A couple days ago I was talking to someone about how I want to adopt all my children, and I started crying. Just like the first time, just like always.
When I was seven I returned to a small and perfect country called Guatemala, the first time I went there I was four-years-old. I went back with my mom to spend ten days helping to further an orphanage outside of Antigua, Guatemala. Journaler that I am I remember journaling those ten days, but tragically I lost that journal long ago. I can still picture every corner of that orphanage though, every chipped tile that created the floors, the tin outer walls that didn’t quite reach the ceiling. I can still hear the squeal of the pig being killed on the other side of those tin walls so that we could eat it for dinner. Which, I did not.
I remember the orphans. At seven-years-old I was in the middle of the varying ages of the kids there. While the adults slaved away building more buildings to house more children, or cooking, or cleaning, I was running all around with half a dozen girls around my age, all of us attached at the hip, laughing endlessly and having the time of our little lives despite the fact that we didn’t speak each others language.
I took a baby from any adult that would hand me one, I would go all over, nearly still a baby myself, surrounded by other children, with a baby balancing on my hip. It was ten days of pure love that I will never be able to fully express. I was a kid, but I recall those memories now and tears stream down my face.
The night of goodbyes before leaving Guatemala was probably the hardest I cried in my childhood, and for a month or so after leaving I had the heaviest heart. Life had changed. It would never be the same, not ever.
I went back a year later, I remember crying just as hard upon returning as I had cried when leaving the last time. I haven’t been back to Guatemala since I was eight. I’ve been other places, I’ve known many other orphans. I literally grew up with orphans being my favorite people, my walls were coated with pictures of me and my Guatemalan friends, I have thought of them consistently since the day I met them, I’ve dreamt of them, prayed for them, missed them, missed them, missed them.
But for some peculiar reason adoption was never cemented on my heart until about a year and a half ago, or, perhaps it was always on my heart but other things had to be chipped away to find it.
I found a blog a year and a half ago by a lovely young woman and her young husband that accounted their story of adopting their daughter from Uganda. I spent a couple hours reading every post about their daughter. I was so moved by the mother’s heart, her yearning to be with her daughter that was on the other side of the world. I felt it as I read, I felt in my soul how one who never came from you could truly be yours.
Now, I was ALWAYS someone who was terribly excited to be pregnant. It’s always been an experience I have looked forward to in life, to feel a living thing growing within you, how crazy is that?! Of course I wanted it! But when God chipped away the other parts of my heart to reveal how I want to adopt, a flood gate opened. Again, I would never be the same.
I remember sitting with my Detroit girls last summer as they inspected my tattoo (most of them knowing me before I’d had a tattoo), their beautiful ebony fingers tracing the letters on my shoulder, asking me what it meant. A large number of them being foster children themselves had a lot to say about my tattoo and it’s meaning. I will never forget this one little girl, she was maybe eight or nine. Right before getting on the bus to leave camp, she ran up to me, wrapped her arms around my waist, looked up at me and said, “Adopt your kids as babies, so they won’t remember anything that’s happened to them.”
My heart splintered at her words. Her saying that confirmed in me how much I do want the kids that remember, the kids that don’t know what real love is. Because I know Real Love. And I can share it with girls and boys like my Detroit youth whom are exactly who I’ll be welcoming in to my arms and home when the day comes.
I wear on my skin a reminder of what is cemented on my heart.
When I say I’m going to adopt, I am telling you I’m going to have kids. Lots of them. Simple as that. For me, this is the way I will have my children, the only way.