Our first adoption was of two infants from Africa. Some fears came into my mind as we were considering the idea, but after we started the process God filled my heart with joy and anticipation. And raising our children has been an absolute blessing.
So I tried to replicate the same thing with our second adoption. We signed on to adopt two children from Africa again. But this time the Lord redirected us. In the long run, we could only adopt one child from Africa, and it would take years. If we wanted children anytime soon, we would have to pursue domestic adoption. And domestic adoption was a little more intimidating to me.
I wasn't overly concerned about waiting to be selected by a birth mother or whether she would change her mind and decide to keep the baby. I felt sure that God would sustain us emotionally if those things happened. I blogged about that here. My intimidation about domestic adoption had to do with the birth parents being nearby. Since our older children came from an orphanage, we haven't been able to have a relationship with their birth parents. But in domestic adoption, that's totally different.
To make a long story short, we moved forward and adopted domestically and God has been gracious - we've had a beautiful relationship with our daughter's birth mother. We were able to skype with her through the agency when she selected our family. We spent several hours with her in the hospital when the baby was born. We've sent letters and pictures to the agency for her every other month and we skyped again around the baby's first birthday. She has been so loving and comfortable with our family from the start. We truly care for her and admire the sacrificially loving choice she made for her daughter. We're grateful for the way the Lord has put our families together.
We're finishing up our home study now to do one more domestic adoption, and we know that it might look very different from our first one. Every birth mother and her circumstances are unique. But it's less intimidating now, like most things are when they're more familiar. And we know that God has a plan for His own glory in the way that He matches us with another birth mother and her baby, however easy or difficult the circumstances might be.
But now for the main reason I wrote this blog post...
As I think long term (and my husband emphasizes the word long) to what may come after this next adoption, fostering to adopt has been on my mind. And that's intimidating on a whole new level! Not only are the birth parents in this country, they're in our state and probably live fairly close to us. We would know that CPS or some other authority has intervened and taken the children from the parents for their well-being, which is a different scenario than a birth mother choosing your family for her baby. I'd imagine that it's very traumatic for the children, birth parents and other family members on a whole different scale. The children will probably have lived through difficult things, and their behavior might reflect that and influence your other children. And there would be months, maybe years of uncertainly as we love children we've welcomed into our home and hope we would be able to adopt them... and probably go through a roller coaster of emotions along with the children as we wait.
Good friends of ours at church were recently able to adopt two little boys they were fostering, and a conversation I had with the wife has stuck in my head. When it comes down to it, am I willing to suffer in that way for the sake of the children? Think of the pain and suffering they've been through in their short lives. Surely I can endure what would probably be a comparatively smaller amount of suffering for their sake. Especially considering the fact that God has given me a greater capacity to endure suffering because I am His child. His Holy Spirit dwells within me, and I have the treasure of His Word as a source of wisdom, encouragement and strength. I have His people as brothers and sisters in Christ, who help me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.
It's the difference between a self-focused, self-protecting perspective and preferring others above myself, which is what the Lord calls us to do. As our friends would say, that's what love looks like.
Yesterday, Dr. Russell Moore published a blog post called "Don't Adopt." I so appreciate his wise perspective that not everyone should adopt, and also his comments for those of us that God does call to welcome children into our family through adoption:
Adoption is about taking on risk as cross-bearing love.
Every adoption, every orphan, represents a tragedy. Someone was killed, someone left, someone was impoverished, or someone was diseased. Wrapped up in each situation is some kind of hurt, and all that accompanies that. That’s the reason there really is no adoption that is not a “special needs” adoption; you just might not know on the front end what those special needs are.
We need a battalion of Christians ready to adopt, foster, and minister to orphans. But that means we need Christians ready to care for real orphans, with all the brokenness and risk that comes with it. We need Christians who can reflect the adopting power of the gospel.
Three years ago I was encouraged by a friend's blog post called Faith Forbids Fear, and I was encouraged again as I re-read it today. Like 1 Peter 3:6 says, I want to "do good and not fear anything that is frightening." The verse implies there are things we will face that are genuinely frightening. But though they are frightening, we don't need to be afraid of them. Instead we can be freed to do good and trust that the Lord will continue to direct and equip us as He always has.