Let me paint a picture for you.
A wife comes to her husband and explains that she wants to have a child.
He responds that he is not sure about the timing, but he is willing to try… or at least practice a lot.
But then she explains that this isn’t that kind of child.
She goes on to explain that he would not be the biological father of the child.
Realizing that this conversation isn’t going at all where he had hoped, he cocks his head in confusion.
She explains that they would be adopting this child.
He begins to realize that she is serious. He loves her, so he says that he is willing to think about it. He mentions that this might be an option for them at some point in the future.
She then explains the child has already been selected and that the timing is now.
He begins to shift from confusion to frustration and maybe even the early stages of anger. This does not sound like a discussion. This sounds like an ultimatum. He pushes back. It’s too soon to have a child. We don’t have enough money. Or space. And how is it possible that you have already selected this child without me being involved?
She then explains that she believes this child is from God.
Now he’s mad. She’s not being rational. She’s not playing fair. By playing the “It’s from God” trump card, she is trying to circumvent the discussion and his role in it. He is NOT happy.
They argue… a lot. And in the end, he simply cannot get comfortable with the idea of adopting this child.
It is an issue that puts a real strain on their relationship.
He wrestles with the idea, day and night. There are times he is excited. There are times he is scared.
There are times he is both at the exact same time.
And on one of those fitful nights, he has a dream. A wonderful, miraculous dream.
He wakes up knowing that she was right. God has confirmed everything his wife had been saying about this child.
He wakes up ready. Ready to adopt. Ready to be this child’s daddy. Ready to go on whatever adventure God has planned for them.
Several months later, this child arrives into their life… and that originally reluctant husband loves some other father’s child as his own.
And several years later, that child dies on the cross for all of our sins.
Even before the last line, I am sure most of you recognized this story from Matthew’s gospel (1:18-24.)
The husband is Joseph. The mother is Mary. The adopted child is Jesus.
But with the exception of the last line, I suspect that others recognized elements from your own life as this tale parallels the story of many adoptive families.
Let’s be honest about something… the vast majority of adoptions are initiated by women and resisted, at some point, by their husbands. (I am willing to bet that almost all of the people reading this blog are women, and the very few men are only reading it because a woman suggested that they do so.)
In fact, the most common question Anne receives from other women is how they can approach their husbands about adoption or even ”talk him into it.” I offer Mary and Joseph’s story in hopes that it might provide some comfort that, if it is God’s will, He (capital H) knows how and when to talk to him (lowercase h) about it.
I know that women frequently become passionate about orphans first, passionate about adoption first, passionate about a particular child first… sometimes before their husband is even aware that there are orphans at all…
And that is why I offer this picture of Joseph. Not as an indictment of husbands or wives, but rather as a picture of how God chose to work in building His own family.
A picture of a Godly man and a Godly woman. A picture where God spoke first to the wife… but did not ask the wife to convince her husband.
A picture of God’s will being done, and the process of how that will plays out in real lives.
God could have spoken to both of them at the same time, but he didn’t.
I know I have struggled at times with this in our adoption stories (and even in the timing of when to start trying to have our bio kids.) Anne is frequently ready for the next step before I am. But then again, my coworkers will tell you that I am a little bit late to almost everything…
I have wondered in our story why God frequently planted a seed in Anne’s heart before planting it in mine, but I no longer worry about whether God’s will is ultimately going to be done.
I have been the reluctant husband. (The “RH” that you will see referenced in the aforementioned adoption sites. Yes… we know what you call us.) I have been frustrated. I have been scared. I have literally cried my prayers to God for wisdom on this topic… seeking clarity on how to balance an orphan’s need versus the commitments I already have to my current family.
If you read my prayer journal, you would think I was a heartless robot. I may be the only person with spreadsheets in my prayer journal. But God sometimes talks to me in the numbers. Sometimes the answer for me is in Cell G7. And yes, sometimes he talks to me in my dreams.
And regardless of what I think I may want in the beginning, I believe God gets what he wants in the end.
(Although I think a bit more savings and planning might have helped to avoid the “no room at the inn” issues.)
Which brings us back to Joseph’s story.
There will be struggle and pain in this world, but God wins in the end.
A beautiful story that starts in a Christmas manger turns to tragedy on Good Friday’s cross and ultimately back to God’s triumph when that adopted child is raised from the dead and all of us are adopted by our daddy on Easter morning.
So let’s give Joseph and all RH’s some grace. I do not believe that adoption is normally the product of a more compelling argument or a better spreadsheet. I believe it is ultimately the product of God’s perfect plan… playing its way out through imperfect people.
Frequent RH, Father of Six, Adopted Son of God