When I met Tricia she was the young mother of a baby boy, so we’ve had children in our relationship since our first date. We never got a honeymoon phase, and I always said that we were getting an early start. I set my mind on the someday when we’d be empty nesters and get our lengthy one-on-one time together on the other end of the intense parenting years.
Then, as our children started getting older, I kept thinking about what it would mean to have an empty nest. There would be fewer complications and more free time to pursue other interests, like going to work in an orphanage in a third world country. But Tricia wasn’t up for that idea at all. The idea of no running water or flushing toilets didn’t appeal to her.
God began taking our focus off of “self” and opened my eyes to my family. As I prayed, I realized that maybe the call to care for more children wasn’t a call to an orphanage, but to orphans.
Then one day Tricia approached me about adopting a little girl from China. We prayed about it, thought about it, and decided to pursue it.
It took a lot of time and money to get our paperwork in for a Chinese adoption, and then — miraculously — God stopped our process. What should have taken months took years. And this adoption still isn’t completed. It was hard to see my wife cry in frustration when things didn’t go as planned, but there was nothing we could do. This adoption was in God’s hands.
Then, Tricia’s friend approached her one day and asked if we would consider adopting domestically. We were interested but cautious. I was fearful Tricia would get her heart broken again. We met with the birth mother and shared with her our thoughts on family. A few weeks later she told us that she chose us. We were overjoyed!
After adopting Alyssa, I thought our family was complete, but God had other plans: He had more children in mind for us.
God placed it upon my heart that there were lots of children right here in Arkansas who needed a mom and a dad. The problem was we had the capacity to care for children, but we couldn’t afford it. With the expenses we’d already paid with both the China and the private adoption—and a job change with a lower income—we couldn’t find extra money to pursue another adoption.
Then, when talking to a friend, I learned that it didn’t cost anything to adopt from the state foster care system. That night when Tricia called me from the MomLife Retreat, I was excited to share the news, and that’s what started the ball rolling.
But I had concerns.
The concerns are real.
As a man, my biggest concern with adoption had to do with the logistics. I considered my stage in my career, the work of caring for small children, ensuring I had an adequate home and cars that were large enough, etc. I also wanted to make sure that my health was good—that I’d be around as they grew into adulthood.
Additionally, I struggled with not having that “empty nest” time. I looked forward to that time, but I still felt adoption was the right thing to do.
I felt God challenging me to live beyond my selfishness.
For example, I enjoy watching movies, woodworking, and bike riding. I also like to relax, but all the self-indulgent idle time for which I long will not produce anything of equal value in comparison to loving, raising and discipling children for the kingdom.
Even though I had concerns about basic care, nurturing, feeding, and educating these kids, I came to understand that I don’t have to have the best or the most perfect. The most important thing that we can give to orphans is a commitment to love them and give them a forever family.
Of course this is easy to talk about but hard to do. When it came to adopting from the foster care system, things happened fast. In a couple of days we went from not knowing these kids, to picking them up to make them part of this forever family.
The night before we picked them up I could hardly sleep. I was worried about what I was doing to my wife, myself, my other children. Would the needs of these new kids be too much? Was this the right decision?
That morning while reading the Bible, Tricia and I came to James 1:27:
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you (NLT).
God gave us this verse at the perfect moment; His Word calmed our fears and told us we were on the right path.
Tricia and I praised God and worshiped Him that morning, knowing that He was calling us to adopt. It was a moment we’ll look back on for a long time. Because of that verse given to us at that moment, we never wavered that God called us to these children, even during dark days.
From man to man:
Men, you don’t have to be perfect to be a parent. You just need to commit to and invest in a child. You don’t have to have a big house. (You’ll never a house that’s big enough.) You don’t have to wait until you have enough money. (You’ll never have enough money.)
Instead, take a step of faith. That’s where God will meet you, and He’ll take care of the logistics.