For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of being a wife and a mom. I remember as a little girl planning what my wedding would look like and making lists (refined over the years) of what characteristics my husband should possess. On February 1, I will be 43 and I am still waiting for the man and wedding that I have dreamed of…
I have always been open to adoption, but figured it would be after I was married. Parenting can be tough enough when there are two actively engaged parents. Sometimes life results in single parent families, but I NEVER dreamed I would initiate single parenthood, and if two years ago you had told me I would now be fully immersed in it, I would have told you that you were crazy.
Nearly six years ago I left my job to launch a full time ministry that loves on, serves, and gives to others. This has afforded me the opportunity to travel to and serve in different countries. In June 2012, I was on my 6th trip to China. There, as I loved on the precious kiddos, I prayed for their forever families to come quickly – knowing that I was not them. And then it happened…I picked up a precious little one and had a strange sense that instead of praying for her family, that I was her family.
Was I feeling smitten because I was getting older and wanted to be a mom? Was I simply being drawn to a beautiful little girl? Or was there something more going on? Was God finally saying, “Now. Now is the time that I will give you one of the dreams of your heart”?
“Really?” I’d ask. “It’s ‘just me’ and I have to fundraise for your ministry so I can live, and now You want me to come up with $35,000 to adopt, and to adopt a child that will have ongoing medical bills and expenses?” Through much prayer, affirmation, and ‘God winks’, I finally understood that was exactly what He was saying.
Seven months (and after a lot of paper work, home studies, and US approvals) later China confirmed that it was ok with them for me to be her mom. And 1 year and 9 days after I first held Olivia in my arms, she was placed in them forever.
One of the biggest lessons that I’ve been learning is that while it is easy to think that I’m “doing this alone”, I’m not. At all. What would I suggest to others who are in the same place I am/was and wondering if they are being called to open their hearts and lives to a child that needs a family?
1. Pray and Get Close with God. That isn’t meant to say that I wasn’t before, but throughout the entire adoption journey I can honestly say that I was much more intentional about my prayer and quiet time. I journaled my prayer requests, answered prayers, and praises. I found a couple of Bible studies that were specifically focused on adoption and used them to guide and focus. Open your heart in new ways and see what God will do.
2. Lock Arms with an Amazing Agency that with Pray WITH and FOR you. For me, this was Lifeline Children’s Services; For you, it might be someone else. Regardless of what agency you work with, make sure that it is done through prayer and talk to others who have worked with them. They will be your guide, your expert, your advocate, and your child’s champion through the process.
3. Build a chandelier. HUH? Yep you read that right. I have developed a tight group of girlfriends – several of whom I have yet to meet face-to-face (though that will be changing very soon! wooohooooo!!!) – with whom we are walking this road of life and adoption together. We have had an ongoing “chat” on Facebook (or as one of their husbands calls it “our conferences”) since March of 2013. We have called our team a “chandelier” because there are days when one of our “bulbs” may be flickering and seem to be on the verge of going out, but it is on those days that the rest of us can reflect light back to them and give strength…may sound a bit silly when reading about it, but we like our analogy. But the point is get tight with a group of women with whom you can be open, transparent, real. We have laughed, cried, travelled, prayed, sung, eaten, gone to battle, and many more things together. Key: together. For me, these ladies have been a lifeline for which I will never be able to adequately say thank you. I don’t have a husband that I can share the tears (and joys) of my heart with, and these ladies have allowed me to do so with them. God knew exactly who I needed and He gave me my 3/20 sisters!
4. Learn. I believe that God is walking with each of us through this journey and will give us what we and He can handle together. It is important to take some time to understand and learn about the special needs and health conditions that you’re going to welcome into your family. Before I met Olivia, I don’t think that I had ever heard of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). I didn’t know about brittle bone disease, its 8 types, PAM, Zole, rodding, or any number of other issues and concerns that were about to enter my world. What I have found is that there is not only a lot of information and resources available online and otherwise, but that within the adoption community there are people (both parents of children with your child’s conditions as well as individuals living with them) who are excited and willing to walk the road with you and share their wisdom and experiences openly.
*There is one caveat to the “learn” that I want to share…know what you’re able to handle and what you’re not. I have found that I have to sometimes limit the amount of time that I am able to spend on some of the OI pages. Because of great diversity of issues and severity of how OI effects lives and bodies, I sometimes found myself getting anxious when reading. I know from talking to others who have children with different conditions that they have experienced the same thing. Don’t feel like you have to know or learn it all. Take what you need for your situation and then move on. And when you’re able to give and help others, do that, too. But don’t allow yourself to get paralyzed by all of the “maybes” that could come to be. You’ll stress yourself out!
I truly believe that God doesn’t call the equipped, but rather equips the called. There are still many days that I feel inadequate when it comes to “mom stuff” (like what do I do to help her get rid of her silly cold?), but I’m getting better. Are there days when I wonder, “What have I done? Am I really equipped to do this?” Absolutely! But then she will do something like say, “Mommy, I love you. We are stuck together for ever and ever.” And I’ll know it is going to be more than OK.
One last thing…something that I have said, believed, and signed off with for years, but that I believe with my whole heart, PRAY BIG…BELIEVE BIG…BIG THINGS HAPPEN!
Visit my adoption blog here.
Single women can adopt children designated as Special Focus, see this article for more information. For questions about beginning the adoption journey as a single mom, contact the Advocacy Team or a Hague Accredited Adoption Agency.