“Bio kid”, that’s what I am called at times. I am a bio kid and so is my brother, Silas, because we are surrounded by adopted siblings. I never really think about it like that, but that’s what we are often called. Anyway my name is Bailey Gagnon, I am fifteen years old and I have four adopted siblings. But the word ‘adopted’ doesn’t change how I feel about them, or how I act around them- they are my siblings, and there is nothing that will ever be able to change that. Just because they did not come from my parents doesn’t mean I love them less or fight with them less than my bio brother.
My family started foster care before I can remember. Every new little kid in our home became part of our family, no matter how long or short they were in our home. Every baby, toddler, kid, was part of the family, and every time they went home, it was awful and sad. But fostering was also fun and rewarding.
Lots of people want to know how we, the kids of the Gagnon family, feel about adopting again. I know that lots of people wonder if we get less because there are more. And yeah, sometimes it’s hard to be the one my parents don’t constantly keep an eye on in Costco (okay, not really), but I am mystified by the idea that people think I couldn’t love another sibling, that I would rather have more attention, vacations places and a car; than a sister. My mom used to ask me if I was ‘okay with adoption’ and people often ask if I’m ‘lacking attention’ from my parents. This is insulting to me. I am more than Starbucks coffee and new jeans, I have the same abilities to follow Christ as my parents. When your life is spent thinking about others, you don’t realize the little things, you supposedly “miss out” on.
Does that mean we don’t realize how difficult it will be to have a two-year-old sister that can’t get around well on her own and have lots of appointments? No, it means that we see what the world calls disabilities and handicaps, and look past them, to the little girl beneath. When I look at a picture of Star, do you think I see the missing limbs? No, I see my sister, a little girl I can dress up and hug. The fact that there are more of us does not mean that we are lacking in anything, in fact we have more love than we know what to do with.
When my mom went to Eastern Europe for the first time, she came home different. Her entire life had changed rails, God had broken her heart for these kids that we’d never met, that were destined to die. I’d go to church, school, work, friend’s houses, and in the back of my mind I’d hear her voice and what she wrote- children are dying. She’d present her story in church, and I’d hear the crack in her voice as she read the story of children that are dying, far away, surrounded by the extreme death and oppression they lived in. My mom that I’d known before, the nurse, the garlic french fry lover, the worrywart, the crazy runner, the mom who stayed at home when we were sick and held our puke buckets as we lay in bed feeling awful, was different. She still did all the things she did before, but with new purpose. Her head was filled with the cries none of us heard, and the severe oppression that she’d seen.
She’d prayed for God to break her heart for my brother. He didn’t stop there, He broke her heart for the orphans that didn’t stand a chance. When I look into my mother’s eyes I see someone who has seen the worst of the world, and can’t erase the images burned into her mind. But it was not a bad thing. My oldest brother and I, we saw the changes and felt God moving in our family.
One time my mom showed me a picture of a fifteen-year-old boy, someone my age who should be in high school loving life. He was the size of a small child, and the tears that started to flow were a surprise even for me. My mom said that she worries that she shows me too much, but all I can think is that what I’ve seen is just enough, that God has opened my eyes to a world where the only good is from the Lord. Through this journey, I became me, and who I am in Christ. So, Silas and I, my parents, we all grew up and out of Camp Verde, and into the real world when she came home from the first visit trip.
Is it scary to see your mother, who’s always been familiar, become engulfed in a new purpose? Yes, it is, but I couldn’t grow up fast enough. The end game became our lives, we would go to bed thinking, Israel, Israel, Israel… and wake up with the same thought. We had to get him home.
Right now we’re doing it again. I have wanted another sister for a LONG time, and trust me, it’s been something I’ve begged for, for about seven years. So, when my mom tells my siblings and I that this will be a sacrifice, we question it. How is this a sacrifice? Maybe we didn’t go somewhere Spring Break and we’re not going to Disneyland this summer, but those things don’t matter. A sacrifice is something of value given up for something more important, and my siblings and I are not lacking in love, attention, dad jokes, life, even though it may appear that way. So, I am ready for another adoption. And we are all ready and willing, waiting for this little girl to step off a plane in the arms of my parents, with undoubtedly more tears streaming down my face. Because this is real.