Adoption is costly. I do not just mean it requires significant financial expenditures, though it certainly does have an impact on the bank account. Adoption requires parents to sacrifice. It gives us the opportunity to practice loving our child more than ourselves before we even meet them. We prepare for the cost of adoption and approach the process with the willingness to do what it takes to give a loving home to an orphan. It is noble, in some respects, this joyful abandon many of us feel as we plan and prepare for our sons or daughters. The cost must be considered wisely. It impacts our whole life.
For us the cost of adoption came in increments.
Time together. I could have moved to Korea for a year while Dave was stationed there…but we would not have had much money left over at the end of the year for things like tennis shoes and orthodontia.
My career. I had an amazing job offer to work alongside one of the most capable string orchestra teachers I have ever met. It was a position that would have been as fun as it was valuable, potentially leading to my teaching certification.
Speaking of jobs, I had a thriving private lesson studio, an adjunct position with a university, and active partnerships with our church and a seminary.
Our house. It just made so much sense to live with my parents while Dave was overseas so I would have lots of support in my first months as a mother.
Moving choices. We brought some of our living room furniture to my parents’ basement so the boys and I would have a place to hang out just the three of us. These orange couches, while super comfy to sit here and type, look really funny in this elegant room.
Ego. We got a huge lesson in laying down our pride through our adoption fundraising process. Asking for financial support is humbling.
Car purchases. We considered selling Dave’s truck when he moved overseas in anticipation of buying a slightly newer one when he returned. But the boys were going to be driving age soon and that truck would have made a great first car…
Volunteer opportunities. I did not sign up to volunteer as a Door Holder at the Passion 2014 Atlanta conference. The boys were going to be home. I was going to be mothering. I spent the weekend petsitting while my parents and sister were at the conference.
Future plans. We took our “last vacation without kids” before Dave left. We are now planning our next vacation…without kids.
We wrapped every decision we made around those two boys for the entire ten months their files were ours. That is not a bad thing. In fact it is a healthy part of the adoption process. But our adoption agency chose to withhold the evidence they had of significant ethical issues. There are true orphans who do need parents willing to make these kinds of sacrifices to bring them home, but our agency did not tell us the truth. So orphans we might have brought home are left in an orphanage as Dave and I survey the wreckage of our lives from opposite sides of the planet … and grieve.
What happens when you dig this space into your lives and it is not filled? What happens when this deliberate path you navigate comes do a dead end? What happens when you create space for two sons in every aspect of your life and the two sons do not exist?
It is a chasm. It is a vacuum. It feels like an empty stadium, wind whispering and shouting in every direction.
I stand at the center of that hypothetical stadium, one arm holding firmly to the computer screen displaying my husband’s face, and we marvel.
After the shock. After the pain akin to our hearts being ripped from our bodies. After the betrayal. After the tears, well, most of them. After all the talking. After all the decisions. When it was just the two of us standing in this space we created.
This magnificent emptiness.
Our ache still visceral. Our lives still in the chaos that happens when human trafficking is discovered in an adoption. In this place we discover what could possibly fill the void left when our sons became figments of our imagination.
In the emptiness there is fullness.