One of the questions on the adoption application we are filling out (because we have finally chosen an agency, woo hoo! but more on that later) is simply, why have you chosen to adopt? It makes perfect sense to me that the adoption agency wants to know (I suspect "need more orphans to build the death ray" is the kind of answer that probably gets you disqualified) but I've been a little surprised at the interest in that same question in real life interactions. Since I had to write it out anyhow, I figured I'd put the answer here, as well. And expand on it a bit further than I did on the application, because I think will be important, later in the process, to remember exactly why we got started.
I've kind of always been intrigued by the idea of adoption. From an environmental sustainability point of view, having children is not great; overpopulation is a big issue. From a societal benefit point of view, it makes a lot of sense to me to adopt an already born child, rather than produce a new one, when there are already perfectly good kids out there in need of a home and family. And from a purely selfish point of view, I really didn't enjoy pregnancy and don't want to do it again, although there's no medical reason not to (we're not dealing with infertility or any kind of medical danger if I were to become pregnant again).
But these are not really why we're doing it. These are rational, intellectual reasons why adoption is a good fit for us, but to really kindle the kind of enthusiasm that is necessary to go into this process, you need emotion.
For me, the emotional kick came while I was driving home from work, one day in February, listening to the radio. Some kind of international official (I wasn't really paying attention, at least at first) had been sent to Syria to check on the situation there, and was being interviewed about what he had seen. The interviewer asked something like "what was the thing that really stood out to you, as you visited the refugee camps?" The reply was that the impact on the children had been especially hard to witness. He described a very young child, 3 or 4 years old, who had been scooped up by a neighbor or relative and saved from the bombing of their village, and was now in the camp. No one really knew if the rest of the child's family had been killed, or maybe were in a different camp, or what. There was very little organizational capacity available for reuniting families divided in this way, and of course food and shelter and general safety were much higher priorities overall.
It makes me cry, still, to think of how scary that would be for a child. I thought about Conan in that situation. Not knowing where he was, where mama and papa were, who would take care of him, or who would comfort him would be so overwhelming. I wanted to find that child, hug him or her, and make everything better. And then, I realized, I could. I could make things better for one kid, not that same kid in a Syrian refugee camp, obviously, but one kid somewhere that just wanted to be hugged and loved and told that everything would be alright. I can't solve all the problems in the world, but that one, right there, that's one I can manage.
I went home and told Cary the whole story, and that I thought we should adopt a kid. I pretty much expected him to talk me out of it. After all, we were happily settled into our life as a family of three, and had rebuffed all the friends and family who had asked us when we were going to have another kid firmly enough that the question had stopped coming.
But instead of talking me out of it, he just said yes. Yes we should. Let's do it.
We had more discussion after that, of course. We talked about the age range (2-3), gender (either), nationality & race (no preference), and of course we talked to Conan, gently, about how he would feel about having a little brother or sister (he's all for it). We did a bunch of research online, inquired with friends who have adopted about their experiences, corresponded with adoption agencies, got info packets in the mail and joined discussion groups.
This is a big process, and it will take a while to complete. We are just now at the point where we're formally applying to the agency we've selected. Soon we will start the homestudy process, which will take 3-6 months to complete, and then we will be waiting to be selected as a prospective family for a kid in need of one, which could take a year or more. It will probably be hard, not only to complete all the paperwork and background checks and whatnot, but also to keep our intent strong enough to make it through the waiting period.
So why adopt? Because someday, I will hug that little person tight, and tell him or her that it will be alright. And it will be.