Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Baby Market

Last year when we were first getting excited about the thought of adopting, Andy called a local adoption attorney in hopes of getting some advice. Our call may have been a little premature. The attorney asked, “How much research have you done?” When he found out we hadn’t really done any, he took our number and told us he’d call back. He never did. Andy called the office again and talked to an office assistant who asked questions about our intentions and plans, but we didn’t have the answers. She kindly gave him some advice on what our next steps should be. As it turns out, attorneys and agencies won’t invest time in you unless you’ve invested enough time to prove that you are serious about adoption. It was obvious that we had some research to do.

A friend recommended that we read, “The Complete Adoption Book” by Laura Beauvais-Godwin & Raymond Godwin (which I highly recommend). Ray is an adoption attorney in Greenville, SC. He and his wife have adopted two children. The book has 387 pages that pertain to almost everybody interested in adoption and the remaining 303 pages are indexes with State Laws and such. I bought the book during the school year but only had time to read about one page per night. I was getting nowhere. That’s why I decided not to work this summer. After spending several half days reading at Panera and Sweetreats coffee shops, I have now read every section of the book that pertains to us! And I’m happy to say that with a generous financial gift from some friends who have heard us talk about adoption for so long without having made any strides, we are excited to say that we plan to start the home study process by the end of the summer! So, why not today? Why put it off till then? We need your prayers in regard to some decisions that we need to make.

As I have been going through the book, doing research online, and bouncing thoughts off Andy, we have come to realize there is no way we can get to the child that God has planned for us without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We’ve never really questioned whether we would adopt domestic or international. International adoptions are incredibly expensive and we’ve had such a heart for kids in our own area, so we’ve planned a domestic adoption all along. Besides that, there are so many avenues we could go: agency adoption, independent adoption, or State adoption. Then there’s open or closed adoption. Not only that, but once we’ve decided the type of adoption we also have to decide the “type” of child.

Some of the first questions we’ll have to answer for whatever attorney or agency we pursue is: What race of child do we want? Do we want a child with special needs? What age child are we willing to adopt? None of our research gave us the answers to these questions. In reality, we know it’s not about what WE want, what worked or didn’t work for someone else, or what is most logical. God doesn’t always work on our logic.

Picking out the “type” of child feels a lot like shopping, but not the fun kind of shopping. Believe it or not, there are different prices for children of different races, genders, and special needs. Some children are more expensive than a car. On the other hand, the government will actually pay you to take some children. I have to admit, I got nauseous when I read this section of the book.

I know that some people want to adopt a child that looks like them so that it won’t be so obvious he/she was adopted. We don’t feel that way. We’re open to children of all races. Pretty much anybody who’s ever talked to me knows that I have always had a heart for little black boys. In fact, I have to be careful not to favor them when I teach. But, we want to be sensitive to the needs of the child and the only way we can know what’s right is for God to guide us. We’re also praying through whether or not special needs adoption is right for us (more on that next week). We’ve always thought we’d adopt an infant, but if God wanted us to adopt an older child, we are open to that too.

You can see we need some answers before we take our next steps. Please pray that God will give us guidance as we continue in this process. Many of you have been praying for this for a while. Thank you. We are grateful for your love for us and are happy to share this with you.

Psalm 25:4-5
4 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Next Post: 7/5/2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Adoption is Sacrifice

On a road trip last year, while I slept, Andy listened to a sermon by Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle ( In the sermon, Driscoll talked about how the early Christians would go to the trash piles and fish out the live babies that people had thrown out, take them home and raise them as their own.

After I woke up, Andy said, “I think we should adopt.”

I said, “I’ve been thinking the same thing.”

After more than four years of trying to conceive unsuccessfully, I had gotten comfortable with our lifestyle. I enjoyed the fact that I could take a nap on Sunday afternoon if I wanted. We could be spontaneous. We could hang out with our friends anytime we wanted without interruption. We could travel easily. Basically we had developed a pattern of doing what we wanted when we wanted, and it was comfortable.

What struck me about the Christians mentioned in the sermon was that they assumed the responsibility of parenthood without hesitation. They didn’t give any thought to whether or not they had the space, the money, or the time. They just did it because…how could they not?

Admittedly, over the next year as we further discussed adoption, I wavered back and forth between wanting to hold on to my freedom and wanting a baby. Knowing the sacrifice it would take to be a parent made it easy to sit back, motionless. When you get pregnant, you don’t have that option. The baby is coming in nine months, ready or not! The sacrifice is the same; the urgency is different. When parenting is a choice, it’s easy for selfishness to creep in and slow the process.

After listening to the sermon, Andy began to see adoption as central to Christianity throughout history. As the article I mentioned in the previous post said, adoption is a “metaphor for God adopting each of us into his own family…and ‘it’s a sweeter way to understand His kingdom.’” Adoption is love. Adoption is sacrifice. Adoption is laying down your life for another. God gladly adopted us as his children to be co-heirs with Christ. (Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:16-17) I pray that we will take on the sacrificial attitude of the early Christians and pursue adoption selflessly as we feel God has called us to.

Next Post: 6/28/2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Adoption Is Not Plan B

Andy and I began to see infertility as God’s way of finding good homes for children who need a mommy & daddy. But, we wondered, why does it have to be that way? Why did it take infertility to push us towards adoption? James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Shouldn’t we want to adopt even if we were able to have children?

Society has raised us to believe that there is a certain way of doing things in life and an ideal order to those things. We go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, get a dog and have some kids. Before we’ve achieved each step we tend to believe that the next step will make everything else better. People living outside of that order or way of doing things find themselves in a place of tension. They begin to get discouraged, even depressed, not realizing it’s because they are living as a slave to societal “rules”.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I read an article a few months back that challenged this way of thinking in regard to having children.* The article begins by describing a family who decided to adopt BEFORE they considered having biological children. Now there’s a foreign concept! When they began planning to grow their family, they didn’t ask, “What do we want?” They asked, “What does God want?”

The article goes on to talk about churches that have created this “Culture of Adoption”. At Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church in Lecanto, FL, there are have been over forty adoptions in a congregation of around 1000 members! I’ve also heard of a church in NC where a group of Liberian orphans came to sing. A short while after their performance, members of that congregation adopted all the members of the choir! Can you imagine? What if the church really did care for orphans like the Bible says we should?

I’m thankful that God has allowed us to experience infertility, because we would have never considered the beautiful plan of adoption otherwise. Adoption is not plan B. Maybe it was for us, but if you’re planning to grow your family I’d encourage you to first ask God, “What do you want, LORD?”

* “Cultivating a Culture of Adoption” by Carolyn Curtis
April/May 2007 issue of By Faith Magazine

Next Post: 6/21/2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

All God's Children

At some point during my teen years I remember my mom asking the church to pray for her that she would have the strength to turn her kids over to God’s care. She felt up to that point that she had been fully taking on the burden of raising us. This was a new concept to me. As I grew up, I began to understand the significance of it and appreciated her desire to lean on God in this way.

When you’re thinking about growing your family, typically you and your spouse will talk about what kind of parents you want to be. We decided that we wanted to approach parenthood as if God had entrusted us with something precious that belonged to Him. We were to care for it, not possess it. Just like we view our money, our home, our gifts and talents, we want to be a steward of our children and not feel that we own them. We hope to raise them to do God’s work, with His guidance along the way of course. The idea is, when they have been aptly trained, we’ll release them back to Him to do whatever He wills. Thinking of parenting in this way brought new meaning and importance to raising children. We’re doing it for God, not for ourselves.

Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. I’ve seen the depth of love parents have for their children. I know that living this out will be a daily struggle. But, as we talked about it, we wondered if it wouldn’t be easier to see parenting this way if we adopted. Not that we wouldn’t love the child the same, but when a child grows out of your own body, I imagine it’s harder to think that it doesn’t belong to you. Through adoption we see God taking a child, whom He has chosen, from a situation where he/she might not otherwise know Him and giving him/her a chance to know Him through our guidance.

It’s encouraging to look around and see examples of people who were adopted, raised in Christian homes and have been used by God throughout their lives. We began praying that God would prepare for us the one he has chosen for us to care for and that He would prepare us to offer the kind of care for our children that would be pleasing to Him.

Next Post: 6/14/2007