This week, I’ve asked a good friend of mine, Justin Sanford, to share how he has made the world better through one of the most powerful things a person can do: adoption. You’ll read his struggles through the process that one might experience in any process to make the world better. I hope his words inspire you, whether it actually is through adoption or another way you are designed to make the world better:
As an over-thinker, I am really talented at talking myself out of things. I don’t need an exercise routine, because it would take away from my free time in the evenings. I don’t need to start a blog, because working during my off time will make me feel overworked. I don’t need to get more involved at church, because I am already too busy. I have talked myself out of many things that probably could have made my life more healthy, productive, and meaningful. Yet, when I considered the concept of adopting children into our home, I followed through! This is probably because I was motivated by my amazing wife, and always sees everything she does to completion. In fact, my wife led the charge on the whole thing. I’m glad and didn’t overthink this one and talk myself out of it. And trust me, I could have given much better arguments on why we shouldn’t adopt than the arguments I had come up with against the life changes mentioned earlier.
Reasons to not adopt:
I had just been laid off at my last employer due to some financial woes, and took on a new position with a substantially smaller salary than I had earned in my adult life. It was not a good time to bring in to our family two more children to clothe, mouths to feed, etc.
We were fortunate enough to plan our kids out pretty well. One boy, one girl, 3 years apart. What an awesome dynamic! We were set for the next 18 years or so! Why in the world would we take this special dynamic away from our own children? Would it really be worth doing this to them?
Not to mention the logistics! Handling school, day care, and getting kids to their different activities is pretty easy with just two. To add two more would at best officially enter us into a crazy rat race, and at worst, create a chaotic nightmare where each night would be the Sanford taxi service, with a tight schedule involving getting kids to multiple activities. Why would we intentionally make something so simple so complicated?
Speaking of complicated, what about the extra work it would take to be parents? As we started to take classes to become licensed foster parents, we were quickly introduced to the fact that trauma early on a child’s life creates substantial damage, leaving the child with special needs, some of which may not get better the entirety of their lives. Suddenly, simple things like homework, teaching life skills, etc. would take much more effort than it would with one of our own.
I could have talked myself out of this whole thing, and nothing would have changed. We would have continued to love God, and love our biological children. We would have had a household full of joy, and there would have been absolutely nothing wrong or sinful if we hadn’t followed through.
Yes, nothing would have changed, but a huge opportunity would have been missed! Since our two girls have become a part of our household, every concern I listed earlier has surfaced and created challenges. But working through and overcoming these challenges has brought an experience and joy into our lives we’ve never known before. To think of the things we would have never known if we had never followed through with the opportunity to adopt…
Seeing these girls jump up and down with excitement when receiving socks for Christmas! A year later it got even better when they received generic American Girl dolls.
Seeing the younger girl develop a legit looking cartwheel.
Seeing the older girl so enamored with the concept of school after her first day that she spent the next two afternoons playing school, and pretending to read a book to her imaginary class she had just got from vacation.
Seeing these girls graduate from therapies, and getting good reports at parent teacher conferences from their school teachers.
Seeing all 3 of our girls perform a dance recital with a dance class they had been in for months.
Knowing the joy of giving back in the way my parents gave to me, by adopting me out of an unfortunate situation 33 years ago!
Our lives would have been wonderful without the girls, but we would have never known what we could have with the girls! I’m so glad my wife was so passionate about adoption that she helped me stay the course and follow through!
At the end of the day, it really all comes down to follow through. You want to make the world a better place? Focus on one problem that you are passionate enough to offer a solution to, and just jump in and do it!