“Why would you do that?” she asked with disbelief and a little tilt of the head that meant she might be questioning my sanity. “You can have your own kids.”
How many times did we hear a similar question on this theme? Yes, we could have biological children, but we wanted to adopt a child.
From the time that my husband and I had gotten to know each other as single global workers in Bolivia, we had discussed our openness to adoption (for us, someday down the road). Fast-forward eight years and three biological children later, and we found ourselves in the midst of the never-ending rollercoaster that is adoption.
I had passed through many different stages along the road before coming to the place where I could finally decide to pull the trigger. Once I had moved forward from the sharp pain and darkness caused by the death of our second child (a premature son), I felt strongly that our redeeming God wanted to use this experience to open my heart once again to the possibility of finding a child among the abandoned to hold as our own. Then our second daughter was born, and I thought: Two is good. Do we really want a third? (All along the way, my husband had remained open, but he was willing to wait for my heart to catch up.) I continued to wrestle until I read Russell Moore’s book, Adopted for Life. It was the gentle shove I needed to help me make up my mind once and for all. Still living in Bolivia at this time, it seemed obvious to us that we would search for a child there.
So it began.
In the beginning, there was excitement: meeting our lawyer, talking about kids, and dreaming about that magical day when our son would come home. (You can choose two things when adopting a child in Bolivia: an age range and gender.) We told our friends and family—and even strangers on the street. It was the honeymoon phase.
Then came the long evening classes, the waiting, and the incredible lack of communication that is often found in any legal proceeding in the developing world. Did anyone care that there are homes full of children who have no parents and parents who are eager to make a home for them? My emotions went from elation, to disappointment, to rage, to loss of hope—more times than I care to remember.
Then, there was the research. I am one who can spend hours online just trying to find the best facial lotion—for the cheapest price—with free shipping. You better believe I researched: what it means to adopt a child; how it affects your family; what struggles and mental/emotional challenges there are; how to deal with cross-cultural adoption, etc. I started to wonder: Had we made a mistake? I never pictured myself as “that mom” who can handle messes and loudness and bad attitudes with a smile on her face, infinite patience, trendy clothes, and an awesome blog! (We know only that mom can adopt, right?) Then I would pray, and the Lord would remind me that He is enough. He had called us. He had confirmed the desire that could only have been placed in our hearts by His Spirit. He reminded me that as long as I was willing, He would do the really hard work.
I still find myself doubting—even as I type this. Nevertheless, I know it is the truth, so I press on.
Along the way, I got comments like:
“But he’ll never be like your real child.”
“You know adopted kids always turn into drug addicts and murderers.”
(I am not even kidding.)
“I just could never love an adopted kid like my biological children.”
“But you know how those Aymara people are—all bad.”
I found myself becoming insanely protective of this son I had not yet met while dealing with more anger toward the insensitive and ignorant comments of those “well-meaning” friends and neighbors around me. Then God spoke to my heart again about extending grace and about expanding our role as adoptive parents to become individuals who could gently educate and encourage others to understand what an adopted child really is: someone who is grafted in and has all the rights and benefits of a biological child; one who is loved the same; one who reminds us that we have also been taken in and adopted as children of God—as brothers and sisters of Christ!
Well, we had thought the moment would never come (really, never come). Then one sunny, cool day we were ringing the doorbell of the orphanage we had driven by so many times. Our two daughters were in tow, one excited, one not so much. We were ushered in to a pink-carpeted, formal, cold room with gilded pictures on the walls. We felt a bit as though we were in an alternate reality. Our almost eight-month-old son Moses was carried in and placed in my arms. He looked at me very seriously but without fear; we stepped off one ride to get onto another.
The next few months were a whirlwind of getting to know each other, having very little sleep, wondering again if we had made the right decision, and falling in love deeper each day. Every parent wonders if they are capable, if they are up for the challenge, if they are doing okay.
We sometimes look at the smiling pictures of other families on Instagram and think we must be the only ones who do not have it all together—but if we slow down and listen, the Spirit gently reminds us that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. He chose us to be Moses’ parents in the same way He chose Moses to be our son. Parenting is not so much about our enjoyment and fulfillment as it is another avenue the Lord takes us down to see His glory, if we have the eyes for it. Oh, that He would open my eyes to see.
Question to consider: “Parenting is not so much about our enjoyment and fulfillment as it is another avenue the Lord takes us down to see His glory, if we have the eyes for it. Oh, that He would open my eyes to see.” How have you seen God use your parenting to open your eyes to His glory?