It's been eight months since we signed the contract with our adoption agency. Today I took a huge manila envelope to UPS, had it weighed and special stickers put on it, paid $26 for overnight shipping and walked out empty-handed to the parking lot. I teared up as I stepped outside, took a deep breath and walked to my car like any other day. But this wasn't any other day, it was a big day, we sent our Dossier off to our agency, who will send it to the Ministry of Justice in Bulgaria, who will match us with our children.
As we've shared the news about our adoption, the support has been unbelievable. We have so many wonderful friends and family that are praying for us, for our bios and for our future adopted children, who share in our joy of each milestone met and mourn over every setback. But there have been a few, a tentative few, who have come to us, nervously asking, "How did God make it clear that you were supposed to adopt? Didn't biological babies come "easy" for you? Why don't you just try for more? Are you afraid for your bios, for yourselves?" They tell us, "We're interested in adoption, we think that might be what God has for us, but we're scared of what it means. We just can't decide if we should try for more bios or adopt! How can we know?"
And if you were to come to my house, as some of these people have, I would get you a cup of coffee or tea, offer you a little milk and sugar and tell you, "Well, sometimes you can't know for sure if God wants you to adopt."
I would tell you that sometimes I still wonder if this is the "right thing" for our family. That sometimes, for some people, adoption is a leap - a leap from, "I don't know what God wants!" to just saying "Yes, with God's help, I will do this." Especially if you already have bios and are not in a season of suffering from infertility or miscarriage (which God may use to more clearly point families to adoption), or you're not someone that's always dreamed of adoption but instead someone who's warmed to it in recent months and years, that leap might feel really, really big. It can be hard to intentionally "stop" trying for more children biologically and instead trust that God will grow your family through adoption.
It's weird, I don't know about you, but I feel like these days, adoption has this "cool" factor. Families that don't look alike make for adorable Instagram feeds, watching the journey of families uniting on YouTube with moving music playing in the background go viral on Facebook, and there's this element of "Wow, how sacrificial! How noble! How big-hearted is the family that adopts!"
But it's a whole-lot different to admire and romanticize adoption from afar, than it is to live it and be the "big-heart" that brings home the orphan. So when you feel your heart pulled to adoption, but you're not sure if it just sounds cool or if it's something God is calling you to, it is good and right to think it over. To do the research, ask questions and talk with others. But sometimes, even when we're doing the right research, asking the right questions, obtaining a realistic understanding of what it will really be like to bring a hurting, lost and fearful orphan into your home and love them forever, even then, it can still be hard to know. Sometimes, even, the answer becomes less clear. The knowledge you gain makes you more aware of the risks and costs to your family, yet it also makes your heart more tender to the orphan and more aware of the great need for families like yours to step out in faith.
So in the mud that is the question, "Should we adopt?" Sometimes, there isn't an answer, until you finally answer. For us, and especially for me, it was "Okay, God. I can't get this off my mind. My heart breaks every time I hear about this topic. My husband is on board. I know there's a need for families and you have graciously provided for us to financially meet that need. To care for the orphan is a command from you. It is a good, good thing. You adopted me – you love adoption and I love you. I guess I'd better get on this train or it's taking off without me."
That's the simple version of course. A very streamlined version of the thought process that took five years to take root in my heart. And as we talk in my living room, I'd refill your coffee cup, maybe get you a blanket, and I'd tell you, "Adopting is an act of obedience for me."
Now let me unpack that a little bit for you. That doesn't mean I'm cold-hearted to adoption, no, in every way I melt like a puddle every time this topic comes up. I am tender, so so tender to adoption that it's terrifying really. I'm tearing up as I type this at Starbucks and I can see the barista glancing up at me, wondering when the waterworks will stop. And so when I say adoption is an act of obedience for me, I mean that on one hand, I don't want to do it. I'm scared of how hard it will be. I'm scared of bringing home two toddlers that speak a foreign language, that likely have special needs with multiple motor delays and even cognitive delays. I am scared of how my relationship with my bios will change when I don't have as much time for them. I'm scared of being dooped by the "honeymoon stage," then dying during "one year lock down." I'm scared of the unknown, of those two tiny people I don't know yet. I'm scared because I feel like I'm intentionally choosing the "harder path."
And why would anyone in their right mind choose the hard path?
Because of Christ. Because of future grace. Because I am not living for my comfort and reward today, or tomorrow, or even 20 years from now. I am living for a future weight of glory, one that will come in eternity. Adoption is an act of obedience for me because I am saying yes, even though everything in me says that, logically, it would just be "easier" to have a third bio child. (Although I fully understand that there are risks that come with every child, bio or not.) I am saying "yes," because I believe that even though it will be hard, adoption will change me for the better. Because even though it's scary, I trust that my bios will learn so much from being in an adoptive family. I am saying "yes" because I have been adopted by God and I can catch a glimpse of the gospel played out in an incredibly tangible way right in my own home. I am saying "yes" because I know adoption will bring suffering, but suffering brings me closer to Christ and I can trust in the promises that God's grace is and will be sufficient for me every day of my life - even on the hard days. I am saying "yes" because I don't have to fear all those things I said above, because I don't look for my hope in what is seen, I look to the unseen. I am saying "yes," because I love Jesus and I would give anything to know him more.
Adoption is a good thing. And growing a family purely biologically is a good thing. And sometimes, I think we can overanalyze two good things to death to the point that we're so bound up in them we just become paralyzed. When really, God offers so much freedom by finally trusting him with our future by just making a decision. That doesn't mean God's plan for you is to adopt, it just means you need to not let Satan wind you up so tight that you're ineffective for the kingdom – adoption or not.
And so, even in the midst of unanswered questions of not really being "sure," we can choose to take all the things we know, lay them out in front of us, and just say "yes." Or, you also have complete freedom to say "no," as well! Adoption is wonderful, and God loves adoption. But he also loves biological children, and it is just as honorable to create a family completely biologically.
An adoptive family is no closer to God than a bio family.
So if you're one of the few like those in my living room, watching adoption from afar, wondering if it's for you, let me encourage you today. Trust God with your family's future. God's got it – however your children come to you. Choosing to adopt may feel like the harder path, but it is a good, good path. Even being just eight months in I have found more opportunities to trust God than I ever have in my life. And that is of great, eternal value. At times, I still find the fears bubbling up to the surface, like I did today when I dropped off the Dossier. I won't lie and tell you everything is perfect once you step out in faith, but take it one step at a time, knowing that each one is supported by grace and brings you closer to Christ, eternity, and the glory that awaits.