Straight Talk I: Crazy?

April 22nd, 2012

“Did we really leave our ten children with our formerly Amish friends and their eight children back in Pennsylvania, and are we really in a Japanese-run hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria with our nine-year-old daughter who looks like a skeletal eighteen-month-old?”  ~Susanna, to Joe, November 15, 2011


Others may ask you.

“What are you thinking?  Are you guys crazy?”


You may ask yourself.

“What are we thinking?  Have we gone crazy?”


Yep, if you’re considering special-needs adoption, the “crazy” question is to be expected.  But if you’re going to be ready for it, you first need to know the answers to some other questions.


Where are you getting your perspective?


By what assumptions are you living?


When it all comes down to a point of decision, what trumps what?


In your mind, your decisions, your life, whose perspective has the last word?  Our culture’s?  Or God’s?


If you’re not sure of the answer to the last question, here’s one little test you can give yourself.

We challenge you to take an honest look at yourself over the next few weeks.  Listen to what you say when you give your opinions and make your decisions.

Do you find yourself saying, “I know it seems like…but God says…”

Or, “Well…I know the Bible says…but I think/know/feel…”


What trumps what?


Our culture is all about choosing for yourself.  It can look like such common sense when they show us how to put walls up around our lives and stay in control of what’s inside those walls.

But it’s not God’s highest goal for His people’s lives to keep them manageable. It is His goal for us to show His greatness through us.  As long as we rebelliously insist on keeping our lives manageable anyway, we’ll only get to see the unremarkableness of what we can manage in life, and miss getting to see the AWESOME GLORY of God.

If Joe and I had been convinced by the opinions of the surrounding culture, and made our decisions based on what looked most manageable to us at the time, we would have stopped at three children.  According to the best advice of our culture, we were foolish to remain open to receiving Laura, Jane, John Michael, Peter, James, and Stephen.


Simply adding newborn twins…


…to our family of six children, the oldest newly thirteen and the youngest fourteen months?  Seen from the majority perspective–yep, totally crazy!


Some people get to come into the world with a best friend.  What a privilege it was to witness this.


If we’d been mapping out our lives the way our culture says was sensible, we for sure wouldn’t have Verity, would we?

And Katie?

If we’d said, “Ha!  No way!  That’s crazy!” to God, we sure as shootin’ wouldn’t have Katie!

If we’d followed our culture’s common-sense plan, there’s no chance–no chance!–we would have gone to Bulgaria to bring home a child with severe special needs…


…when we already had ten children and our youngest child had special needs of her own and was only eighteen months old, would we?


Well, would we?

The culture we live in would say this was nonsensical, reckless craziness.

And if we had let them define “crazy” and “common sense” for us instead of going by God’s definitions, this child would still be lying like a reeking, dried-up, abandoned baby bird in her orphanage bed.  We wouldn’t be watching Him bring her to life or use her story to propel countless other children into families.



If you’re considering special-needs adoption, be ready!  Ready to graciously answer the “crazy” questions with the truth as often as needed.  The questions may come from strangers, fellow employees, extended family members, or your own thoughts.


The truth is that because of who God is, following what He tells us to do is the most sensible choice possible.


But if you find yourself habitually saying, “No way!  That’s crazy!” to God’s idea of what is good and true and beautiful, are you more truthfully His follower, or a follower of our culture?  Whose side are you on?  Which side will you work for, even fight for, if necessary?


“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.”





This Straight Talk series of blog posts is specifically for those who qualify–or hope to qualify–to adopt children with special needs.  No, we still don’t believe that God gives this task to everyone!

But we do believe that if everyone said “Yes,” to God when He called them, there wouldn’t be any children waiting on Reece’s Rainbow.  There are no unadoptable children, just unwilling parents.  Please make absolutely sure that if someone closes the door, it is God and not you.

If you don’t qualify, but you know a family who’s seriously considering special-needs adoption, please do all in your power to help them and encourage them to listen to God’s voice, as many of you have so marvelously done for us and other families.  They will need it, as we did.

And we know, dear friends, you won’t ask them if they’re crazy.  <grin>  

Because we don’t know anyone who wants to take the side of those who say, “They’re nothing more than a burden, they’re not worth sacrificing for, they are somebody else’s problem, I have my own interests to think about.”  Those, that is, who institutionalized the children in the first place.






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34 Responses to “Straight Talk I: Crazy?”

  1. Amanda says:

    We might be “crazy” by the world’s standards, but it sure is a blessing to be crazy.  :) Once you quit worrying about what people think and focus on living a God pleasing life, then life has true meaning.  I’m crazy and I love it.  Normal people are boring!  roflol

  2. Jennifer says:

    I love this entry :) I just…do.

  3. Grumpy says:

    Hi, Susanna..
    I really love this entry also – and most of it applies not only to special needs adoption, but the other “impossible” things God gives us to do. I have no doubt I am NOT called to special needs adoption, but I had the same conversation with myself about homeschooling as a single parent – and many other things. You articulate it so well.
    I pray often for your family, the orphans, and the families that are hearing that call…

  4. Felicia says:

    I simply admit to insanity and it relieves everyone of the need to make that determination.

  5. Katie says:

    Heh.  Yup, by everyone else’s definition, I’m absolutely certifiable.  In fact, everything I’ve done in the last seven years was insane.  But you know what?  There are two very happy little children upstairs who wouldn’t be there if I weren’t “crazy”.  So, it’s a label I freely take on.  It’s a compliment.  See:  Blog name.  ;)

  6. Sarah says:

    I would really love to e-mail you and ask you some questions about adoption. I have been reading through your blog and am now up to Sept 2011. The Lord has been using your blog in many ways and I’m positive the Lord had you write this blog post today for me. Probably for others as well but definitely for me. Please let me know if you have time to talk!

  7. Gail K. says:

    I love this post!!!!!

  8. sabrina says:

    Maybe if the world doesn’t think we’re crazy we’re missing something.

  9. sarah says:

    Beautiful post Susanna. I want to echo what a previous commenter said…. You can take out the words “special needs adoption” and apply this lesson to any thing that God wants you to do that you don’t feel you can. (Not that I would want to take out “special needs adoption” but just to make a point…) My family is at a crossroads and we are struggling w/ what to do in our lives. We are thinking that the direction God is leading us might just be “too hard” or “not for us”. But we know otherwise! Thanks for the great insight. Peace be with you.

  10. Sandra says:

    I repeat this to myself many times a day:  My hands are your hands.  And I find that I can do whatever needs to be done, no matter how unlikely the task I’ve taken on may seem to others.  I don’t have to tell you, but we are never alone.

  11. Deb W says:

    You are wonderfully crazy! And I’m so thankful that you are! It’s a fabulous quality. I’ve learned so much about loving others through you! Thank you!

  12. Tara says:

    Thank you for this! It’s like you crawled inside my head and answered all the swirling questions. :)

  13. Susanna says:

    Sarah, emailing you!

  14. Amy P says:

    well said, Susanna! Amy B and I would like to bring our crazy to your crazy in upcoming months. I am hoping to bring Lili so she and Katie could meet…our Bulgarian beauties! We expect travel orders in the next week or so. Also moving right now as well…crazy…but, as you said, I would rather be seen as a fool for the sake of Christ than accepted for denying His power in my life. Looking forward to seeing you again!

  15. JessicaD says:

    When you write stuff like this be sure to pray for the parents whose spouses are not ready….  

  16. mrs c says:

    Hi.  Very new to your blog.  But a friend passed it along since we are adopting a child from China who is at pretty high risk for refeeding syndrome.  Would it be possible to email some questions to you?  Still looking for the right doctors with experience in this, but I would really value practical advice from btdt moms too.  Thanks!  Blessings, -wendy

  17. Susanna says:

    JessicaD, this topic is a biggie, and we’ll be addressing it in upcoming posts. Please take heart; God can change minds when and how He pleases, and until that time, parents in that category don’t qualify. And YES, we are praying…believe me…

  18. Susanna says:

    Wendy, absolutely. Emailing you…

  19. Ann says:

    I just LOVE this Post!!!  If one more person ask’s me if we are Crazy, I just may have to show them how nuts I am!!  We know to others this seems like an odd life, or a very labor intersive life… But what would I be doing if I didn’t have my children? This is OUR Life, the only one on earth we get, and I think it’s a pretty darn cool life, and we are doing a good job….We can only pray for the wisdom and patients to help our wonderful children become the amazing people we know they are, and pray they know how much we LOVE them!!

  20. Elizabeth says:

    I love it!  We had twin girls who were our 8th and 9th children and I was always amazed at the number of people who expressed SYMPATHY for us.  As if! These little girls have been one (or two!) of the greatest blessings of our lives.

  21. Denise says:

    PERFECT TIMING FOR THIS POST— as we are getting ready to tell family and friends of our new “direction”!  :)  :)

  22. Denise says:

    PS:  Is my heart supposed to beat a 1000 times a minute as I type, think and WRITE about adoption??  It does I can hardly type my heart is beating so fast!!

    PS:  God can move mountains– i have always lingered about adoption (some day) hubby was not quite as on board— but when he saw Laurel and actually one other little girl– his heart melted too  (the other girl got a family last week too…)

    We would love to talk with you and Joe sometime– hopefully at the picinic!!

  23. Lauren says:

    Have you seen this Bulgarian newspaper article?! Katie is on the cover! Your story is making a difference for the children in Pleven!!

  24. Lauren says:

    Sorry, I’m behind in my Google search of Pleven. I just saw the newspaper article on YOUR site, so you already knew. I still think it’s exciting though! Veronica looks a lot like Katie to me. :T

  25. Beck Gambill says:

    I needed this today. I’m feeling more than a little crazy, and I’m thankful to be able to take courage from your own crazy self! My passion costs more and has long term repercussions for my family and is way crazier than outright adoption. I ask myself who am I to think God would want me to go to Serbia to be an advocate for the hidden ones there, the un-adoptable, unlisted, hopeless ones. But I can’t help my self it’s like an obsession. I keep knocking on doors but they aren’t opening. I needed this reminder that it’s God that calls us to God sized tasks and empowers us with God size power all for his glory!

  26. Lesya says:

    Thank you so much for this.  We are right now trying to convince our agency to allow us to do something that the world would see as ‘sheer idiocy’ as I posted yesterday on FB asking for prayers.  In fact, sometime today, the higher-ups in the agency are meeting to discuss us.  It’s a meeting they didn’t even tell us they were going to have.  Please pray for our social worker, she is a very strong supporter for us.  Ask God to help her have the words and the strength to convince them that we are ready to take this on.  Ask God to open their hearts to this situation and allow us to take these kids.

  27. Susanna says:

    Lesya, praying for you and that meeting right now…

  28. Susanna says:

    Beck, I will pray for tenacity for you and for open doors before you…

  29. Holly F. says:

    First Susanna, let me say that you and Joe make absolutely beautiful children!  And then y’all are obviously rearing them so well as their beauty shines from the inside more than the outside. 

    Second, when you said “parents in that category don’t qualify” in regard to the husband not agreeing, you touched me deeply.  We are in that position and there are days that I get mad at him because I don’t know how he can see the same things as I do, and not feel called to adopt.  Other times, I feel guilty…as though I’m a fraud for sharing pictures, asking people to donate to children, or asking people to consider adoption…all when my own family is not adoptiong.  Qualifying financially and  in all the other ways, but not actually doing it feels so wrong and creates so much guilt in me.  But we can’t simply force our husbands and you are right, it is all in God’s time. 

    So you saying we “don’t qualify” takes some of that pressure off, and as usual, your wisdom makes sense to me.   I look forward to more of the series.

  30. Katie says:

    Lauren:  Veronika was Katie’s birth name.  So no wonder she looks like herself!  ;)  Although she hardly does anymore… when she became Katie, she became part of a family, and it has made all the difference in the world.

  31. Sarah B says:

    Susanna, you had said awhile back that Sarah had a family working to commit to her. How close are they to doing that, if they are still working towards that. I just want to know if I should advocate for her or not. Please email and let me know!!! Thank you! 

  32. Susanna says:

    Sarah B, my policy is to keep advocating until the child has a committed family. :) Nobody has officially committed to Sarah yet, and her file will be sent back to Bulgaria in just a couple of weeks’ time if she doesn’t have a family. I say keep spreading the word! And I will whoop and holler praises to God the day I hear she has a family COMMITTED to bring her home. Thank you so much, Sarah, for asking this question!

  33. Erin says:

    I’m wondering if I can comment on a post above – dear Holly, don’t feel guilty – and please don’t let bitterness toward your husband creep into your marriage because he is not of the same mind that you are. If you don’t adopt a special needs child, God loves you! He loves you exactly the same as he loves families that do have special needs children. You are doing fine, and you are good person with a good heart, and God loves you and your husband.

  34. Susanna says:

    Erin, thank you for your kind words toward Holly. :)

    Holly, the reason I say that a family doesn’t qualify to adopt if the husband isn’t ready is that (stated in very simplistic terms here) we believe that God leads a family through the husband. It is difficult sometimes as a wife to trust God in this, because (speaking for myself) the desire to control outcomes is so great. But I personally am thankful I have a supporting role and don’t carry the weight of responsibility that Joe does.

    Also, a husband and wife need to be absolutely together in adoption. NO space for one or the other to say, “This wasn’t my idea,” when it gets difficult down the line. No home study social worker in his or her right mind would write an approved home study for a family if one of the parents didn’t want to adopt. Literally, a family in this position does not qualify to adopt. Rest in Him, dear Holly, He can be trusted to work His good will in your family’s life. He has all kinds of tasks for His people to do. If God has SN adoption for your family, He WILL move your husband’s heart, no fear.

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