This post is dedicated primarily to Derek’s personal journey of being led to adoption. As such, it is written in first person from Derek’s perspective.
The road for me was in some ways similar to Andrea, but I was relatively delayed in strongly considering adoption because of my numerous daily distractions, mostly in the form of personal and professional responsibilities. Some of the more pointed questions were put off. For a long time, I conveniently procrastinated a confrontation with the central issues of my heart concerning adoption.
The most appropriate way I can describe my spiritual stance during the June 2010 to December 2011 season is “simple faith.” Though we discussed infertility, I didn’t entertain it as a major problem because we had already conceived and birthed 1 child. If the miracle could happen once, then it could happen again. God’s timing will be perfect. We’ll keep trying and keep praying, and as long as we stay aligned with Him and sensitive to His leading, it will happen when He says so.
As more time went by, I became aware of Andrea’s concerns, and we ran some tests. Still, I believed it would happen when the time was right. In the background, there was always the thought of adoption. We just didn’t know if or when. And so, when Andrea and I more seriously discussed the prospect of adoption in December 2011, it wasn’t in the forefront of my mind, but it didn’t blindside me either. I knew that our family was going to grow one way or another, and we needed to be seeking God intently along those lines for His plan.
I had been spending more time in the Word and prayer via my involvement with a men’s small group bible study every other week. The time I spent in prayer began to lean more toward asking questions about adoption. Was I ready to father a child that was “not my own?” Could I successfully do it? Where were the pitfalls? What are my personal limitations? Was I ready? How would I even know if I was ready? How would I discern the timing for such a thing as adoption?
These and other questions were daunting to me during those first few weeks. I have spent a significant amount of time in my life seeking God’s will for myself and my own decisions regarding life choices involving school, work, and relationships. There is a certain amount of known risk in those things. And if I mess up, the repercussions often fall primarily on me. These questions about adoption seemed different to me. In my early thought patterns, if I messed up thoroughly with regard to the lifelong commitment of adopting a child, then the child would be significantly damaged, and this was unacceptable.
Adoption? Do I have it within me to do this well? The answer is pretty important, or at least I imagined it being important to the child that would hypothetically end up within our care. The situation seems akin to the first time I was the doctor running a “code blue” at the hospital. The fear of failure was palpable within me, lined up in opposition to focused concentration and decision making under intense pressure, with a life hanging in the balance. But there’s a difference… a code blue rarely lasts longer than 30 minutes. Adoption is for the rest of my life.
Getting over the hump of these questions took time. Meanwhile, God was providing clues to help me out. As we mentioned in the previous blog, there were several “words in due season” that were spoken to us… more than could be ignored or shrugged off as coincidental or random chance. If you have ever tried to hear God speak to you as you inquire of Him regarding a really important decision, then you know the process is often frustrating at times. Other times, it’s easy as pie. Receiving these various words was encouraging, but it still didn’t answer the specific question for me.
Josiah, my 3 year old son, was helpful to me in this season. Every parent knows that the daily words and actions of your children both challenge and confirm your dedication to them. They regularly test your parenting mettle with their proclivity to disobedience, stubbornness, deception, manipulation, selfishness, and the other spontaneous defecations of the soul that we have come to associate with human sinful nature. However, they also say and do things that make you so proud and confident that you are here on earth for this season to support, guide, teach, nourish, love, and be loved by them through childhood into adulthood and beyond. The little steps along the way are priceless. Josiah likes to wrestle and play rough with me. He thrives on believing that he has something on the inside that rivals the strength that he senses from me. When he’s not trying to “win,” he is quick to express love and affection on a 3 year old level.
While interacting with Josiah, I pondered, “my relationship with my son is so special to me… I cherish it as one of the top 5 most important things in my life. Am I capable of loving another child, not originally my own, just the same as I love Josiah?” Can I do that? That was a hard question. I hesitated. I needed weeks to think about that, and pray. The answer did not come quickly, and it did not come from me. My Heavenly Father answered by simply repeating His personal testimony to me.
It comes back to that old Christian cliché that the answer to every question is “Jesus”. We laugh about it sometimes, but it actually ends up being true in one way or another. The Father adopted every person who would receive the free gift of salvation by grace through faith in the sinless life and death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection. He gave His Son, the most important person to Him, to suffer and die as payment in exchange for the opportunity to be in closer relationship to those that He would be able to adopt via His ultimate sacrifice. He wanted to be able to love and enjoy me, as His son, in the same way that He loved and enjoyed His Son.
Now He lives in me. Jesus. The Holy Spirit. How am I able to do anything, anyway? I have life by the grace of God. I get up and brush my teeth with the strength He provides. I grew, learned, and passed tests in school by trusting in Him and following the directions that He gave to me. I love and support my wife with wisdom from Him. I drive to work and make decisions every day, and whatever favor or success I experience is only because He allows it and pours His favor over me. Every aspect of everything that I do or am able to do traces back to Him, His support of me, and the relationship that I have with Him.
So, was I ready to father a child that was “not my own”? Adoption? Do I have it within me to do this well? Yes. Yes! God showed me that I have it within me to do it well because He has it within Him to do it well, and He is within me. I am called and compelled to do things that look like Him. Having been created in His image, any movement of my heart that mimics the movements of His heart is supported and empowered by His presence within me. Simply, God backs me up when I am led by Him to make choices or behave in ways that bring glory to Him. Any project I undertake in His image by His leading is something that I can do well, because it looks like Him. God adopted, and He is in me, leading me to adopt, so I can adopt and do it well by His grace.
Acting in a way that imitates God is risky in the eyes of the world. It often requires sacrifice. It may be very expensive, even to the point of being ridiculous. It can appear foolish to many people. It can result in various forms of persecution. And there are other repercussions. Just like God on so many occasions seems to be against the odds and risking everything in His unending state of divine faithfulness, so to imitate Him involves being placed in a similar position at times. But God does the things He does because He knows the outcome of that behavior has an eternal reward. Adoption as it is found in Romans chapter eight is no exception. God thinks eternally, and He wants me to think that way, too.
With that Spirit of revelation alive in me, it really came down to a simple choice. Did I want to adopt? With all that Andrea and I had been through up to this point, I did not hesitate at this question. “Yes” was my answer.
Was I ready? Yes, on some levels, but probably not on many other levels. But God revealed to me that it didn’t really matter if I was ready. Was I ready to be a perfect husband when I married Andrea? Was I ready to be a perfect father when Josiah was born? No, and no. But it doesn’t matter. That’s where dependence on relationship with God comes in. He helps me every step of the way, and by His grace I’m better every day.
I’m sure there are thousands of roads of thought that have led a myriad of fathers to the conclusion that they are going to enter into adoption. Without going into all the tributaries, this was the primary river of thought that led me to my conclusion, and when Andrea and I finally talked about it, I felt good about the decision, even though some parts of me were still admittedly ignorant, naïve, and afraid.
And that discussion brings us chronologically to somewhere in May 2012, when Andrea and I sat down to talk about what was yet needed for us to move forward in the process of planning for an adoption.
In the next post, we will begin sharing how we began to move forward together in agreement with each other and take some tangible steps toward adoption.