Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why Now?

I've been intentionally delaying the starting of our family for as long as we have been married (coming up on 7 years now... woo hoo!).  I've come up with a lot of great reasons for doing so, and have presented a number of convincing arguments to back up those reasons.

Here's a list of the top reasons (in no particular order) why we have yet to start our family:         (note: before forming opinions or judgments, please continue reading to the end)

1. I've always wanted to travel before having kids
2. I'd like my own student loans to be paid for before any children we have start college
3. I couldn't imagine paying for full-time daycare OR quitting work, given our current financial situation
4. I enjoy our freedom to just get up and do whatever we want, whenever we want.
5.  Kids are a lot of work. I worked in childcare for years and have a deep respect for the amount of work that goes into raising and caring for a child.
6. I never want our children to worry about money.  That doesn't mean I feel the need to have tremendous wealth saved up, but I never want my kid to be afraid to ask for soccer cleats, or school pictures because they know there just isn't enough money there for the "extras"
7. I am already so worn out and tired after work I just can't imagine having to invest any extra energy into anything or anyone.
8. I like the way our life is- I enjoy the ways I spend my time and the amounts of "me-time" I have... I'm selfish and don't want to give some of those things up.
9. When I become a parent, I want parenting to be the number one priority in my life.  I don't want my kids to feel like a burden, or a hassle, or like they are in the way.  Until I can confidently decide that I want my focus to be on parenting, I shouldn't start a family.
10. It's hard to imagine raising children without the immediate support and presence of our families.  Our nearest relative lives 2+ hours away.  There's no calling mom when the baby has a fever and can't go to daycare... there's no calling grandma to come show me how to rock a colicky baby to sleep.. there's no asking mother-in-law to watch the baby at a moment's notice for an hour just so we can go out to dinner alone... etc.  In a way I feel like we're all on our own.

Now that I've got you all fired up and you have a rebuttal in mind for at least half of those answers, hear me out...

What's the REAL reason I didn't want to start a family?  What's the REAL reason why I needed to keep putting this off longer and longer?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate change.  I hate change and I love control.  I like knowing exactly what to expect and I like calling all the shots.  I  am fully aware that once you have a child, you can throw planning and control right out the window.  Kids change everything.  And when you're dealing with a baby or a toddler, well, you can make all the plans you want for your weekend.... but you better have a backup plan, and a backup plan to your backup plan- or you had just better be okay with winging it!

I will say that in the past year or so, my heart has been changing.  I still haven't experienced the "baby fever" that everyone has been telling me for years would be showing up soon, but my outlook was starting to change, and parenting a child has been seeming more and more "do-able."

Last May, we move from a big old historic house in the city to a newer, modern house in a subdivision out in the suburbs.  We traded an awesome charming (yet crumbling) 108 year old house in an "iffy" neighborhood, where we didn't have a garage, driveway, or even shed for the lawnmower for a traditional family-style home (complete with driveway, garage, and fenced in yard) with a in-home-daycare next door and a slew of moms and strollers going by every evening.

For the first time in our marriage I began thinking "hmm.... I could see having a kid here."  There's an elementary school within sight and a huge, beautiful (and culturally diverse) high school less than a mile down the road.  This neighborhood is safe, friendly, and full of other young families.

As those thoughts towards parenthood began blooming, so did our careers.  James and I have both been honored with raises and promotions over the past year that have made life a little more comfortable than it ever has been.  There's still not that "extra" left over each month to put away in the savings, but for the first time I can at least fathom raising a child and still having money for groceries and soccer cleats. (forget vacations, name brands, or cable TV but I know we will all have food to eat!)

As more and more of our friends began either moving away or having children of their own, that social life that I had always valued so much began changing as well. Over the past couple of years my circle of friends has been getting younger and younger to accommodate our habits of staying out late and last-minute planning. If we continue on this path, pretty soon we'll be hanging out with people so much younger than us it just won't be easy to connect.  Some days it feels like if we remain childless for too much longer our own kids aren't going to have anyone to play with! (which actually isn't true at all... some of my dearest friends aren't even married yet).

About a year or two ago, friend through the animal rescue group that I volunteer with revealed to me  that she and her husband would be pursuing an international adoption.  Her and her husband brought home their son from China in January.    I was able to follow her journey through her own blogging, and got to catch up with her a few months after her arrival back to the U.S. with her son.  She had such a great experience with her agency and the whole process it really peaked my interest, and I began doing a little more research on international adoption, and specifically China.

At some point this winter someone posted a link to a movie on Facebook about a movie that was coming to theaters called "The Dropbox." (see link to the trailer below). The film is a documentary about a man and his wife who started a safe haven for orphans in Korea.  After mixing up the dates, I ended up missing the only showing in our area. I was thrilled when I learned that it was so popular they were bringing it back for another round of showings a few weeks later.

I almost forgot again, but then one night after work it popped into my mind.  I quick looked it up and realized it was showing in 20 minutes.... at the the theater that is 20 minutes from home!  James and I sprung into action, hopped in the car, and got there just in time. (this really meant a lot to me, as my husband is not a last-minute plan type of person)

So all of that thinking brought me to the place I was at mentally and emotionally on March 16th, 2015.

I'll cut to the chase and just say that the movie totally rocked my world.

I have never walked away from my Christian beliefs, but let's just say I haven't been the most "plugged in" the past few years.  My heart was in the right place, but just like with child-raising, I was full of good excuses why I couldn't go to church or get involved in a small group.  I had constant intentions of praying and reading my Bible, but the days just keep slipping away, as did my attention.

Thankfully, sometimes God speaks to us even when we aren't listening or looking for answers.

For the past 2-3 years I've found myself increasingly unhappy, increasingly stressed, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled.  I've placed the blame on money, work, friends, my marriage, our house, the pets, you name it.  I kept thinking "If only I lived here" or "If only I had {this} type of job" or "if only we made more money" or "if only we could travel.".....
What I WAS NOT ever thinking was IF ONLY WE ADOPTED A CHILD....

Now, hear me out... I am 100% aware of the fact that parenthood will not ease my stress, lighten my burden, or just miraculously make all of my worries go away. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's likely to (at minimum) triple them.

Here's the catch:  As I explained in my last post, my life's calling is to help orphans.  I've been doing very fulfilling and meaningful work in helping orphaned cats and dogs the past few years, but that wasn't (primarily) what I was put on this earth to do.  I  love it and plan on always doing whatever I can to help in those efforts, but my number one reason for living is to help orphaned children.  I've been making differences in people's lives through my career, but I'll be honest, my job was increasingly becoming a bigger and bigger drain on my spirit, not a source of fulfillment.

God spoke to me on March 16th, 2015.  And if God spoke English it would translate to something like this:

"Kristen Adele Gere, you can try to ignore your calling for as long as you want.  You can try to fill your life with your career, with house repairs, with animal rescue, or anything else you choose, but that little nagging feeling you get that says none of it is enough is not going to go away until you start putting your trust and faith in Me, and you start obeying My calling on your life.  What are you waiting for?  Don't you trust Me?  Don't you trust that if I have placed this calling on your life I will provide the way?  Don't you trust that just as in everything else in your life, I will ensure your needs are taken care of?"

All I could think was... yeah.... that list that I've been clinging to?  Pretty lame.
How can I honestly sit here and say "I can't afford to help" when Pastor Lee and his wife (from the film) have FAR LESS than we do and they have helped countless orphans.

As my sister called me out a while back... if I could afford a mortgage and two car payments, I can afford an adoption, and I'll figure out the budget for the rest.  Nothing in life worth doing is easy.  And while you can't just raise a child on love alone...  we are admittedly more financially secure than many of our family and friends have been when they entered parenthood, and things have always turned out ok for all of them.  If you want something bad enough, you'll make it work.  And if God is telling you that He will provide... you need to trust that He will.

So, we will put our faith in God and move forward.  We will seek his guidance and blessing in fundraising efforts, in the big decisions that lay before us, and in all of the other details along the way.  But as of March 16th, 2015, James and I have committed ourselves before the Lord's plan for us, and we have begun our journey into adopting an orphaned child into our family.
It's time to put my favorite Bible verse, James 1:27 into action.

Here's a link to the trailer for "The Drop Box" film:
(the entire film can be ordered through Amazon)

"The Drop Box" - Documentary Trailer from Arbella Studios on Vimeo.

1 comment:

  1. I am very excited for you, James and Kristen. You're in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your faith and this amazing journey that God has planned for you. I hope the road is paved with Love, and that you shine bright with Gods favor every where you go. <3