Monday, May 31, 2010
Choosing Number Four
As anyone who's read my blog is aware, my wife and I have three kids. Our daughter, Emerson, is now seven years old. William will turn five in the fall. And Carson, the youngest, is on deck to turn three this summer. Since 2003, Meredith and I have lived in a continuous mind scramble. I can vaguely remember a time when Meredith and I used to engage in adult conversations. We'd talk about religion, politics, our plans for the future, and what we wanted to do on a Saturday night. Over the last seven plus years, such conversations have become rare, surrendering to discussions about what diaper cream is best, whether or not we have enough butt wipes to last the weekend, whose turn it is to clean up the night before's bed-wetting catastrophe, and who's next up to wipe the poop covered backside of a recently potty-trained pygmy. We occasionally still argue about money, time, and whether or not I'm working too much. But, thanks to seven years of sleep deprivation and the ongoing depletion of brain cells that is parenthood, Meredith and I have also lowered ourselves to fighting over whether or not Carson should wear his Incredible Hulk or Lightning McQueen jammies, who put the Blue's Clues towel in the wrong drawer, who placed the tube of Desitin next to the toothpaste (yuck!), and who should have done more to keep half-eaten Dora the Explorer yogurt tubes out of Daddy's brief case.
Yep, parenthood has been a tiring adventure thus far; and we're still early in the game. I can't count how many times other people (even other parents) look at us with our three young kids and ask, "How do you do it?"
"It takes prayer and a lot of team effort," one of us will usually respond. (It also occasionally takes alcohol and prescription drug use, but we tend to keep that part to ourselves.)
Therefore, it's no wonder that many people's eyes bug out and their jaws drop open when Meredith and I tell them that we've decided to have a fourth child. THAT'S RIGHT! WE'RE GONNA DO IT ALL AGAIN! (Anyone got the number of a good psychiatrist?) Like Kevin Bacon in Animal House, we're willingly dropping our pants, bending over, and repeating the words "Thank you Sir, may I have another," as the paddle of parenthood whacks us in the fanny one more time. When people look at my exhausted expression like I've lost my mind, I simply tell them, "Look, as challenging as raising kids can be, we love being parents. There's no greater joy in our lives than our kids, and we both agree that we want another child. Besides, once you've been hit in the head enough times with a baseball bat, how much will you really feel it if someone else shows up and takes a few swings with a crow bar?"
Only this time, Meredith and I are going a different route. After much prayer and discussion, Meredith and I have decided that it is time to act on a dream we have had since before we were married: We've decided to adopt. This past week, we learned that we have been officially accepted by an agency that will help us adopt a little girl from Ethiopia. Why Ethiopia? There were various reasons why we decided to go international for now (I won't get into them here). As we researched and learned more, Meredith and I decided that Ethiopia not only has a great need, we believe it presents the best scenario for our family as well.
Why a little girl? We already have two awesome boys and a beautiful daughter. We would love a second daughter as well. Emerson is also longing for a sister. She's excited about us adopting. Her only request was that it not be a boy. "We've got enough boys," she asserted, "if it's another boy I'll just die." William has also gotten used to the idea of a little sister, although originally, if the child wasn't a boy, he asked if we could "sell it on eBay and get a dog?" As for Carson, he just wants someone in the house to be younger than him. As long as he can have that and remember to poop in the potty instead of his "big boy" underwear, he'll be happy. (Sometimes he doesn't even need the 'pooping in the potty instead of his underwear' part.)
Adoption is a long, challenging process. I won't get into all the details here, but let's just say that my wife has said several times that "adopting a child is a lot harder than having one biologically." And this is a woman who has undergone three C-sections and a two week stay in the hospital due to complications after the birth of her first child. It's worth all the hurdles you have to jump. After all, you know that your child is waiting for you in an orphanage somewhere in Africa--just waiting to come home. Whenever the paperwork gets burdensome or the personal intrusions into our lives become a little offensive, I try to remember that, out of all God's children, only one was begotten: Jesus. The rest were all adopted. I think about the "adoption process" God had to go through and how long and drawn out it sometimes was. But it was worth it because he loved us so much. He didn't love us because we were perfect, had no issues, or because there were any guarantees that we would turn out to be well-behaved kids (we aren't). No, he just CHOSE to love us. He CHOSE to want us. He saw that we needed a dad. He longed to give us a home. That's what adoption is about. When people ask me, "How can you love an adopted child as much as you love your own?" I just say, "Because we choose to. And besides, once she's ours, she IS one of our own."
So pray for the Howards as we set off on this new adventure. It's challenging, emotionally wrenching at times, and often frustrating as we wait for the process to unfold. It's also expensive--very, very expensive. In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the beginning of my new blog focusing on our adoption journey. Keep an eye out for it. Hopefully it will be a fun, informative, and inspiring read. I will also be posting links like the one below for any reader who might be interested in helping us finance our adoption. Perhaps you're not someone who feels called to adopt or who can't adopt right now; but you'd like to help an orphaned child reach a loving family. Please consider donating to our adoption cause and helping us bring our daughter home, at least with prayers or comments of support if not financially. Anyway, we'll keep you posted. And, yes, even though I will be starting a new blog, Dadlosophies will continue as well. Look for my next dadlosophy next Monday: same Dad time; same Dad web address.