to be a mom. A mom to 2 kids to be exact. That’s the kind of family I came from: a boy and a girl. Seemed like the safe, midwestern thing to do. Until adoption entered my worldview and changed everything.
When I was pregnant with our first child, we met a family who had adopted from China. We were broken by the stories of kids without homes. Very quickly, my husband and I knew adoption is how we would grow our family in the future. When our son was a year old, we started looking into adopting from China. We weren’t old enough and we sure didn’t have the finances to support an adoption. So, we let the idea pass and had another biological son. (Good thing–we would have missed out on a cool kid!)
Another year had passed. I came home from work excited to tell my husband that something called a home equity loan existed and we could use it to remodel our kitchen! You see, we had the tiniest kitchen, a few inches of counter space and no room for a dishwasher. My husband’s response: “Yes, we could do that, or we could use the money to adopt. I’m open to either. You can decide.” Well, no real decision to make there, off on our journey to adoption we began.
Zoe joined our family in 2005. Zoe still teases me saying “Dad chose me mom, you were going to get a kitchen.” We were complete. Life was full with 3 kids five and under, a job, and a husband.
I remember going to a conference and hearing Donald Miller speak. He told a story of a friend who had a teenage daughter who was making poor decisions, doing drugs and dating a boy the family didn’t approve of. The dad knew his daughter needed a better story. Their family had a meeting where the dad announced they were going to raise money to build an orphanage in Mexico. His daughter ended up jumping on board with this plan, traveled to Mexico and eventually, dumped the boyfriend. That story really resonated with me. I knew I wanted to build a story for my kids that would be more attractive than the one the world was painting for them, but I had no idea what that story would be.
The kids are now 10, 12 and 14. We had always told our kids we would go to China one day so that Zoe could see and explore the country she was born in. It was important for our boys to come too and do this as a family. One night, I was researching heritage trips to China and landed on an adoption agency website that said “Effective, January 1, 2015, a few requirements for adopting from China have changed” and it went on to list the changes. Changes were made that would make us eligible to adopt from China again. I got that crazy feeling in my stomach, I just knew what this meant. I sent a text to my husband to tell him about the requirement change and his text back said, “I guess I know what our China trip will be”. Oh my gosh, he’s thinking the same thing, we’re adopting again!
We shared the news with our big kids. The youngest were onboard immediately. They have always wanted to adopt again. Our oldest, not so much. He’s our responsible one. He was worried about the time it would take away from the other kids, the money, how could we afford the adoption, let alone raising another child. Others were worried too. You have such great kids, aren’t you afraid this will ruin them?
They were right. It did ruin them. In all the right ways. They were with us every step of our adoption process. When each donation was made, they rejoiced with us. When we received grants, they got to see God work. When our adoption was fully funded, they got to experience a miracle. When we got each new picture of our future daughter, they got to oooh and aaah over her. When they
traveled to China with us, they got to see how other kids live. They saw how hard life in China is. They learned how to bond with their sister, how to make her laugh, how to comfort her.
My boys have gotten to learn dad skills. At 16 and 14, they know how to protect a girl. How to make her lunch. That taking her on Starbucks runs makes her so happy. These are things that most boys don’t get to learn until they are dads themselves.
My older daughter, Zoe, isn’t the type of girl that babysits or naturally knows how to take care of kids. But, her younger sister adores her and calls her “sissy”. She feels more confident and can change a diaper like a pro now.
Our family experienced something together that was so special and brought us together. Their faith in Jesus is stronger. I’m grateful that adoption ruined my big kids.