My husband and I have two kids. Two really great kids. We love them. One is 4, the other 7. I couldn't ask for anything more. Really.
Except, well, maybe one more baby....
I know, I know. With the expense of everything these days, the fact that I'm the world's worst pregnant woman (seriously, I am. Like, the worst ever) and feeling like I rarely give my two children all the attention they deserve, I must be insane to want one more.
Except I have this feeling I can't get rid of. I think there is another baby out there for us. A boy, in fact. My husband is thinking he's done (I'm thinking that has more to do with the fact that I become glued to the couch with a bag of Doritos strapped to my face in a feedbag when I'm pregnant), and I totally respect his "doneness."
So, I'd pretty much let the idea of baby number three go.
Until I went to church with my husband one Sunday a few weeks ago.
See, I don't go to church. I was raised in an incredibly religious culture, so the whole organized religion thing doesn't really do it for me. I completely respect it, I have zero problem with other people going, and I will usually go when asked. But I don't seek it out.
This was one of those weeks when my more religious husband asked me to join him in going to church. There are weeks, very few and far between, when he makes this request. So, I usually say yes.
So, on this particular Sunday morning, I got both kids ready, managed to spray some water on myself during a two-second shower and threw on the one dress I have that still fits.
As I sat in the pew and felt my little girl weigh heavy (and sweaty) on my chest, and I cuddled my son up close to me with my left hand, I was reminded of the many (many) Sundays in church with my mom. Not one of my favorite memories, so I wasn't really listening to what was being said.
To escape my own discomfort, I was compulsively running through my to-do lists in my head, and wistfully thinking of everything else I could be doing at that moment. At the same time, these sweet, quiet moments with my children are few and far between, so I let myself relax and just enjoy that part of it.
Then I heard the pastor say something: "There are people just a few miles from here who are hungry right now. There are children without clothes, without homes, and without people to love them. We sit here in this beautiful church, complaining about our ill-fitting clothes [I fidget here] and our schedules [more fidgeting], while there are others who worry about how they're going to feed their children today."
The strangest thing happened. My face was wet. I don't even remember my eyes tearing up. But I was definitely producing tears.
What in the world?
He went on, "There are orphanages that need clothes. There are communities that need to be rebuilt and that are crying out for inspiration for their youth."
Have you ever had a moment when you feel really uncomfortable because you know something is pulling at you -- but you resist being pulled? You know, those commercials about the starving children in Africa, or spending a day helping a friend move, a religious calling, a job offer etc. You know it's something that really calls to you, but you pretend you can't hear it.
Well, that was what I was experiencing. The word "orphanage" kept rolling around in my head. It kept echoing as it leaped from one neural synapse to another.
Should we adopt a baby? Can I do that? How much does it cost? How would our other kids feel? Why in the world am I thinking about this right now?
These thoughts produced more waterworks. I couldn't seem to turn them off. I watched the tears fall onto my sleeping daughter's wispy hair. I looked at my beautiful son with his cherub cheeks and translucent chocolate eyes, oblivious to all of my thoughts, concerns and worries.
Do they have another sibling that I won't carry? Is there a child out there now who is alone, a child whose mother had to give him up for one reason or another?
I started to ache for all of the children out there who aren't with a family yet, and I realized how lucky and loved my own children are.
I'm not really sure what else was said from the pulpit that day, but I did hear the final words:
"After all, if we don't do it, ain't nobody gonna do it."
That did it. I sat there stunned with my tear-stained face. I think I was in shock a little bit. What on earth had just happened?
I looked over at my husband, who was staring at me like I had two heads. I had to giggle a little, but quietly, so as to not wake our little one, who was still sleeping so peacefully. He mouthed the words, "Are you OK?"
My husband in no dummy, he knew exactly what had just gone through my head.
I just smiled at him. He looked down and shook his head, but he was smiling.
Later that day when we had a chance to be alone, he asked me what made me tear up like that. He knows that I don't think our family is "complete" as I say, and I just shrugged and said, "Maybe having another baby doesn't look like what I thought it looked like..."
I could barely say the words because once again, the waterworks had ensued. I was so completely moved and drawn to the idea of adoption and of taking care of all of the forgotten children that I couldn't stop crying. But it was a happy cry, too. What a wonderful idea this was.
He grabbed me and hugged me and whispered, "I had the same thought."
We haven't done anything about all of this just yet, but it's something that is always running in the back of my mind. Maybe this is why I keep feeling like our family isn't "complete." Maybe it's much larger than I had ever realized.
I'm not sure exactly how this will unfold. It could be that we start a "Better Way Moms Orphanage." It could be that we do adopt one little boy. Maybe we have one more baby of our own, but we sponsor, take in or support two or three other kids.
But no matter what happens, a door has been opened and my awareness of children that are not in homes at this moment has been heightened. Adoption is a beautiful thing, and I am so grateful to know that I might be participating in it soon.
Angelina Jolie, watch out.