This is what I would have said 10 years ago. This is what I would have said 5 years ago. This is what I would have said 1 year ago. This is what I would have said 6 months ago. I may have added “…unless God directs me to,” with thinking at the same time “Nope, God knows I couldn’t handle that and so that won’t happen.” As the cliche goes, famous last words, right?
Maybe it was in the works for months and years, but cracks started forming in my hardness (of heart and/or head) towards adoption earlier this year. Reading stories from the Ludy’s own adoption adventures (glimpses here and here), seeing His Little Feet choir at Ellerslie, and Dawn sponsoring Hermilly through Compassion International all stirred something in me. This became full brokenness in reading the following story from Radical Together:
Meet John and Karen. After having their first son, Jacob, they decided to adopt their second son, Michael, from overseas. As soon as the adoption was complete, Karen became pregnant and gave birth to a third son, Daniel, who has Down syndrome. In addition to the daily challenges of Down’s, Daniel suffers from constant seizures and requires growth hormone injections. “Six days a week,” John says, “I have to pin him down on the ground while Karen gives him the shot. It looks as though we will have to continue doing this until his sixteenth birthday.”
Meanwhile, their adopted son, Michael, has severe learning and behavioral disabilities that require constant attention and individual supervision. He has already been removed from more than one preschool. John told me that these years are challenging his marriage, his family, and his relationship with God in ways he and Karen never could have imagined.
John and Karen know they cannot do this on their own. They cannot provide and care for the needs of their family through their own resources alone. John recently e-mailed me and said, “Pastor, please pray that I will embrace with joy all the challenges and difficulties that come with being a father to these two. God has ordained it, and God is good.”
For parents like John and Karen, God-dependent faith is the only foundation for God-glorifying work.
Still, some might hear stories like this and think, Well, obviously these families never should have adopted. Or, If they were responsible people, they would have never gotten into these situations. But these parents see it differently.
In a recent journal entry, Karen wrote about the delight she experienced when she and John celebrated Michael’s latest birthday:
We all went into his room this morning to tell him, “Happy birthday!” While I was dressing him, he was jumping up and down with the biggest smile. Then he said, “Thank you for giving me a birthday.”
I was quiet for a moment. I felt those words were not just from him but a gift from God.
He would have had a “birthday” in the orphanage. He wouldn’t have a T-shirt with his name on it or a family to make him a cake and sing to him. It’s not that these things in and of themselves are important, but they are the little things a family does for you and with you, things I take for granted. Having people there no matter what, having someone come when you cry, being able to make bad choices and still be loved.
Michael is a tough kid, and none of us will ever know what he experienced his first two years of life, but I know God has created him exactly how he wants him to be. Although there are many days when he can make me want to pull my hair out, I am so grateful that God made me his mommy.1
Maybe we all pray “break my heart for what breaks yours, God” or “give me your eyes to see the burdens you see” or something similar, or maybe it’s just me. What ever the case, I feel like God is holding me to that prayer and showing me what burdens his heart; what is on His mind; what his eyes see and weep over. How can I not respond?
1 – David Platt, Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2011), 34-36.