Meet Meredith LaGorga, mother to four who believes nothing brings you closer to the Lord than adoption. With a little sleep and a lot of caffeine, she is loving hard and living a life that has been forever changed by adoption.
Most mothers dream of the first time they will see their child’s face. Can you tell us about the first time you saw your daughter?
The first time I saw LiLi's face a friend texted her photo with the comment "while we adopt Ted, you could adopt LiLi." Attached was the most beautiful little girl I had ever laid eyes on. LiLi's advocacy name was Lily, and this friend had no ideas that twenty-five years ago I began dreaming of adopting a little girl from China named Lily.
There are many hesitations and fears often associated with adoption, especially with the adoption of older children or those with special needs. Yet your family said yes to both. What led you to do something that many would say is out of their comfort zone?
I truly believe it was a whole lot of Jesus and a little bit of ignorance that led us to adopt an older child with special needs. Our first adoption was a domestic infant adoption of a precious baby boy with special needs. Our next adoption was a combination sibling adoption and older child adoption. Logically, or more likely, illogically our next adoption was of an older child with special needs.
I would never lie and say adopting or parenting children with special needs is easy, but God hasn't called us to easy. I firmly believe that every child adopted has some sort of special need; our children just have more obvious needs.
What are three things you learned about yourself or others through the adoption process?
Three things I've learned about myself: I'm stronger than I knew. Fighting for paperwork, waiting for answers, finding your way through government agencies and different countries and then the relentless pursuit of hearts that spent so much time without you requires an inner strength you didn't know you have until you need it.
I also learned where my true strength comes from; nothing brings you closer to The Lord than adoption. Whether it's seeing your child's face on the computer for the first time and knowing it will be months before you hold them or holding a sweet baby one last time when a placement has failed, you continuously meet Jesus face to face, heart to heart as you travel through adoption. The Lord carried me in my lowest of lows, reminding me of His great love for me and the children He was placing in our family. He rejoiced for our growing family when we held our babies for the first time, God mourned with us as we fought for hurting hearts and let go of old dreams to see new ones form. I learned just where my strength comes from and how deep my need for Jesus is each and every day.
One more thing I learned about myself is that I can do hard things on limited sleep with a lot of caffeine. Adopting, especially international adoption, doesn't occur on a regular timeline. You wake up at all times of the night to check your email, you set alarms on your phone to join friends across the country to pray at the same time, your agency may be located in a different time zone, and you travel halfway across the world to meet your child a few hours after you land. Your children may take a long time to adjust to a new time zone, and sleep may be scary for your kids and even disrupted years later. Being a mom teaches you to get by on less sleep, adoptive mom-ing can teach you to get by on none, and still meet your kids with mostly connected parenting techniques.
There are many misconceptions about adoption. What’s one misconception that resonates with you, and if you could tell the world one thing about it, what would you say?
This misconception that resonates most deeply within me is that we (the adoptive parents) are heroes or rescuers. While these sweet ones needed homes, they are the brave ones. Despite their different beginnings and their initial losses that resulted in the need to be adopted, they have come into our homes and made themselves known. While we relentlessly pursue their hearts, they willingly allow us to do so. They've lost so much, come so far yet still keep moving forward. They have rescued us from a life of ordinary and helped us see how extraordinary life and The One who gives life truly is. My sweet ones have rescued me from the pits of despair and shown me how to love deeply and fully. And as cliche as it sounds, we may have helped change their lives, but they helped breath new life into us.
Not everyone is called to adopt, but we can all be advocates for adoption. What advice would you give to someone who knows a family in the adoption process and wants to support them but isn’t sure how they can help?
Don't feel called to adopt? Then don't. But by both moral and Biblical standards we are called to care for the orphan. Support your local foster care system or orphan prevention and family preservation organizations here and abroad.
Know someone who's adopting? Come along side them; while they're waiting encourage them, ask them how they are doing and stop to really listen. If you are able and they need it, find ways to help them fundraise. Adding a child to their day to day life isn't expensive, it's the fees to get a child into a family that are found to be costly. When they're home with their newly adopted child; check in on them, start a food train, drop off groceries.
Do they have other children in the home? Ask to take them for an afternoon. Don't tell a family newly home to "let (you) know if they need anything" because they will so quickly go from afloat to treading water, and if they're like me, they won't ask for help either.
Just do. Listen. Be a friend. Even though their new normal is different and adoption may have changed them like it changed me, they still need their community.
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