My husband, Bobby, and I are not special. We keep being told that we are. Ever since starting the adoption process, people keep telling us we are “special”. I don’t always know how to respond. I feel embarrassed and totally unworthy. We don’t belong on that pedestal. Have they seen our very un-special home and family?
The truth is that we are normal, selfish human beings with our own set of sins and issues. Lots of them. More than we care to admit. We are just trying to navigate God’s path for our lives. It’s messy, and we are not always bringing our “A Game” before the Lord.
Our marriage is not perfect. It’s not always the marriage depicted in Ephesians 5. I am not always respectful, and Bobby is not always loving. Our kids do not obey 100% of the time. And sometimes we are struggling to make it to church on Sunday morning and barely speaking to each other. (Is it just us?)
But because we are in the process of adopting a special needs, older boy from China, people think we have something special that they don’t have.
God planted the adoption seed when I was a young girl. I saw a TV show featuring a family that had adopted many children with special needs. Of course, I thought I would be adopting healthy children in my future. Then I became an adult, got married and birthed three boys. Three sons feels like seven. (You boy-only moms know what I’m talking about.)
And, just to make it even more interesting, we homeschool. My hands feel full. When the rubber meets the road, selfishness creeps in and who wants to have more mouths to feed, more financial burdens, more kids to corral? We want more vacations and more date nights. We want to retire comfortably and travel the world!
But the reality is that when we are inwardly focused, we do not get a better family or marriage. We become self-centered people who keep thinking more time spent on ourselves, our children and our marriage will make it blossom. It won’t.
When we start praying for the Lord to change our heart to align with His, then our wish list does not matter. We become mission-minded. There is nothing that draws a family closer and marriage deeper than one focused on the Lord.
And we could go right on sponsoring orphans and visiting them. But is that all that God asks of us? Have we diminished James 1:27 to simply that? I have a hard time believing God’s heart is merely to donate money or visit orphans. It is estimated that there are over 153 million orphans. And, it is estimated that over 31% of the world’s population is Christian. It hurts my heart to realize that our family was part of this glaring problem.
However, we are also part of God’s solution.
Our family has been exploring adoption on and off for over 10 years. We’ve even taking some very solid steps. Our direction had been adopting locally through the Department of Children and Families. That path makes sense, doesn’t it? Why not adopt children within our community? And, it’s free! But every time we actively pursued local adoption, doors would close.
God always has other plans, other ideas, different timing.
In the midst of a very crazy year with four housing moves, home renovation, and critical illness, God said now. We assumed that we would still adopt locally. But doors closed, yet again. We knew we had both heard the Lord clearly that the timing was now. We were so confused.
The Lord very specifically began to direct our steps elsewhere. He revealed His plan for our family to adopt from China’s special needs program. We felt like the Lord had dropped a bomb. Really?! You are crazy, Jesus. We’re not “special” like those other families that do this. We’ve got issues, remember?
One Saturday morning, I started debating with God. I decided I didn’t think we should move forward with adoption…
We don’t have our own act together as a family.
I’m already tired with the three sons I have, plus homeschooling.
I have health issues.
I don’t want to mess up my family.
I don’t even want to travel internationally right now. Have you seen how crazy our world is, God?
Special Needs child? Exactly how “special”, Lord?
The list goes on.
We wrestled with a myriad of concerns. We came up with our list of acceptable conditions including missing limbs. We had met families who had adopted children with missing limbs, so that condition became comfortable to us. Problem is, God does not grow us by making us comfortable. So, I kept reading articles and blogs about all these “special” families that had adopted children I could not imagine adopting. They must have something that we don’t. So, I prayed, “Lord, if our hearts don’t align with Yours, then change our hearts.” And boy did He!
When the Lord brought to us (on paper) the child we are currently pursuing, my husband and I fell in love. “Wade” is seven years old and was being hosted here in the US over the summer. We thought about traveling to meet him. Then we read his medical file, and the brakes went on. We were crushed. His file was terrifying. We didn’t want to consider any heart conditions, let alone what he has… the worst kinds with the worst prognosis.
Heart conditions were not on our “list”. Of course they weren’t. Does Jesus ever follow our plans? Wade has HLHS, transposition of the great arteries, pulmonary stenosis, single ventricle, single atrium… you name it! When we were pregnant with our biological children, we would pray that they didn’t have any medical conditions, let alone anything life-threatening. We wanted healthy children.
How ironic. God was asking us to choose a medically-fragile child, spend tons of money, and travel to China to get him!
We are newbies. We’ve never adopted, and God threw us a massive curveball. It’s hard enough to stick your toes into test the waters of the unknown, let alone take a giant jump into the abyss. We were already battling fears of moving forward with adopting and going to China. Now, God presented us with an older child with severe CHD.
We started reading articles about families with CHD children. We read Andrea and Emily’s article on No Hands But Ours highlighting their journey with their heart babies. My husband and I sat on our living room couch, jaws dropped, staring into space, just in awe of the children they had adopted. We could not imagine.
I contacted Andrea. I wasn’t even sure I would hear back from her. She is the Executive Director of Little Hearts Medical. She’s a busy woman, yet she was incredibly gracious with her time. In addition to emails and file reviews, I think we talked for two hours. Well, she talked. I listened. That’s a switch for me. She was so honest. She didn’t sugar coat anything, but her story of surrender encouraged us. We also consulted with some wonderful cardiologists. And then we thought about all the awesome ski and hiking vacations our family currently enjoys. We love to ski or hike as a family. Wade can’t possibly do those activities or handle mountains and cold, right? But, as my husband and I kept praying, Jesus transformed our hearts. We had to quit putting limitations on God and Wade. And, this wasn’t about preserving the wants of our family anyway. We realized we just needed to say Yes in total abandon to the Lord.
This past summer we booked a crazy, expensive, last-minute trip to spend time with Wade during his hosting stay. Worth. Every. Penny. His host mom was awesome. She allowed us to spend three glorious days with him before he had to return to China. At the airport, we watched him walk off with his group to catch his plane back to China. It was gut wrenching for us. We already love him. like our biological sons. Our sons just adore him as well. They can’t wait to bring him home. We plan to name him Matthew. That’s not the name we chose. God did. It means gift of Yahweh. God is always right.
Our dossier is in China. For those of you in the know of all the adoption lingo, we are expecting LOA any day now. As I type, we are Day 43 from LID. We no longer worry about how long we get to spend with Matthew on earth. We love him beyond measure. We are incredibly grateful God was so patient with us.
He has yet to officially become our son, but Matthew has already blessed our lives immensely. No matter the time, money, and sacrifice, he is worth pursuing. And for those of you who think we are “special”. We’re not. It is not our fleshly heart that could embark on this journey. It’s Jesus. And when we truly follow Jesus, we allow ourselves to be led by His heart, not ours.
Any one of you can be “special” too, but you have to make room for the Holy Spirit to guide you. He will probably ask you to ditch your plans and jump right into His heavenly abyss. My bold prayer is that your abyss is an orphan waiting for their forever family.
– guest post by Michele