J is boarding the morning ferry and heading to Dar as I type. We all wanted to go but the funds are running low so we sent our man-folk to do our bidding. He is checking in on our adoption paperwork because we received word that Fed Ex did in fact deliver our international report to the social service office in Dar. And since we have heard many a story about them losing paperwork we knew this meant a trip to try to verify its arrival, remind them about our family (everything is done in person here), and take one more step to our baby. A baby that is probably already born. That has started his or her little life somewhere in Tanzania. A baby that I think of everyday and pray for. After this we wait yet again for the letter from an orphanage that our child has been identified. It could be 4 weeks, 4 months, or much longer. We just don’t know and everything is always subject to change. The unknown is admittedly scary but for me I have learned again and again this is the place where I most rely on God. Our child is out there somewhere. A stranger to us but known to God.
Annikah drew this picture this week. She said “it is our family with our new baby that has brown skin” and I smiled wide and said I thought it was beautiful. And I thought about how God is preparing the way even when I worry and fret and plan. It has been over a year since we began this process and we continue on. I have been reflecting a lot about adoption. What is means for us. For me. And after some questions I decided to write up some of my thoughts here as well since some have asked. As everything on this blog these are my thoughts and some may offend. That is not my intention but I also know that being real and digging into life can be uncomfortable so I welcome discussion. always. I do not have all the answers. Truth be known I possess very few but I am on a journey. One that I want to share. I read somewhere that “Fear binds us all to live small lives” so true! and I am casting it out. All fear…fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of what others think of me. And I have been freed to live……really live. And that is part of this journey.
We have felt a calling to adopt for some time but we did not know where or how or when. I remember even being a teenager and thinking I would one day adopt a child. J and I discussed it even before we married and continued after. We had started the process stateside but then had to stop when we felt called here but adoption was always in our hearts and minds.
I see adoption as a picture of the Gospel. Only it is not in a book, in your mind, or far away in something you wish you do. It is in your house. And that makes it realer. closer. more painful. Adoption is beautiful and difficult and I do not pretend to understand all that it will require. But I want to actively participate in living out His love among people. And too often I see people spending their time and breath engaged in arguments and hate rather than spending their one life making the most of the opportunities He gives us to show Love, Grace, and Mercy for His glory. I get really tired of people preaching against abortion without realizing the bigger issue. Not that I think abortion is good but I realize I must count the cost before opening my mouth about it: am I willing to take in an orphan? an unwanted child that would be aborted? into my home and love them as my own? are you? That shows real Gospel compassionate love. Way more than standing in front of a clinic shouting at women making difficult decisions.
Last I read there are 150 million children who are orphaned. That number is so big it is easy to just see it and not feel the weight of it. 150 million children. Like Evy. Like Anni. Only with no security. No family. No one to stand in the gap and the mess of life and say “I will love you because God first loved me.” How can we extend mercy
and love to them and demonstrate we have faith and deeds
? I think all of us that read His Word need to take seriously this question. Are we willing?
But adopting children can not be “our good deed for the day.” That would be empty and selfish and stupid. I cannot do it to prove to anyone I am a good person or earn heavenly “points.” I am not “religious.” And I don’t want to be. Religion is man made and I fall short of following the rules everyday. But I do want to follow Jesus with everything I have. Everything I am. Everything in our family. And rely on Him not myself. We want to adopt a child as our own because God commands us to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress.
I do not yet know what “their distress” will mean and as I pray I have a sense it will be wicked hard. Require more tears, prayer, and dying to self but I know His promises so I can welcome that all. And I have been more convinced in the last 3 years that if we are seriously following Jesus, we will go to the hard places. No matter the cost. To take His commands seriously will be uncomfortable and costly at times. He calls us to demonstrate love to a hurting world for His glory and it costs us dearly. But it is not suffering for the sake of suffering. It it for our sanctification and for His glory. Because being a follower of Jesus means being acquainted with sorrow like Him
and rejoicing in trials
. Because understanding sorrow and growing through trials in necessary to fully appreciate joy.
So we go into this adoption journey. Not because we are “good people” but because we are sinners saved by Grace. Because we were first adopted as sons and daughters and that has changed everything
about our lives. Because we are sons and daughters, “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying “Abba Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God
” Galatians 4:6-7
. We are adopted children of God and that frees us up to love and give. Adoption was not God’s second best, it was His plan before time to adopt us and so for us this frees us up to offer our love to a child. Platt in Radical Together
says it like this “Because we were once “children of wrath
” yet in His mercy God sought us and saved us…. we can adopt because we believe the gospel’s sacrificial love is not only duty it is delight” (p.37). It is delightful to obey. That is something I need to practice saying over and over. And now because I know the joy of being an adopted daughter I can see a child who is left alone and maybe even difficult to love and we can bring that child into our family. Because of what He first did for us. Our family is not perfect but we are on a journey together and we believe sacrificial love is necessary to see His kingdom in our lives and in the lives of others.
Do I pretend to understand what is next? Where this road will lead? How our girls will respond? People ask “do you realize how difficult adoption is?” or “do you know how much harder it is in a developing country?” I think about how hard it will be to have your Mama and Papa and sisters be a different color than you because people will be curious on good days and rude and judgmental on bad days. I think about the emotional and physical and spiritual issues this child may bring after beginning life in such difficult circumstances. Do we realize how tough this will all be?
My answer is easy: No.
True. I do not have a clue but I choose to trust that when we seek to live out His Love He is there. In it and working through everything.
I can also answer truthfully that I never realized how difficult parenting would be. For me one of the hardest things I have ever done is parenting the two amazing girls we have. But He is always working. We have seen it and we have been through enough to trust His future Grace is also sufficient.
But here it is: I also do not feel that because something is hard or even painful that it not exactly what God wants. I want to lean into that and not run from it.