We’re Sarah and Kevin Brown, and we recently adopted a little girl from China. We bought the adoption package that included unlimited appetizers and a free website, so we figured we should design a cute logo, show you a few moving pictures, and blog like the hipsters do, right?
In all seriousness though, this adoption has been the single greatest adventure of our lives and we’re blessed to have amazing family and friends who have wanted to share this experience with us. So here it is. A place to follow along with what has been and will continue to be the most incredible journey we’ll ever take.
So how did we get here in the first place?
After spending an irreplaceable eight years together married and years before that as best friends, in 2012 we finally started feeling “ready”. People always say “You’re never ready for kids, just do it”. But we, for the longest time, were definitely un-ready and were soaking up every moment together as a party of two. In fact, there were many “What if we just never had children?” conversations. Even once we knew it was “time” over a year ago, oddly enough we still didn’t feel that urge to get pregnant. For us, it was always more about the general concept of family and guiding a little soul as their own beautiful life story plays out.
About the same time, our worldview began to broaden and we started to develop a deeper appreciation for cultures other than our own. We became hungry to learn as much as we could about what else was out there. Then sitting at home in Nashville on random weekend nights watching films about refugees in Sierra Leone or the plight of young girls in China, our curiosity about the world turned to admiration and empathy for those with less.
We get this question a lot. Naturally.
Adoption was already part of our lexicon, dating back to 2007 when we first tried to get pregnant. Although we were never faced with the decision, adoption was never off the table and was always in the back of our minds. Fast forward five years and we wish we could tell you about a “eureka!” moment where something clicked. Watching “China’s Lost Girls” in 2012 was definitely a rallying point (where we learned of the heart-breaking situation of newborns there), but it’s still hard to pinpoint one single moment.
Our adoption journey started as a gradual development – a tiny little spark that worked its way into a blazing flame. Now, it’s hard to think about a time when we didn’t have this passion. And our conviction that adoption is how we will build our family covers us like a warm blanket.
We feel fortunate that adoption was a choice for us. For us, being parents is not synonymous with birthing children. Being parents means providing family, home, unconditional love, support, security, and spiritual guidance to our child. Our child just happens not to be made up of our DNA but of our hearts instead. There are so many children whose “home” is an orphanage and whose “unconditional” ends at a very young age upon which the streets become their “family”. There are an estimated 147 million orphans out there; roughly 2 million in China alone, and that number only represents the ones officially documented. Our hearts are filled with love enough to parent them all, and we count ourselves blessed that we are the parents of even just one. We might only be able to afford a few in our home, but we plan to keep plowing forward as long as we can.
The next question we get is, “why international adoption?” Which is also natural. For that, we have a few reasons. We'll keep it short and sweet here though (by the way, feel free to hit us up anytime if you want to know more – we would LOVE the opportunity to talk to you about it in more detail).
First, no single child’s need for loving parents is greater than another. But the reality is that some orphan situations are painfully worse than others. Whether the lack of nutritional care and available medical support, or the absence of foster care programs and presence of deep cultural stigma, conditions in many other countries make the struggle even greater.
Second, international adoption often takes more time, money, and patience than domestic adoption. And international adoption numbers are dwindling (inversely to the number of orphans), because of how difficult it has become. We figured if we might have the strength and could possibly round up the resources to do it, why not us?
And finally, at the end of the day we are all brothers and sisters no matter which country we currently call home, right? The world's children belong to us all, and we humbly share in the responsibility to love and lead them whether they are our biological children, adopted children, nieces, nephews, or neighbors. We cherish the idea of children from around the globe joining our family, bringing love from all over the world into one home. One at a time.
As we looked around the world, our hearts were quickly led to China. And specifically, to the little girls there. The culture is rich and beautiful in so many regards, but unfortunately gives girls an automatic tough start to put it mildly. Between implementation of the “one-child” policy, the cultural preference for boys, and the stigma surrounding physical “imperfections”, China’s orphanages are overflowing with sweet girls with special needs whose birth families are unable or unwilling to embrace. We look forward to opening our arms to children from other countries later, but China just felt right for our first daughter. Our daughter. Can we say that one more time just for fun? Our daughter.
One (of many!) crazy things about international adoption is that – by the time you start the process – your child is already out there. So the day we began our adventure in January 2013 and met with the adoption agency, we walked into the meeting knowing our daughter was already a few months old, falling asleep some 13 hours ahead in her birth country of China. It took more than 15 months to meet her, but we knew she was with us (and vice versa), every step of the way.
UPDATE! As of December 10, 2013 we now have at least seen her face. We got a match! Read more here.
UPDATE #2! As of April 24, 2014... we're home from China, together forever as a family of three! Follow the blog here.