“Born thy people to deliver…born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in thee.” ~Charles Wesley
If fear is keeping you from special needs adoption…
What are you afraid of?
Losing your freedom and leisure time?
Losing control of your ability to choose the life you want?
Being stretched too thin financially, or even going under?
Being unable to adequately care for a child’s special needs?
Not loving an adopted child like he or she needs to be loved?
Losing some of your preferred image or social standing?
The hard work?
The future for your child with special needs when you are old or have passed away?
Or something else?
Did you know that God hasn’t said, “All My people must adopt?”
But He does command us, over and over and over again,
“Do not be afraid.”
Don’t be afraid?
Isn’t some fear good?? Can’t fear play a role in helping us make wise decisions?
God’s command not to fear does not mean, “Do not feel afraid.” It means that we as His people can not walk in obedience to Him while we make decisions based on the wrong kind of fear. The right kind of fear keeps us from doing what is wrong, but the wrong kind of fear keeps us from doing what is right.
What stops many qualified families from taking the next step toward special needs adoption is not the obstacles themselves. What’s stopping them is simply their fear of the obstacles.
And then sometimes they fear that they aren’t qualified simply because they feel afraid. Or they think that their fears are a message from God telling them not to adopt. Not true!
Did we have fears throughout our adoption of Katie?
Yes, at times I struggled with terrible fear. I was afraid of the power of mere human beings to stop the adoption process. After God opened my eyes to the truth that this fear was based on unbelief in His limitless power, I still had to battle fear. We have first-hand experience with the fact that He is not a tame lion. What if He stopped the process before Katie was our daughter? I had to have the truth ready for the fight when it came, and at times it felt like a fight to the death! Besides the truth that nothing is too hard for God, it is also true that He is good and cannot make mistakes. He gave us a fervent, over-arching desire for Him to show Himself as the God He really is, and for Him to write Katie’s story and our story in the way He knew would best make that happen. No matter what.
And now? Our family has lost a lot of our former fears. But no matter how much trust we eventually learn to have in our trustworthy God, it will never come close to the enormity of His trustworthiness. In other words, His power, His grace, His faithfulness will always far exceed our faith in Him, no matter how great our faith grows.
Do you know what fear I most commonly hear about from potential adoptive parents?
It’s the fear that they might miss God’s will and mistakenly adopt when He didn’t want them to. As a result, they fear, their family will be miserable, or their household will be turned upside down and given to irreversible chaos, or their other children will suffer (or at least lose necessary opportunities), or the adoption will fail, or they will go bankrupt, or perhaps they will sink into deep depression. Or maybe all these things will happen and more. And the hardships will mean that they had missed God’s will.
We as God’s people can be confident that He will not throw us off the deep end and walk away as we drown in agony. This is the crux of the matter, really.
In order to lose all fear of accidentally adopting outside of God’s will, you first need to understand that adoption is not an automatic or guaranteed process. You will not succeed in adopting if it’s not God’s will. He has a myriad of ways to say, “No,” or “Not right now.” A friend described their family’s experience as jumping off a cliff, only to hit a ledge a few inches down.
If your situation is in such a desperate state that you would clearly go under if you adopted a child with special needs, any home study social worker worth his or her salt would discover that early on. And that is just a human being judging on a human level. We and countless other adoptive families have seen supernatural provision of the Lord that fills in our gaps and goes far beyond what a home study social worker could have quantified.
It is vital that we examine the foundational thinking under each fear, and hold it up to the light of Scripture.
Do you really believe that by taking steps to move forward with special needs adoption, you might displease your Father in heaven, who is also the Father of the fatherless, with the result that He’ll take vengeance on you by withholding the resources you need to care for your adopted child? When it’s stated that way, you can see that it doesn’t fit with the character of our God as He has revealed Himself to us in His word. He doesn’t play manipulative games to hide His will from us and then ZAP us and say, “Ha! You missed it! Too bad for you! Now you’ll have to bear the consequences forever!” No, no, no! He wants His children to know His will!
Most of the time we won’t know for sure what He wants us to do next unless we are moving. He is more than able to direct our steps as we are walking.
We aren’t urging you to walk in paths of rebellion and evil! That kind of walking is the only walking that should cause us to fear!
His people simply don’t need to be paralyzed by the fear that if we start out to do something He says is a good thing, that He will punish us for that! Imagine people with the living God inside them curled up inside coffins of stifling fear, waiting out their lives until they can die and be buried. Does that picture look tragic to you?
I want to encourage you that if you have an open heart toward God, He will make His path clear to you as you walk, and if He wants you to adopt, He will make it possible. If He does not have adoption for your family, He will close the door on it either temporarily or permanently, and that would be His perfect will for you.
So if you have God’s heart for adoption, and you think you qualify, you can take the next step without fear, knowing with confidence that He will be guiding your steps 100%. And that will continue to be true after the adoption is final, if He allows the process to get that far.
Don’t be afraid, God says. No fear. Not with Me in charge. Don’t allow fear to rule your decisions. Eyes wide open? Yes. Expecting difficulty? Yes. Paralyzing fear? No.
Ask yourself what you would choose if you had total trust in your heavenly Father and no fears. If you took the wrong kind of fear out of the equation, what would you choose? That decision will be made out of pure love and faith, and your Father will not fail to direct you exactly where He wants you to go.
What decision would you make if you took out the fear?
“Does God have a secret will of direction that He expects us to figure out before we do anything? And the answer is no.” ~Kevin DeYoung, in his book, Just Do Something
“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.”
[Note: This post is not intended to be a comprehensive treatise on fear, nor even a complete treatment of the fears commonly related to special needs adoption. Maybe someday when I've grown all the way up...oh, and've grown back a few of the brain cells I donated to my children, heh heh.
If you have thought about adopting a child with special needs, but your fears have stopped you from taking the next step, this post is from me to you, with love and understanding. What decision would you make if you took out the fear? That's the decision our family is praying you'll make.]