Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Choose to Adopt

You wouldn't believe the lack of delicacy that occurs when a young, childless couple announces their desire to adopt.  "What, you can't have kids?" or "You don't want to have any of your 'own' kids?" or my fave, "So, are you just swingin' and missin'?" have been frequently asked questions as Andrew and I have pursued adoption. 

First of all, it makes me sad that so many people, even unconsciously, think of adoption as a last choice option.  But secondly, knowing families that have struggled with the very personal and heartbreaking journey of infertility, I want to burst into tears and sobbingly concoct a story about my barren womb just to teach them a lesson in decorum.  So far, I have refrained.

Now I know what you're thinking, "So are you just swingin' and missin'?"  Haha.  I guess it's human nature to be curious about intimate details of other people's lives, and thus I have (very politely I might say) informed people that we have no idea and consider our decision to adopt just the beginning of our family, one that may have both birth and adoptive children in it!

The short answer to the question about our decision to adopt is, "Because God told us to."  The longer answer is even still unfolding in our hearts and minds as we continue on this journey, now welcoming a little one into our home.  Before beginning the adoption process we would have considered ourselves knowledgeable about adoption and might have subconsciously patted ourselves on the back that we had already talked about adopting someday in the future.  Go us.  But, as God has led us into this He has humbled us and taught us and opened our eyes to how much He has a heart for adoption, so much so, that He made each of us part of His sacred family via adoption.  When you think about it that way, adoption is a perfectly normal expression of God's that doesn't come with pats on the back, but with reverent humility. 

I do not think that choosing to adopt because you cannot have biological children is a bad thing.  I know many families who have adopted for this reason who have developed a passion for caring for orphans and have been a godly demonstration of God's love as they grew their family.  I have also seen a few families in which this is not the case, and that is sad.

How God brings a family to the decision to adopt will be unique in each situation, but God has been teaching Andrew and I that the result in everything we do, including adoption, should be more glory to God not us.  There is nothing special about us, just the God we serve.  I want to encourage anyone who may have thought about adoption, or maybe those of you who haven't even considered it, that God could use you to impact this world through adoption.  There are 163 million orphans in the world, 150,000 of them right here in the U.S.  If you consider yourself pro-life, consider being part of the solution by making one of these children your own.

There are many support groups and resources out there for adoptive families.  I have found a few to be particularly helpful.  I recently read a book by Helen Lee called, The Missional Mom, and while it addresses so much more than adoption, it does a great job of talking about adoption as an intentional choice to bring glory to God in our lives through missional living. Helen Lee also has a website and blog that has links to more resources here.  Another great book is Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches by Russel Moore.  Focus on the Family also has wonderful resources to find out more about adoption.  If you are considering foster care, or adoption through the foster care system I would suggest you search for a Christian support group in your city.  We received our training and continue to get support from One Heart Family Ministries here in St. Louis.  It makes all the difference to walk this journey with others looking to serve the Lord with their lives and their families.

My prayer for you (and me) is that, "...whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 

And while there have been and are many challenges yet ahead for us in this journey, Andrew and I have found that following the Lord's direction in our life has given us much to be thankful crazy little two year old in particular.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Parenthood: Day 7

We're on day seven of full-time parenthood and it all feels surprisingly normal.  Packing snacks and sippy cups for outings and cleaning up accidents and spending an hour trying to get the kid's pool to properly inflate all seem like just another day.  Everyone has told us, every chance they get, "This will change your life!"  And it has, but then again it also hasn't.  I think it helps that Andrew and I are already old, we stay in most nights and we're around kids a lot.  So, aside from the lost luxury of sleeping in, not too much has changed. 

First week of parenthood: lots of hugs and kisses, dance parties, head injuries as a result of the dance parties, first cold at our house, first time to catch the kid's cold and the whole family feel like crap, hearing his occasional use of Mama and Daddy, reading books, singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" over and over and over, watching Andrew get more excited about Little Man's new toys than Little Man himself, time outs, picking out the kid's ginormous boogers, good time with friends, and lots and lots of laughter.

It's been a good week...praying for so many more.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Luckiest

There's a love song by Ben Folds called "The Luckiest," which starts out sweet and then ends with something about an old man and a young girl and I don't think it's supposed to...but it kinda creeps me out. 

The other day I thought to myself, "I'm the Luckiest."  It had nothing to do with that song or old men, but as Andrew and I get to have our little guy around and pray for a smooth adoption process I feel blessed at how God has worked things out so far. 

There have been a few responses to our decision to adopt that make it sound like it is a sacrifice for us to welcome a little one into our lives.  Perhaps, but no more than any other parent must sacrifice to include a child in their family.  There's already been some early mornings and time outs, diarrhea and tantrums--the usual 2 year old thing.  To us, it just feels pretty normal.

We've had the same reaction from some people about our lives as missionaries.  I've actually had someone come up to me at a church service and say to me, "You must be a saint to do this."  I know, those of you who know me are laughing hysterically at this point.  The truth is, we're just regular people living where God asked us to live and we wouldn't have it any other way.  To us, it seems pretty normal too.

Honestly, the idea that it takes super-Christians to do things like adopt or do missions or fight for justice is what keeps millions of orphans parentless, so many eternally lost, and people groups in oppressive poverty. 

We're not special.  We just do our best to say yes, when we feel God asks us to do something. My life has not turned out anything like I would have pictured it years ago, but I wouldn't change it for anything.  I'm not a glass-half full sort of girl, but when I listen to our little guy singing "Be Brave, Be Strong" with the other neighborhood kids in Back Yard Bible Club I think, "I'm the Luckiest."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Busied to Death

Surely life isn't supposed to be like this.  This thought has been bouncing around in my over-crowded mind all summer long.  I find myself longing for the end of the day, week, month, counting down the days until the busy summer is over.  As if that will fix the problem.  Every time I get to the breaking point I think, this is just a season, but then the season starts all over again and I'm living the slow death of busyness once again.

In moments where I am tenaciously clinging to the sanity God gave me I feel convicted that this is surely not how He intended me to live.  Running around frantically, half out of my mind, constantly apologizing for forgetting things and acting crazy cannot be what Jesus had in mind when He commissioned us to go out in the world with his love and peace.  I think I've succumbed to a culture of achievement, a culture of "have it all, do it all, be it all."  What really terrifies me is that I'm already over-extended and kids with all their energy and activities and needs are just now making an entrance into our lives.  It makes me tired just thinking about it.  But, I don't want to live my life feeling strung out and stressed out.  We say to ourselves, just trust God, read your Bible more, find time to pray, but maybe on top of that God is asking us to quit a few things and slow down the pace of life.  I painted the words "Be still and know that I am God" on my dining room wall but I rarely live it out.

I'm not sure the systemic changes that are necessary can be made in time to alter the next week of my crazy summer life, but certainly things need to change.  With a child entering our lives it puts more than our sanity and emotional health on the puts his on the line too.  Am I going to pass on to him a feeling of frenetic activity in the name of serving the Lord or an abiding peace in knowing God and living out His calling on our lives?

I'm taking a look at my life and realizing I'm in need of a few things.  I'm in need of learning to say no to things.  I'm in need of finding a niche that I'm really passionate about within the ministry I love so much.  I'm in need of more quiet time in the Word.  I'm in need of time to invest in my marriage, my family, my friends.  I'm in need of more Jesus and less activity. 

I don't want to be busied to death.  I can't keep asking for peace from God when I continue to make choices that shut the door on any opportunity to accept it.