I wish I could tell you it was easy…
what you’re about to do…
I want to. I want to sell you. Because it sounds like such an easy thing to sell.
But I can’t do it. I can’t. I want to but I can’t.
Because what you’re about to do is one of the most inexpressible things you’ll ever walk through. No amount of words can capture it for you ahead of time to give you an accurate picture.
Here’s the reality. The process isn’t predictable. Some of the things you anticipate to be hard will be super easy. The places you expect the big donors to show up will be barren. The sleepers who you thought didn’t even know you existed will walk up to you and become your biggest cheerleaders. There’s not much predictable about the process of adoption. Many families have adopted multiple times. We’ve adopted twice. Very few things were the same. We used the same agency both times. Both our daughters have special needs. Both of them are of Asian decent. Beyond those similarities, these two adoptions couldn’t have been more different. I’d wager a triple-tall iced caramel macchiato that families who’ve adopted multiple times would affirm what I’m suggesting.
These uncertainties make the cliff you’re standing on seem higher that it really is. There are tremendous benefits to having a support system. I wish everyone could walk through this with the support we were fortunate to gather. We love our tribe. Love. Them. They’re a fantastic group of people. Some of the tribe are reading this right now. Many of our tribe don’t even live near us, and still they’ve carried us. Loved us. Cared for us. But the point of this is not our tribe, or any tribe for that matter. Because as much as I wish this were untrue, not every family has the fortune of a strong tribe, or any tribe at all; especially one like we have. We wish we could assure that every family has adequate support. We all need it, but we don't all have it.
Even with our phenomenal tribe, being a parent of a child with special needs is isolating. I’m sorry if this is the first time you’re hearing this. I’m even more sorry that it’s true. You also need to know, in case this was left out of your training. Every child from adoption has experienced trauma and therefore has a need that needs special consideration, understanding, and attention. Each child will process it differently, but with healthy guidance they can navigate it in a way that can lead to healing. What you're about to step toward is not for the faint of heart.
You probably have friends right now who don’t understand why you’re doing this. They can’t figure you out. And rather than asking questions and trying to understand, they’re going to begin to distance themselves from you. Those people you thought you’d always have in your corner may slowly fade into the shadows of your history.
For some of you, your family may abandon you. And if they don’t abandon you, you may notice one of two things; either they’ll talk about you behind your back or they’ll begin to avoid you at Sunday dinner.
And then there’s your church. I hope you have a great church with great leaders. But as much as your church leaders would say they want to support you, too often, they simply don’t know how. And whether you’re in the process working and waiting or you’ve been home for three years, too many churches are ill-prepared for what it means to care for adoptive families during the process and post-placement.
But please don’t hear this as defeat. In fact, after seeing more and more families walk the process, I’m convinced this is all setup by God for his good purpose to provide you with abundant opportunities to trust.
Take this passage for example:
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” – Proverbs 21:1 ESV
Like a stream of water…
Throughout scripture the “hand of the Lord” represents His strength, His power, and His work. We can work with Him or we can try to work it out our way. But we should know, God will turn the course, not to fit us, but to fit His plan.
My advice: learn to settle in and trust a little more. He’ll prove He’s worth it. This doesn’t promise smooth seas. As we move with God, as we follow the course He’s laid out for us, we will meet resistance. Sometimes God chooses to use us to cut through the resistance and forge a new way. Other times He uses the resistance to re-route us.
You probably know this by now, but there are reflections of Jesus in all of this; in adoption, in staying the course, in following through in obedience. And if Jesus can be seen then it must be Kingdom stuff. Jesus’ purpose while He was with us was to show us the way (Himself) and teach us to walk in Him. And what does He do to help us? He leaves us a guide (the Holy Spirit) and companions (the Church).
Now, in my dream of a perfect world, the local faith community would not need to be coaxed and prodded to step up for adoptive and foster families. I believe we will one day be there. But even if nobody steps up to walk with you, you are not alone. When God started stirring your heart for to care for orphaned and vulnerable children, He was actually inviting you into a partnership. When you said yes to walk out the Gospel example of adoption, you became co-workers with God Almighty in the work of adoption.
Isn’t that great news? My prayer for you is that you find a group of people to walk with you. But even if that never happens, I’m praying you realize that your co-working God doesn’t take lunch breaks or sick days or mini-retreats.
He shows up on time.
He stays late.
He helps pick up the slack.
He negotiates the hard stuff.
He closes the deals.
You are not alone.
When plans change change, when it seems God is changing course, know that it’s all under control. Your steady, faithful, unwavering God is working on your behalf.
Like streams of water, may your heart move along by the hand of your co-working God!
Postscript: If you're somewhere in the process of fostering or adopting and you find yourself isolated or in search or support, wherever you are in the world, please reach out to us. We are connected to a support network that spans the globe. And even if we can't find support in your neighborhood, we'd love to be able to support and encourage you along the way. Don't wait to reach out. We want you to succeed. And we know the best way to ensure this is to support you. Please let us know how we can serve you.