When I realized I was pregnant on our six month anniversary of marriage, I was stunned. Mostly because everyone is sort of stunned that first time, but also because I had no idea pregnancy could be that easy. We weren't even trying. But the month before we had stopped trying not to, so it shouldn't have been that unexpected. Seriously, though, I had grown up hearing stories of years and years of trying without success, so I assumed that would be us, too.
When Benjamin was a toddler and I was pregnant with Nathaniel, I saw signs on the New Jersey Turnpike asking for people to volunteer to be foster parents. I mentioned them to Todd and he said, "Not yet. Now is not the time."
The same thing happened in between Nathaniel and Caleb. And again Todd said, "Not yet."
After Caleb was born, nobody who lives with me wanted me to be pregnant ever again. (I know it's shocking, but I'm not very pleasant while pregnant.)
Todd and I both heard a few news stories on NPR at different times highlighting the difficulties of getting adopted as an older child. We knew that we didn't need to adopt a baby. We had been there and done that, and everybody wants to adopt babies. We wanted an older child, but one that would be enough older than Benjamin that the natural birth order of our kids wouldn't be upset. So we started looking into what we needed to do to be able to adopt a teenager.
I love the teen years. They are turbulent and tumultuous. They are ridiculoulsy hard and really wonderful. There is so much possibility and experimentation. It's a great time to figure out how to start as a little kid and end up as a fledgling adult.
I had a great time teaching middle school students way back when I was still teaching school, and my favorite part of seminary was being able to start my morning off with a bunch of kids whom I both loved and wanted to shake some sense into. Sometimes all at once.
Our prayers in the last couple of years have included a lot of, "Please let us know if we are doing something completely insane here." But mostly we feel absurdly calm about the whole thing. Even when we realize that we are about to have to face driving, dating, and college about ten years before we were initially planning on addressing such things.
There was another element to all of this. About three years ago, Todd looked at each other and said, "Now what?" We had three beautiful boys. Todd had a well paying job that he enjoyed. We had a nice house in a great neighborhood. So what was next? This question led to lots of other questions. Go back to school? Career change? Move? Baby? After a few months of contemplating what was next, Todd finally said, "It's time."
And so, the ultimate answer of "What the heck you were you thinking adopting a sixteen year old?" is:
Because we want to and we can.
And we've been given the go-ahead to do something that on paper seems utterly absurd. We've been subtley preparing for this for our entire lives. And this time our desires and the Lord's timetable seem to be in synch.