This week we launched a new Adoption Journal in collaboration with The Archibald Project. A portion of the proceeds from our collab will go straight to The Archibald Project to aid in their efforts to advocate for children worldwide and help end the global orphan crisis. We're both believers in the power of storytelling and capturing your own personal journey. Inspired by the Archibald Project's hashtag #storytellingchangestheworld, we're sharing some of their most powerful adoption stories here on the blog.
First, we're sharing the adoption story of Wellon and Stephen Bridgers, who adopted their two children, Leila and Daniel, from Mwana Villages in The Republic of Congo. Below, read their answers to prompts from our Adoption Journal and see photos from their journey. Hop over to The Archibald Project to read and see even more of their adoption story!
Why did you choose to adopt?
WELLON: My husband and I were dating in college when I first brought up adoption—ha! What teenage boy has ever seriously considered what parenting would look like, much less what adoption would mean? As we dreamt of marrying and starting a family one day, I look back at us as starry-eyed babies, sheltered from life outside of the world we knew. Adoption was something I had long dreamed of—it was an unexplained “just made sense” for me—I had never been someone who longed to have biological children or experience pregnancy. So when my hubby responded with, “Hmm, I’ve never thought about it before,” I knew it would be something the Lord would have to do in his heart, over time, and as we grew together as a couple and family.
A few years later and with no follow-up conversation, I can remember where we were standing in our tiny first house, both grad students and married less than a year when he said out of the blue, “You know, I really believe we will grow our family through adoption one day.” We were still years away from starting a family, but that day marked something beautiful and critical in our marriage: we were completely unified for adoption.
What do you anticipate most about raising your child/children?
Our children have been home almost three years; their place in our family is inextricable and we celebrate that the scales of time have tipped in our favor so that they have now been Bridgers far longer than they have not. Still little ones (not yet five years old), we think already about the implications of being an interracial family in the deep South and currently in a predominantly white community. The ebb-and-flow of decisions to be made, along with the conversations about our interracial family are an ever-present and very welcome topic in our house. Adopting Leila and Daniel has shaped us in countless ways, but transracial adoption has called us to become learners first, and to engage in the current conversation and work of racial reconciliation in a profound, life-changing way.
Describe the love you feel for your children:
I have a unique role in my work with Mwana Villages to get to know many adoptive families, or couples just beginning to consider adoption. One concern that I often hear (and typically from husbands, though wives often admit to struggling with this post-adoption) is how a parent will be able to truly love an adopted child as “their own.” Our experience was a bit different and shaped our love for our children less based on emotion and more a choice to love unconditionally because of the simple fact: you are our child.
By the time we got to know Leila and Daniel, we were already parents to 4-year-old biological twins and had walked through one long, failed adoption process. In that process, we had experienced deep, profound parental love for twin boys that we thought would be our own, but thankfully resulted in family reunification. We discovered Mwana Villages and the children who would become our son and daughter with hearts well-worn but stronger (along with many more gray hairs). There was a long and difficult adjustment for me as a mother to move from “fight mode” in which I had been operating for years as an adoptive mother to “mother mode” in which I could rest in the completed process and new beginning as a family of six.
But throughout that transition and to this day, what runs through our minds and hearts is: I love you for you are my child. Like any parent, there are aspects of all four of our children’s personalities that we lean more towards or struggle more with, but at the end of the day, love has so little to do with emotions and instead is a choice for the unconditional.
Photos: The Archibald Project
Capture your own adoption story in an Adoption Journal—a portion of the proceeds from our new Adoption Journal collab will go straight to The Archibald Project.