A Father’s Adoption Journey

June 18th, 2012

Hi!  I am Katie’s father, and this is my adoption story.

Susanna and I had always wanted many children, and were blessed by God with ten of them before we seriously considered adoption.  We had talked about adoption at different times throughout our marriage, but it seemed a “back burner” kind of discussion for me.  It was what others did who had more room, more money, more resources.  Perhaps God had something like this in mind for us in our future, but we could decide that after He made it perfectly clear by arranging circumstances nicely for us so that we could adopt “out of our abundance.”

Then, the most recent child born to us was diagnosed with Down syndrome.  We were given a child with special needs who would need our help longer than 18-21 years.  No longer was I looking at a parenting phase followed by a grandparenting phase (that might overlap by a few years).  Now I was going to be a parent–a direct one, not just by title–for the rest of my life.  This was the opposite of moving toward being able to minister out of abundance.  It looked to me like our human resources were going to be taxed.

Next, Susanna and I saw “the video,” about Serbian institutions that mistreated orphans with special needs.  Some may tell themselves the lie that the children’s condition was caused by disability, but it was clearly a case of neglect.  My wife and I could hardly believe what we were seeing.  Up until then, I thought of orphans as those in need of  a family.  But here were exceptionally vulnerable children who were not even being fed or given adequate basic care.  They were not held or changed or talked to or bathed.  The end result of the Darwinian theory was evidenced:  those who are considered imperfect are left to die.

We knew we needed to do something.  God was making that clear to both of us.  But my faith was small, and I was already thinking there was no way we could meet the financial requirements of adoption.  (This had been an area of struggle for me more than for my wife, who had the benefit of being reared in a large family of low income by parents who trusted in the Lord to provide.)  But we decided to start the process and see whether we qualified.  If God wanted this to happen, He could open the doors.

From here the adventure of Katie’s adoption became the greatest faith-building journey I have ever been on.  What I said to God was, “I can see that you want me to adopt Katie, but I don’t see how we can afford to do it with what we have now.  So I will proceed at the rate that resources are provided.”  I completely expected it to take about three years before we would be able to afford adoption.  Well, you all know it didn’t take nearly that long.  As we proceeded with our adoption, it became clear that (1) Katie needed us quickly, (2) Her medical condition would actually cost us more than we had first thought, and (3) God provided the resources we needed to move as fast as the governments involved would allow.  In fact, there were times I had to admit that God was providing more quickly than I felt comfortable moving.  But God’s purposes were to glorify Himself, and my faith in Him grew because of what He was doing for Katie.

It often seemed that every step we took during our adoption introduced a new obstacle to be overcome, and yet the way was provided every time.  Man is able to look askance at anything God does to bless us.  To some our large family may seem to present too many mouths to feed, while they miss the many hands to make light work and many arms full of love for Katie.  To others our modest home may seem too crowded.  They overlook the cozy home more quickly cleaned.  Our choice to be members in a Christian health care sharing ministry rather than purchase typical medical insurance left some aghast.  And we didn’t know that it was impossible to switch to typical medical insurance in the middle of an adoption until we were in the middle of an adoption.  Our relatively modest income was an obvious difficulty, but even there God had arranged for several circumstances to come together to make a rather high income for one year (being self-employed, the income figure is based only on the most recent tax return).  As I write this, story after story comes to mind of how God moved one individual after another to further Katie’s adoption.  And it was not always in the way we thought it would happen.

Looking back, I could write over and over again like Jonah did:  “God provided…”  In Jonah’s case it was a storm, a great fish, a vine, a worm, an east wind.  In my case, it was a video, an indomitable adoption specialist, supportive and generous friends, a matching grant, an exception to cover medical bills.  It can be easier for me to see God’s hand at work as I look back than in the present.  Did I move with confidence through every step?  Not all the time.  But God was using the process of Katie’s adoption to build in me a confidence in Himself.

Adoption is not something God allows all families to do.  But if you and your wife are considering the opportunity, don’t think first about the practical things such as “How can we afford it?”, “Will it take needed resources away from the rest of the family?” or “What if we can’t handle the possible undisclosed issues we might face when we are home with our child?”

Please understand that I KNOW these are considerations you have to talk about, but they are secondary to the question “Does God want us to adopt?”  It is faith in Him that gives us the ability to properly consider the secondary questions.

The challenge for us Christian fathers is not to do better than others, nor to do better than we once did, but to look only to Jesus and let Him take us where He wants us to go.  And to do that with the desire for God to be glorified rather than ourselves.  I am a plodder by nature, and self-sufficient by preference for most of my life. But I am learning the freedom and adventure that can only be found as I follow Him into tasks BEYOND my own abilities.

This Father’s Day, I was privileged to celebrate with eleven children, the two smallest of whom are not only the newest blessings of God to my family, but also the messengers He is using to deepen my faith, my joy and my effectiveness as a father.  Every individual in our family is benefiting from the grace God pours out upon us to take care of these little ones.  Praise God for His grace!




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23 Responses to “A Father’s Adoption Journey”

  1. Samantha says:

    One word: Precious! 

  2. Rita from Spain says:

    Thank you..I loved reading your insight…..your family is beauitful…: )

  3. Cassandra says:

    Your transparency makes your post credible. Sometimes I read posts by chrisitians and  it is as if they are not speaking a single authentic word but instead exactly what they believe the “best” Sunday School answer would be. 

    I’m amazed at all the energy your family has.  And focus.

    Maybe the rapture will come first and your won’t be directly parenting for the rest of your earthly life.  

    Come quickly, Lord Jesus!  

  4. Kat says:

    My husband is working on a post from the perspective of Fathers.  This brought tears to my eyes.  What a beautiful testimony.  I’m sending the link to my husband and posting a link on our blog.  AWESOME!!!

  5. Jill says:

    great post, amazing video <3

  6. Michelle says:

    What a great post! I love the video. To see that sweet girl lay in comfort on her daddy’s chest is precious! I love how loved she feels. 

  7. sabrina says:

    Excellent post!

    Absolutely beautiful to see Katie in her father’s arms.

  8. Penny says:

    Beautiful post from a dad’s perspective.  Love the sweet video and the happy, smiling Katie~ she is beyond gorgeous!  :)

  9. Holly F says:

    Thank you Joe. I loved reading your perspective and watching that sweet video. Happy Father’s Day!

  10. Ilisa says:

    Great post!  Blessings indeed!

  11. Meredith says:

    Happy belated Father’s Day and thanks for sharing this beautiful story.  Never connected that this was a “for life” thing vs. 18-21 yrs.  You guys are awesome…

  12. C Family says:

    This made me cry.  We started our adoption about 11 months ago only to find out I am pregnant.  Now we are very confused about God’s plan for our family.  It is beautiful to read how you trusted God and God led you. 

  13. Julia says:

    Amazing, thanks for sharing your perspective :) Seeing Katie rest her head on her Daddy’s chest, melted my heart….<3

  14. Lara Font says:

    Joe – what a true blessing! thank you for sharing, so beautiful, love how God works in the most amazing ways!  Loveo to your family!

  15. Sharon Robbins says:

    The nose beeping video is now my official favorite!  I’m so happy that Katie now has the benefit of a father with such entertainment value!

  16. Amy Rainey says:

    Thank you so much for being so transparent.  In being real, you are truly helping others in their own struggle.  Wonderful post.

  17. Candice says:

    Beautiful journey….and what a sweet video!!!

  18. Anna T says:

    Well written and thanks for sharing!!  Loved spending time with everyone today!!

  19. Deanna says:

    Beautiful post, Joe.


  20. Carlene says:

    Hi Joe and Susanna. I found Verity’s blog just a few days ago and it has so blessed me. I have spent hours reading and living your journey and crying and laughing with you. I have been a bit obsessed, I would say. I am a mom with 7 children. 3 bio, 2 steps and 2 adopted special-needs kids. My eldest child is 29 and was born with severe cerebral palsy-he requires full care. He has been my teacher in life and we are so blest that God has seen fit to allow him to live so long. He almost died 4 years ago. I was raised with an adopted sister and have always wanted to adopt. We live in Alaska and I have been a foster parent for 6 years. We fostered (and adopted) children with special needs, many of whom resemble the cildren in Plevin, but on a lesser scale. I have wanted to adopt more children, but  the foster care system in the USA has not given us any children in the last 3 years. I am currently trying to adopt a girl with autism but it seems to be blocked. Over the past few years I have found Rainbowkids and Reeces Rainbow, but I kept looking and agonizing over and wanting these kids and thinking “we just don’t have $25,000 + dollars. When I  read The Blessing of Verity, my heart began to tremble and I felt God speaking to me, that we need to look overseas for our next child(ren). Its funny how I have seen God work so many miracles in our life financially and yet could not make the leap to the “giant” of $25,000. ( The ole David and Goliath story). So thank you for sharing your story about your loveable family and Katie, and literally sharing your faith with ME! Guess what I am doing. . .searching for our next child! We know God has someone for us, someone we can help and love, (even though I am 53 and my husband is 50.)

  21. Dava says:


    I heard this wonderful song recently and it reminded me so much of your beautiful family. I just had to bring it to you. Your girls bring so much joy to the world.

  22. Susanna says:

    Dava, that is a poignant song; thank you for sharing it. :)

  23. Susanna says:

    Carlene, thank you so much for writing. Words can’t express what’s in my heart as I read it. Thank you, and I am adding your name to the list of hopeful families on our prayer list. Would you be willing to let me know what God does with your family as time goes on? I would love to hear it. Bless you!

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