I grew up in an era relatively free of ‘political correctness’, and this extended to all areas of life, including gender bias. Little girls wore pretty dresses and spent their days role-playing how to cook, clean and look after their ‘babies’. Little boys spent their lives outdoors getting dirty and riding their bikes and scooters around the garden. I wasn’t very good at being the stereo-typical girl (not much has changed over the years!) but I can tell you that although I grew up in Zambia, the dolls all my friends played with had milky white complexions and in these fantasies all of them came out of their Mommy’s tummies.
Let’s fast forward a couple of decades. The girls have moved on from their role-playing and now plan real-life weddings, marrying Prince Charming in the wedding dress of their dreams and they look forward to extending their families to include lots of happy children of their own. Then real life happens…
Work. Stress. Age. Single. Divorced. Health. Miscarriage. Infertility.
And with these things the dreams of a perfect, textbook life, come crashing to the floor. For many who live in our society, this is a devastating reality and in recent years the inability to have children has become one of the highest causes of depression, conflict, and divorce among South Africans in the Middle/Upper class white population.
This is my story…
“I never fitted the mold. I didn’t play dolls and I didn’t like pink. I wanted travel & adventure.”
I never fitted the mold. I didn’t play dolls and I didn’t like pink. I wanted travel & adventure. I fought injustice and always had a love of people and their cultures. I was fortunate enough to have a Christian, liberal upbringing and was taught that people’s hearts are the same regardless of their race, language or culture. In my early 20’s I met Daniel – his heart was amazing but his upbringing was very different to mine and very typical of a young person brought up in Apartheid South Africa. We debated, discussed, compromised and agreed to differ on many issues and after 6 years we got married. I had my dream job, running an international NGO and traveling the world, so I ignored all the advice given by well-meaning friends and family and chose to postpone having children for a little while longer. When we dreamed of our future, it included 2 children of our own and 1 by adoption… and there was still plenty of time! After 6 years our daughter, Jess, was born and I realized to my amazement that this wasn’t the end of the fun but rather the beginning of it. I immediately regretted not starting earlier and wanted lots of children! When Jess was a year old we, started trying for a second child and this is where the trouble began. Five years of tests, miscarriages, IVF’s, D&C’s and a huge amount of heartache later, I called an end to it all. Emotionally, I just couldn’t do it any more.
Our plan had always been to adopt a third child and at this point I moved to what I thought was the next logical next step – that our second child would come from adoption. We weren’t talking about putting our name on a very long list in the hope of adopting a child that looked like us. The point of adoption was to make a difference and to adopt a child who really needed a home. It’s amazing how something can seem like such a great idea until it’s time to make it reality! At this point, Daniel suddenly wasn’t sure any more.
It’s an enormous step. Adoption is for life. How would people react? What would family think? And for both of us there was the huge, burning question… could we possibly love an adopted child as much as we loved Jess.
God worked in our hearts as we wrestled with these questions and within months we started the application. It was an administrative drag but the process was easy and made less tedious by the incredibly dedicated social workers.
In record speed, after 5 months, I received a call saying they had a baby for us. However, the baby didn’t seem like a good fit and we didn’t want to rush, so we opted to wait until the right baby came along. A week later Daniel received a call to say they had a 4 month old baby, and knowing that I really wanted to adopt a baby as young as possible, he said the same thing without mentioning this to me. A few days later, we attended a routine meeting with a third group of social workers and they presented us with papers of a baby, whose smile & personality immediately jumped off the pages of her profile. In that moment we both realized that this was the third time this little girl had been presented to us – by 3 different groups of social workers! Within 4 days we flew to Cape Town to collect her and many of you will now know her as our bubbly, busy, loud, sociable and incredible 3 year old daughter, Tasha.
“I can’t believe I doubted whether I could love her enough.”
I can’t believe I doubted whether I could love her enough and her personality is more outgoing and ‘Robus’ than mine! People stop us to chat and comment all the time but always with positive words of encouragement. I’m sure there are those who don’t approve, but for the most part they’ve kept their opinions to themselves, and we like to believe that perhaps we plant a seed in their hearts that will one day help to grow their understanding and tolerance.
God has a plan for each of us. We arrogantly tried everything in our power to decide our own life’s course but it wasn’t in His plan. Had we had two children of our own, I doubt we would have continued to adopt a third because we started late. And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we were meant to adopt Tasha. Adoption is biblical. Moses was rescued from his basket on the river and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. Esther lost her parents and was adopted by Mordecai. We are all sons and daughters of God and this is true, regardless of any of our physical attributes or our social circumstances. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we should only care for those who look like us, or those who are born from us. God is the ultimate father and in His absence on earth He left us with his Holy Spirit and declared, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14v18).
We each travel our own journey. Submission isn’t a word that comes easy to me at all, so relinquishing control, submitting to God’s will and accepting His plan, have been concepts I’ve struggled with most of my life. However, in hindsight, I can see how He’s guided us along the way and the end result is better than I could ever have imagined in my wildest dreams.