I’ve been thinking for awhile about how to write you on this. We’re grateful to each of you who’ve asked so thoughtfully about our adoption process. This past year we committed to proceed through each door of adoption until God made it clear we should stop—and what a ride!
With each child, I hadn’t known how we would handle the next—or homeschooling (definitely not my original plan), or moving four kids to Africa. I vividly remember lowering my oversized body, in advanced pregnancy with #4, onto a stepstool in the corner of my kitchen in Little Rock at the end of a long day with three kids, and crying: “What are we thinking?!”
But we wanted to live a God-sized life. Not a stupid life, of course (!). But one that could only be explained by Him; one that left us trusting not in what we could handle, but in the size of our God and His dreams for us.
Truth is, as we’ve prayed, fasted, or discussed all this late into the night with each other or a small entourage of wise friends and family…it’s been put on hold. Indefinitely so. Perhaps when our kids are older, or when God makes the path clear, we will reopen this door that has been painfully closed by our own hand. I suppose in writing this I may open us up to appearing inconsistent, impetuous, or emotionally impulsive about such a real issue and a real sacrifice that many of you have welcomed with open arms.
For us, it’s not that the cost is too great. It just seems unwise in our current circumstances. We have been astutely reminded that it takes a great deal of effort to create straight "arrows",and to love others well. Most of you who know me (Janel) will not be surprised one iota that I tend to think of myself more highly than I ought with regard to what I can actually accomplish. But in light of the slender margin that is our lifestyle, our ministry, and our current load of raising children—whether it’s learning disorders, or simply the quality of time we want to cherish with our kids, and be fully present in parenting—the stakes are high, and the cost is great should we take on more than we can judiciously handle.
Many of the private conversations I’ve held with adoptive parents reiterate that adoption, as much of a wonderful trend as it is, as much as it has life-altering, triumphant moments—also carries with it a specific call, a specific burden to love on these children who’ve been given up, or in some cases abandoned, by their biological parents—and to do it well. Many of these children need intense, particular care to guide them into healthy hearts, souls, and relationships. John and I have shared a concern for orphans and a desire to adopt since we’ve been dating. But in truth, if sopping up our last vestiges of available resources causes me to compromise what God’s more plainly asked of me, the cost could be quite high, pervasive, and long-lasting.
Does this sound like I’m trying to justify something? I hope not. The mourning over this increasingly clear decision has been real and deep. Packing away the small, brightly-colored clothes for now, or bathing a local child’s back have found me stricken, my vision clouding with tears. But I feel assured that this decision is best for our family for this season.
My consolation has come from strange places—and has revealed some of my yearning that lay behind the desire to adopt. Strangely, teaching these classes at the refugee center has been a consolation, I think, from God. Also, I’ve mentioned how full our home is with people so often. I realize that I wanted so much to pour myself out for change here: for the effort to consume my home, to impact my children. God did so much to bring us from America to here, and the need is everywhere.
I didn’t simply want to lock my gate and somehow leave ourselves relatively untouched. I wanted to bring the pain of this people before me, into our lives, and offer at least one small solution that would last a lifetime; that would change someone’s life, and ours, forever. Africa has marked me. It has not altered me in a way that most people who see me will ever witness, though the difference is almost bodily. It’s as if I’d had eye surgery, and the world would never look the same, or as if my right hand had an inner sensation that I felt as constantly. I can’t not do something. I can’t be a benchwarmer in this kind of a game.
Still, adoption does not seem the solution for what we have at hand. At least not now. And for this moment, I believe God is comforting me. Even as I write, the wound has closed. I feel steadfast and peaceful that we have made a wise and, yes, faith-filled decision. I think it does take faith to say “no”; to believe that God is big enough to change the world without you, to use His Body to do what He hasn’t enabled you to do yourself.
Thankfully, we hadn’t yet been matched with a little girl, nor had we invested much financially yet. I do run the risk of losing face or causing disappointment in so many who’d been excited for us, been cheering us on. But God’s reminding me I must answer to only one Judge, and doing the right thing is always a good idea. He’s used even this journey to change us and the people in its path; in God’s economy, my Mom likes to say, our experiences are never wasted.
So our answer is “no,” for now. I am trusting, in faith, that God will put us right where He wants us—and that sweet little girl, too.