For the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed several posts about the importance of not giving pets as Christmas gifts. A good reminder, for sure — once the surprise wears off, that puppy could easily find itself back at a shelter. Ironically, I’ve also seen extra posts about the importance of adopting a shelter animal, especially this time of year.

the dogs

Something you should know about me before we continue: I didn’t grow up with pets. We had an outdoor basset hound when I was in elementary school for no more than a few months. I barely had time to get used to her before we realized that having an outdoor dog in an east Tennessee winter is really no bueno, so she went to live on a farm (no, really, not the “farm” all dogs go to one day…) with a family who could let her be indoor/outdoor and ride in their truck and basically have the best doggy life ever. I was honestly ambivalent about animals after that because I was never, ever around them due to my family’s many collective allergies. I never wanted harm to come to them, but when other people were saying, “I just love animals SO MUCH AOIWEHFALSHDF,” I was always like… uh, yeah, me too. Because what heartless monster doesn’t love animals to pieces?! I didn’t.

But we have a cat now. He’s our baby with sharp teeth, and I love him. Going into Petco, especially on Saturdays, makes me sad because I think of how terrible it would be if our Pippin had to spend his life in a cage. If money were no issue, I would already have three cats. (There would have to be a Merry, obviously. And maybe Minerva, as in McGonagall.)

All that to say, my love of furry creatures (particularly cats; dogs are cute but kinda make me nervous) is recent but real. Because of that, I don’t in the least begrudge anyone for advocating for shelter animals. By all means, keep encouraging people to adopt.

I had a thought recently that I haven’t been able to shake. Most people agree that adopting an animal from a shelter is the best way to go. They won’t have to live in a small, confined space anymore. They can have their needs better met. They’ll be loved.

…do we advocate this passionately for human adoption?

Do we give to organizations who counsel and support women as they decide how to handle an unplanned pregnancy? Do we sponsor children overseas? Do we foster? Do we adopt children ourselves, or help someone else in the process?

I clearly remember the night that made me decide I wanted to adopt. I was 17 years old, and Holt International was represented at a concert I was attending. I knew orphans and orphanages existed, but it had never been as real to me as it was then. After hearing their presentation, I chose a tiny Korean baby to sponsor and knew I would bring someone like her home one day.

Through the years, I have continued to support organizations like Holt whenever possible. I always had this picture in my head that Asian kids in particular needed help; I don’t even know why. I spent years looking forward to the day I would go to China and bring home my new son or daughter. I had never even remotely considered domestic adoption because I had always been told it was too complicated. The birth mother might try to take the baby back. She might change her mind before she even leaves the hospital. She and the child might want to have a relationship when they’re older, and where does that leave you? It’s messy. 

In the past year, though, my heart has changed. While I haven’t written out the possibility of adopting from another country one day, it’s become harder for me to stomach the idea of going straight to international adoption without at least trying to adopt one of the many children right here who need homes.

Everyone has different passions and callings, and thank goodness. If we all felt strongly about the exact same things, many people and things would never receive the care they need. I’m glad some people feel called to adopt from China or Ethiopia. I’m glad some feel called to foster. And I’m glad others financially support children and parents as they wait to be brought together. Not everyone will adopt, but we can all do something, from helping parents raise funds to adopt down to bringing them a meal as they adjust to life with a new child.

Below are links to ways to help women and children both domestically and internationally. I hope that you’ll consider some way of giving, big or small.


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