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!