We adoptive parents are a feisty, powerful bunch. We are in pursuit…on mission…active…hoping… dossier building…finger-printing…connecting….fundraising…hurdle jumping…praying…planning… counting-down…conferencing…reading…packing…travelling…bonding…adjusting…teaching…nursing… care giving…loving.
But are we listening for God’s voice?
Many claim that adoption starts with a calling. God speaks and we respond. And for a glorious moment, our ears are perfectly tuned to His voice. Sometimes though, somewhere along the journey to our child, and then with our child, we become absorbed in our side of the conversation. The voice of the One who called gets muffled.
Our waiting child beckons. The dossier checklist blares. The adoptive momma FB group clamors. The mission-focused, striving heart cries out. The momma and poppa bear within us roars. It’s a divine, but noisy ride.
Once home, the volume of life turns to high. We are adjusting, bonding, cocooning, seeking specialists, administering medicines, triaging family needs, testing, and treating. Fragile kids must be taught to sleep, talk, be loved, eat solid foods, drink from a cup, deal with our sensory loaded world, and bond.
We hold on for dear life, our hearts becoming fertile ground for the birth of new faith. We are well beyond the borders of our comfort and ability, so we pray and we pray. After all, we’ve got a laundry list of petitions.
But is there listening space in our prayers?
Do we, adoptive parents, push ever forward in great love? Yes.
Allow God to replace our weakness with His strength? Have to.
Pray without ceasing? You bet.
But actually listen to our speaking Father? Not so much. Too much adopting to have time for that.
Standing on the other side of three adoptions, I see that the One who I thought was silent, was indeed speaking.
He was speaking, but I was working on my dossier.
He was speaking, but I was planning.
He was speaking, but I was shattering knowing that my child was experiencing orphanage life, hospital stays and surgeries without parents.
He was speaking, but I was raging against delays, glitches and international red tape.
He was speaking, but my prayers were lopsided with begging.
He was speaking, but I was wholly devoted to Gotcha Day.
He was speaking, but I was busy healing hurting souls.
It wasn’t wrong of me to fight for my children. But maybe I made an idol out of the mission. Maybe I cried out more for the noble thing I wanted than for my noble God.
Often I wasn’t listening due to distraction. Other times, I chose not to listen due to disappointment. At some point in the adoption process, I realized that I wanted my child and He wanted me. His main mission wasn’t putting a child in my home, it was the transformation of hearts. And, honestly, I didn’t much like that. Wasn’t this about a child?
Much of our process didn’t make earthly sense. Our long spaces of waiting (four years for one adoption) felt like seemingly useless, painful in-between. FBI fingerprint issues, extra extended LOA waits, and glitches in the CCWA’s computer system felt like random, excruciating obstacles. When our youngest daughter was in critical medical condition in China, several times flown to other provinces for care, we were in agony wondering why God wouldn’t unite a waiting child with their longing family.
I had to accept that God could miraculously deposit my waiting children at our table, but did not. My beliefs had to be wrestled with. Mercifully, He always whispers, “All things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purposes.” (Romans 8:28) ALL things. Even the LOA wait, the government red tape, the sick little girl hospitalized without parents by her side? The little boy waiting alone in a sea of cribs? Did ALL things include OUR messy stuff?
So many aspects of adoption are unreasonable to our human brains. BUT, I believe God is always speaking, always active, and always at work in EVERY stage of the adoption journey. I can let distractions cause me to miss His voice. I can be too scared to listen because His answers confuse me. Or, I can lean in, trusting Him even with an aching heart.
He whispers. He shouts. He uses a megaphone.
Do you trust me?
Will you rejoice in Me even in this? (Phil 4:4-7)
Do you trust that I am the Father your child most needs?
I will use your example of faith to draw watching hearts to me. Is that important to you?
I am using this to carve utter dependence into your heart.
My mission is higher than yours.
Adoption is bigger than a pilgrimage to a child in China. Ultimately, it is a pilgrimage to God. I believe that He cares intimately about the big and small details of adoptions. He’s shown me that. I believe His heart beats for orphans. He’s told us that. But He’s writing a grand love story, and using adoption to speak to us of that love, calling us always to go deeper still.
I want His voice to rise above the chorus of distractions. I want to leave listening space, even when it requires me to bravely trust that His ways are higher than mine. As we move forward, my family and I, I want more glorious moments of my ears being perfectly tuned to His call. Hopefully he’ll no longer need the megaphone.
Photography by Tish Goff.