"Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me." Mark 9:37
Aside from announcing it a couple of months ago and alluding to the "paper pregnancy," I haven't really written much about our adoption. I haven't started a separate "adoption blog," like many other families have (which I may do at some point in the future). I mentioned early on that I was, like Mary, "pondering these things in my heart." I guess I thought of that since the beginning of our adoption journey was during the Christmas season. As we got started, many of the questions that were being asked of me were questions I was still asking myself!
I thought I would write some blog posts to answer some of the questions that have been asked of me "irl" ("in real life") lately. Because, the truth is, we are very much in the thick of the process. I've gone from not really wanting to discuss it because I could hardly believe it myself, to loving it when someone (who perhaps just found out) runs up to me and asks me about it. I feel like I did when I was pregnant but not yet showing. I wanted people to know I was an expectant mother! And that's very much what I am right now, an expectant mother!
So, here's the first question:
When did you decide you would adopt a child? Did you and your husband always know you would grow your family this way?
I can't exactly say the "moment" we "knew" we wanted to pursue adoption. I can honestly say that we didn't always know we would. In fact, this was just about the furthest thing from my mind. (Just a smidge past "homeschooling" on the radar, which wasn't even ON the radar years ago.) Sometime back in 2003, though, the thought passed through one of our minds. I can't even say which one of us it was or how it came up. I can say that 2003 was a year marked by an intense interest in becoming much more "intentional" about our family. Our oldest child was turning 10, so we had been parents for almost 10 years. We were looking ahead at what we wanted our family to "look like" as far as how to best glorify God in all areas of our lives, our children's spiritual development, our ministry as a family, activities, etc. We had begun to enjoy missionary biographies as a family and were exploring possible mission involvements. I loved that time period because it seemed everything was possible! God finally (and rightfully) became so... so, BIG to me! And I wanted (and still want) all that He has for me, and for our family. Sometime during all of the prayer, planning, and dreaming, it occurred to one or both of us that the "perfect boy/girl-one-of-each" family we had prayed for and received was not all there was for us. That was a HUGE realization for me. God had given us an unspeakable blessing in our children... but did He have more in mind? Could I even envision more? We had carefully "planned" our family. We had wanted two children. I had wanted to have a girl when I was 26 and a boy when I was 29. For some reason known only to Him, God gave us exactly that. We had our family before we turned 30 and that was that. (And I mean, that was that. We "took steps" to not have more.)
Now, on to the task of raising them!
And that's what we were in the midst of doing when He radically got ahold of us and began to take us a step further as a family. And by "further" I mean, into the mission field on short term mission trips. Somehow, through that- through sending my little 10 year old and precious husband to the continent of Africa without me, and then going back as a family two more times, I got a glimpse of what it means to truly step out in faith and trust God in new ways, and to see Him do big things. Perhaps that's where the hint of adoption came from. I don't know. I do know that in January of 2004 I wrote the word "adoption??" in my Bible one morning as I was praying. We went to an America World seminar that spring and got a lot of "food for thought." But didn't feel that we were supposed to move forward adopting just yet, or maybe ever. We were just thinking about it.
And life went on.
You know how life gets... busy. We were busy with the activity-filled life of raising elementary school-aged kids, homeschooling, and taking as many mission trips as we could possibly manage (we were hooked!) From 2003-2007 all or part of our family took 3 trips to Ghana, 3 trips to China, and did work in Mexico, New Mexico and France. My husband and two other men started a non-profit organization to support the work we and others were doing primarily in Ghana, and we still enjoyed the family involvement of coordinating our church's Awana club. In the midst of all of this, the idea of adoption never went away. It would go into the background, but there it was. I didn't bring it up much, and neither did my husband, but nevertheless it was there. And it was "there" for our kids, too. They would ask about it, write us notes about it, and pray about it. I remember praying once about a year ago that the Lord would either bring it to the forefront (through my husband, not me) or take it away. I didn't like the feeling that even in the midst of all we were doing (by His grace!), there was something He had for us that we were not doing. I prayed specifically that He would tell my husband. I would know it was His will for us if it came from Luke. (Luke my husband, not the Book of Luke, though I'm sure it's in there somewhere!) I know some wives are the driving force behind this decision in their families (the idea that the man is the "head" and the woman "turns the head") but for me, for this particular issue, I wanted it to totally come from him. I didn't want to turn his head. This issue was too huge for me. So, I prayed and stayed silent. The former came easier for me than the latter! After months of praying for my husband to be attentive to God's leading in this area, last fall he came to me and said he'd like to go to an upcoming adoption seminar that was to be held at our church. That's when I knew. God had been speaking to his heart about it! Even without me! After that seminar we talked and realized it was time. Time to move forward. In fact, to me this issue had been with us long enough that we either needed to really do it, or really have a good reason not to. And for us there wasn't a good reason not to!
Having the "boy/girl" family we had prayed for and an orderly family life with older children was not a good enough reason to leave a child in an orphanage. Being able to take frequent, periodic mission trips as a family 20 days a year was not a good enough reason to leave a child in an orphanage for 365 days per year for years on end. Doing a bang-up job homeschooling my middle and high schooler was not a good enough reason for another child to live her life in an orphanage, and perhaps receive no education at all. Being "through" raising children in another 7 years and enjoying being "empty nesters" was not a good enough reason for another child to live their remaining childhood and lifetime without parents. Making sure we had plenty of college money for two children and a comfortable retirement was not a good enough reason for another child to be raised in an orphanage and be turned out at age 14 or 15, with no future. Besides, we also began to sense that this wasn't about some nameless, faceless "other child" out there. This was possibly our child. She was somewhere, and we need to go get her.
As it stands now, we are in the midst of our home study. We spent time this weekend child-proofing our home. We are plowing through the required reading list that our agency has provided. We've been assigned a social worker who will come and do our home visits. The timeline (on which I'm trying NOT to focus) could be as early as fall that we travel to get our child. It could be 2009, though, and we know that. The timeline for this in the hands of the One Who created time, and I'm so glad!
Next time I'll post about how we decided which country to adopt from...