Ashley Huizinga- Staff Writer
“God knew that it doesn’t matter how your children get to your family. It just matters that they get there,” writes Kira Mortenson, an adoptive mother of two, adoption advocate and blogger at What Being a Family Really Means.
One imagines such a mindset to be found in the lives and work of Aaron and Nicole Baart. Although, family planning is always a lot more than just a mindset. It’s also a huge heart issue – a calling.
Even with two biological and two adopted children making up the household of Dordt College’s Dean of Chapel, the family has recently decided to take on the blessings and burdens of another adoption. Joseph, their 13-year-old from Monrovia, Liberia, will join the group in the near future as the newest addition to the Baart family. This event will mark the third adoption and fifth child in the home.
“We always planned on having two biological children and then continuing to adopt from there as long as we were able,” Aaron said. “There’s no playbook to life, but Isaac has always wanted an older brother, and it seems like throwing off conventional wisdom when it comes to birth order with the adoption of Eve was the best thing that could’ve happened to us. We know that [Joseph] has lost a lot in his lifetime, but we’re ready to give a lot.”
According to Aaron, the adoption process doesn’t get any easier from one adoption to the next, but the consequences of heartfelt and prayerful decisions do become easier to handle. With at least four miscarriages in the family’s history, it’s not hard to imagine that Aaron and Nicole are well aware of how unexpected family planning can actually be.
“When it comes to adoption, it’s difficult to have a lot of set expectations,” Aaron said. “You learn to trust a lot of the process to other people and to God. We knew One Body One Hope was looking for an adoptive family for Joseph. But my son [Isaac] was actually the first to recognize the calling in the beginning. We didn’t expect it to be us, but then it was.”
In this relatively homogeneous community of Northwest Iowa, one might be surprised and delighted to see people opening their hearts and minds to possibilities like this one. But even with the supportive community and the very high per capita rate of adoptions here, any adoption like this one poses many challenges.
“When it comes to diversity, this community still has plenty of opportunity for growth,” Aaron said. “Each of us can either bemoan the fact or be part of the solution, but every Christian needs to be willing and vulnerable to make changes for the better. Kids come home from school having been bullied about their heritage, their skin color, their accents. And that kind of prejudice isn’t natural – it’s learned in the home or on the playground or on the streets.”
Still, after all, it wasn’t like adopting Joseph would be like introducing a stranger. The majority of the family has met him before in-country, and Aaron has made nine past visits to the Liberian mission where Joseph lives.
“I’ve known [him] for eight years,” Aaron said. “We know his heart – who he is – and a home we trust has raised him until now. He wants to be an agri-missionary – an agriculturalist and an evangelist – and he already enjoys preaching to the other kids [at the mission] on Sundays. And so, oddly enough, northwest Iowa – especially the Sioux Center college community – seems to be the perfect fit for him. In the end, why wouldn’t we do this as long as we’re able?”