When people hear that we are inviting in two kids from Africa to join our family, the response we frequently receive is either a look of compassion (typically not for the kids we’re adopting but for Jess and I and our apparent inability to make rational decisions on behalf of our family), and/or a look of unmistakable curiosity.
To make things worse, when the person finally asks “why” we are adopting, as an internal processor, I typically resort to as brief of an answer as possible. Something like “it’s gonna be fun…” which usually doesn’t give people the type of insight into my thought process they are looking for.
So here it is…
There are three things that have been the primary influences on my decision to adopt two kids from Africa. First, my three years of teaching Jr. High math/science in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and second, two guys who, if you saw them walking toward you on the sidewalk, you’d think they were twins: Rob Bell and Kid President.
For 3 years after college I taught for an LAUSD Jr. High school that was 70% black and 30% Hispanic. Over the course of those 3 years as I became more familiar with my students, their lives, and the struggle they routinely had to overcome that I didn’t even know existed (because I never had to or never will have to face), Jess and I began a conversation about what it might look like to bring a child in as our own who typically wouldn’t be able to experience stability, support, and consistency in a home environment. So the conversation of adoption between Jess and I started over 13 years ago as a result of my teaching experience and has just resurfaced in this last year as we have been talking about our future as a family and if there were any more “Ludwig children” to come.
Post teaching I began to spend the better hours of my day in ministry to students, and like every other Youth Pastor during the early 2000’s, I became very familiar with Rob Bell’s Nooma films. The teaching in the film Rhythm had a profound influence on not only my decision to adopt, but also my attempt to understand God. Rob Bell begins the film by stating that we can’t know God fully (this resonated well with me b/c I’m convinced you couldn’t explain to me how my car works in the same amount of pages as the bible let alone fully reveal a God we cannot see). He goes on to say that although we can’t fully know God, He can be compared to a song that has been “heard” all throughout human history through acts of love, downward mobility, justice, righteousness, compassion, and mostly through Jesus. And so at the end of the day, as his children, we are best off orienting our lives around the “song” of God, keeping rhythm with what he is doing in the world. In my mind, the idea of adoption is something that is in rhythm of what God is up to in the world- extending a community of love and grace and peace to those who do not have it.
Finally from the endless wisdom of the cultural icon that is Kid President… “if Robert Frost is correct and there really are two roads that we can travel… I want to go down the road that leads to awesome.” Jess and I know it will be difficult at times, but we feel that adopting children who don’t have a family fits into the category of “awesome” and we are excited to be heading down this road.