I remember several times over about 5 years talking to Jesus about adoption. I remember telling Him that I would if I could, but…
my husband wasn’t on board.
it was too expensive.
it wasn’t the right time.
the kids are too old.
the kids are too young.
our house doesn’t have any more room and we would have to move.
God didn’t design me to be a mom to a child with special needs because I’m too fearful.
I wouldn’t be a good mom to a child like that.
I couldn’t possibly love an adopted child as much as I did my biological children and that would be unfair.
I just shouldn’t adopt at all.
I know all of the excuses, I’ve used every last one. I still use them at times, if I’m being honest.
My heart was soft to adopt and God shaped it over time. I didn’t expect Him to soften the heart of my husband too, and when He did I knew it was time; or at least I thought it was. You see, God was working and shaping and molding without our even realizing it. He’s sneaky that way, it’s one of the things God does best.
Our church was starting a new sermon series entitled “I will”. The purpose of it was to search ourselves and seek the Lord on what He was asking of us. It could be anything: serve, give, work on your marriage, obey, forgive, take a step of faith – whatever that looks like. When God asks us to do something we have choices in our response. We can say, “I will” or “I won’t”. We can also say “I would if I could” – but that’s the same result as “I won’t”.
When our pastor asked us in that service “What is God asking of you and what is your response?”… one word came to mind.
Each of us received “I will” dog tags to wear around our neck or on a key ring or put somewhere we would be mindful to consider what God might be asking of us and to be in prayer about it. My husband knew what came to my mind and we discussed it a bit, and it went on the shelf in our brains for a bit. We committed to asking God what He is asking of us and I prayed that my husband and I would be united in that whatever it was.
Several days later we sat with friends listening to Steven Curtis Chapman share his story of adoption. He introduced a couple who had been supported by “Show Hope” to afford adoption and before we knew it my husband and I (and our friends), had tears flowing and a burning in our heart right about where that “I will” dog tag hit our chest and we knew. October 16th, 2011, we each knew God was asking this of us and anything other than “I will” – meant “I won’t.”
We decided to go home that night and tell our children that we were going to prayerfully take some steps toward adopting a little one from China. I could hardly wait to get home and see their happy faces at the thought of having a little brother or sister. They each had asked over the years if we could have a little one, what about adoption… I was sure they would be on board. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind.
Our daughter, 12 almost 13 was thrilled. Jumping up and down for joy. Our son, age 11, quietly hung his head and said “I like our family the way it is.”
*cue the crickets*
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I couldn’t believe my ears. My sweet boy who loved little kids, and I knew would be an amazing big brother – was the one dissenter. Amidst my shock, we decided that night to ask God as a family what He wants for us and committed, each of us, to pray that God would change our hearts to fit His plan for our family whatever that looked like. I had to believe that if truly this was something God was asking of us, He would align our hearts and we would all be on board. It was all for one, or nothing.
Over the following weeks, Jake asked questions from time to time:
“What if we adopt a kid with anger issues?”
“What if we adopt a child that’s really sick and they die?”
“What if it takes a long time?”
“Doesn’t it cost a lot?” (aka are we going to have enough for the family we have already?)
I had questions too:
“What if we adopt a child with a lot more needs than we expect and its so expensive and my husband resents me or the child?”
“What if this puts too great a stress on our marriage or our family?”
“Are we going to be able to provide for the family we have already?”
“What if this changes everything?”
Little bit by little bit Jake started saying and asking things that showed me his heart was changing. One day he asked if it could be a girl. Another day it was, “Could she be little, like a baby?” One day he started praying for whoever Grace would be and that she would be safe and loved wherever she was…
And so it began the very end of January we contracted with All God’s Children in the pursuit of a little girl between the ages of 0 – 3 who we would name “Grace”. Every question was put to rest, every hesitation and myth debunked – not because they weren’t valid questions, but because we were surer than sure that this adoption wasn’t really our idea, but God’s. If we are sure it’s God’s idea, we know it’s a good one and we can trust Him to bring about His plan and His will, and He did. The first miracle in adoption is how God works in the hearts of people to pursue a child not born into their family and knit their hearts together in inexplicable ways.
In December of 2012, almost a year later, we took our kids out of school unexpectedly to discuss a referral we had received. What they didn’t know at first was that against all odds, it happened to be the one little girl we had fallen in love with already. The one who had such a spunk and sparkle in her eye happened to ready for a family just at the same time we were ready for a referral.
God blew our minds with how He moved in our adoption. Miracle after miracle later, we met our Grace on May 6th, 2013 and our son became an incredible big brother, just like I knew he’d be. Our oldest had the little sister she had always wanted and she was the first person Grace attached to in China. It was love at first sight all around. I have never once regretted taking our older kids to China. We worked hard and saved to make it happen and it remains one of the best decisions of our life. I actually can’t imagine how it would have been without them. They were invaluable in keeping Grace comfortable and content and since she had a precarious and severe heart defect – keeping her calm saved her life.
People tell me all the time, “I would like to adopt but my _______ isn’t on board.” My advice is steadfast: It will do you no good, it won’t do anyone any good, it will in fact be bad, if you push anyone to adopt anyone. If God has asked this of you – but you are alone in the “I will”, God will do the rest in His time. It might take years, it might take days. I look back and am thankful we weren’t all on board all the time because it allowed me to see my husband’s heart be re-shaped. It allowed me to watch my son pray and have his heart change. It allowed us to all be united in the pursuit of making a sweet, sick, little girl a daughter and sister. I don’t believe God calls us to adoption in order to stir up dissension in our families. I believe He readies us in His time as we seek after His will.
It’s been almost 3 years since that day in May when Grace became ours. In these three years I’ve seen family after family return to China – some, multiple times to adopt again and again. There are days when I think – I cannot do that again. I make all the old excuses, I make some new ones too. We’ve had some big challenges, we currently have kids nearing college, Grace has health challenges that will be less as she gets older. It’s just not the right time… if there is such a thing as the right time.
There have been days, many days, when I feel guilty that we haven’t adopted again because I know better than anyone that God moves mountains and that nothing is impossible with Him. I also know that nothing godly is born out of guilt. So I find myself praying and asking God – what are you asking of me now?
One thing I know to be true about God is that He will always answer that question. He will make His desire for me, for my family, and for you known if you’re asking and awaiting His answer. Make no mistake, He will not call you to something and keep it a mystery and leave you to figure it out on your own. So as I wait for my answer, for our answer, I ask for your prayers in that because it’s His will that I’m after.
I can ride any number of my emotions on any given day and feel like this is what we should or should not do. My feelings, your feelings aren’t always trust worthy. My ideas aren’t always worth pursuing, even if they are great ideas. God’s ideas are always worth pursuing. If adoption is God’s idea, have no fear. He will lead you on in ways you cannot even imagine and it will be the ride of your life.
What is God asking of you today?
Is your answer “I will”? “I won’t”? “I can’t”? Or “I would if I could”?
There is only one best answer.