My youngest son’s best friend is an adopted orphan from Africa. Their first “play date” was barely impacted by the language barrier, and they have been friends for so many years that they can just barely remember life without each other. For this reason, Mike and Hayley Jones’ story about their adoption of eight (yes, eight!) siblings from Sierra Leone was especially interesting to me, for in it, they share their journey of choosing to adopt and then bringing those children home At Any Cost.
I still remember the admiration I felt for my friends when they adopted my son’s buddy and his sister after their father had passed away and their mother could no longer care for them. A third-world child does not have to lose both parents to be considered an orphan, and this was also the case for the Jones’s children.
Mike and Hayley are transparent about the fact that foreign adoption has significant obstacles and challenges. Their situation is unique in its magnitude because of the number of children added to their family of four, but all the inconveniences and frustrations they report are part of the adoption journey and impact a family on financial, emotional, and relational fronts.
The cost of adoption is astronomical even if, like the Joneses, it is a private adoption with no agency fees. Travel costs for the family begin immediately and continue throughout the process, culminating in airfare and visas for all. The Jones family chose to sponsor all eight children from the outset, providing food, medical care, education, and clothing for them in the interim period before bringing them home. Their moderate ranch-style home required extensive renovations (including wiring and septic) to accommodate a family of twelve. They even needed to purchase a larger vehicle.
Sierra Leone is considered one of the world’s poorest countries with 70% of the nation living below the poverty line. A decade of civil war and then the Ebola epidemic of 2014 have exacerbated the poverty, contributing to a very poor quality of life over all. Therefore, the children came to the United States with medical and dental issues that needed resolution in addition to the fact that they had been nutritionally compromised. Because of educational gaps, the older children are being homeschooled to allow them to catch up to their peers.
Mike and Hayley exercise remarkable restraint and good judgment in sharing their story of adoption while protecting the privacy of their adopted children, whose individual stories are, rightly, their own to share — or not. I applaud the Jones’s approach to their memoir, because they each share from a different perspective. Hayley was the “travelling parent,” making at least 8 trips to Sierra Leone at various stages in the adoption process, while Mike was the “anchor parent,” tending to the needs of their two very young biological sons, overseeing the extensive renovations to their home, holding down a job, and keeping the ship afloat during the three year endurance contest that continually seemed to be “almost done” . . . but then something else would fall through.
The adoption process taxes the family on every level. Disappointment and frustration over injustice and inefficiency, heart-breaking separations from both family and the adopted children, and pain over the sad situation the adopted children leave behind are just the beginning. Hayley confessed that throughout the three year process, she was always missing someone. If she was in Sierra Leone with the eight adoptees, she was missing her husband and two sons at home. If she was in the United States, she was missing her African children and anxious about their welfare.
Family and Marriage
Mike and Hayley traveled a rough road with their marriage from the outset. For a time they separated, but, having worked through their issues, by the time they decided to adopt their marriage was on solid ground. This is a critical point, because the adoption process put them on separate continents for prolonged periods of time, introduced financial stressors, emotional hardship, and just plain practical headaches that go far beyond the normal stress-load.
Being convinced that they were following God in their desire to adopt carried the Jones family through the many obstacles. They involved their two biological children in the journey of prayer, and they clung to every milestone as assurance that they were on the right track in their obedience to God.
Communicating their decision to parents and grandparents held its own difficulties, particularly because of the racial difference of the adopted children. The Joneses were ecstatic when they realized that old patterns of racism within their family tree were being overcome.
Adoption is a rich biblical metaphor that is part of God’s demonstration of love for His own children. We are taken in, and the transaction was initiated by God at any cost. It is a beautiful picture of redemption, in which something broken is transformed into something beautiful. Hayley and Mike describe their own situation in the same terms. They and their children still feel ties to “family” in Africa. Hayley calls her kids, ” My world changers. They all pray for God’s mercy on their village and want to share Jesus with them.”
Adoption is a journey of faith and sacrifice. It is the love of God made visible on this planet. At Any Cost is a realistic and heart-warming portrayal of one family’s heart of obedience.
This book was provided by Worthy Publishing in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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