Kent Bush: Path to adoption exhilarating, exhausting
It was a simple question.
The answer was anything but simple. In fact, it changed my life.
It went something like, "If you really believe what you say you believe, then why don't you do what you know you should do?
I've always felt like I was a pretty good guy. I don't want to write a resume of self-commendation, but I think I take care of other people in common ways and in some ways most don't.
However, that self-analysis of "I'm doing enough" changed thanks to a package of stories I wrote for the newspaper on Thanksgiving 2008. That combination of ink on paper planted a seed in me that will soon bloom in full.
I wanted to take advantage of National Orphan Month and tell the story of a few families in our church who had adopted internationally.
Soon, the scope of that story grew from a few adopted children into more than a dozen. The children came from China, Thailand, South Korea, Guatemala, Russia and domestic adoptions.
When I interviewed these couples, I had trouble relating to their desire to adopt.
I never wanted any children.
I enjoyed the selfishness that was inherently more acceptable when no children are involved.
So traveling to a foreign land to adopt a parentless child sounded like a lot of expense, a lot of trouble and a lot of unnecessary heartache.
Now, it's the passion of my heart.
Like a seed, the idea didn't become a reality overnight. You don't go from an acorn to a mighty oak tree in a few days.
The seed continued to grow as those stories retold themselves in my head as I lay awake at night, mowed the lawn or enjoyed other private moments of contemplative thought.
When I first told my wife that I thought this was something we should prayerfully consider, she almost fell out of the car.
After months of filling out paperwork, clearing legal hurdles, and trying to figure out how we would be able to afford the incredible expense involved with international adoption, she probably wishes she would have.
But the overriding belief we share is that if God is truly asking us to complete this mission, he will equip us and help fund the work.
I know some people will wonder why we didn't choose to adopt an American child. But this never felt like a choice we were making for ourselves. Obviously, logic and reasoning don't inspire this kind of plan.
This is just the path we felt like God was asking us to travel.
Maybe domestic adoption is your path. It wasn't our path.
Now it is official.
We're on a waiting list. In the next few months, we will be matched with a 3- to 5-year-old boy in Ethiopia.
Soon after that, to quote my 6-year-old son Blake, we will fly to the heart of Africa to "bring brother home."
The experience has been exhilarating and exhausting. It encompasses all of the excitement of a pregnancy with more paperwork than a tax audit.
When we got pregnant with Blake, we didn't have to have a home study to declare us fit parents or even garner FBI clearance before we were allowed to have him.
But even though the paperwork is completed, the emotional roller coaster just left the station.
As we wait for a child to be matched with our family, we know two transatlantic flights are in our future. We know our family will soon expand. But most of all, we know we have a huge amount of support from our church family.
Whether in the form of fundraisers, advice or assistance, First Baptist Church of Augusta, Kan., takes the idea that adoption is a mission of the church seriously.
In the Book of James (believed to have been written by the half brother of Jesus) the author specifically says that true religion is to help widows and orphans in their distress.
That doesn't mean that every Christian is assigned a child when they join the church. But it does mean that we are to show God's love to people who can't do anything for us in return.
For our family, that means adding an extra plate at the dinner table for a boy who has been institutionalized after losing his parents to AIDS, an accident or abandonment.
For you, it might mean mowing your neighbor's yard or giving them a ride to the grocery store on Saturdays.
If our actions begin to line up with our words, we might just discover a world with smaller problems and bigger solutions.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.