I first thought about adoption around 1999 when I was reading an article about orphanages in China filled with baby girls. At the time, John and I had three young kids ages 10, 7, and 5. I had also just gotten my first book contract.
I talked to John about adopting an orphan, but he didn’t think it was a good idea. The idea of adding more kids into our chaotic life wasn’t appealing to him. Not to mention the cost, which was $20,000+. Oh, and I should mention my propensity to take on more than I can chew. One of John’s roles in life is to protect me from my good intentions.
Years later the kids grew up, and John was the one to bring up the idea of adoption with me. I jumped on the chance. I was SO excited about adopting a baby girl from China, but just as we turned in our paperwork, in 2008, things changed. They slowed down the number of adoptions. It looked like a 4-5 year process. I was heartbroken.
I clearly remember one day when I was crying out to God, “Why did you even put this on my heart if it’s not going to happen?” (And by “happen” I meant in the way I wanted, with the beautiful, Chinese baby girl that I imagined.) And God taught me a few things in the process:
Relinquishment. Peace came as I surrendered my will to His. I wanted a baby girl from China, asap. Instead, I relinquished my dreams to Him. I started praying, “Lord, give us the child you desire for us at the right time. It wasn’t about a cute baby. It wasn’t about me. It was about God’s perfect purposes for His men and women — and children – on earth.
Trust. When I relinquished my will, God began to work. We were approached (through a friend) by a birth mom about a newborn. Were we interested? Yes! In March 2010 God gave us the most beautiful baby girl I’ve ever seen. She wasn’t the child for whom we had worked so hard, but she was a gift.
Faith. Two years later I was confronted by the idea of adoption again when our church hosted the “Arkansas Heart Gallery.” Our foyer was lined with photos of kids who needed forever homes. These were older kids; many were ethnically diverse. They were kids from the foster care system, and their parents had lost their rights. They were now wards of the state. My heart was tugged, but I questioned how interested John would be. This was a whole new thing. Adopting children with baggage and attachment issues was different than adopting a baby.
I mentioned children from the Heart Gallery a few times in passing, but I didn’t think much more about it until I read a book called Kisses for Katie. It was about a young woman who adopted thirteen children in Uganda. I read the book on the way to a MomLife retreat, and I was moved.
I felt God speaking to me, “If she can adopt thirteen children in a third-world country, can’t you open your home to a few more?” I felt led to ask a few friends to pray that John’s heart would be open to adopting from the foster care system.
Later that night, when I called home, these were the first words out of John’s mouth, “Did you know that adopting from the foster care system is free?” As I heard my husband’s words, my faith grew. Adoption wasn’t “my” thing that I needed to “talk my husband into.” Adoption was on God’s heart.
Since then we’ve adopted two children from the foster care system, and our home is currently open to adopt more! And as I wait to hear about our new placement, God’s speaking the same things to me again:
God is the one who creates families, and I’m honored to be on this journey with God and my husband. With each step God is teaching me to trust Him — not my own ideas — about adoption.