Kristen Howerton: A Voice for Parentless Children
When my husband and I were experiencing infertility and trying to have a family through artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surgeries, and other medical means, people would often ask us why we didn't just adopt, as if that were an easier option. While on the one hand I sometimes resented this question, because adoption isn't necessarily an easier option, I also enjoyed the opportunity to inform people about the true nature of adoption: the high costs, the waiting, the complexities of dealing with birth mothers, etc. I spoke from my own research, the stories of close friends who adopted, and those of women I'd met online, like Lindsey Redfern of the R House. Recently, I spoke with Kristen Howerton, who has two adopted children and two biological children. The stories she shares about their adoptions on her blog Rage Against the Minivan, are amazing, and bring attention to the larger issue of the many children worldwide who don't have parents at all.
She and her husband have four children: Jafta, who was their foster child for three years while they waited to adopt him; India, who is their second child, first biological, and first daughter; Kembe, who is their second son and adopted child, born the same day as India in Haiti, but who they had to wait two and a half years to adopt; and Karis, their second daughter and biological child, who came along while they were awaiting Kembe's arrival. Today, Jafta is seven, India and Kembe are five, and Karis is three. While visiting Kembe in his Haitian orphanage, Kristen and India, then a baby, experienced the massive earthquake that hit that country. That life-changing event, while obviously difficult, in a way facilitated Kembe's adoption. For a video of the full story, told by Kristen and Mark, watch this video:
So Kristen is well-acquainted with the difficulties and expenses of adoption, but she doesn't speak as if they were a big deal. Instead she focuses on the needs of the kids, saying:
"I don’t really care if you turned your infant car-seat forward-facing prior to age 2, or if you homeschool, or if you send your kids to daycare while you go to work. Do you cosleep? Did you circumcise your son? I DON’T CARE. Do you...use a leash for your kid at Disneyland? Whatever. Good for you. When it comes to issues of motherhood, there is one issue I care about: some kids don’t have one. All of these petty wars about the choices of capable, loving mothers is just a lot of white noise to me. Quite honestly, I’m often astonished at the non-essential parenting issues I see moms getting their panties in a wad about. Particularly when there are so many kids in this world not being parented at all.
I’ll be disturbed by the 18-year-olds I regularly see on adoption photolistings who, despite being old enough to live independently, place themselves [there] because they desperately want a mom and a dad in their adult life. Because, in one teen’s words, he "wants to become a member of a permanent family." The only mommy war I support involves moms banding together to talk about the number of children in our world who are missing out on basic human needs. Security. Love. Affection. Let’s wage a war about that. Not everyone can adopt, but we can all do something."
The issue of adoption can be a very difficult, emotional, and personal one, but there is no denying the fact that there are tens of thousands of children in our country and worldwide who are alone. Kristen Howerton, who rages against not only the minivan but also the lack of action in the face of such need, is a positive voice for good.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.
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