Thursday, January 14, 2010

The single most surprising event I've seen as a parent

Today, we had the sad task of taking the child we hosted over Christmas to the airport to send him back home to Latvia. (See this and this.) I haven't blogged much about the experience of having him here, because having 4 boys of our own and adding a 5th to the mix has kept me on my toes. Throw the holidays into the mix, and my uncle's death on Christmas, and our family has been thoroughly busy.

Suffice it to say, that the experience of hosting this child was thoroughly positive.

But that's over now, and my wife & I are now allowed to utter the a-word: adoption. And we are forced to think about if we're going to do it. There are a number of things pulling us towards adopting him:
  1. We really liked him.
  2. As an orphan (2nd lowest social strata in Latvia) and a "gypsy" (lowest social strata in Latvia) he's pretty much got *nothing* to go back to.
  3. We could make this one kid's life better. And not just by a little bit. We could give this kid a future that he simply doesn't have right now.
  4. And probably the biggest factor, one day we're going to stand before God and make an account of our lives. And it's almost impossible to imagine saying that we didn't do whatever we could to change his life because it would be too expensive and too hard.
Of course, there are some things pulling us from adopting him:
  1. It is expensive. And I don't mean a little bit. The cost ranges between $10,000 and $40,000. My company has some adoption credits, and the government offers some tax credits, but added up those don't come anywhere close to the worst case scenario cost. Doing this means, we probably have to stop putting money to our children's college funds for a while.
  2. It will require a huge commitment of time: we will likely have to take at least 2 trips to Latvia, possibly 3.
  3. It will be a lot of work. He has to learn English. We have to figure out some mechanism to driving him towards a productive life. And he's 14 already. Which means that we have a lot of work and not a lot of time.
  4. And the biggest fear is that, after watching him interact with our children for a month, that he won't fit into the mix in our family very well. 
I recently blogged about my 2nd son, and how he struggles to get along with people. And during the month we hosted, #2 and our guest got along about as well as #2 gets along with most other children. He was aggressive and intolerant of differences, and physical. Our guest is cut of a similar cloth to #2. So there were disagreements between the two, that would end with one or the other getting physically hurt.

Which brings me to the single most surprising thing I've ever seen as a parent. I was working from home today so that I could make the trip to the airport. I came downstairs after my children got off the bus to discover that #2 was crying. I figured he'd had a confrontation with someone on the bus or maybe one of his brothers. But the reason was that he missed the boy we'd just taken to the airport.

He was crying on the way to school this morning because he knew he'd just seen our guest for the last time. He was crying on the way home from school because he knew that our guest would not be at home.  And he was crying when he got home because it was all confirmed.

I didn't know what to say, but at the same time as I was sad for my son, my heart almost burst with pride for him, too. At only 8 years old, there are depths to his character that many adults I know have not yet reached.

One thing, though. One of our excuses not to adopt was just blown to bits.