My name is Liz. I’m the wife to Jon, the mommy to Charlotte (5), Riley (3), and the soon-to be the mommy to Juliet (5 months). We moved to Seattle about 5 months ago and are adjusting to our new life in the Northwest. We’ve been in process for three years now and have just recently found out we will be adopting Juliet from Ethiopia.
As we continue to wait for our new little girl, I want to share a bit of our story, some of the lessons we’ve learned through this long process and then answer some common questions we commonly get about adoption.
I’ve always wanted to adopt. Once Jon and I were married, we talked about it twice before pursuing it officially. Once we applied to our agency (AWAA), I had serious anxiety. I’m pretty sure I gave myself an ulcer. No exaggeration. I was sick for a week. The first few times I announced we were adopting to groups of people I was shaking and terrified. I began to think that this wasn’t “peace from God” so it probably was the wrong decision.
Then I went to church and our pastor gave a sermon on modern day persecution of the church. Back in the day it was by stoning or putting people in chains. Obviously this happens in some parts of the world still but not here. Now Satan persecutes the church by fear and causing us to not act. I began reading blogs of wise women that shared the amount of spiritual warfare they encountered surrounding their adoption. I figured out three things.
1) Adopting a child into our family was going to give them an opportunity to know about Jesus, which most likely wouldn’t happen if they were not adopted.
2) I have a big mouth and I tend to share my opinion more then it’s asked for. If I became passionate about adoption I would probably share it with others.
3) The things God usually calls us to are not easy or comfortable…even though that’s what we would like sometimes.
It’s Out of Your Comfort Zone But That is a Good Thing
Being out of your comfort zone is never super fun, but sometimes it is good. At the time we decided to adopt we were living in the Midwest, my husband had a safe job, we had two cute girls, my family was five minutes away, my best friend lived next door, we had a church that we were very involved in, and I had a strong community. As of five months ago, we live in Seattle, 2000 miles from family. We are having to establish new friendships, find a new church, and we are about to bring home a child from halfway around the world as our own.
Leaving our hometown seems crazy at times, but I am a believer that The Lord calls us to do things that seems a little crazy at times. Someone used the term “reckless obedience” at an adoption conference I went to, and I love that term. It’s not reckless in the sense that it’s thoughtless. But reckless in a way that forgoes all the things the world tells us that we need. It’s a seeking after God’s heart so much that you are willing to obey at any cost. I wonder how many times we miss something wonderful that God has for us because of fear. We love comfort and safety, which aren’t bad things in and of themselves. But I feel that the church and God’s people have gotten so comfortable in America that we idolize security. I know I struggle with that very idol myself.
One thing that is pretty common in the adoption community is big ol’ families filled with children of all different shades of browns, from fair to dark. There seems to be something addicting and contagious about adoption. Do you know what I think frees those families from the idol of comfort and security? I think it’s the gospel. Adoption is the gospel. Here’s what I mean. God takes us as we are–dirty, lost, alone, sick with sin–and he accepts us in his family. He makes us heirs in his family and loves us like his very own child. That’s crazy!
Adoption is Costly
Adoption is costly friends. I love this quote by Derek Loux, “My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.” It’s not just a financial cost. It’s giving up your dream of what your family would look like. It’s choosing something that is unconventional and will need explanation at the park, at school, and in the line at Target. It’s choosing a child with a broken past and helping them heal. And it’s dying to yourself daily to meet the needs of yet another child.
I do not pretend to have it all figured out. I surrendered to the Lord on this issue, but I still struggle with it. And my little one isn’t even home yet. Like I said before, I realize not everyone is called to adopt but as Christians we are called to care for orphans in one way or another.
I encourage you to 1) prayerfully consider adoption. If this is not something that God has put on your heart then 2) strongly consider supporting and coming along side someone who is in the process of adoption. Either one won’t be easy. You won’t know the right answers to all the million of decisions that you have to make. You’ll feel scared and overwhelmed and like you can never afford it. But I pray you will do a little research and talk to a friend that has adopted. And, if you don’t know anyone you can contact me. Just email Polly and Rachel here and they will put you in touch with me.
Adoption is a Response to What We’ve Been Given
We chose adoption not because we are good people or want to save a child. We chose to adopt because of what we have been given. We are blessed in America with resources, a home, food, education, and healthcare. And we are blessed as Christians to have a heavenly father that laid down his life for us so we can be heirs in his family. That is why we are adopting. We are hoping to share the love that was given to us first. So, don’t be surprised when we adopt again and then probably again. Because seeing the gospel lived out is contagious. And we are infected. 🙂
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve gotten a lot of questions about the adoption process over the last three years. Here are the most common ones:
Why Ethiopia/international adoption?
Good question. The answer is, I’m not sure exactly. The thing with adoption as is the case with many things in life, there is not always a clear cut right or wrong choice. We chose the quickest, most affordable, and greatest need option at the time. Things changed and that isn’t the case anymore; but it’s where we chose, so we are sticking it out.
Why does it take so long, and why is it so expensive?
The answer is, I’m not sure exactly. Are you seeing a trend here? Adoption is a result of brokenness. I truly believe that God didn’t intend children to be born into sickness, poverty, and being unwanted. It’s a result of sin entering the world, so clearly it’s not going to be a perfect process. It’s a very official process and with international adoption you have to jump through hoops from two different governments. Due to the number of people that have to touch the paperwork and make it official, as well as the expenses of travel and medical needs, it just costs a lot. If you choose an ethical agency, there is no one person “making bank” with your money. Is there a need? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Definitely. Is it easy? No freaking way.
Are you crazy? Can you handle this?
You know those kids have issues sometimes or are sick. Why don’t you just have your own?
Yes, I do know this. Thanks for the reminder. My biological kids have issues, as do my hubs and I, and we will work though them together. Bonding issues are a real concern with adoption, as well as the healing of some deep wounds will have to take place. But, God is a God of redemption and we choose to follow him and cling to his promises.
*Just a heads up – call them biological kids not “your own” kids or “natural kids”. This makes the adopted children sound unnatural or like they are not our own. Believe me, this little girl was prayed for and planned for for years longer and by hundreds more people than my beloved bio kids. She IS ours. This is a hot spot for adoptive fams.
How can I help someone who is in the process of adoption?
Friends that are adopting can most likely use support in may areas. One that is obvious is financially. That doesn’t mean you have to just write them a check. Often adopting families are selling items such as t-shirts and coffee. They may be having garage sales and pancake breakfasts as well. Helping them organize these events or just showing up to say hi is so much appreciated. Of course donating money or items for them to sell at these events is extremely helpful and an amazing blessing.
Another thing that can be helpful is emotional support. The process is long and often emotional. The family will be asked daily, “anything new happening with your adoption?” Although this is very well intentioned, it is hard to hear over and over when the wait is three years and quite frankly there is nothing new to share. Believe me, if there is new news to share, the family will shout it from the rooftops. So, instead ask, “What can I do to support you during your wait?” Or just simply write a note or email that shares your thoughts and excitement for them in their journey.
What agencies do you recommend?
This is a hard one. This varies depending the type of adoption (International vs Domestic). We are using America World Adoption Association. We feel like they are very ethical and Christ-centered; we would use them again for sure. A few others we have heard that are good are Bethany, Holt, and YWAM. My best advice here is to find what type of adoption is best for your family, and then ask around. The adoption community is like a village of people wanting to help. Seriously, I didn’t realize this community existed until we started the process. They are amazing. Ask questions to other adoptive families and then research the agency. That’s what we did.
Thanks so much for sharing your story and advice, Liz!