Our Adoption Paradox
Amy and I never planned a large family, and yet our fifth child is due in August. Sometimes I wake up wondering how this happened.
Yes, we know. I wish I could add a dollar to our meager college savings account for every time someone asked that, or asked if they're all ours, or asked if we know that's a lot of college to pay for.
It happened one baby boy at a time, three of them in four years. Then we adopted Maggie. You’re right if you see a what-adoption-taught-us story coming.
We had sporadically talked about it. Someday. Maybe. Once every few years I would come home, surprised to see requested adoption packets on the kitchen table.
Ugh. Sigh. There are countless children in need. And there's the convicting idea of "much given, much expected" in Christian teaching. But we had student loan payments and various projects going on. Amy and I were still adjusting to the arrival of our third son and she was working part time and we had commitments and it really wasn't a good time to adopt.
We were kind of busy, and stuff.
Those couples who pray to be risky and stretched for God? How nice. Good for them. We do our part by leading discussions in Sunday school. The truth is, we may have already had three kids more than we could handle.
Then mom called in August of 2008, reporting news from a young mother. I'm definitely not a "God told me this" type of person, but I'm fairly certain God told me:
You will adopt the baby.
So I said, "We want to adopt the baby."
The words rolled out, not after months of careful deliberation, conversation, and prayer, but in the fraction of a second that mom had left open for me to interject. I didn't even run the numbers on college savings.
Amy and I tend to be worriers, careful and stubbornly resistant to change, and the scariest adoption “what ifs” never surface until you’ve seriously considered following through. Yet despite the new anxieties and sleepless nights, a sliver of light entered our old patterns and fears. Our hands began to open, releasing whatever we were gripping so tightly. The painful growth, in retrospect, is why I'm pretty sure I did hear from God.
We agreed that the birth parents should continue to be at least a small part of our lives. We had no choice but to give them our trust. How would the holidays be? And what made us think we were qualified to raise four kids, including theirs?
I also wondered, Would this be a major disservice to the brothers? Luke wouldn't make swimming class and baby girl would get all our hearts and a quarter of everything else we have to offer. What about the days when one of our own feels neglected because I'm occupied with their little sister.
Well those days came. And went. And they’ll come again.
Maggie is two and a half now. We can't imagine our family without her. Luke swims just fine. The birth parents have earned the trust and respect that we initially only gave them by faith. And the years of bottomless sippy cups and buckling car seats in January and scratches and fingerprints all over everything weren’t that draining.
It's funny that we never worried about all the times the brothers would give to and receive from their little sister, experiencing life together. Nor did I consider that Amy and I may be better equipped for the teenage years some day, having learned a few hard lessons about control.
The adoption has proven beautiful on many levels. We learned that what may seem so scary is not so scary in reality. We witnessed how severely we overestimate our control and overrate our chromosomes (all children are special, not just our own). We realized our blessings and were stretched to more dependence on God.
Not everyone is called to adoption. And it’s hardly ever a “good” time to adopt. But we have been changed and compelled to act. In fact, this past fall Amy and I nearly completed requirements to adopt again through the PA foster system. However, it’s on hold for a while due to Amy’s fourth pregnancy.
There’s the plan, whatever that means. We’re less nervous and worried now than before, which makes this our adoption paradox. Adding the challenges of raising another child or two has left us with less anxiety and a looser grip.
Bring on the sippy cups.
The Idea Camp will gather on February 25-26 in NW Arkansas to focus on the issue of adoption and orphan care. Inspired by this event, we are sharing stories related to the high calling of orphan care. If you have a story of your own to share, post a link at our introduction to this series, Caring for the Little Ones.