Q: “I have been wondering if it would be much easier, emotionally, if we were to save the money to adopt before picking a child so that there wouldn’t be such an amazing pull there already.”
A: It may well be easier, and there may be families who have adopted that way. We don’t personally know any, so I can’t speak to the specifics of that approach, or point you to those who have lived it.
Our story has been more like this…
Imagine that you wanted to go down your sidewalk from your house to your driveway. Your sidewalk was very long, had a rough and uneven surface, and you were stiff and clumsy and had bare feet. What would be smarter, to walk or to run? Well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? Of course you would consider how much safer it would be to protect your feet with shoes and walk slowly and cautiously.
But now imagine that you walked out onto your front porch and glanced toward your driveway. In sudden horror, you see your toddler squatting down in the driveway with a piece of chalk, and a Suburban backing energetically toward her. You would not stop to put on your running shoes! You would not think of possible scraped toes or sore muscles! You would yell for help, you would run with energy you never knew you had, your eyes would never leave your child’s form, you would cry out to God with anguish in your heart to save your child, and no matter how fast you ran, it would seem to you as if you were slogging along in slow motion!
Why is that? Because of the great love you have for your child! A love so great that seeing her in harm’s way would cause your heart to burst wide open! If your child died before you got to her, would you later wish you hadn’t invested all that energy into her life? That it was a big waste of valuable resources? That the fact that she died meant that you should have stayed emotionally detached, and should not have felt compelled to run down the driveway on her behalf? No, no, no! Never! You know your child’s life is worth financial and emotional and physical hardship! You would never regret having loved her, no matter what it had cost you, or what the outcome was!
That’s the best way I can describe what this adoption process has been like for us on the inside looking out. It may look unbearable to others, I don’t know. At this point, I’m not sure it’s possible to adopt without experiencing very strong emotions.
Can I encourage you to consider this from another perspective? God has poured Himself into our lives for years. We are filled with His Spirit, fed by His Word, and strong in His strength. His grace continually streams into us. If He asks us to take on an emotional burden, consider that our burden is nothing compared with the emotional burden that just one of these vulnerable children must carry every minute of every day for year after year. We believe that God gives more to some in order that they may lift some of the burden from those who have less.
From the start, He has been powering this adoption with His grace and His love, as He has done for so, so many other adoptions.
He put an enormous love–His love–inside us, for certain little human beings with feelings and hearts and thoughts and longings. Not for “an orphan crisis,” but for real, individual human beings, just as real and just as valuable and just as needy of love as we are, or as our children are. Like Jesus didn’t die for a nameless, faceless multitude, but for individual people.
I began to research the subject of adoption and take my findings to Joe. We soon saw that God had not yet opened the way before us, and we knew there could be years of waiting ahead, so we did not look at specific waiting children. Through all the research, we learned enough that we would immediately recognize the opening when it came!
As soon as God threw wide the door of adoption for us to step through, we wanted to know who we were working for. Who was God bringing to us? We don’t believe that there is only one right time or way to find the adopted child(ren) God has for each family. This is just the path God had for us to walk. Maybe when He singled out one child for us from the multitudes of waiting children, He knew that our love for her would help us to bear the journey? Our family can say that knowing our girl from the start has been a vivid picture to us of “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
And that brings us to consider a deeper spiritual reality that must be understood. More than anything else, I don’t want you to miss this! A clear vision of the underlying spiritual reality will cut through confusion as surely as seeing a Suburban headed toward your toddler will give clarity to your priorities.
Adoption is a story about redemption. Redemption costs. Jesus was mocked and spit on, scourged, nailed onto a cross in shame and agony, and finally gave up His life, and all voluntarily, in order to be obedient to His Father’s will that He redeem a people for Himself. Adoption is hard. There is no way around the hardness. We can know from Jesus’ example that we are permitted to pray for deliverance from difficulties. But we do not believe that we may shy away from any part of obedience because we do not want the hardness. We believe that nothing is wasted in God’s economy, and that it’s His prerogative to design the difficulties. We want to learn obedience from the things we are suffering, just like Jesus did. When all has been said and done, we want our hands and feet and backs, our lives, to be scarred like His.
Most of all, we pray for our lives to be whatever will most magnify Jesus.
I encourage you to purpose never to think of adoption in terms of how you can protect yourself or benefit yourself, but to ask God for the vision to see it in His terms, as spending and being spent for the sake of the gospel.
Kim, my sister in Christ, I am confident as I write all these truths that they will resonate within you as they do within me.
If I have missed your point, or left you with more questions, please, ask. I would love to speak privately with you about any of this if that would be helpful to you!
“The Gospel makes visiting orphans much more than an opportunity to care for the world’s most needy, as important as that is. It makes visiting orphans an opportunity to make much of Jesus before a watching world.”
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”