You’ve completed your homestudy.
You’ve done all the courses.
You’ve made room in your home, your budget and your heart for a child.
Now, all that’s left to do is to find that child.
In Canada alone there are over 30 000 children available right now for adoption, and millions of orphans all over the world. So how exactly will you figure out which one is meant to be yours?
It might be a photolisting page online, a specific profile in your hands from your social worker, a referral package in the mail, or dozens of profiles set up at an adoption exchange event.
How do I know which child is mine?
The doubts and questions invade your mind at this point and none of the answers are easy.
What if this causes our family to fall apart?
What if my children can’t cope with the attention this child needs?
What if we can’t afford the services we may need?
What if I can’t handle that?
What if I just can’t love this child?
What if I regret this?
It’s very important to honestly evaluate the skills and emotions you and your family possess. Just because these children need a home and a family doesn’t necessarily mean you are the best home or family for them.
But in this post I’d like to challenge you to think a little deeper.
I want you to glance back up at that list and notice the common denominator in each of those questions. If you look closely, you’ll see that they all express the feelings or worries of me, our, I and we. In a nutshell…it’s a rather selfish approach.
Unfortunately, many of us enter adoption with this attitude. We are seeking some sort of fulfillment for ourselves. Emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. We are looking for a child to fill a need we see in our own hearts or lives.
Maybe you’ve struggled with years of infertility and all you want is a child to love and be loved by. You want someone to call your own.
Maybe you’ve been moved by the passion of others and you’re drawn to the drama of adoption. You want to be a Savior to a child and you envision a happily ever after life where gratitude and joy envelopes every moment of every day.
Maybe you’ve experienced the pain and joys of foster care or adoption personally and you want to heal that wounded place inside of you by reaching out to a hurting child.
Inevitably, most of us will come to foster care and adoption with some kind of agenda that is based on ourselves.
This needs to change before we can even begin to look at a child’s profile objectively and compassionately. We need to look honestly at our motivations, grieve the losses we may have experienced and pray diligently for God to bring healing to the broken parts of our lives. Once we can lay aside our own needs, we will be much better prepared to start considering the needs of a child who may enter our family.
There are a few myths I’d like to turn upside down in regards to choosing a child to pursue.
I NEED TO FIND THE CHILD THAT’S RIGHT FOR ME.
While I believe God can and will lead you to the child that is destined to become a part of your family, it’s important to get rid of the me in this question. Instead of focusing on what we believe we can handle or what we would prefer…flip this question around.
What kind of family does this child…or any child, need?
If that doesn’t match your skill set or preference then…
Can we become the right family for this child?
What skills or resources do I lack in order to be the family this child needs? What can I do to develop or access those skills and resources?
It completely changes the focus…from me to the child. No longer am I on a hunt for the child I desire, but instead I am on a journey of change to become the kind of parent or family that a child needs. This places value on the children we are seeing and opens our hearts to God in a way that places us as clay to mold in his hands. With this kind of attitude, God can speak clearly to your heart about the individual children you may be considering.
I CAN’T CHANGE WHO I AM, WHAT I FEAR OR WHAT I HAVE TO OFFER.
“I have never been drawn to that kind of special need.”
“I don’t enjoy that kind of thing.”
“I don’t feel like I could handle that!”
“We don’t have the right kind of home/family/community/church, etc to accommodate that.”
“I don’t know anything about that.”
I think I have probably said all of these things at some point in our adoption and foster care journey. It’s not hard for us to see what our own needs, desires, comfort levels, etc are. In fact, it comes quite naturally to consider my own needs above anyone else. But wait a minute.
Is that what the Bible teaches?
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
On the contrary, the Bible teaches radical love. A love that puts others before ourselves and our ambitions.
The Bible also teaches radical transformation and power when we are in Christ. Through Him, all things are possible! This means I need to spend time in meditation and prayer, analyzing the things that are truly holding me back. It means I need to get my heart in the place where I can truly say, “God what do you want me to do here?” I want to be that kind of person, and I want to teach my children how to live that kind of life. A life that is spent serving others. A life that is constantly pouring out of resources only He can fill. But as long as I stay only within the lines of what I think I can handle, what I feel is best, what I am comfortable with…that will not happen. Think about this when you are looking at a child’s profile.
There is also a very practical element that comes in here. When I decide that others’ needs truly come before my own, I may be amazed what I can do to change my life’s circumstances, my personal skill set, etc. It is amazing what can be changed when I start to believe that I truly want it! Maybe it’s time to honestly take a look at what you could do to benefit a child who is waiting for a family. How could you change your life to best meet their needs instead of worrying how they will fit into your already busy, full life? What changes do you need to make to your time, your budget, your home and your family?
Do you need to cut out some extracurricular activities or entertainment that is taking up time and money?
Do you need to move to a new neighbourhood or buy a larger home?
Do you need to clean out your spare bedroom or junk closet to create space in your home?
Do you need to volunteer somewhere or take some courses to gain a skill set you are missing?
Do you need to do some research on a specific special need?
Do you need to pray for a heart of compassion for a certain group of people, social issue or special need?
I CAN’T CHOOSE WHO I WILL LOVE.
So in all this choosing…where is the romance?
Where is the moment where I fall in love with my child or my heart skips a beat as I stare at the profile of a beautiful child?
What about all the stories of those people who just ‘knew’ from the moment they laid eyes on their child that this was the ‘one’ for them?
“I want that!”
But the reality is…that doesn’t always happen.
Again, we live in a world and culture where we are so bombarded with selfish messages we don’t even realize how much they’ve permeated our worldview.
You will fall in love with your child…but it probably won’t be right away and the ‘falling in love’ is a mere feeling.
Real love, constant love, forever love…that is made up of much more than emotion. That is made up of choices. Daily choices.
You can choose who you will love.
You can choose to love.
The feelings will catch up when you put what you know to be true and right into action.
Just like a marriage, adoption will have it’s romance, it’s drama, it’s cloud 9. But it will also have it’s struggles, pain and irritations.
Love is a choice.
IF IT’S RIGHT I WILL HAVE PEACE ABOUT IT.
“I just don’t feel peace about it.”
While I completely understand where this comes from…I think at times we as Christians sling this word ‘peace’ around without any idea what we are really saying. True peace does not depend on our circumstances and it is not something we can acquire by following a list of steps. Peace is a gift from God that has given to us when we choose to place ourselves, including all our worries, doubts and fears, into His sovereign hand.
Peace comes after true heart surrender and steps of faith.
What’s important to distinguish here is that what is RIGHT will not always result in a feeling of peace, contentment, or comfort. In fact…often the right thing is not easy at all and may put you in a place of struggle emotionally and spiritually. The Bible promises us that if we follow the example of Jesus our lives will not be easy, comfortable or ‘peaceful’ in the sense that we often think of it. Doing what is right often requires much sacrifice!
Just because something is hard does not mean it is not right.
If we are to use this word ‘peace’ to govern our decision making we must first recognize the true meaning and origin of this peace.
Instead of using our emotions and a sense of ‘rightness’ as our guide, we must go to the scriptures. I believe as Christians we spend a lot of time praying and asking for God’s guidance in areas that He has already given us more than adequate insight into through the Word.
Go back to the Bible.
What does it teach about orphans, the vulnerable and the marginalized?
What part are we as believers supposed to play, and at what cost?
If you are currently in the middle of wading through the list of special needs, trying to check yes or no or maybe and wondering what your future holds, know that I have been there and understand how hard it is! You are the only one who can know what God is asking of you, which makes this a very personal journey. I hope this blog has been encouraging to you, most of all.
My intention is not to give anyone the impression that this decision should be made rashly or lightly. But I hope I’ve also challenged those of you who may have wrongly put yourself in the middle of this decision.
I say this as the mother of two girls who spent spent over two years waiting for an adoptive home and were labelled as ‘hard to place’ children. Many families looked at their adoption profiles and eventually backed out, feeling they were ‘too much’ or ‘too old’ or ‘too scary.’
I say this as an adoption advocate who has seen the faces of hundreds of children waiting for a family to see beyond the pain, brokenness and despair they carry with them each day.
I say this as a discouraged Jesus follower who has had too many conversations with fellow Believers that are all about the adults, all about what makes sense, all about what makes us feel normal or comfortable or happy.
When people ask about our adoption process, it’s hard to know what to say. Do I talk about how it took a year to complete our homestudy and then almost another full year before placement? Do I talk about all the paperwork, the classes, the search for the child who would be ours?
See…usually what they want to hear is about me…
but what I really want to say
is that it started long before I walked into the CAS office.
Our adoption story is not just about me and my husband’s journey.
It’s really about my girls.
It’s about the weeks my youngest daughter spent in the hospital as an infant, alone and struggling to survive. It’s about the constant movement she experienced from home, to home, to home, to home. It’s about the seven long years my older daughter spent in foster care…not knowing what her future would hold or if she’d ever see her birth family again. It’s about the tearing apart of families that loved each other. It’s about the struggle to trust, to cope, to thrive.
It’s about God bringing four people together and making them a family.
Not built on biology, but on love.