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Erica's post-"Adoption is NOT cool"

My friend Erica posted this yesterday and I had to repost.  She has articulated well what has been on my heart since we returned from our mission trip in February.  Hopefully it will motivate me to blow the dust off my half-written post discussing some of these same issues and post it here soon---because I think those of us who have advocated for adoption (and specifically our own), owe at least an equal amount of time and attention to awareness of the bigger picture. 

 Adoption is NOT cool.

Did I get your attention? Are you ready to throw tomatoes?

Hopefully you'll at least take the time to read through this post to get where I'm coming from. No, I haven't gone mad and suddenly become some crazy anti-adoption advocate. I have become more of a child advocate in different ways and I've taken a long hard look at the orphan crisis and I'm continuing to develop my thoughts on the matter.  Come take a walk through my brain.

As the waters of international adoption in Ethiopia have become murky, wait times increase and people wonder what the future holds, it has caused me to wonder what has changed. Why has adoption in Ethiopia gone from a huge need to an almost demand? The quick answer? Because of us. Yes. That's hard to swallow. Yes its painful. That doesn't change the reality.

Let me explain.

Ethiopia is home to over 5 million orphans. Of those orphans a much smaller number are actual double orphans or in layman's terms truly in need of a family. This means that many of these children have at least a mom or a dad that would like to care for them. Yes, I said that.  I said it because its true.  Mothers and Fathers don't generally give up their children unless they feel they HAVE to.  As a mother I know this is true, I would challenge any mother that said it wasn't.  Some children actually have family members that would care for them if that was financially possible for them.

Adoption is necessary because we live in a broken world.  

Its not glamorous.  Its painful.

This is a difficult subject.  Not everyone wants to hear it and some just honestly don't know.  I used to be in the "I didn't know" group.  Because I used to be in that place I feel that much stronger about the need to speak out.  We need to advocate for change, stand up for those who have no voice (James 1:27) and work on the ethics in international adoption vs. pretending everything is great.  Yes, even if that means waiting longer or stopping to correct things.

Just because we feel "called" to adopt doesn't mean we should throw ethics to the wayside.

I'm sure some of you are sitting back saying "sure, now that she's home with her kids she can get on the ethics bandwagon".  I've been pretty pointed about my feelings on ethics from the beginning.  It was what drove our agency choice and unfortunately knowing what we know now I cannot in good conscience recommend them any longer.  Much of the things we've learned/seen have come about after the fact and much in part because we stayed in Ethiopia for a month and saw a lot of what was happening at a ground level.  Asked questions and pushed for answers.  We can't help the timing but we also can't sit back and be silent. 

God doesn't need us to solve the orphan crisis.  He allows us to be apart.  We need to advocate on ALL levels.

My reason for finally posting this blog that's been written for months is simple.  I can't be silent.  As adoptive parents we owe it to ourselves and to our children to be educated on what's going on in the world of International adoption.  (domestic as well but that's a completely different blog post)

We must advocate, we must be honest, and we must speak up!

So how do we fix it?  I believe its a complex issue and there is no "right" answer.  I do think that adoption is part of the solution for the orphan crisis but I think in some respects Christians have come to a place of thinking its OUR job to solve this.  God doesn't need us to solve the orphan crisis.  Nope.  Not a bit.  Do we really think He's not capable of righting all wrongs all on his own?  He does however invite us to be apart, he commands us to care for orphans and widows.  Fight for the oppressed, speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  Adoption is part of that.  I don't think adoption is ALWAYS the right answer.  Please bear with me in what I'm about to say next.  I don't believe that God wants us to adopt children who have been taken from their parents.  That is NOT Gods intent.  I've heard some say "well he/she is still better off with me".  Really?  Better off with you or me vs. their biological family that God designed and sovereignly placed there?  I don't think so.  It seems we're missing the point.  Where are the adoption agencies with STRONG family preservation programs?  Are we advocating for KEEPING kids IN families or are we just worried about building ours?  Shouldn't our first and foremost goal be to keep families together?  If mama is giving up her baby because she doesn't have the $30 a month it costs to support her family shouldn't we do something about that?  I think so.

Now let me back up a little before you completely stop reading.  Please hear me.  I DO believe there is a true need for families to adopt, I just don't think that need is as HUGE as its currently being played out in some countries.  I do believe there are children of ALL ages that need families.  Yes, that includes infants, toddlers, HIV+ kids, special needs kids, and teenagers that desperately need families!  BUT my question is do we have our focus correct or are we just adopting because WE want another child or because its our "mission"?  What's the purpose of adopting a child and leaving a mother or family for that matter heart broken when $30 a month could change the circumstances?

Adoption agencies are making money on adoption.  I know some of you may find that cruel and mean but it's true. Adoption has become a "business" of sorts.  PLEASE don't get me wrong, I love adoption, I love many adoption agencies and I think they are doing the best they can (some better then others) but I urge you to please look at the whole picture.  ASK your agency what their family preservation programs look like.  That would be the deal breaker for me if we were to adopt again.

Many people assume we adopted because it was the "cool thing" or because we like Angelina and Brad a whole lot.  Neither of those are true, well I do kinda like Brangelina but that had zero to do with our adoption choices.  Adoption is not for wimps! It is hard.  It is messy.  Anyone who thinks otherwise should spend a day in the life of a family fresh home with their new baby/child! 

I write this not to cause an international uproar, I write it because its important.  I write this because we have personal experience and we cannot be quiet.  I write this because I cannot be silent.  As adoptive parents we must advocate for mothers, for children, those waiting, those adopted, those who will be adopted.  All of them matter.  All of them deserve an advocate

Frothy coffee

I had some deep thoughts to discuss today, but decided to hold off on those and instead touch on a very, very important issue: my morning coffee.

See the picture above?  This is a Kaldi's Macchiato (photo by Ms. Erica Shubin).  When I'm in Ethiopia, I drink these two at a time.  They are amazing.  I know Starbucks and Dunkin and others claim to serve macchiatos, but I'm sorry, friends.  There is only one.  It is unparalleled in flavor, rich and smooth, with just the right amount of froth and sweetness. Ah-maaaaazzzzzing.

But let me back up.  See, my issues really began quite a long time ago.  I could blame my mom, who was the first to introduce me to coffee.  As a six year old, she was serving me cream and sugar with a bit of coffee to get me out of bed in the mornings (I'm not sure why, something about me being a bit grumpy when I'm sleepy in the mornings.)  From elementary school forward, I've always had a cup of coffee in the morning.  

Or I could blame my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who were the first to introduce me to Starbucks coffee years ago when we lived with them for the summer.  At a time when Joe and I were broke and in seminary, we survived on ramen and hot dogs to make room in our monthly budget for Starbucks coffee.  Once we'd had it, we could never go back to Folgers.

[Thanks to Mom] I'd always had my coffee with Coffeemate and sugar.  But when I went on Weight Watchers after Danielle was born, I was told to cut my calories.  So I switched from sugar to splenda.  This was not easy to do, and it took me 3 weeks to get used to the taste before I finally enjoyed my coffee again.  But I endured through the transition, and for years I enjoyed my coffee this way.  In ignorant bliss.

(Are you still reading this?  You must not have much to do today. : ))

Then, my health-nut, all-natural, fitnessy-guru friend told me I should not have spenda OR coffemate because they are artificial and loaded with corn syrup and could cause cancer and my body thinks it's sugar anyway so I'm probably gaining weight from it while I'm slowly killing myself and yada yada yada.

So, in a effort to again make a healthy choice, I decided to change my coffee routine.  I ditched the coffeemate and began using half and half.  And I switched to stevia.  

Blech.  Yuck.

It tasted bitter and the half and half was too rich and I just wasn't happy.  And, frankly, not much has changed since Mom had to rouse me as a sleepy six year old---it can make for some pretty grouchy mornings around here. Me no yummy coffee=me no happy.

So for the sake of family harmony and my own sanity, I began experimenting with my coffee.  The goal: come as close to a Kaldi's macchiato as I can, without the sugar.  I won't bore you with the many combinations of coffee types, ways I brewed it, different types of milk-- from regular to coconut to almond to soy-- etc, etc.  It's been weeks of alot of trial and error, but the good news is--I think I finally have a cup of coffee that I enjoy in the morning that won't kill me prematurely.

Joe calls it frothy coffee.  I know, clever.  I think for years it's been called a latte or cappuccino, but [probably because of his military background] Joe has a need to rename things that have perfectly good names with his own special names.  And somehow, they always stick.  So without further's Frothy Coffee.

I start with Starbucks espresso coffee.  (The exception would be if I had Kaldi's espresso coffee, but I'm out and planning to fill a suitcase next time I go to Ethiopia.) I do like to use the french press, but since it's usually just me, the Keurig is easy and quick.  I use a reusable filter and use the lowest amount of water setting.

Now this is the fun part.  THIS is the key to frothy coffee.  You need a frother.  This one I found at Target for $29.99.  (Trust me, this one works and is cheap and I've tried many of them.  Thank goodness for Target's return policy.  In fact, Josh said maybe if I spent as much on his clothing as I did on coffee accessories he wouldn't have to wear the same pair of shorts to school every day.  I told him in my best soup nazi voice--no frothy coffee for you!!)

Now, you can use whatever kind of milk you like.  But I will warn you--almond milk and coconut milk do not froth as well.  If you use regular milk, they say one with less fat froths better, but I can't say I found that to be true.  I have settled on vanilla soy milk, which does have some sugar in it, but not much and it's just sweet enough for me.  Plus, you really only use about 1/4 cup of milk in each cup of coffee, so a little goes a long way. (Oh and if you get this frother, use the cappuccino attachment, not the latte one--you get tons of froth that way.)  It takes about 3 minutes to froth, so if you start it first, then brew your coffee, they're both ready at about the same time!

And because I do like it sweet, I add 1/2 packet of stevia to the hot coffee before I pour in the milk.  (What can I say, Mom ruined me.)  I don't know if I'll ever be able to get the coffee to have the same consistency as Kaldi's.  But I stir as I pour in the hot milk and froth, trying to froth up my coffee a bit.  Then I put the rest of the froth on top.

(By the way, I did this with decaf chai tea last night instead of coffee---YUM!!!  New nighttime fave! Oh and the kids can use this frother for some pretty yummy hot chocolate!)

And there you have it.  Frothy coffee.

I'm sorry to go on and on.  But hey, if I've saved even one life today, it was worth it.

Bottom's up! : )