“As an unselfish, life-affirming, and lifelong commitment, adoption is rooted in the virtues that define and strengthen a family and that, in turn, enrich the lives of individuals and the communities in which they live.”
~President George H. W. Bush | Nov. 10, 1992
I’ve thought a lot about this quote since I first saw it re-posted on Facebook. While I think that it is mostly true, I keep coming back to the “unselfish” part. I do not think adoption (at least in our case) is wholly unselfish. I’m adopting because I want something. I want to be a mother, and for that, I need a child. While in some ways it would be easier to just get pregnant and have a baby that way, I feel like I’m getting more out of adoption. ND and I will have an incredible, shared experience that will strengthen our bond and leave us with a story to tell. We will get to travel halfway around the world to visit a country that we might never have seen otherwise. I won’t have to deal with the aches and pains of pregnancy and birth. Although adoption comes with it’s own set of challenges, we also won’t be navigating the difficult road of caring for a newborn. (I could be eating my words over this one!)
We will also likely be complimented by friends and family for our altruism. While this is not one of our motives for adopting, I understand that it comes with the territory, and many people few adoption as an ultimate act of charity. That definitely makes me uncomfortable. To me, charity is donating your time, money, services or possessions to people that need them. It’s spending Christmas Eve in a soup kitchen instead of with your family. It’s “adopting” one of the orphans that you see on late night TV, by sending them money and clothing. But with those things, you of course do get that warm and fuzzy feeling in return. Judith Lichtenberg explores the topic of altruism in a recent New York Times article. She discusses whether pure altruism is even possible. (Remember that Friends episode?!) She writes,
“If a person acts to benefit another in the expectation that the favor will be returned, the natural response is: “That’s not altruism!” Pure altruism, we think, requires a person to sacrifice for another without consideration of personal gain. Doing good for another person because something’s in it for the do-er is the very opposite of what we have in mind.”
Her perspective aligns pretty closely with my own beliefs on the subject. There is definitely something in this for me, and that might be the understatement of the century. Soon, I’ll have everything I’ve ever wanted. An amazing husband, a great marriage, and a beautiful daughter.
I’m not adopting because I feel like this child needs to be “saved”. I’m not following God’s path, or choosing this road because of anything written in the bible. However, I do feel “called” to adopt, if you will. I’m honestly not sure where that feeling comes from. I doubt I’ll ever know. It’s definitely something that is almost constantly on my mind, and a topic I look forward to exploring in the future.