Thursday, July 21, 2011

Who needs a new car anyway?

I have been thinking about all the fun questions I could answer about adoption ... and then I remember that I have to write a "book" about myself to complete the home study packet. So I've been spending my computer time – what little there is of it between chasing 3 kids and trying to dig myself out of what feels like a year's worth of laundry – answering lots of questions about my childhood ... and my adolescence ... and my marriage ... and you get the point. :) I've also done a lot of the nagging little tasks like lab work, downloading and mailing requests for central registry clearances from all three states we've lived in (to prove we've never been reported for child abuse), and sending money order and fingerprint cards for a federal background check. These are not hard things to do, but tricky to schedule around naps and lunch and  – of course – trips to the pool, library, park, etc. It has been exciting to check off lots of the mundane things in anticipation of the not-so-mundane – meeting a little girl who is most likely already waiting for us!!

Ok ... so back to the questions. This one might be a tie for the number one most asked – "Isn't adoption expensive?" And unlike the previous, more touchy-feely question ... this one is not my favorite to discuss! But it is an important aspect of adoption to consider ... so I'll do my best.

Yes. Adoption can be very expensive. But it doesn't have to be. Without writing a book about all the adoption possibilities out there, let's just say it is important to research and understand the options ... and the risks, benefits, expenses associated with each one. This is our third adoption ... and we've done it differently each time. The first time we used a consultant and an agency in another state. It wasn't cheap. But we knew lots of people who spent more on a new car ... so ... we prayed about what route to take. God knew our desires for a newborn. A son. He opened our hearts to interracial adoption ... and I truly believe He even honored my lack of patience! We didn't even wait 6 weeks after beginning the process. I had planned to be a stay-at-home mom until all our children were in school, but I felt that my only option was to go back to work temporarily to pay for the adoption.

When I felt it was time to bring a third child into our home, I was afraid. How were we going to pay for a second agency adoption? I prayed that God would just put the baby on our door step (a fantasy I've had since childhood!). I knew that adoptions through the state foster care system were free, so we took the classes and became approved foster/adoptive parents. I also put the word out ... I made a profile book and let some people know that we wanted to adopt. The week before we got the call that we were approved for foster children, I got a call about a young lady who had seen our profile book and had chosen us to adopt her baby boy ... due in less than a month! A miracle. Not quite on our door step ... but  close! All we paid were legal fees. God knew. He gave us the right situation at the right time. All He asked was that we be open.

But sometimes I think God asks us to do things that we haven't "gotten all figured out." Sometimes He wants us to rely not on our own ability to provide, but on His. God has accommodated our fears, wishes, and parameters every time. He has proven that we can trust Him. Now He's getting ready to stretch our faith.

It scares me to even type this, but I felt very strongly that I needed to give up my full-time teaching position this year in preparation for traveling and bringing home our new daughter. WHAT? In the past, I confidently went into the adoption process trusting that we could cover the cost. I never did a fund-raiser. Some wonderful friends from our church collected money to help with (short-notice) travel expenses, but otherwise I knew we had it covered.

But here's a question I've had in my head recently: If I have to see how everything is going to work out before I sign up, does that really require faith? We started saving for this adoption months ago, and I rationalized that if I just keep working I can earn all the money myself. But I knew that I couldn't give 100% to my fourth graders AND to an international adoption requiring travel and helping an orphaned child bond with her new family.

I find it much easier to trust God with matters of the heart than with tangible things like money, but I believe the Lord will provide what we need. I think our faith grows BIGGER when we have to trust God with BIG things. Things that only He can do. And I can't tell you the humility – and brokenness –that I have felt as He has already begun using people to bless us financially.

I know we've got our work cut out for us. In Exodus, when God provided manna for the Israelites, He always sent just enough for what the people needed right then. And – if you'll remember – He didn't rain it into their tents or spoon feed it to them. They had to go out and gather it. I'm learning about all kinds of fund-raising opportunities. I'm getting all geared up to apply for grants through organizations like Show Hope and Promise 686. And I'm sure God has a few surprises in store as well!

So here's my point. Adoptions cost money. But don't most investments? What I've learned through my experiences (and that's really all I have to speak from) is if it's something God is calling you to do, He'll provide what you need.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Home study update: One word - slow! Actually, we are crossing things off the list at a fairly steady pace, but it still feels slow to me! We had to expedite our home study when we adopted Jackson because we only had a few weeks notice before he was born. And when we did Bryce's home study he was already home! So I'm just having to keep my "eyes on the prize" and keep moving forward, knowing that each step is getting us closer to our daughter.

Since the process isn't changing super quickly right now, I thought it would be fun to answer some of our most frequently asked questions about adoption. Honestly, when we started this adoption journey we really just had one goal ... to have children.We knew God was leading us to grow our family through adoption, but didn't realize that He would ask us to do more. This is not just about us, but an opportunity to advocate for orphans. We are only beginning to see what God has in store!  Just for starters, I am training to teach adoption discovery classes through our women's resource center and have already had the chance to talk with lots of couples who feel God leading them to adopt.

So what makes people unsure about adoption? What nagging fears cause them to put the idea out of their heads? I would say the number one question (and my favorite to answer) would have to be ... "Can I love an adopted child as much as a biological child?" I wish I could say I never wondered this. Really, this thought didn't enter my mind when adoption was just an "idea." But when we were actually getting ready to bring a baby into our home ... I began to wonder.

Here's the thing. I love kids ... especially babies. But I don't love all babies the way I do Rylee. I can appreciate everyone else's beautiful kids, but I don't have any maternal feelings toward them. The moment I looked at Rylee, I was in awe. I felt like she was an extension of my own self. I adored her, and would have died to protect her. That love was totally and completely life-changing.

Now here comes the good part! Four years after the birth of my daughter, I sat in a hospital room and watched a nurse wheel in a little bassinet. I looked at that dark haired baby boy ... picked him up ... stared into his little face ... and felt the SAME love that I had felt for my own flesh and blood.

I CANNOT make myself love any other baby like that! The only one who can fill a heart with the love of a mother for a child she has no biological ties to is GOD! The deep love and devotion I felt for Rylee was natural ... but the feelings I have for my boys is supernatural! It is miraculous! Opening my heart to allow God to love someone that way through ME is one of the most profound spiritual experiences I have ever had ... and I'll never be the same.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Valid Question

"You're adopting more?"

This was the question asked by the doctor yesterday when he walked into the exam room. You have to get the full picture to fully appreciate this, though. When I called to schedule adoption physicals for me and Scott, I was thinking our appointments would be back to back so that one of us could watch the kids while the other was seeing the doctor. When we got there, though, they brought us both back at the same time ... with 3 kiddos! So there were five of us in a tiny exam room ... and the boys were wearing super hero capes ... and had just come home from two days of spoiling at Grammy and Paw Paw's house. Let's just say there was lots of jumping and climbing and jabbering going on. :)

So you can see where the doctor's question was coming from. But let's face it. Lots of people are wondering the same thing. In fact, I've had more than a few "So, is this going to be it?" looks since announcing a third adoption. The truth is, by worldly standards it doesn't make much sense. Kids are WORK ... and expensive. More kids will take time, attention, and money from the ones we already have. Wouldn't it just be easier to stop now?

Well, the answer to this question goes back a long way. I guess about 15 years, actually ... maybe longer. It goes all the way back to a church sanctuary ... where a teenage girl stood singing the words, "All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him. In His presence daily live. I surrender all. I surrender all." I remember feeling a little pain - almost a sense of loss - while singing those words. And wondering if anyone else felt the weight of that promise. ALL. That's a lot to surrender. When you're just a kid you don't have that much to lose, but I had a lot of dreams. Plans. Hopes for the kind of future I thought would make me happy and successful. I surrendered that too. And I knew it wouldn't always be easy. That there might be a time when I'd want those things back.

And when I had my daughter ... the difficulty in surrendering ALL went to a whole new level. I never felt love like that ... I wanted ten more just like her! :) ALL I wanted in life was to be a mommy. It was my calling. But when I got ready for a second child, my promise got put to the test. Will you surrender your plans for the "perfect" family? Will you let Me give you the children I have created for you? I didn't see it at first. At first it just hurt that God would give me such a strong desire for children that I couldn't have. I already had a wonderful daughter. I asked God to just make me content with that if He didn't want me to get pregnant again. But God sets the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6), He GAVE me the desire, and He MEANT to use my promise to surrender to fulfill His purpose for my life. And for the lives of my little boys ... and Charlotte.

So YES, we're adopting again. And I'm not sure when we'll be "done." :) You see, I surrendered those decisions. God is in the process of doing "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us" (Eph. 3:20). He's in control, and I. Trust. Him.