“Where did the red hair come from?”
We’re asked that question a lot these day with a red headed five year old in tow. Truth is we don’t know. You see, we’re trying to adopt this precious red head (who we’ll call Red) and while we don’t know much about his past (or his red hair) we do know he is chosen and he is FOREVER going to be ours.
So…now that you know the story behind the red hair, I’m sure you’re wanting to know how we got to the point of deciding to start our family through adoption? It’s a beautiful story of God’s absolute love, sovereignty, and communication with His children and we’re excited to share…
While sitting one evening in our routine spots in the living room, V in his chair and me sprawled on the couch, watching whatever Netflix season we were hooked to at the time, he says to me: “I’ve been thinking…and I don’t want you to freak out.”
PAUSE. Let me back up several weeks. August-October(ish) 2014
For a few weeks now V and I had been talking and praying through the possibility of becoming foster parents. At one point, early in the process, we had even been given Power of Attorney for two children in our church who needed a home for the coming school year while their dad worked offshore and mom was living in another state. When this opportunity came to us we thought this was why God had been confronting us with the need for foster parents, for us to be open to providing a temporary home for these two children. We were amazed at how fast we came to love them and enjoy taking care of them. Long story short that opportunity fell through and we were left puzzled. We were so willing at this point to give ourselves away (not that it wasn’t scary) and excited for the chance to do something totally outside of ourselves. Something that we would be forced to fully rely on Christ to get us through. At this point in life, we hadn’t tried to have children “the old fashioned way”, but we do hope to (one day). Again the idea of fostering and the great need for foster homes had gotten to the point that everywhere we looked we were running into a child in the system, foster parents, an article related to fostering, a commercial, a radio announcement, a movie, a devotional and I could go on. Fostering was in our faces EVERYWAY we turned and we just couldn’t ignore what was in front of us anymore (Proverbs 24:12). We had the extra room, the finances, a short experience with having two children not our own in our home and the flexibility to meet the need…what was our excuse anymore.
Therefore, we decided to sign up for the MAPP class to get some more information. We started class October 2014. The MAPP class is an 8 week class all foster/adoptive parents in our state must take as the first step to becoming licensed. We still weren’t committing to becoming foster parents, but willing to take the first step towards fostering and just see. After our first night of class we were given tons of resources and me being who I am spent the next several days looking up all the information online.
One of the brochures we were given had information about the “Heart Gallery”. This is a website showing pictures and general profiles for children in need of forever homes. With each profile my heart literally sank further into my stomach. To see these faces and know they had no family identity, no security, and very little to call their own was gut wrenching. Also knowing these are faces of children only miles from my home. Before long I found myself sobbing over my laptop. V was not home so I could ugly cry and not be disturbed. As I kept scrolling and scrolling I prayed. Not one of those out loud prayers, but one of those deep in your heart prayers that you just know the Holy Spirit is hearing every word of (Romans 8:26). In my heart I said to the Lord, “I think we can do this. I think V and I could love one of these children as our own. Lord if this is you putting this on my heart, please put it on V’s too.” Somehow I managed to dry my eyes and close my laptop. I didn’t say a word to V about what I had been looking at, about my crying, or about my prayer. After several days I myself had even forgot about it.
PLAY. Back to us watching Netflix. 2-3 weeks into the MAPP class and V telling me not to freak out because he’d been thinking. Late October-November(ish) 2014.
Of course after he says “don’t freak out”…I do. I immediately begin to think…what did you do, spend, break, or say. He laughs and in his most genuine expression says to me (these are his exact words) “I’ve been thinking about adoption. I just think it’s something you and I could do. We could love any child as our own.”
I was floored. Immediately the prayer I had prayed over my laptop while scrolling through the Heart Gallery came to mind and it was as though the Lord said to me “I directed you, I heard your heart and your husband has heard Me.” Once I told V about my visit to the Heart Gallery website a few weeks prior, my ugly cry, and prayer he was speechless. We both were. At that moment we knew we were no longer in this thing just to see, but to build our family.
We also knew that taking this step would require a lot of faith. Even though we both said “I think we can do this” we both knew that statement included more than just the love, patience, endurance, and security V and I alone could offer any child. We knew this was something we were going to have to rely on the Lord to carry us through for the rest of our lives. We were no longer talking about a temporary situation, but a forever one. The thought of that both excited us and terrified us. We were both confident in what the Lord had stirred in our hearts and how He went about bringing us each individually to the point of “let’s adopt”, that we knew we would not walk this adoption journey alone. (Deuteronomy 31:6) (Philippians 1:6)
The more we began to research adoption and study the theology of adoption the more we feel in love with the idea of starting our family this way. In so many ways adoption points to the gospel of Jesus. Author Russell D. Moore says it best in his book Adopted for Life. Moore says:
“Adoption is, on the one hand, gospel. In this, adoption tells us who we are as children of the Father. Adoption as gospel tells us about our identity, our inheritance, and our mission as sons of God. Adoption is also defined as mission. In this, adoption tells us our purpose in this age as the people of Christ. Missional adoption spurs us to join Christ in advocating for the helpless and the abandoned. (James 1:27)
As soon as you peer into the truth of the one aspect, you fall headlong into the truth of the other, and vice versa. That’s because it’s the way the gospel is. Jesus reconciles us to God and to each other. As we love our God, we love our neighbor; as we love our neighbor, we love our God. We believe Jesus in heavenly things—our adoption in Christ; so we follow him in earthly things—the adoption of children. Without the theological aspect, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as mere metaphor….
The gospel of Jesus Christ means our families and churches ought to be at the forefront of the adoption of orphans close to home and around the world. As we become more attuned to the gospel, we’ll have more of a burden for orphans. As we become more adoption-friendly, we’ll be better able to understand the gospel.
This past summer (June 2015) while at youth camp the camp pastor asked this question: What are you doing with/in your life that the only possible answer you can give others for your actions/choices is to point to Jesus?
V and I answer that questions with starting our family through adoption from foster care. We know our efforts will be far from perfect, but we’re learning more and more that in our weakness He is strong! (2 Corinthians 12:9)
We write all of this to communicate several things:
No, we have not had trouble getting pregnant. We have not tried and assume one day (Lord willing) we’ll be able to have biological children as well.
Adoption is something the Lord has called us to specifically. You can’t tell us otherwise. We are excited about this call to adopt, but equally terrified. Please pray for us!
Please know we believe that not everyone is called to this same journey and we don’t believe any one journey is better, more spiritual, or more challenging than the other. We all have a call the Lord has place on our lives and it’s our purpose in life to run after that call in an earnest effort to honor the Father.
We want others to hear our story and identify with two imperfect people, with many flaws, trying to accept the love and forgiveness Christ has to offer us everyday. Truth is we are so unworthy, but still he loves and offers us opportunity to work beside Him to build His kingdom. “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24.
We hope our story of adoption and how God’s hand has led us to this point translates, in some small way, for people the picture of how God the Father feels towards all of His children and how we are adopted as His. Through this process we have learned more than ever what it means to choose and to be chosen. What a concept?! We are CHOSEN…You are CHOSEN! (Ephesians 1:4-5)
Now that you know how we came to the place of adopting, it’s important to know how God led us to the sweet little red head.
Since making the decision to adopt and letting our trainers at the agency know about our decision the topic filled much of our conversation at home. One night on the way home from MAPP class we made the comment that it would be neat to adopt a local child that we knew or had some type of connection to. Maybe a local family that couldn’t care for another child, a mom from the local pregnancy center, or a distant family member. We made these comments and moved on. Didn’t think twice about it.
A few Sundays later V had a children’s ministry leadership meeting with some ladies from our church. One of these women is a close family friend. We’ll call her A. I have known A for many years and her husband and his family all my life. They have three children of their own and also foster several children. They are actually one of the resources we reached out to early on in our own process to get more information/direction. Before the meeting, the group was having casual conversation and someone asked A about her foster kids. She shared that they had been praying about adopting one of the children whose parental rights were in the process of being terminated, but really felt like their purpose was to foster at this point in life. She shared how torn she was in this decision, but also knew adoption wasn’t the direction the Lord was pointing to right now.
V came home after his meeting and shared with me what he had learned. Our friend, A had no idea at the time that we had changed our application from fostering to adopting. V and I had helped A and her family by providing respite care for her foster kids several times over the last year so we knew her 3 foster kids fairly well. We also worked with them at church. Through knowing the kids and some of their stories we were able to narrow down which child A was referring to that was soon to be in need of a forever home. It was a four year old little boy we’ll call Red. We knew right away we wanted to get some more information and go from there.
We were encouraged to begin getting to know Red by getting him on Saturdays and taking him to the park. After doing this once or twice we kept him for a weekend or two and then before we knew it we were wanting to keep Red as much as possible.
We loved his little personality! He’s very curious and always sitting on go. The term all boy describes him perfectly. He plays hard and gets dirty faster than anybody I know. He has such a great memory! Depending on where you’re headed in the car he can tell you where to turn to get there (typical back seat driver). He’s quick to pair people together. He likes to know who goes with who…who is their daddy, brother, grandmother? At his daycare when they gave out individual awards Red was given the “Most Informed” award. They said that he always knew the latest gossip at the daycare concerning both teachers and children. His red hair, freckles, and translucent white skin are just adorable. Needless to say it didn’t take us long to fall in love with Red. It didn’t take our families long either. Now the question was…can we love this child forever….no matter what…as parents do/should do for their children?
V and I hashed a lot of things out. We tried to intentionally talk with one another about feelings as they came up and we tried to intentionally spend time on our knees together praying. We were both confronted with a lot of selfishness. I had to work through the idea of not having a season of life where it was just us and a new born baby. V had to work through the idea that his wife was now going to be a mother too. Adopting a toddler would forever take this current season of life away from us and take some future seasons of life away. Were we really ok with that? We were also confronted with the the very real fear of not being able to love Red when he is 15 years old, pimple faced, and has raging hormones. Can we really do this? Can we really give ourselves, our known and unknown expectations of our future family, and our unconditional love away to a child who someone else gave birth to?
We’ve learned that alone we can not. None of these things (and more) can I or Vince do or be “ok” with on our own. Sure, maybe we can hold it together for a few months or maybe even a few years, but our strength, love, and grace would soon wear out. It just would!
In working through all of this the Lord gently kept pulling us back in with His words…
I will direct your steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
It will be worth it. (Romans 8:28)
I have not given you fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)
I will never leave you. (Hebrews 13:5)
My grace is sufficient for today. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I can do all things through Christ. (Philippians 4:13)
His word was full of answers to every question, doubt, and fear we could think of. There was no doubt in our minds about God’s call up to this point and after working through our emotions and applying God’s word the best we could we were in. We were committed to taking steps towards adopting Red and loving him forever…no matter what.
Once we knew we were still in, we were about 3 weeks from being done with our MAPP class at this point and still had a home study to pass. Those typically take 3-4 months to complete. It didn’t take us long to begin to picture our future with Red as our own. However the road ahead was still very long. Over the next 10 months (November 2014-August 2015) we would continue spending time with Red, completing adoption paperwork, praying, and picturing our future as a family. Emotionally those 10 months were like a roller coaster of emotions! The more we were around Red the more attached we became and the more we learned about his heartbreaking past.
For so many months it seemed like the adoption was never going to be final. For awhile we weren’t even sure if it was going to work out. V and I had to get to a point where we could let Red go and know that he belonged to the Lord and trust He was going to do what’s best for Red. We had to accept that we weren’t in control (so hard!), but trust in the One who is. The verse about God working for our good became our motto (Romans 8:28). Red’s case changed hands within the system several times and another family showed up at one point interested in adopting him. Finally on August 5th 2015 we met with Red’s Adoption Unit Supervisor and began final paperwork on his adoption. He was going to be ours…to be LOVED forever…no matter what!!