One of the “perks” (not so much if you are an introvert) of walking the Adoption Road is the availability to share your testimony. I think it might actually be one of the questions on the Home Study Report: Are you ready and willing to share all that the Lord has done (and will continue to do) in your family with complete strangers for the rest of your days, so help you God?
I marked YES, really having no clue what that meant.
Apostle Paul tells us to be ready “in season and out to preach the Word” (2 Tim 4:2). For many of us on the adoption journey we are prepared, chomping at the bit even, to share our testimonies. The amazing miracles that brought our families together; the heartbreak and healing; God’s faithful hand tenderly nurturing each of our adoption roads. When we are with adoption friendly families we can nearly finish each other sentences with God’s great works. There is a secret wink and a smile for families in the adoption world. We get it. We’ve been there and want to be encouraged and challenged by how you’ve been there too.
And for those that aren’t on the adoption road yet, but have any flake of skin on their body that has even given a nano-second of thought towards adoption… we’ll sniff you out! It’s like a weird adoption pheromone. Did you accidentally glance towards an special needs adoption brochure?? Did your stride shorten as you walked by the Adoption Info Night desk in the foyer?? Seriously, we are coming for you. You are going to hear our amazing story and you’re about to have one of your own!
I think it’s fun to share our testimonies with those that have Been There and those that are Getting There. (Not entirely easy though. I still get nervous when I’ve been asked to share at a formal-ish event). The excitement comes in knowing who you are speaking to and who is listening; it’s a harvest ripe for the picking. You get to be a witness to the Holy Spirit moving deeply in people’s hearts. It is really very cool. But I think there is a third and fourth group that ‘hear’ our adoption testimony I hadn’t really given thought to until recently:
A few weeks ago, a sweet Korean mother signaled us across the foyer at church giving me the “we are a Down syndrome family too!” double chin bob-eyebrow rise. I was thrilled to meet another family like us, especially with a 4 year old boy (it was a serious kiss-fest with those boys outside the welcome desk!). We exchanged notes and when I asked if they were new to our church (it’s a big church…easy to miss people), she shared this in her broken English:
“For a long time after our son was born, we didn’t know how to live a normal life. We didn’t know anyone who was like us, but two and a half years ago some friends invited us to this church. We sat in the back and then we saw you and your son dancing during worship. When he fell asleep in your arms and you kept worshiping, I knew we would be OK.”
She smiled sheepishly. I cried and our boys kept making out. I had no idea we were being watched. I wasn’t sharing our story, I wasn’t testifying, we were just being a family in God’s presence (a brand new family at that time, who, frankly, takes up a lot of space during worship). We have plenty of formal opportunities to share our story, to be on display and Praise the Lord for His goodness in our unique family, but for the Holy Spirit to use us to speak to a struggling biological family when we didn’t even know it kinda melted me: an Asian momma with a beautiful baby boy with Down syndrome, overwhelmed with what the future would hold for her family saw hope through my adoption family. Four and a half years ago, half way across the world another Asian momma was in the same place…was there anyone to ‘speak’ to her then? Is anyone speaking to her now?
Friends, our adoption testimonies are awesome. They speak life and faith and encouragement to each other and to those not yet on our journey. We should be excited and prepared to share ALL that the Lord has done to redeem. Stand up and share your story to small groups or large; write your testimony down (perhaps via an encouragement ministry like No Hands But Ours), show your witness through visual media. Be actively prepared to preach God’s love through your adoption story in every ripe season.
But also, be prepared out of season… to be watched in the quiet moments by the listeners that hear and see the hope that saturates our walks through special needs adoption. Maybe that is the most precious of testimonies… the ones we don’t know we are giving to those who need to hear it most: to the biological family new to special needs who needs to know there can be success.
And to the sweet birth mothers who unknowingly surround us, maybe whose heart is desperate to know her birth child is loved and thriving, somewhere; that her decision at the time was a good one for her and her child. Oh, that we can be a living word of encouragement to them: the unexpected testimony of hope for those we don’t know are listening.
– photo by Tish Goff