This month we’re focusing on Reluctant Spouses. Or, when one of you is ready to adopt, and the other isn’t.
The topic of adoption first came up in our marriage when we had been married about two years. And when I say it came up, I mean I mentioned it in the context of ….one day.
One day when we are ready for kids.
One day when we are more settled.
One day after we have our own kids (ugh… I know… I know… chalk it up to being 23 and having no clue).
It was one of those things that was a desire of my heart but I had no idea what that would look like, how to do it or even if it would be a reality. It was just a dream for…
Life took off and we added two biological children to our family. We worked and played and schooled and worshipped like the families around us. The desire to adopt “one day” would show up from time to time and would always be tucked away for later.
Our family also underwent many changes during that time. The death of my father, school struggles for my oldest, a move and new schools and a new church.
In 2008 we finally felt like our lives had settled and the desire to adopt began to grow again. I researched and read and prayed and we decided to take the next step. We attended an information meeting at a local agency. And instead of leaving there excited to take the next steps we felt discouraged and unsure.
We thought wanted to do this, but…
Not long after that our oldest was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Not life threatening, but definitely life changing. Soon after, our daughter was diagnosed with the same disorder and then life took off again.
What we couldn’t know then was that the little girl we would eventually bring home was just now being born and would not be available for adoption for nearly four more years.
During those four years, life would continue to move forward. But the Lord was growing that seed of desire into an unmistakable calling.
He was honing the dream from just adoption to international adoption.
From international adoption to China.
From a healthy young girl to an older child.
For much of the year leading up to our final decision to move forward we were praying separately. I was to some degree trying to reason our way out of what I knew the Lord was calling us to, but the call was unmistakable and my prayer became to make us of one mind.
At no point did I want to talk Shane into this.
No guilt, no wearing him down, I wanted us to be of one mind.
It’s amusing to me how the Lord sees fit to put people together sometimes. Shane is the calm, thinking counter to my passionate forge ahead. It sometimes takes him a while to come to a decision, but when the decision is made it’s full steam ahead. No wavering.
So when we had the final discussion and he was hearing the same calling and message, we knew it was time.
We moved through the process and as we completed our home study, I came across the picture of a little girl. A little girl who on the surface met our “criteria” but that we soon learned was more involved than what we thought. Again, he was the calm and I was the crying. Again we prayed together and separately and we waited on each other to figure it out.
We moved forward and brought Sarah home in November of 2013.
That all sounds kind of long and involved but also kind of simple in a way. My husband was never resistant to the idea of adoption, it just took us a long time to finally get on the same page time-wise.
So how do I know he felt the same calling I did? How do I know that we are of the same mind? Well… as we prepared to travel for Sarah, another face popped up on my computer screen. Another face I cried over.
Another face I couldn’t forget about.
Only this time she was 13 and in a wheelchair and had a host of unknowns. It would be only a few months after we returned from China with Sarah that we would begin the process again to bring Emily home. This time we were quickly on the same page, and 14 months after Sarah came home, we brought Emily home.
And that, dear readers, is when life got hard and I was reminded of why it was so important that we were in total agreement from the beginning.
Everyone reading this likely knows that adoption is such a gift but it is a gift that brings with it heartache and hard work. Attachment is hard work. Connection is hard work. There is the physical work of therapies and doctor appointments. There is the heartache of hearing the hard truths of your child’s past.
We needed each other. What we didn’t need was resentment and guilt.
So what do you do when you and your spouse aren’t on the same page? When he (or she) is reluctant and you are feeling impatient?
Well, first you have to do what I tell my kiddos when they are being impatient… put your patience pants on. Put them on every day and pray for the Lord to bring you and your spouse to the same conclusion and in his timing.
Then learn all you can, share what you learn but repeat after me…. no guilt. Share your heart, be honest with one another. Hear what your spouse is saying and really listen to concerns. Pray together. Pray separately and as hard as it may be sometimes, respect your spouse’s wishes.
I believe the Lord gives us dreams and desires so that we can use those to further His kingdom and bring Him glory. I also believe he gives us spouses to work in tandem together for that end. What that looks like and how that dream plays out may ebb and change as life moves forward, but we want our marriages to be strong and built on respect and love so that when the dream becomes a reality, and the dream is sometimes hard, we can work together as a team.
And in all honesty, now that the stress of two back to back adoptions has leveled out, now that we have overcome some attachment challenges and we are feeling more comfortable with our ability to care for the special needs our children have, that familiar ache is back in my heart.
And I am thankful again for his calm, thinking head paired with his father’s heart.
I’m thankful we can talk about things freely without guilt or resentment clouding the discussion.
I’m thankful we have learned how to wait together for the Lord’s timing for our family.