A post of a thousand words begins with a single keystroke.
I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting my blog. I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time. I’ve been desperate to sit down and share so many things with you. The problem is that I have so many words swimming around in my head and I just can’t seem to get them from my brain to the computer screen in a coherent fashion. I have so much to tell you and I’m afraid that the words just won’t come across the right way, that I’ll leave something out or my words will be misunderstood.
I have started this post a thousand times in my head, and now it’s time to get it out. I will just pray that the Lord gives me the words to explain this to you and that he gives you the heart to understand. Or maybe you won’t understand, and he will make me ok with that too. Either way, I’m going to start at the end of the journey – at the revelation God has made clear to me. Then, in future posts, I will fill you in on parts of the journey God has taken me on to get me to the point where I am now.
The revelation? We are no longer pursuing foster care or adoption, and we are instead fully embracing our family of three. We are listening to what the Lord has planned for us and how He wants to use our family, rather than pursuing our own goals.
Some of you are reading this and have no idea we were even currently pursuing adoption. I haven’t talked about it lately because there wasn’t any progress to speak of. I debated writing about the struggles we were having, but kept hoping I would be able to tie up the loose ends with a pretty bow before I shared them with you.
That never happened.
Others of you – the VERY few with whom we shared our plans – are wondering why the sudden switch? Didn’t we just tell you we were starting the process?
Yes, we did just say we thought it was time to start the process again. Again, I say, because we’ve been here before – without success. This time, God has once again made it clear to us that this is not the path he has laid out for us. This time, we are choosing to accept it for good. Sometimes, God has to tell me things more than once. Maybe even 3 times because I’m a little hard-headed. Thankfully, my Heavenly Father made me so he already knows that about me and loves me anyway.
10 years ago, Rob and I first discussed adoption when we found out we were infertile. When we were told we could not get pregnant. Before God gave us our miracle. After having Emily, I just assumed we would have more kids either biologically or through adoption. We tried for years to have another child on our own first, but growing our family through adoption was always on my heart. I never meant to view it as a “backup” plan, but rather something I thought would be a great thing to do in its own right. I knew many families who had adopted and I thought it would be a great way to help a child in need, while also fulfilling my desire to have more children.
Over the years, the adoption issue has taken us on an emotional roller coaster. After having my hysterectomy in 2007, adoption became the only option for growing our family. I began to put all my hope into “one day” adopting. I’m a planner and it gave me something to look forward to. After all, I had just lost all hope in ever having another miracle child by birth, so my hope now clung to this idea of adopting. Oh, the lessons I’ve learned about contentment and where to put my hope…but that’s another post for another day.
In 2008, Rob and I became foster parents. We thought it would be a great way to help kids and possibly grow our family through the foster-to-adopt program. 2 sets of siblings came and went, and then in 2010 we brought home a 7 day old baby boy. I’ve told his story before, but for those that don’t know, let me recap quickly. I won’t go into all the details, but we were told from almost day one that we would get to adopt this precious child. 10 months, many court dates, and a whirlwind of events later – we were unable to adopt him. Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe the pain.
A few months later, we moved to North Carolina with the Army. We assumed we would pick up our shattered hearts off the floor and try again with foster care once we got here, even though part of me wanted to swear off dealing with “the state system” ever again after being lied to, manipulated, and mistreated. However, the door to being foster parents in NC was slammed shut when we found out Rob was deploying shortly after arriving. They wouldn’t let me do the foster training classes without him, and said we would have to wait until he returned from deployment.
Ok, fine. I’ll wait.
At this point in the story I’m still assuming we are going to be foster parents and adopt. I knew we were called by God to become foster parents when we did it the first time. Rob and I both felt that was clear. I naturally just assumed that He wanted us to continue that once we moved. I heard God’s “NO” when he shut this door, but I interpreted it as “Wait till Rob gets back” because that’s what I wanted to hear. I’ve had to learn the hard way (and more than once!) that God often calls us to do something for a while, but not forever. He puts us through seasons. I also want to talk more soon about my journey to a place called Surrender, but for now, let me keep moving forward with this part of the story.
Once Rob returned from deployment, it took a while for us to settle back in and it seemed like one change after another kept coming up (moving to a new house, work schedules, etc.). Anytime I would bring up adoption, I felt like Rob and I just weren’t on the same page about it yet. One way I’ve learned to know if we are hearing from God on something is when we are both on the same page. If we aren’t on the same page, then it’s best we don’t move forward because it means God isn’t leading us. If he’s leading us somewhere, he always takes us hand-in-hand, on the same sheet of music.
I kept thinking we just needed to get to the right time. I even talked about how God’s timing is perfect and it would happen at the right time. Again, I was assuming it would happen. That it was just a matter of time. I just needed to wait until Rob was willing and then we’d make a run for it.
(Or so I foolishly thought)
Then, one day Rob made a comment about wanting a baby. It was an innocent comment made because he got to hold a friend’s baby and got all mushy, but I took that and ran with it. I asked him if he was wanting to really grow our family and move forward with adoption. He agreed that he was (guys get baby fever too!) and the timing seemed to look ok since he wasn’t scheduled to deploy soon (he still isn’t – don’t worry, Mom!)
At this point, I did what I thought was the right thing to do, and I asked Rob to take the lead on the adoption research. I told him that I wanted to make sure we were going on the right path, so I wanted him to do the research and let me know where he felt led. Domestic or International? Which agency? Which country? So many questions and paths to take. I wanted God to tell Rob which way we were to go, and for Rob to tell me. I was trying to do the Biblical thing and let Rob lead the family while I submitted to his leadership. I was trying to control my instinct to take the plan and run with it full speed ahead while dragging everyone else behind me hoping they wanted on the ride in the first place.
I knew which way I thought I wanted to go, and when Rob mentioned the same I got excited thinking that must be the path! Nope….God took us down that path only to show us the closed door. A door boarded up like it was prepared for a hurricane with a “Do Not Enter” sign on it.
Again, I didn’t accept the “NO” God was giving me, and simply chose another path to take. “He must be narrowing down our choices for us.”, I (foolishly) thought.
Again, God put us on the same page only to shut another door. This door hit me in the face when it slammed shut.
This time, after crying out to the Lord, it hit me like a ton of bricks. All this time we had been praying as a family about the adoption, but we’d been praying the wrong prayer. We were asking God to show us which agency to use, which country to adopt from, and HOW to do this thing.
What we failed to ask was IF we were supposed to do this thing at all.
I was telling God MY plan for MY life and then asking him to help me make it come true. I wanted him to tell me exactly how to make it happen, but that’s not how God works. He wants to be in charge.
It finally occurred to me that *I* had asked Rob to lead, so he was taking the lead, but I also realized that I had not specifically heard from the Lord that we were to adopt. I can look back over my life and pinpoint very specific times when I knew what God was calling me to do and this was not one of them. I wondered (hoped) if maybe God had just told Rob and not me (yet), so I asked him. I said, “Are you taking the lead on this because I asked you to, or because God asked you to?”. When my husband replied with, “That’s a great question.” – I knew. Suddenly, clear as the morning sun, I could see the answer. This is not the path we were supposed to be traveling.
Oh, I can be so hard-headed…..and God is so patient! He just repeats himself over and over until we get it. Until we really listen.
So, we prayed. We prayed that if we were wrong about this revelation that God would make it clear so we didn’t miss something. He can do that, you know. He can protect us from ourselves when we ask. I also prayed for peace, but I almost didn’t need to. As soon as I acknowledged this revelation I felt his peace. I could feel him pulling me into his arms and telling me that this is where he wanted me all along – in that place called Surrender.
I have to tell you that writing this post has been hard for a couple reasons…
1) One of the reasons that I’ve had a hard time writing this post is because I’m human and I’m afraid of what some people will say. I have friends who have known for years that I’ve dreamed of a large family, and who have a large family themselves. What will they think? I hope they will see that I’m surrendering to the One who knows best for my life. I hope they will know that even though we will never have family size in common, that their friendship is so dear to me.
Fear of what people think about you can keep you from accepting God’s plan for you. For a long time, I’ve worried that if I accept this life as a parent of an only child, my friends with multiple children and I won’t relate to each other any more. At least when we were planning to have more kids, I felt like I was still in the “club”. But having an only child really stands out in social settings. People make assumptions about your child and about you when they find out you only have one. Especially when your child is past the toddler age. When I would tell people we hoped to adopt, they would accept us and stop pressuring me to give our daughter a sibling. When they find out you consider children a blessing and hope to have a big family one day, they stop asking as many questions. Oh, the painful questions!
2) The other reason it has been hard for me to write this is because as a Christian, it has been hard to understand and accept that God would say no to us adopting, or that he would have closed my womb to more children. After all, he loves children! The Bible says the man with a quiver full of children is blessed. Indeed, they are. I’m learning though, that it doesn’t mean I am not blessed if I do not have a quiver full of children. It simply means that children are indeed a blessing – a gift from God – a reminder that many people today need.
Yes, I know the Bible commands all followers of Christ to care for the orphans. I’ve clung to those verses for years as my own “evidence” that we should adopt, but I also know that there are many ways we can care for the orphans. Some will be absolutely called to adopt them. Some will be called to pray for them. Some will be called to go on mission trips and volunteer hands-on time with them. Some will be called to give money and support others’ efforts. There are many ways to care for them without doing it ALL.
It IS hard to understand why God would say no to something so good. However, it’s not meant for me to understand.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
It’s not for me to understand why a good friend of mine is still single when she wants to be married. Why a beautiful, Christian couple I know can’t have any kids at all. Why parents I know have to spend countless days in the hospital with their young daughter, not ever knowing exactly what it wrong with her – for years. There are so many “whys” I could ask about so many things in life, but ultimately what matters is that I surrender my will to HIS will and remember that his ways are not my ways. He sees the big picture. He plans my life.
I must recognize and ACCEPT that I am not failing my Heavenly Father by not having more children if that is not his will for me. I must accept that God is in control of my life and that He knows best. That whatever he has planned for us is better than anything I could ever imagine.
I must simply surrender and say, “Here I am, Lord. Use my life as you please.”