People sometimes tell Brian Schoeni and his wife they are on track for sainthood because they’ve adopted three girls from China. But Schoeni believes adoption isn’t about the parents. It’s about the children who are in need of a home and loving family.
I believe in adoption. You don’t need a PhD to figure that out when you see my family.
My wife and I are average-looking Caucasians. According to our daughters’ homeland, I have a big nose. They, on the other hand, have small noses. Not to mention dancing almond eyes that are black – unless you get up close and look at them in bright sunshine – and black hair that is hot to the touch as it soaks up the Colorado sun.
Yes, we are from America’s middle; they are from China’s. But the geographies of land and face are irrelevant.
I believe in adoption because of its intentionality; because of how it changes lives; because of the way it puts skin and bones, laughter and tears on the whole idea of hope.
My wife and I knew we’d have kids. When we finally got serious about it, all roads led back to adoption. We adopted because we wanted to. Or maybe we did it because we were supposed to.
But make no mistake: our parenthood is anything but unplanned. We did paperwork. We worked extra jobs to pay agency fees. And we waited.
And then, a day that started with a sewage backup in our master bathroom ended with an e-mail delivering the most amazing picture: a wide-eyed girl wearing multiple sweaters, her hair tied up in a topknot with red, white, and pink ribbons. Our daughter.
I printed out that photo and carried it everywhere, including to the other side of the world, where I got to hold the real thing, and realize just how big – and small – the world really is.
Sometimes people – usually strangers who see us out and about – act like my wife and I are on track for sainthood because we’ve adopted three girls who, by no fault of their own, found themselves navigating life without a family.
Those people don’t get it. Adoption is not about me and my kids. It’s about all of us.
It’s about taking something that in some ways is selfish – wanting to be a parent – and transforming it into something that affirms the best in humanity: the ability to love someone unconditionally, simply because I choose to.
I am not alone. Families that grow by way of adoption are everywhere, and we defy stereotypes. I’m not old. I’m not infertile. I’m not driven by pity or piety. I’m just a guy who knows I’m the luckiest dad in the world.
I wish that adopting was on everyone’s radar. Not as some peripheral blip, some second-choice backup plan, but as part of that very first “should-we-become-parents?” conversation.
I know adoption isn’t a perfect fit for every parent-to-be. But I do believe this: adoption is a perfect fit for every kid in every corner of our world who needs the love of a family.
Brian Schoeni is a dad, husband, and journalist who lives in the Denver, Colorado, area with his wife and their three daughters.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.